If you walk into a room at a hi-fi show and the person working it remains seated in their comfy chair and eventually says in a voice that sounds as if he has to drag it up from some sleepy do-not-disturb place only to mutter "What do you want to hear? Jazz? Female vocals? Classical?" as he readies the remote to the as-much-as-your-car-costs system only to play Jazz At The Pawnshop for the umpteenth time that very day, it can be less than inspiring.
To my mind, Peachtree Audio is seizing the moment and looking to continue doing so for some time. Computer Audio is exciting (dammit!). It's bringing new people into the hobby, bringing the idea of better sound quality out of the audiophile basement and down from the ivory tower into the light of plain as day. It's casting a net toward all of the Net music lovers and bringing them home to better sound.
On active display were two items from the brand spankin' new Grand line—The Grand Integrated ($4,299) and the Grand Pre ($2,999). The Grand Integrated was paired with the Sonus Faber Elipsa SE ($22,900/pair w/Red Violin lacquer finish) and I'd imagine the idea being - we can play in this league. I'll say that the Grand Integrated certainly man-handled those speakers with dynamic aplomb. Or is that panache? I mean slam.
The Grand Integrated employs the ESS 9018 DAC chipset and supports 24bit/192kHz over asynchronous USB, provides 400W/ch from its Class D amp but adds a 12AU7 tube buffer designed by Bascom King to remove any rough sonic edges. The source was a MacBook Pro running Amarra and we listened to The Shins, Peter Gabriel and many more and as I looked around at the other listeners I saw lots of smiles and grins. No pensive stares, no brow-furrowed frowns straining to hear the sound of one capacitor clapping, just people enjoying themselves and the music.
The Grand Pre is obviously more than that as it includes the ESS Sabre32 DAC, asynchronous I2S 24/192 USB input, user selectable DAC filter slopes, a bevy of inputs including BNC 75 ohm, (4) S/PDIF (2 Coax & 2 Toslink), 2 line level inputs, HT bypass, USB input (24/192), and an XLR input. It includes the same tube buffer as found in the Grand Integrated and the idea here according to Peachtree is to make any musical source sound good whether you're streaming from MOG or serving from your HD tracks. The Grand Pre was paired up with the Sim Audio MOON 880M Reference Mono Power Amplifiers and the B&W 802 Diamond speakers.
The source was a MacBook Pro running Pure Music and I'd agree in principle with something Jonathan Derda said when he pointed out that he preferred Pure Music on this system and Amarra on the other. Even our software's sound is system-dependent which is why I cringe each time I hear some audiophile declare one piece of the puzzle to be the best.
The third system was comprised of the Peachtree iNova ($1,799) paired with the Peachtree Audio Design 5 speakers [thanks to Chris Connaker for pointing out an error]. I have the iNova in-house for review so stay tuned for a more thorough listening impression of the Peachtree sound. My bet is it'll at least be animated.