Playback Designs

Somehow I'd missed Jonathan Tinn's room at THE Show Newport and I wasn't going to let that happen again. At RMAF he was showing the diminutive in size but not in musical stature Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne ($2,000), darTZeel CTH-8550 integrated amplifier ($20,300) and while I was in the room the Playback Designs MPS-3 ($8,500) controlled by custom software Playback Designs had developed for their players.

The Playback Designs MPS-3 can handle high resolution files up to 24/384 kHz PCM and DSD through USB! We went native and listened to The Who's "Baba O'Riley" in all of its DSD glory and it sounded big, bold, wide and deep and resolute without any discernable sharp edges whatsoever. Just as I was coming off that high Jonathan asked Mike Spitz of ATR Services if Louis was queued up on the Ampex ATR-100 and he was. As the tape rolled, "St. James Infirmary" started to ooze out of those MMMicroOne's from somewhere a few decades behind the back wall, slithering with New Orleans funk, crawling up your pant legs like a King Snake until you're at once delighted and shocked by Louis Armstrong's arrival, "Yea, yea, yea".

This recording sounds simply amazing on LP and it's sort of a mean trick to play on unsuspecting listeners since I bet it'll get your hairs on end through a Close 'N Play. But I've never heard it on tape! And all's I can say is man o man, Louis Armstrong was one suave dude with a voice made for recording and a sense of timing that can make Miles sound positively timid.