A Day in the Life of GTT Audio's Bill Parrish
No planes. No trains. Just my automobile was all I needed for a short excursion to the Long Valley NJ, residence of hi-end audio retailer extraordinaire Bill Parish of GTT Audio and Video. In my travels, I've seen some really outlandish hi-end rigs in some very nice homes. Parish's home is perhaps the most impressive however sporting five dedicated listening spaces. To be honest, I've not seen many retail stores with listening rooms this spacious and cozy. To have this level of freedom in ones own home is unprecedented in my experience. The one exception resides thousands of miles away and he is none other than tweak-meister Holger Stein of Mülheim, Germany (see our visit here). Needless to say, that visit required many hours aboard planes, trains and automobiles.
But there's a reason I came to hear this system and thus provide this report. Parish gave me a call and asked that I come out and hear something entirely new to the world of high-end audio. Seldom have I seen this level of excitement coming from Parish considering he owns some of the world's loftiest high-end components. Even more exciting was the mention that these "products" were going to be affordable. Affordable is a strange word. "You mean according to what financial stratosphere you're in" I responded. "No, Parish stated, the most these amps are going to cost is $15k tops." Of course, my next question was "what is the company's name and how, in your opinion do these components compare with your reference gear??"
This, of course, prompted me to make a vey early appointment. Upon my arrival, I was first escorted to the office where I was greeted by some very sweet sounding vinyl. I got the hint. Before listening to these new components, Parish wanted to give me the customary tour. I obliged by taking these photos and offering some sonic insights.
The thing I first noticed upon entering GTT Audio's office suite, aside from the equipment is how nicely decorated and large this space actually is. Black and while photos featuring music legends like Hendrix, Joplin, Dylan and Cash adorn the listening walls. The YG Acoustic Anat Studio Signatures and Tenor 175 stereo amplifier rested on a rather large antique Persian throw rug that served both as a topic of discussion for its aesthetic beauty as well as a bass diffuser. Electronics chosen for this occasion were the large Swiss-made Soulution 501 series mono amplifiers.
This system's front end featured both excellent analogue and digital components like the Soulution 540 SA-CD player, Brinkmann Oasis turntable with Air Tight PC1 cartridge, Sutherland PhonoBlock phonostage and Volce LS-1 preamp. Also seen but not heard were the Naim UnitiServe SSD, Soulution 710 series electronics and Tenor 175 stereo amplifier. Kubala-Sosna Emotion series cables graced this listening space through and through.
Time was short so listening went for no more than 20-30 minutes in this room. But how long does it take to know when you're listening to something special? I was surprised at how open, detailed and, well analogue sounding that Brinkmann turntable is. Its understated in design and simple to operate yet delivers all the sonic goods with relative ease.
Next up: The Life Style Suite
If I had to name a theme for this spacious suite it would be one of convenience and comfort.
Designed for the audio and videophile who chooses to have his equipment hidden and not situated in the middle of a room - and still achieve great sonic results. This room features the YG KiPod II Signature loudspeakers and the Devailet D-Premeir amplifier as a centerpiece due to its wide range versatility and ability to stream music wirelessly via iTunes.
Using an iPad as a remote, Parish also chose a JVC video projector, Oppo Blu-Ray player and Apple TV among the host of treasures hidden away in this very attractive suite.
Next up: The McIntosh Suite
This humongous space featured a bevy of McIntosh gear like their model MCD-500 CD player, MC2300 tube pre and MC452 stereo amplifier (rated at a hefty 450 watts per channel) strapped to a pair of Thiel CS 2.7 loudspeakers. Everyone who walks into a GTT Audio suite at RMAF or CES may see his name is synonymous with YG Acoustics, Soulution, Tenor and Kubala-Sosna but that's not really the case. Though Parish is devoted to selling only the brands he truly believes in, McIntosh is one certainly among the few he places much faith in.
Next up: The Smaller Suite
Though smaller in stature than its larger and more expensive siblings I really like the YG Carmel II because it really packs a bang for the buck at $18k (still boasts that aluminum chassis for example). I also find this model quite easy to setup in smaller spaces thanks to its small footprint. And one important note is, I found the Carmel II to perform great alongside less than state-of-the-art components like the PS Audio Perfect Wave digital front end. That said, this loudspeaker will acquit itself when paired with world-class components like Luxman. Featured here are the Luxman M-800A mono amplifiers and C800f preamp. I don't know if it's the mood of this room with its black and gold draping and darkened interior allows the music to really stand out more than my desire to eye-ball all the fancy electronics in front of me. All in all, this somehow is one of my favorite rooms and I can't explain why.
Next up: The Big Rig
When I arrived in this incredibly impressive looking suite, I literally forgot where I was and thought I was attending some small high-end trade show. As expected, the components here featured the top of the line YG Acoustics Anat III Pro Signatures loudspeakers, Soulution's 700 series mono amps, 720 preamp and 745 SA-CD player. A Brinkmann Balance turntable sporting an Air Tight PC1 Supreme cartridge fed a Soulution 750 phono stage. Once again, all cabling was by way of Kubala-Sosna Emotion series.
As good as Parish generally sounds at shows be it CES or RMAF, nothing quite compares to what he gets here in his home. Easy to consider. Nothing is disturbed or moved about while the room is far more conducive in creating a relaxed atmosphere. This allows the music to pour forth with a sense of balance, power and grace that's very stunning and really disables any criticisms I might want to harbor. This system is that good. In fact, after hearing this super sophisticated rig, I was now more than intrigued to hear the Mola Mola go up against a rig costing this much moolah moolah?
The Mola Mola preamp beauty that is as understated as it is curvaceous. In a word: sexy. This full fledged design though minimal in appearance is said to be outfitted with five inputs (five RCA and five Balanced XLR). Options are said to include a phono stage and DAC.
Here's one of the Mola Mola mono amplifier right beside a single mammoth Soulution 700 series mono amplifier. Though miniature in stature don't let its size fool you for the Mola Mola can put out a whopping 450 watts per side into 8 Ohms and remain cool to the touch. Of course, none of this means a thing if the Mola Mola can't do their thing and make the music swing.
Personally, within minutes of hearing both the Molah preamp and amplifier combo, did I get a sense that perhaps that there might be something very special about these amplifiers. The big YG Anat Pro Signatures are self-powered in the lower regions and as a result I cannot report on their bass prowess. But as far as their ability to produce a grain-free, open and airy midrange and top end is concerned, I felt these Mola Mola components sounded very good. I got it. I understand why Parish was so enthused by their sound. So much in fact, I asked Parish to let me hear the Soulutions one more time. At many times the asking price, the Soulutions are among the most expensive solid-state electronics I know of. They are also among the best I have heard. The Mola Mola more than acquits itself by way of their spatial beauty and unabashed openness.
This folks is Class D at its best. Unfortunately, the illusion of the Mola Mola sounding as magnificent as the big Soulution gear didn't happen. I was somewhat surprised at how much better the Soulution rendered high-frequency resolution in particular. Cymbals had a fabric that was much closer to the real thing. I was not however embarrassed to think the Mola Mola could sound so close to the Soulution. In fact, I am happy to report that I think the Mola Mola have a familiarity that, to these ears, is a closer match to the Soulution than say McIntosh. That something this exciting is on the horizon will obviously bring about lots of discussions as to what others think of Mola Mola. For this music lover, I was duly impressed and felt that, for the money, Mola Mola is hands down the company to keep an eye on in 2013. Unless, of course, you're from that other stratosphere and have the extra Moolah to spend on Soulution.
Happy New Year!