Bill Wells visits GTT Audio
During a recent visit to New Jersey this spring, the inevitable hook up with Sir Clement of Perry (aka CP) along with Greg Voth came to fruition - including an unexpected but thoroughly enjoyable visit to GTT Audio. Bill Parish is the proprietor of this wonderful facility which is located in the beautiful rolling hills of northwest New Jersey and not far from my former home. As I started my 45 minute drive from Newark (NJ) towards the Poconos Mountains - I found myself wondering about the type of facility that would likely be located so far away from more heavily populated city environment. After arriving there – I quickly got my answer. Bill Parish has designed a beautifully customized facility serving as both his home and business. My time was spent primarily in the areas where there are multiple listening rooms that provide different types of listening environments. To me this is a very nice touch and allows prospective clientele with the opportunity of experiencing various types of systems in appropriate sized listening spaces. For sure – this wasn’t one of those situations where one size fits all and as the complexity of the various audio systems changed – the listening room configuration changed as well. This made each of my separate listening experiences that much more effective and enjoyable.
For the most part – the primary speakers being displayed that day were various models from the highly regarded YG Audio product line. These ranged from the smaller Carmel II’s to the mid-sized Haleys to the much larger flagship Sonja 1.3’s. My initial starting point for this trip was in Bill’s studio where I was treated to hearing the Kronos Sparta turntable with Helena tonearm ($28,000) and Air Tight Supreme cartridge ($11,000). This wonderful analog rig fed precious signals into the Mola Mola Makua Linestage ($11,700) including the optional phono stage ($2,900) and then connected to a pair of Mola Mola Kaluga mono amps ($16,500). These electronics powered a pair of YG Acoustics Hailey Loudspeakers ($42,800). What a great way to start my visit. Only missing was a perhaps a glass of Glenlivet 15 single malt scotch (one single ice-cube please) or a nice glass of red wine! Seriously, listening to some very high quality vinyl recordings through these impressive electronics and wonderful loudspeakers caused me to slowly sink down deep into my comfy listening chair and literally fall into a dream-like state of mind. Nothing but pure unadulterated music was flowing and this was just the beginning.
Being jarred out of my totally comfy mode and for the purpose of exploring more of the GTT Audio facility – I was then quickly escorted to a totally different listening space. There I had the pleasure (and surprise) of checking out the truly innovative and quite astonishing Kii Three loudspeakers ($13,900). These speakers are absolutely shocking in what they do considering the price and the systems solution approach incorporated in the design. This product definitely fits into a life-style category and they are also a high performance audio package as well. As I learned more about this fairly compact speaker/ amp/DAC package, I really could appreciate their proprietary design. When I heard them, they were connected to an Auralic Aries Streamer ($1600) as the source and sounding mighty fine. Another significant factor in their favor – these speakers do not require interconnects and/or speaker cables.in the usual sense The primary cables required for this system are power cords to provide AC to the electronics embedded within each speaker along. Additionally, an interconnect cable is required to connect whichever speaker is chosen as the main speaker to the other speaker. Another intriguing feature for these speakers is their flexibility for room placement. Check this out ladies and gentlemen - you can alter the speaker’s placement in a variety of locations including close to wall, in a corner or out into the room. The adjustments can be set with a dial on the back of the speaker which quickly optimizes the placement for the best overall performance. That’s it – Bingo-Bam and you’re all set for fun time and good listening.
OK, so much for speakers – let me switch up a bit. Even though I’ve focused much more on digital playback over the past five plus years, whenever I’m in the presence of a solid analog playback system – I feel compelled to give them my props. Honoring the past and where we came from is, for me, more than just a symbolic gesture but one that also recognizes the overall sonic excellence that I so fondly remember. Now, having said that – I should tell you that my eyes were often popping as I gazed upon some of the gorgeous looking and wonderful sounding Kronos turntables at this facility. Yes, I’ve seen pictures of these products but up until then, I hadn’t had an opportunity to actually see one live, up close and personal. As I mentioned, Bill selectively places various models of these turntables, tone arms and cartridge combinations into different listening rooms. As I mentioned earlier in this report, my initial listening was done in Bill’s studio where I was introduced to a very attractive Kronos analog rig that seemed to perform very, very well. At no time did I wish to hear an alternative digital playback system.
My venture to what Parish refers to as his “big room,” almost game me pause as I quickly checked out not only the wonderful components on display, including a most gorgeous turntable setup. Yep – it was the big brother to what I had listened to earlier. What I found myself starring at was none other than the totally outstanding Kronos Pro turntable ($38,000) fitted with a Black Beauty 12” tonearm ($10,000) which was holding a Air Tight Opus 1 cartridge ($15,000). Elegance galore and I couldn’t wait to hear what it could do. Also, in this room - I had an opportunity to check out the top of the line YGA Sonja 1.3 speakers ($106,800). These were driven superbly by 2 pair of Audionet MAX amps ($30,500 pair). into Audionet PAM G2/EPX Phonostage ($20,200) and Audionet Pre G2 ($23,350), The Audionet electronics are exquisite German designed and engineered electronics and are highly musical. For sure – I’m hoping to get my hands on some of these wonderful products for review – hopefully sometime in the not too distant future. In terms of cabling - Kubala Sosna cables were used throughout the GTT Audio facility and is clearly the cable of choice.
In terms of the overall sonic quality of this clearly state-of-the-art reference system, the sound was very open, natural, unrestrained, powerful with a very solid dynamic flow. This gave music an authentic and wonderfully natural sonic quality. The midrange was wide open, clear with lots of detail and inner resolution. It also had a velvety smoothness throughout this range combining dynamics with finesse and power. For sure, the sound was never upfront and in my face. Instead – I was able to really appreciate the expansive soundstage loaded with wonderful music. It was as if the room was without walls thus allowing the sound of instruments to emerge forth a totally quiet, open background.
I should also mention that other than a brief listen to digital streaming via ROON, all serious listening was done via analog input. In terms of selections – Parish maintains a most impressive library of wonderful LPs, including specialty 45 rpm 180 gram pressings, ranging from classical to traditional jazz to more contemporary recordings. And here’s the real killer – each listening room had large racks/ shelves containing these wonderful gems providing a veritable feast of listening pleasures. Just how Bill is able to keep track of where things are located is beyond me. He assured me that from time to time, he too finds himself challenged and might lose track of where things are. However, he is also very meticulous in terms of returning things to where they belong and tries hard to minimize any possible confusion.
As the afternoon came to a conclusion - my head had become filled with all kinds of very positive listening experiences and I quickly began to think of when I would have an opportunity to return for a follow up visit. Although not quite the same but the fact that I was planning to attend the annual Axpona Audio Show in Chicago area in mid-April and where GTT Audio would be exhibiting, this would provide an opportunity to reconnect at this show. Bottom line – my afternoon provided an absolutely wonderful visit and many thanks to Bill Parish for such warm hospitality and exposing me to a most impressive facility and wonderful high-end audio equipment. I definitely plan to return and strongly suggest that if you happen to be visiting somewhere in the NYC/NJ metropolitan area – you owe it to yourself to schedule an appointment for the opportunity to explore the GTT Audio facility and learn more about what Bill Parish has to offer. I’m confident your experience will be as rewarding as mine and perhaps even more so.