It only took one song.
I’d hurried over to the PGE Narodowy stadium to meet with Heinz Lichtenegger, founder of Pro-Ject and the current owner of Musical Fidelity. The plan was to discuss my upcoming review of the Musical Fidelity M8xTT turntable, but I arrived about 15 minutes early, so I puttered around in the three rooms that Pro-Ject and Musical Fidelity shared in this quadrant of the stadium. It was first thing in the morning and the show was just opening, so the rooms were nearly empty—this was the golden hour, like right before sunset when the light is best for photography.
The first room I went into didn’t have the M8xTT on hand, but, strangely enough, there was an Oracle Delphi turntable sitting there, a piece of Canada that I didn’t expect to see in Poland. But the Oracle wasn’t playing. Instead, they were streaming digital through the new Nu-Vista DAC, which is so new it isn’t even up on Musical Fidelity’s website. Doug Schneider covered the DAC and the equally new Nu-Vista Phono 2 phono preamplifier in a separate article, so I won’t go into detail on these two components.
Driving the demo system were another two massive Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista components—the PRE preamplifier (zł102,999) and PAS stereo amp (zł112,999). Each of these monster components comes with its own dedicated external power supply, so that’s a total of four chassis. In black, they make quite a statement, low-profile and menacing, like an iceberg or marine mine. As I circled them, I felt myself moving cautiously lest I stub my toe.
The PAS was driving a pair of Audio Physic Cardeas speakers, which retail for zł200,000. When I first walked in the door, the system was playing “Black Cow” by Steely Dan, and I stood there transfixed. The bass was deep and solid, with a fascinating sense of dimensionality—a roundness, a fullness that was still notably tight and controlled. Even a bunch of degrees off-axis, the imaging was still superb.
I listened through to the end of the song, and before I had a chance to really clock what else was playing, Lichtenegger walked in, and I switched my focus to discussing the M8xTT. There’s a sprightly feeling of crackling enthusiasm to Lichtenegger’s manner. It’s immediately apparent that he’s in this game because he loves audio, especially turntables, but he combines that enthusiasm with an easily approachable manner. Whether it’s true or not (and I think it is), Lichtenegger made me feel that he wanted to be there, at that moment, discussing audio.
Our conversation flitted around various topics, mostly concerning turntable design, my experiences with several Pro-Ject RPM-series turntables, and the differences in philosophy between Pro-Ject and Musical Fidelity.
Lichtenegger explained that the two-chassis Nu-Vista PAS amp, matching Nu-Vista PRE preamp, and indeed the M8xTT turntable, were designed for larger rooms and larger-scale music. “Anthony Michaelson is a musician who loves orchestral music,” said Lichtenegger. “So the Nu-Vista components were designed to handle large power swings, the kind that orchestral music demands.”
With a combined weight of 148 pounds for the power amplifier and its matching power supply, it’s clear to me that the PAS is overbuilt. I mean that in the best possible way. It’s a 300Wpc amplifier that can chug out 1000Wpc peaks into 2 ohms. That’s serious current, and it’s contained in a very stylish package.
As Lichtenegger and I were talking, I found that I had to consciously force myself to concentrate on what he was saying, as even though the system was playing at a reasonable level, there was a sense of realism about it that I found most distracting. At that point, I asked if we could move outside so that I’d better be able to follow our conversation.
At one point near the end of our interview, as we were discussing the M8xTT, Lichtenegger asked me what cartridges I planned on using for the review. I mentioned the DS Audio W3 optical cartridge that I’m currently reviewing, but he said that he hadn’t yet had a chance to try out this technology, and he wasn’t sure if the compliance would match the tonearm, but he’d check and get back to me. I then told him that I also had on hand an E.A.T Jo N°8 cartridge, from European Audio Team, which Jozefína Lichtenegger, Heinz’s wife, owns.
Lichtenegger’s eyes lit up. “Oh yes, that would work just great!” he said. I smiled and as I walked away after we’d finished talking, I thought to myself that while these shows are fun and all, we need an anchor, a way to pull ourselves back home.
Senior Editor, SoundStage!