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24 Jun 2017: George Kopsaftopoulos

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By Tony Pothitos

Monthly Meeting ACA at George Kopsaftopoulos

George Koftatsopoulos has been an active member of ACA not only as a dealer in high end, but as a pure music lover at first. This love took him to his desire and to what he has accomplished today. It’s not about the money, the stereos, the cars or anything a mastercard can buy, but rather something which cannot be bought, and no it’s not about love. It’s about being able to set up a great system at any price point. He knows what he listens to and knows the difference between quality, what someone wants and he has the uncanny gift of finding out what is needed to satisfy that gift, which makes him into such a successful high end dealer.

Tonight was an ACA meeting though, and since we, the older members remember him from over a decade ago, we all know that what plays at home is his personal preference and not something to sell to the other members of the group. I say that because he could have brought home everything he has and played his most expensive and most eloquent machines and that could have been it.

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Instead of that though we had the luck, yes, the luck to hear what he loves to hear when he listens to music in his own home. Dare I say I was quite shocked at the difference that existed in the sphere of what we dub as the “high end” sound.

Speaking of which, someone, a Frenchman, a friend who sells software for us digital audiophile listeners, asked me the question quite frankly and bluntly. “So what is high end, really? There is so much crap out there, what is it that makes a system high end or not? Can you define it or is it just B.S”

I, without any hesitation started to tell him about staging, voice reproduction, imaging, (both horizontal and vertical) and three dimensional sound. I honestly don’t what I said exactly, but he told me that, if that’s high end, then we have every right to be stupid about it. That was that.

The System...

  • Digital music player : Aurender X100L 12TB
  • Digital Source : EMMLabs DA-2
  • Preamplifiers : Viva Audio Linea 2016 version
  • Amplifier : Gryphon Antileon Signature
  • Speakers : Hansen Audio, Prince V2
  • LAN Giso isolation & Wireworld Cat8 Ethernet
  • Cables : Stealth Audio & Jorma Design flagship lines
  • Power isolation TORUS Power AVR-16 2017 version
  • Rack : Finite Elemente Pagode Edition - Ultra Audio improved

Now about the music at hand…

First looks are impressions, but never in our hobby, I have seen some amazing looking setups sound like another version of anything but proper high fidelity sound. This is shows where the rooms are so small and the time to setup a system is so little that the distributors or show casing is almost impossible to done properly given the above mentioned as limitations.

Aurender and streaming on the fly is how we started the intro to the listening session, from the net streamer server, I thought that was a nice difference to the listening session.

Chris Jones, a fine voice indeed was his first pick, I could position the vocalist, the actual sounds clear and robust and sincerely quite well represented in every manner, including the acoustics of instruments which were part of the title.

Kind of hard to believe that I am sitting so close to a system and it is so alive with a sound stage that has full depth both vertically and horizontally in spades. The guitar comes in very well with the whole instument being heard, and not just the notes, this is extremely vital in any good system and here it wins first prize. The humming is deep, throaty and very well reproduced, this is a very well recorded title, but the system seems very, and I mean, very well put together. Sincerely, nothing seems to be lacking or over the top, but since we are talking about George, what else?

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Jen Chaplin, Master blaster, with a bass, so well tuned it made me smile until it hurt my face. The sax was perfectly balanced and every aspect was literally spot on. This system is a real success, not one thing can I criticise in any aspect. That or the recordings were made of Gold and I haven’t heard good music for centuries, which does not hold.

The vocals are essentially so real and musical at the same time, that accompanied with the bass to recreate a sincere wonder of music.

I knew it was going to be good, but never would I think this simply set up system was going to sound like this. I cannot say I am fond of the components, mostly out of ignorance, but I obviously have to hear this many more times, not out of curiosity but because of the heart of the system, and its rhythm which is furiously life like.

The speaker itself does not have a large foot print at least from the front, it does have a bass port on the bottom, but when you look at the white woofers you wonder why they look so good, then realise that they are white and that is why. They look clean. Good marketing. Others should use this trick.

Le trio Joubran was next, the immediacy of the bass and the extended highs from the strings were not at all tiring, despite the very high sound pressure levels we were listening at. The strikes of the sitar were sweet and harsh, just like they are in reality, and the drum was soft but pinnacle in the music’s reproduction of reality. The only point I lost a bit was when there were too many vocals at the same time, but this was not the stereos fault, but the rooms, since this kind of music needs walls covered with the out most of everything. I am surprised it could play so well with the very few things that were on the left of the stereo, and nothing on the right. Room conditioned, this stereo would play 30% better, if that’s possible!

I was sitting straight in the sweet spot and it was very well balanced, despite the Arabic rug which was extremely small for the room. The passion and charisma of the strings and drums, including a strange tympanic drum was very reminiscent of African fusion in it as well. I was very surprised to hear it so well recorded and for the first time other than live, heard it so close to the truth.

Pink Floyd was next, I expected a horrible extension of bass, but was relieved it was flawless, and I mean exactly what it should be, tight, bass was superfluous and highly regarded as one of the best I have ever heard of its kind (which means tight, deep, good extension of the woofer created an x-max (Short for Maximum Linear Excursion. Speaker output becomes non-linear when the voice coil begins to leave the magnetic gap) many would be jealous of. I wish I had this stereo at home but with no one in the building!

“We don’t need no education” might be boring for most, but when it is played well and so loud, it is astonishing despite its age. This was loud, so loud it reminded me of a kid who used to hear it his my klipsch horns 32 years ago.

Buddy Guy Anna Lee was next, a blow to the past from the past, but in another part of the world. I can’t say it was the easiest of switches, but it was a brutally bally one. Anna Lee, is hard to listen to after The Wall, but it actually sounds complete as it finishes its first minute. The bass on this system is literally shocking, and to imagine this is a not even vinyl. It is a 44.1 k recording.

On the fly we now play, “I will survive”, from Musica Nuda. Nude music, a cello, with a female voice which grabbed me from the scrotum to the throat. It shocked me how the bass was again soooo smooth and fast, the strings totally in harmony with everything I was listening to. This has to be one of the best systems I have heard. That is a subjective view but it is so true that I am willing to say that I could easily live and die with this system in my home. Truth be told, I would be dead had it been in my home due to neighbour’s killing me.

Surely I know components which are better, but as a whole this is a system which would take thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to finally get it to where it is.

Classical time...

96 kHz. Korsakov, Rimsky The snow maiden of the tumblers. Eiji Que.

Can’t say a preferred piece of music, but a tremendously difficult piece to pick, and with its intense highs and lows, its swinging orchestral speed together with probably more than 50 instruments, showed how tremendous this system honestly is. Simply flawless.

Carol Kid, “Alfie”. What a song. What a momentous period of music and love. The female vocals were stupendous, musical and perversely realistic.

Next up, daft punk, Within, a piano which was totally digital, but very liquid, enchanted and even melodic despite the electronic sound which I despise. Out of all the recordings, this was the worst mastered.

Hadook Trio. Parasol blanc 2. Again the bass essentially steals all my heart and then some, the sax and trumpet despite the 44.1 kHz recording and the on the fly playing sounds well rounded, passionate and sweet.

Haris Alexiou, the Greek singer came just after. Her depth of vocal sensation, could have been dubbed a bit coloured, but I honestly believe it was due to the recording, rather than anything to do with the system. Overall, I would sincerely say that this system is extremely forgiving in every aspect. I guess that is what happens when you put a puzzle together in the best way, it always shines. That to be actually created though is a feat beyond my own abilities and imagination. I know how hard it is to piece anything together, so I take my hat off to this monstrous piece of work and simply leave Georges house smiling all the way to my dreams.

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Ending up

On that note I would like to thank George on behalf of everyone there or not, and hope he invites me home again one day after the heat waves of summer for us to sit down and talk about how he built this entire system.

That is what I take away with me other than the smiles mentioned above.

Thank you George

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