EMM Labs MTRX2 Mono Amplifiers $85,000 Review

February 7, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“A recent discovery I’ve made through Tidal is the singer Chlara’s Evo Sessions (24/96 FLAC/MQA, Evolution Media/Tidal). It’s a very spare, pure-sounding recording of, I believe, only acoustic instruments. Chlara does a beautiful job on track 9, Cat Stevens’s “Wild World” — mostly because of her earnest and achingly sweet voice, which is pristinely recorded and placed solidly at center stage. Such a recording shows exactly why the MTRX2 can be considered a gentle giant. Sitting on the floor, a pair of them are imposing — some might even think them brutish because of their big, boxy looks. But powering the Revel Ultima2 Salon2s, they reproduced Chlara’s voice with the utmost delicacy and refinement. The sound had an airy, light quality you wouldn’t necessarily expect from such big solid-state mono amps — at least if you’re an old-school thinker who believes that high power and high refinement can’t coexist. Yet her voice also had a sense of urgency — I could feel even her subtlest inflections of note and word, as if she were singing to me in real life. This was even more apparent with “This Love,” which has a livelier, jazzier feel. I don’t like the song nearly as much as “Wild World,” but the EMMs and Revels reproduced her voice with such immediacy and purity that I could only sit and listen, and not criticize — I was captivated by how realistically and natural Chlara sounded.

Having heard that quality of reproduction of a woman’s voice, I turned to a male singer: Adam Cohen, and his album We Go Home (16/44.1 WAV, Cooking Vinyl). I played the entire album straight through, so engrossed was I with what was coming out of the Salon2s. Immediately afterward, what popped to mind was how well Cohen’s voice had been conveyed — the EMMs’ velvet-smooth sound and sky-high resolution made it sound so authentic. The next thing that came to mind was that I knew, deep down, that it was this sound’s inherent rightness that had compelled me to listen to the entire album and not think of skipping to another track or album. What rightness in music reproduction means exactly is difficult or impossible to put into words. It’s easier to say that it’s something you experience, and that you know it when you hear it — not unlike looking at a great painting and having the image take your breath away, but without being able to explain exactly why.”

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