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More interesting are textural qualities particularly in the extremes. The Octave's treble is exceptionally silken, airy and teased out. Contrasted against the purely transistorized SAC—the HP300MkII is a valve/transistor hybrid—the fine cymbal ticks of Miles Davis' “Hannibal” from Live around the World had the longer decays, richer surface feel and on this live recording the general vibe was more open and airy with the pre from Baden. But only lightly so. This becomes a compliment for SAC whose solid-state machine in this price class hung in very well in the treble. I'm pretty certain that Electrocompaniet's Pre EC4.8 at the time played it a bit drier and sprier – or La Finezza slicker.
A true forté for SAC occurred in the bassment with not merely shove and substance but terrific articulation. Norwegian Jazz guitarist Eivind Aarset's Électronique noire and its third cut “Lost and found” serves up gloriously low synth bass loops primarily for atmosphere. Or so I thought before the SAC arrived. Then I realized that down low was quite richer of shade and nuance which I'd previously mostly passed by. Lookie here I thought!

La Finezza presents first-class contours in the bass. Particularly versus the Octave this more pressurized potent reading was a definitive performance gain. This tuneful bass also became foundation for SAC's brilliant rhythmic flair (PRaT in Brit speak) where nothing drags but rather shows up 'en pointe'. Fabulosity!

To take the pulse on midband and vocals, the CD player next cued up Nick Caves' new Push the sky away and Portishead's old Dummy only to hit a rerun on earlier tonal balance comments. Neither did Beth Gibbon's voice sound deeper nor Cave's brighter than I knew it from other well-balanced gear. I'd call it linear and honest, good as it goes but as such not special yet. Special happens with SAC's high resolving power and grippy well focused concentrated staging. Portishead's "Roads" is always touching but when Gibbon is extricated in full relief from the background without seeming artificially etched... wow, now 'touching' gains new depths.

To stick with the thematic but Mazzy Star's Among my Swan, "Flowers in December" kicks off with a few guitar chords before bass accompaniment segues in, a harmonica appears and finally Hope Sandoval's voice. There's isn't much musical action but this number highlighted one La Finezza essential for which the term localization sharpness is insufficient. As far as it goes it's perfectly true and to a high degree but there's more. Instruments and voices condense somehow to get denser as though some oxygene was sucked out of the sound bubble. This meant guitar and harmonica scaled slightly smaller than I'm used to; had stronger color to feel less pastel; and were more sharply outlined, more embodied and through'n'through solid. As a combined upshot the soundstage felt very sorted and illuminated. Nothing drifted, nothing trembled and individual sounds felt as though cast in space. "Thus and no different!" seemed to be La Finezza's credo. Very persuasive and above all involving.