If there is no denying then that accurate musical playback requires high resolution, why do so many audiophiles insist on contrasting high resolution systems with musical ones? Part of the answer may be that they confuse high resolution with an analytic sound. This identification is entirely unwarranted, however. An analytical presentation highlights the leading edge of notes at the expense of their body and natural decay. But the leading edge unaccompanied by the rest of the note represents the very absence of resolution, not the paradigm of it. The notes are being indicated by their leading edge, they are not being resolved. The same can be said of music playback systems that portray sharply etched images in space. Again, these are often described as high resolution but are anything but - they fail to resolve the space between the musicians. They represent playback as separate and distinct parts when in fact the essence of a musical performance is its continuity. There is air and space between performers on a stage or in a studio. Sharply etched images create the sense of several musicians playing at the same time, but not as a group playing together. The latter is central to the very idea of music - and a highly resolving though not analytical system will portray it as such.

In saying that the Sinhonia F2a amplifier is both as musical and as highly resolving an amplifier as I have heard long- term, I mean to convey just this: It differentiates the notes from one another by marking the leading edge; it completes the notes by unraveling their harmonic structure and lets you follow their decay into the air and space of the recording. And it does this not as some technical exercise to be admired from a distance, but as an emotional experience that will not merely involve or engage you but -- if you are open to it -- in fact transport you. In a small but not insignificant way, you will emerge from every listening session with the Sinhonia a changed person.

Only the beginning
Halfway through the review process, the Combak/Harmonix Reimyo CD player replaced the Audiomeca/Audio Logic combination. Not long after that, the new Well-Tempered Reference replaced my Well-Tempered Classic. The Roksan Shiraz stayed. Fellow moonie Les Turoczi borrowed my Audience speaker cables and I returned the Stealth hybrid MLT to the system.

However good the Audio Logic DAC is, there's no comparing it to the Reimyo. In fact, there may be no comparing anything to the Reimyo. And when it comes to the Well Tempered Reference, the thought that comes to mind is this: Open up an audio dictionary, look up the term analogue sound. You should find a picture of the Well-Tempered Reference accompanying it.

Both the Reimyo and the Well-Tempered present music as three-dimensional, layered, relaxed and natural. The Reimyo in particular is transparent in ways that the Well-Tempered cannot match. Perhaps no analogue setup can match the Reimyo for its transparency, the blackness of its background. Whatever their differences, both sources make music and brought new levels of transparency and resolution to the system.

Just as some loudspeakers appear to have a nearly insatiable appetite for power or current -- think Magneplanar or Soundlab -- the Sinhonia F2a appears to have an unquenchable thirst for high resolution components upstream. The better the source was at sorting the musical from the non-musical details, the happier the Sinhonia was at presenting the musical message in a rich tonal palette to the speaker. To its credit, the Wilson Sophia was up to the challenge.

Much the same was happening to me. With the Sinhonia amplifier in the chain, I wanted ever purer and resolving components upstream. I did not want to hear a CD source that shelved down high frequency information, or one that fattened the midbass in order to present a warm, pleasing experience from RedBook. Nor did I want a turntable/cartridge combination that, at the expense of truncated frequency extremes, focused on getting the midrange right. I wanted components that worked to turn the signal into music while appearing to be doing no more than getting out of the way. I was asking a lot I know but had a right to. The Sinhonia removed all fears that something would go wrong between source and sound.

To be fair, my confidence was as much a consequence of the Monbrison being in the chain as it was a result of the Sinhonia F2a. To my ears, the Monbrison has an uncanny capacity to sort the musical from the non-musical details to present the amps with a dynamic and tonal coherence. It was left to the Sinhonias to take what the Monbrison had passed along and add the power and finesse, the energy and the life that translates a mere electrical signal into music.

And this the Sinhonia did with a clarity, transparency, simplicity, honesty, refinement and depth that make it a genuinely great amplifier. But there was more to Sinhonia and I was beginning to sense that the most apt way of characterizing its way with music might well be immediate.

In this regard, I was reminded of my experiences with some of the very best single-ended triode designs. No offense intended, but the truth remains that most reviewers in the American press have as little understanding of single-ended-triode amplifiers (or experience with them) as they have of genuine horn loudspeakers. If you read Stereophile long enough, you may come to believe that the renaissance in single-ended designs began with the Cary 805 amplifier a decade or so ago. Indeed, Stereophile heralds the 805 as one of the most important products in the 40 years since the publication's inception. Tell that to Jean Hiraga, Kondo-San, Shindo-San and a half-dozen other designers who will be remembered long after Dennis Had has been forgotten. Once again, the good folks at Stereophile have confused "news to them" with news per se. These same folks tell you that horns honk - though no well-designed hornspeaker in the last fifteen years with which I am familiar honks. This is not to say hornspeakers are colorless - but then again do you know any speaker that is entirely free of colorations?