- Written by John E. Johnson, Jr.
- Published on 29 May 2013
I tested the BP17 with an OPPO BDP-95 universal player, Classé CA-M600 monoblock power amplifiers, and Carver Mark IV ribbon speakers. Cables were Wireworld.
Lang Lang's The Concert: Live at the Roundhouse (Sony 8-8697-89143-9-2) shows Lang's virtuosity and mastery of the classic piano, and what better way to show it than with 10 solo pieces by Franz Liszt? This Blu-ray music disc is PCM stereo, and at high resolution sampling. From one end of the keyboard to the other, Lang's fingers moved (the disc has an HD video of the performance) deftly across the ivories, and the BP17 kept up the pace. Low IM from the BP17 allowed every harmonic of each note to be audibly felt, and the transients (attack) with each note were sharp and detailed. Terrific music, terrific DAC (not a very romantic sentence, but I'm sure you get the point).
Guitar is another instrument that can cause havoc in an audio chain. The leading edge transients of the strings when plucked, especially in the Flamenco style, can make or break the sonic experience. This SACD is a remastered 1962 recording of Julian Bream (RCA 8-8697-04606-2-0) demonstrated the BP17's ability to resolve those transients. They were crisp, but without harshness.
Saint-Saëns is famous for his "Organ" symphony, Symphony No. 3, and it is a good test to see how a component delivers in the lowest octave, because many of them roll off not only at the high end, but the low as well. The frequency response in the Bench Test section shows you what I heard . . . and felt, as my pants legs flapped a bit against my legs. Combine the organ with a full symphonic orchestra, and you have a massive stewing pot filled to the brim with frequencies that have to be kept discrete in the audio chain. The BP17 did so, and with verve.
A listener not familiar with this piece might wonder, during the first movements, if there is an organ playing in the background, as it is very low volume. Then comes the big bang, and it sounds like the organist has both hands and both feet on the keyboard. There are numerous very low pedal tones, and here is where a lesser preamp might drop the ball. But the PB17 kept the game fully in play. This particular recording is an SACD remaster from the original tapes made in 1959 (RCA 8-28766-13872-6).