MAF 2024: Essentia Technology / Q Acoustics, Norma Audio, Wattson Audio, QED

MAF 2024: Essentia Technology / Q Acoustics, Norma Audio, Wattson Audio, QED


Q Acoustics 5040 loudspeaker

Prices listed in CA$.

The two most common questions Essentia Technology’s Scott Pugh received from visitors who heard the distributor’s demo when I was there were: 1) Is there a sub?, and, 2) Are the prices in US dollars? The answer to both was no—no sub, and prices were in Canadian dollars.

It was one of the most modestly priced systems at the show, which might invite speculation as to how good it sounded in comparison to the systems at the show that cost much more. To my ears, it sounded much better than good, beating some of the pricier fare.

It included a pair of Q Acoustics 5040 floorstanding speakers ($2300/pr), a MOSFET based, 80Wpc Norma Audio Revo IPA-80 integrated amp ($7600) equipped with separate ground plane power supplies for gain, driver, and output stage, a Wattson Audio Madison DAC/streamer ($4195) with fully balanced analog outputs and a dual mono DAC for each channel, and cabling by QED ($various).

I listened to a track I was extremely familiar with (“Jockey Full of Bourbon” by Youn Sun Nah) and everything I love about this awesome recording the Essentia system delivered. The resolution was stunning. The bass was tight. The soundstage became a solid, floating playground for the singer and musicians.

There are two prevailing beliefs in high-end audio. The first one is that to achieve great sound you need a large stack of several electronics to do it. The second is that to build a fantastic audio system you have to spend the kind of money your spouse would disapprove of. The Essentia Technology room proved both beliefs wrong. 

2024 PMA Magazine. All rights reserved.

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