by Martin Appel
Before Martin gets started, I’d like to say thank you to him for rekindling this popular series on Audiophilia. It’s been the longtime opinion of Audiophilia that dealers have the most difficult task in our business — the very sharp tip of the high-end triangle of Manufacturers, Editorial and Dealers.
Being rekindled with Wes Bender could not be any more instructive or pleasurable. A super nice, super ebullient, super knowledgeable audiophile, he brings style, class and integrity to all his pursuits. Visit his website, or better, his studio, with confidence. And, in this day of the internet economy, his expertise serves to illustrate just how important bricks and mortar storefronts are in our avocation. Sure, research on the internet, then spend time visiting and pull the trigger with someone that can support your expensive purchases. An audio store. It’s a good thing.
In the Trenches visits to Innovative Audio, NYC and Angie’s Audio Corner, Toronto coming up shortly. Thanks, Marty, for allowing me butt in! Cheers, a.
When the Zesto Leto linestage appeared in our Audiophilia Eye Candy column I was captivated by its aesthetic. I had briefly heard and seen the Zesto Andros phonostage at the NY Audio Show in Wes’ room and was impressed by the sound as well as its unusual look.
When I contacted Wes and told him about the appearance of the Zesto linestage in these pages he was thankful and invited yours truly and another Audiophilia writer, Henry Wilkenson to his Studio for a listening session.
I think a brief word about Wes Bender is appropriate. Wes is one of those passionate and dedicated people, who I’ve been fortunate to have known for over fifteen years. He helps contribute to the growth and development of the industry. Having years of experience in evaluating equipment and markets, Wes brings a knowledge and commitment to the products he represents that is second to none. His latest venture, Wes Bender Studio/NYC combines a unique, artistic environment with a very personal and congenial approach that makes the listening experience both enjoyable and informative.
The system below: Zesto Audio Andros PS1 phono stage $3900 ($4200 as of Sept. 1st) and the Zesto Audio Leto preamplifier $7,500, Viola Audio Labs/Symphony amplifier: $20,000, Hansen Audio Prince E speakers $39,000/pr. Townshend Audio / Rock 7 turntable: $3200 w/ AC motor. Helius / Omega Silver Ruby tonearm: $5225. Transfiguration / Axia cartridge: $2450. Lindemann Audio / 825 High Definition Disc Player (essentially a hi-res USB/AES-EBU/SPDIF DAC with a CD transport): $12,500 Cables: Jorma Design / Unity (speaker cable & interconnects).
Wes had both Zesto pieces set up in his well regarded system and we started listening. We listened to a few CDs and a few different records in order to have a variety of music both digital and analogue. One LP, in particular, blew me away. It was a reissue by IMPEX of Ellington Indigos. All I can say is ‘wow!’. The sound quality of this LP was off the charts. I had to have it.
Having some familiarity with his systems from CES 2012 and the NY Show 2012, and visits to his studio, it was apparent that the Zesto equipment in the loop created a synergy that enhanced the already excellent sound. The tubes didn’t ‘colorize’ the sound or roll-off any top end information. Blending the Viola solid state amp with the Zesto tube equipment seemed fortuitous allowing the Hansen Prince IIs to show off their full range capabilities. The sound was fully developed across the entire frequency range without any emphasis on one area or another. It had a rightness to it that was difficult to put in to words. I only wish I could have stayed longer to further enjoy the experience. Time flies when you’re having fun.
Visiting colleagues and friends broadens our outlook by exposing us to numerous approaches and methods to system building with the same goal of sonic excellence. We all take different paths to get there but having the Wes Bender Studios/NYC available to New Yorkers (and beyond) is a fantastic resource. His willingness to share his knowledge and experience with the interested visitor, potential client, or friend makes his studio an open experience and the search worthwhile. Just call ahead.
Thanks for sharing, Wes and Zesto seem to have found something special. Keep listening.