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The Hautonga did not emphasize any particular part of the musical frequency spectrum, though the folks at Plinius seemed to have designed it with a naturally balanced sound, and with a certain elegance to the midrange and treble. That, a very clean and open midrange, may be the key to the Hautonga’s sound. Another performance aspect I found very impressive was stereo imaging and focus. The amp had an almost monoblock-like presentation in this regard, with excellent channel separation.
For a few weeks I cued up a lot of classic '60s rock. Joe Cocker’s self-titled second album was served up wonderfully through the Hautonga. Cocker’s distinctive renditions of what were, in 1969, rather new songs, raised the hair on the back of my neck with the passion in his voice, and the driving force of his sympathetic backing band. His take on George Harrison’s “Something” and Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On A Wire” are worth the price of admission. The Plinius let me hear how well the CD was mastered and how tasteful the original production was.
The brand new Mark Lanegan two-CD collection, Has God Seen My Shadow? An Anthology 1989 to 2011, is an excellent overview of the Seattle native’s solo output. It is very well mastered and the Plinius shone a gorgeous light on Lanegan’s voice, especially with the Harbeths. The combo unraveled the dark and mysterious compositions, from the early, acoustic work through the heavier, electronica flavored newer recordings. Hearing Lanegan’s songs through such a high quality set up was a real treat.
One catalog reissue series I very much was looking forward to was the remastering of the great U.K. '90s band, Del Amitri. Their first three albums were given double-disc deluxe treatment and I was not disappointed. Tracks from Waking Hours, Change Everything, and Twisted sounded punchy, vibrant, and downright textured through the Hautonga. Lead singer’s Justin Currie’s sublime voice was rendered velvety smooth, and the band’s pop rock framework has simply never sounded better.
The Plinius was also thrilling on recent recordings. Arcade Fire’s 2010 release, The Suburbs, sounded big and wide, with the band’s cinematic soundscapes really coming through. This is a very dense and interesting recording, and the Hautonga unraveled all of mix's the distinct parts very easily. It was the best I have heard this album sound. Another album with which I have become enamored is Sing To The Moon, the 2013 debut by British songstress Laura Mvula. Her voice is pure smoke and honey, and the Hautonga framed it front and center, with the restrained and tasteful backing tracks perfectly locked in. The title track and “Green Garden” unfold like a sonic tapestry.