There’s an old saying “you don’t know what you don’t know”.
After auditioning the Sutherland 20/20 with some material that I am very familiar with, what I thought was “normal” is certainty not “normal” anymore when the 20/20 is patched into the signal path.
The robust design, dual mono configuration, and lots of high quality discrete components would translate into the expected sharper focus and detail, with less compression/increased dynamic range. Yes, the 20/20 had all of the above. What surprised me at how differently it conveys complex or dynamic information. Or, more appropriately, how little the content changes in texture and detail when the “rush hour effect” takes place. You know about “rush hour”. It’s when traffic increases and too many things are trying to fit thru the “pipe”. Generally, the most aggressive and obnoxious get thru leaving the articulate and delicate elements stuck in traffic, not to be heard from. Not so with the 20/20. Things remain intact regardless of how much complexity in the content. Those “mangled masses” of sound of the “original” that I heard year after year, in system after system, actually don’t sound that way at all. They are distinct sounds in their own spaces with their own unique chord structure and timbre. Audio 101: don’t always believe what you don’t hear. Or, something like that.
The 20/20 had a lightness about it. Never heavy or bloated. But, it never lacked power and authority when summons to do so. The bass was powerful, deep, and controlled. Once again, what I thought the bass “sounded like” with other phono stages was different with the 20/20. Deeper, tighter, more defined and coherent.
If the goal of the 20/20 is to trigger an emotion response, it certainty got one.