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Welcome to Connoisseur Corner - Luxe Consulting and Executive Services

Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer. Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…

Marty can be contacted at: 916.952.9529


ELAC Uni-Fi Reference – Affordable Sonic Stunner


A member of my favorites club in the category of affordable loudspeakers, ELAC is releasing their Uni-Fi Reference line of home speakers. Essentially a reboot of the Uni-Fi 2.0 series, the Reference line utilizes new speaker assemblies for the concentric driver and woofers, a rethought 3-way crossover, and improved cabinet construction and finishes to present a speaker lineup with “significant performance improvements”, per James Krodel from ELAC.

Details from the ELAC press release are as follows:

“Newly Developed 4” Concentric Driver with Cast Chassis: A wide-surround tweeter enhances its low and high frequency extension allowing for improved blending with the midrange. An entirely new midrange driver with large diameter voice coil, vented rear spider and new neodymium magnet allows for better excursion and control of midrange frequencies. A new cast chassis was designed to minimize reflections back to the cone resulting in better clarity.

Newly developed 5.25” and 6.5” Aluminum Woofers with Cast Chassis: Drastically improving low-end reproduction, this newly developed bass driver features a single piece compound curvature aluminum cone with a large rear vented magnet delivering improved linearity and better low frequency response of any previous Uni-Fi bookshelf speaker.

Sophisticated 3-way Crossover: An entirely new design improves response linearity, improves driver integration, and delivers a true 6-ohm nominal impedance for compatibility with virtually all AV receivers.

Full Perimeter Bracing: Reducing the speaker cabinets influence on audio quality the Uni-Fi Reference line implements full perimeter bracing significantly reducing cabinet vibration and cabinet coloration.

Front Firing Ports – Placing the vents on the front of the bookshelf and center speakers allows for greater freedom of placement, even in restricted places like a cabinet or up close to a wall.

All three new models will be available in late-June at ELAC retailers nationwide.”

Pricing starts at $999.98 /pr for the UBR62 bookshelf model, $599.98 /ea for the UCR52 center channel, and $1,999.96 /pr for the UFR52 floorstander. If this is your speaker budget, these ELACs will be worth an audition.



Maserati MC20 – A Truly Super Sports Car


Things have been quiet at Maserati headquarters in Modena, Italy recently.

Or has it?

The Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans and the Levante SUV have soldiered on with little change lately. It turns out that behind the curtain, the Italians have been working on their latest entry into the stratospheric supercar club.

May I introduce the stunning Maserati MC20.

In roughly 24 months of development time, aided by an overhaul of the R&D division and the production facility, the team at Maserati has produced a gem of a car. Part of the design brief was to minimize wings and airflow add-ons and preserve a clean and pure visual presence while maintaining significant downforce. 2,000+ hours of development time in the Dallara racing factory wind tunnel, along with hours of computer modeling yielded a shape at once modern and classic Maserati. Functional beauty, if you will.

Another highlight is the hand-built mid-mounted V-6 powering this super sled. Eschewing the more common V8 configuration used in multiple supercars, this six-cylinder marvel is a true revelation. The Italians were so smitten with their work they named the engine the Nettuno (Neptune). Twelve combustion chambers with accompanying spark plugs, dry-sump lubrication, and double overhead camshafts with variable valve timing are part of the recipe. This twin-turbo 3.0-liter motor produces 621 ponies and 538 lb-ft of twist, propelling the MC20 to 60 in under 3.0 seconds and 124 in 8.8 clicks. 

Don’t blink!

The interior is Maserati’s take on modern minimalism, providing a driver-centric cockpit from which to operate.  Outward visibility is top-notch, complimented by a 10.25-inch instrument cluster and matching infotainment touchscreen. The Italian luxury vibe even bleeds over to the audio system with my friends at Sonus Faber providing an optional 12-speaker powerhouse.

The driving experience might be the best thing since sliced pizza, depending on where you source your pie.  World-class steering, suspension tuning par excellence, and that sweet six powerplant combine to make the latest trident a memorable drive.  An experience to be savored, again and again.

Pricing has not been officially announced, but expect an acquisition fee in the range of 220K.  This is an unexpected treat from Maserati.  They are fully back in the game!



D’Agostino Progression Series Amplifiers, Take Two


Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems releases the second generation of their lauded Progression Series Amplifiers. Having been a fan of DDMAS products for quite some time (previous articles here and here), I look forward to sampling the newest amplifiers from one of the icons of the audiophile world. Read on for techno-geek details. Cheers..!


CAVE CREEK, AZ, MAY 24, 2021 Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems today announced the second generation of Progression Series Amplifiers. First shipped in 2016, the new Progression models take advantage of technology advancements and circuit concepts utilized in the flagship Relentless Mono Amplifier.

There is no mistaking the D’Agostino family styling of the new Progression M550 Mono Amplifier and the Progression S350 Stereo Amplifier. Immediately grabbing one’s attention is the new heat sink design. Drawn directly from the Relentless Mono Amplifier, this highly efficient elliptical form dramatically improves the cooling ability of the design and assures that the Progression Amplifiers run safely and reliably even when delivering its full rated power. Sporting the flair of the original Progression Series, the new Progression M550 Mono Amplifier features upgrades to the input stage, output stage, and heat sink design. The greater cooling ability of the heat sink structure permits greater output power. The Progression M550 Mono Amplifier delivers 550 watts into 8 ohms, doubling to 1,100 watts into 4 ohms and doubling again to 2,200 watts into 2 ohms. Similarly, the Progression S350 Stereo Amplifier outputs 350 watts per channel into 8 Ohms and then doubles to 700 and 1,400 into 4 and 2 Ohms, respectively. Both amplifiers employ 48 output transistors powered by a nearly 2,000 VA power supply transformer and 100,000 microfarads of power supply storage capacitance.

A new power device provides the foundation for an upgraded output stage. This new transistor, first used in the Relentless Mono Amplifier, extends high frequency response, increases power handling by a factor of four and features tighter tolerance gain matching between complementary NPN/PNP pairs.  A wider safe operating area and superior gain linearity provides greater thermal stability throughout the amplifiers’ power delivery. Coupling the new output device to the high efficiency heat sink design affords an increase in operating bias. The higher bias specification has increased the Class A operating range of the amplifiers to 70 watts for the Progression M550 and 45 watts for the Progression S350. The result is improved instrument timbre and tonal reproduction for a great percentage of listening.

 “I am thrilled with the outcome of the new Progression M550 and S350 Amplifiers. Our senior engineer, Burhan Coskun, led this development and he exceeded the sonic and power performance enhancements I specified.” Said Dan D’Agostino, Co-Founder and Chief Engineer.

The Progression M550 and S350 include major revisions to the input topology. The new Progression amplifier’s distortion, signal/noise ratio, channel separation, and bandwidth measurements have all improved. New transistors handle six times the power of the previous components and a new DC coupling circuity has improved low frequency performance and extended the bandwidth of the amplifiers. Coupling this advanced front end to the enhanced output stage has improved the dynamic impact, detail retrieval, and spatial integrity of the amplifier’s playback.

 Maintained from the original amplifier is the Super Rail topology. Simple in description but complex in execution, the Super Rail, counterintuitively, uses additional higher voltage power supplies in the input stage as compared to the main output stage. This higher voltage front end provides exceptional headroom for the output circuitry.  Nearly ideal output stage operation results. 

The iconic look of the D’Agostino power meters, inspired by the elegant faces of classic Swiss watches, continues with the Progression series. The Progression amplifiers include a 180-degree needle swing meter design driven by a high-speed ballistic circuit that enhances the meter’s responsiveness. The longer swing allows the needle to cover the amplifier’s entire output range.

The Progression amplifiers are available immediately and are available in silver, black, or custom painted finishes. The Progression M550 Mono Amplifier is $44,950/pr and the Progression S350 Stereo Amplifier is $25,950.

For more information on Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems and its products, please visit


The Pinot Noir Rules – Three of my Faves


Like many in the world, my wine radar has spent a lot of time focused on Pinot noir the last several years. I find the broad range of styles, flavors, and bouquets of this Burgundian varietal infinitely interesting.

This is good grape juice!

Today I am going to introduce you to three slightly under-the-radar producers that have caught my eye… and taste buds!


Owner/Winemaker Katy Wilson focuses solely on Pinot noir and Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast. Making wine under the LaRue label (her great-grandma’s name) since 2009, Katy has kept yearly production under 500 cases allowing fully hands-on production.  The wines are medium-bodied with delightful finesse and purity. 

Sojourn Cellars

Formed in 2001 by Erich Bradley and Craig Haserot, the team at Sojourn Cellars is focused on Pinot noir, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Sourcing grapes from premium sites, production has slowly grown over the years, while maintaining a hands-on approach. The Pinots have great structure and display the site-specific character from these top-shelf vineyards.

Maggy Hawk

I happen to have an affinity for Anderson Valley Pinot noir, and winemaker Sarah Wuethrich at Maggy Hawk is making some wonderful examples from this terroir. Sarah utilizes a hands-off style targeting lower alcohol and higher acidity, letting the wines speak for themselves.  This approach clearly works, producing Pinot noir with a striking balance of elegance and power.  

Take the time to track these down and give the rising star producers a try.  Your taste buds will forever be grateful.  Highly recommended!



Celebrity Beyond – World’s Best Luxury Cruise Ship


1073 feet of luxury…

140,600 tons of luxury…

That’s a lotta luxury!

Celebrity has introduced the third ship in their Edge Series, the Celebrity Beyond. Utilizing an all-star lineup of designers and engineers, the folks at Celebrity are creating the singular most remarkable cruise ship extant. Paris-based design firm Jouin Manku along with British designer Kelly Hoppen, American Nate Berkus, and British architect Tom Wright have collaborated on a floating palace that will bring thoughts of selling your house and staying aboard forever.

Topping off Celebrity’s celebrity lineup, Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud is including his first restaurant at sea, Le Voyage. “My goal is to create a wonderfully comfortable environment where the food is center stage. I want this to be the most special restaurant at sea.” said Boulud

Accommodations include a selection of 1,646 staterooms, the showcase being the two-story Edge villas with indoor-outdoor living, a private plunge pool, and spectacular views. All accommodations include drinks, Wi-Fi, and all tips with the goal of removing spending anxiety. Exclusive eXhale bedding and Cashmere mattresses await to aid your slumber after an exhausting day of relaxation. In-room automation controls your lighting, AC, and shades, just because…

Is there anything here to eat? Thirty bars, lounges, and restaurants handle your appetite and thirst, and be sure to experience The Retreat, an exclusive resort with exclusive access and a team of 24/7 butlers and attendants.

An architectural marvel is the Magic Carpet, a cantilevered platform thirteen stories above sea level with a full bar and musical stage. And for a visit with Lady Luck, the onboard casino will tickle your fancy. Other shipboard attractions include the Rooftop Garden, the Grand Plaza, the Solarium, and Eden. I can unreservedly guarantee a complete abandonment of boredom.

Celebrity Beyond’s maiden voyage is slated for April 27, 2022. Several Mediterranean itineraries are on tap before she heads west to the Caribbean for an extended stay. You can browse itineraries now for 2022 and 2023, and book your stay on this floating marvel. Highly recommended!



Bowers & Wilkins P17 and P15 True Wireless Headphones – Ear Candy!


In release for the press from Bowers & Wilkins:

Worthing, England, April 2021: Today, British audio brand Bowers & Wilkins has unveiled two new state-of-the-art True Wireless headphones – PI7 and PI5 – that bring the brand’s acclaimed ‘True Sound’ promise and acoustic excellence to the True Wireless category.

Both PI7 and PI5 models deliver the unrivalled high-resolution sound quality that audiophiles and music lovers have come to expect from Bowers & Wilkins. Now, that same signature sound quality is offered for the first time in True Wireless form, incorporating innovative and intuitive smart features designed to fit seamlessly into an on-the-go lifestyle.

Drawing on over fifty years of industry-leading audio excellence and innovation, Bowers & Wilkins reveals  another best-in-class portfolio of products that deliver your favourite music the way it is meant to be heard – as the artist intended it.

PI7 – The new industry-defining True Wireless headphones from Bowers & Wilkins.

Every element of the flagship PI7 model has been crafted to deliver the very highest level of audio performance, redefining expectation in True Wireless. PI7 features unrivalled sound quality, driven by

high-resolution 24-bit audio processing in each earbud and Dual Hybrid Drive units that work just like high- performance speakers to create a rich and immersive listening experience.

In addition, PI7 features Adaptive Noise Cancellation that automatically adapts in real-time to its surroundings to produce the best possible listening experience – so you can block out the world and focus on the music you love. It’s driven by six microphones – three in each earbud – for crystal-clear sound quality with every call, all activated though an intuitive, one-touch user interface.

Even the Smartcase is designed for an intuitive and seamless user experience. As you would expect, it can conveniently charge your device wirelessly while you are on-the-go. But, and in an industry first, PI7 raises the bar by offering a unique wireless audio retransmission feature via its Smartcase. That means you can continue to use your PI7s even when on a plane: just connect your case directly to an audio source – such as  an in-flight entertainment system – and it will retransmit sound directly to your earbuds.

PI5 – The class-leading, Bowers & Wilkins True Wireless sound that’s with you all day.

PI5 is the class-leading True Wireless headphone with all of the high quality, audio-enhancing features expected from a Bowers & Wilkins product – the perfect accompaniment to an on-the-go lifestyle.

Alongside the exceptional audio performance and call quality, the PI5 offers over 24 hours of battery life, ensuring you stay connected throughout the day. This is accompanied by advanced Active Noise Cancellation, allowing you to easily adapt to your listening environment, whether you’re working from home or on a busy street, and a fast-charging case that provides a boost of up to two hours of battery life from just a 15-minute charge.

Bold design and Smart technology.

Both models embody the Bowers & Wilkins bold design to stand out from the crowd, with accents of color to highlight the beautifully precise detailing.

Smart technology makes living with PI7 and PI5 more convenient. Both models can be configured via the Bowers & Wilkins companion App and feature a simple one-button user interface, coupled with voice assistant support via either Siri or Google Assistant. Multiple source devices can be wirelessly paired to either model allowing the user to easily and conveniently reconnect to each source as and when needed.

Developed by the same team behind the Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers found in Abbey  Road Studios, PI7 and PI5 both embody the same industry-leading engineering and design philosophy that has led to the creation of some of the world’s finest audio products.

Geoff Edwards, Brand President, Bowers & Wilkins, said: “We are excited to be venturing into the True Wireless category with our new headphones. It’s long been our philosophy, established by our founder John  Bowers, that we would only enter a new category if we believed that we could set a new standard for audio performance in that space. With PI7 and PI5, we truly believe we have achieved that.”

The PI7 True Wireless and PI5 True Wireless headphones are available from on April 21st 2021 for $399 and $249 respectively.


2022 McLaren Artura – A Hybrid Gazelle


Say hello to the Artura.  McLaren’s latest take on what a supercar should be introduces two important sea changes for the revered manufacturer from Woking, England. 

First up is MCLA.  This does not equate to More Crackers – Less Apples!  McLaren Carbon Fiber Lightweight Architecture would be more like it.  This new platform will be featured across future McLaren models and utilizes multiple carbon fiber and resin types to reduce weight and increase structural rigidity.  The McLaren folks list a scant dry weight of 3075 lbs. 

This thing needs to eat more cheeseburgers!

The second major platform change was previewed by my use of “hybrid” in the title.  A low-slung lithium-ion battery pack provides juice to the e-motor housed in the eight-speed dual-clutch tranny.  All told, the twin-turbo V-6 and e-motor combines for 671 horsepower and 531 lb-ft of twist.  The Artura will hit 60 mph in a sneeze, provided you sneeze in three seconds flat.  Top speed is said to be limited to a not-so-pedestrian 205 mph.  I expect to see this hybrid platform proliferate across the McLaren lineup going forward. 

Exterior and Interior design cues are typical McLaren.  Changes here are more evolution than revolution to my eye.  Airflow and downforce are key to the exterior surfacing, yielding a taught and aggressive McLaren countenance.  The interior takes steps forward in design cohesiveness and choice of materials but maintains the driver-oriented approach of McLarens past.

The Artura is a significant achievement for the engineering team at McLaren.  Hybridization is a force that will not be stopped, and Woking is moving forward in a well-considered manner, without jeopardizing McLaren's engineering tenets of days past.  This is truly a nimble, lightweight animal.

Available for order now, the coolest battery on wheels starts at $225,000. 

Well done, Woking.



Best Records of 2020


As an audiophile and musician, I enjoy scanning the sonic landscape for new music that is written, performed, and recorded in a manner that catches my attention.  This is a subjective list that stretches back a bit more than a year, but give some of these a listen.  They are diverse in genre, but I don’t think you will be disappointed. 

Chopin: Nocturnes  -  Bruno Rigutto  -  Aparté                      For fans of these significant works in the classical piano repertoire, Mr. Rigutto’s second take on recording these (his first was some 40-odd years ago) is graced with an intimate familiarity, nuance, and emotional insight.  I think it the best performance of the Nocturnes I’ve heard and nicely recorded to boot. 

The Women Who Raised Me  -  Kandace Springs  -  Blue Note Records                       If female jazz vocals are your cup of tea, this album is a must-hear.  Kandace’s honeyed tone and thoughtful restraint flow effortlessly in this set of covers recorded as an homage to her influences.  An all-star list of musicians and quality recording make this a winner.

Kiwanuka  -  Michael Kiwanuka  -  Polydor                             Nominated for a Grammy at the upcoming awards show, Michael Kiwanuka’s third studio release is creatively produced and a satisfying listen.  Uniquely stylized songwriting and performing are at the heart of this record.  Best experienced as a complete listen, the music truly speaks for itself.

Fear Inoculum  -  Tool  -  RCA Records                      If you don’t care for things of a progressive rock nature, you can skip this one.  However, you’d be missing out!  The musicianship on display is otherworldly, primarily on the shoulders of drummer Danny Carey.  The sound quality of this recording top-shelf, unusual for the rock genre.  A listen on an audiophile-grade system is nothing short of revelatory. 



Holiday Shots – Christmas Cookie


Each year during the holidays, I tinker with different festive cocktail and shot recipes. I’ll scour the deep, dark, recessed cobwebs of my brain, as well as the interweb for ideas and inspiration.  Keeping in mind that I have a bit of a sweet tooth, I am easily swayed down the path of decadence. This year’s favorite leans mightily in that direction.

Only four ingredients are required to build this blast of flavor, three of which you likely have in your bar supply as you read this. The following will make a pair of healthy-sized shots. Feel free to take wimp sips if you must…

 ·         2 oz        Irish Crème

·         1 oz        Butterscotch Schnapps

·         ½ oz       Cointreau

·         Splash   Kahlua  (1/2 Tbsp)


Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake.  Pour into shot glasses.  Consume with gusto.

This also works famously over rocks as an after-dinner closer.  I’ve tested it.  I know…



Sonus Faber Il Cremonese Ex3me – Italian Sonic Beauty


The Italians manufacture beauty like no other country.  Cars, clothes, violins; I could go on and on.

In the world of high-end audio gear, speaker manufacturer Sonus Faber falls right in line with that design ethos.  Founded in 1983 in Veneto, Italy, the company covers the full price spectrum, from obtainable speaker designs up to models residing in the six-figure stratosphere.

In 2015 the Il Cremonese speaker was introduced to critical acclaim and has been a sales success.  I have spent time with them in multiple demonstration systems over the years and they are always a joy to listen to, and a beauty to behold. 

To take it to the next level, the Sonus Faber engineers have upped the ante for the Il Cremonese Ex3me with a new Beryllium DLC tweeter, a redesigned crossover network implementing Paracross Topology, and two 220mm side-firing infra-woofers in each speaker enclosure.  The result is said to be incredibly neutral with improvements in dynamics and transparency.

Each floorstanding cabinet has six speakers in a 3.5-way design for a rated frequency response of 25 Hz – 35,000 Hz and a sensitivity of 92 dB.  The stunningly beautiful cabinets, redolent of old-world Italian craftsmanship with the classic “Red Violin” wood detailing, weigh in at 185 pounds and stand 57” tall. 

Available now at $58,000, place an order quickly if you have an interest.  In a limited production run, only fifty of these glorious works of sonic art will be made.



Monkey 47 – Gin Diaries pt.6


Germany’s Black Forest.  Home to the famed Nürburgring, also happens to be home to 47 monkeys.


True enough, Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin, the subject of today’s rave, is produced in that hotbed of gin distillation…  Germany?

In 1951, a gent by the name of Montgomery Collins retired from the RAF while stationed in Germany.  Of all things, he opened a guesthouse in the Northern Black Forest region and named it The Wild Monkey. The “wild” moniker was derived from a love of the Berlin Zoo, and specifically an egret monkey by the name of Max that Monty sponsored. As all owners of German guesthouses do, Monty took to distilling and created Schwarzwald Dry Gin, which became the spirit of the house until the mid-70s.

Fast forward to 2006, Monkey 47 founder Alex Stein ran across the Montgomery Collins story, developed an obsession, and two years later moved to Germany. Stein promptly hired distiller Christopher Keller and the two set about recreating the gin of yore.

You cannot make this stuff up!

I will end the suspense right now. Monkey 47 may well be my holy grail gin. It is that good.

A two-year development process aimed squarely at impeccable quality concluded with a recipe of 47 botanicals. Many common to gin, and many not so much. Juniper, coriander, lavender, lemon, and cardamom are some of the more common. Then you start talking about lingonberries, spruce shoots, pimento, hibiscus, dog rose…  Holy ingredients list, Batman!

Oh, and did I mention they distill this stuff in earthenware containers for three months?

The combination of balance and complexity is rarely matched in the distilled spirits world. Sure, you can do 47 in a G and T, Negroni, or an Aviation, but the true measure and appreciation if this scintillating gin is in its natural habitat, the martini.

If you are in with gin, I recommend, no, demand, that you procure some Monkey 47 and properly expand your tastebud horizons. Trust me on this one.



New Mercedes-Benz S-Class - World’s Best Car?


Come mid-2021, you will be able to get your grubby hands on the next generation of the top-selling luxury sedan on the planet, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

This ground-up redux, internally known as the W223, turns a corner in my eyes. The historically staid designers and engineers at Stuttgart have bled some “edge” into this latest iteration. The exterior reflects it with hints of aggressive and sporting queues, and the interior is going right down the road of futuristic technology while maintaining that air of luxurious cocoon the S-Class is known for. Overall this is a sleeker, more contemporary mien.

So, what exactly does one get for their three zillion dollars?

Fear not, the S isn’t quite that expensive.

Stateside we are looking at two models initially, both on the long-wheelbase and with 4Matic all-wheel drive. The plebeian model is the S500, sporting a 3.0-liter inline-six producing 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque.  The S580 ups the ante with a pair of turbochargers on a 4.0-liter V-8 making 496 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of twist. Both cars sport a nine-speed automatic transmission.  Europe gets a pair of diesel versions, and there will be a plug-in hybrid in about a year with 60 miles of electric-only range.

I could write a novel on the features and tech. In a show of kindness, I’ll restrict myself to some of the highlights. Available all-wheel steering tightens the turning circle by six feet, active suspension adjusts to the road surface 1000 times per second and leans into corners, and Level 3 automated driving is lurking about. Did I mention the three zillion safety features?

Hartmut Sinkwitz, the fellow responsible for the interior vibe of “digital and analog luxury”, has created an atmosphere that may cause hallucinations of piloting a spacecraft. Up to five screens, a ginormous head-up display with augmented reality, 3D displays, 250 LED light sources, and an audiophile-grade Burmester stereo system are all part of the menu.

This car is impressive!

I expect the S500 to start at $96,000.00, with versions and features heading well above the 100K mark.

Stuttgart has done well.  The new S maintains a long lineage of, dare I say, class.