January 18, 2021 § Leave a comment

The Model One enclosure has proven to allow remarkable sonic performance even in my nearly 50 m2 reference listening room, where the Acelec monitors more or less show their true potential at 27db noise floor, 0.47s total RT60 time, and properly addressed room modes, Model One were operating far, far outside their given proportions. 

I also heard the Model One in two smaller listening rooms, but for safety’s sake, I wanted to give them the freedom to show their mojo in my main studio. And the results were pretty amazing. I am no stranger to active, smaller pro audio speakers, where you can achieve a certain level of impressive performance even with a small, self-powered studio monitor. But, the Acelec monitors are passive, and as such performing boldly in a larger listening environment certainly is a great challenge.

Fleetwood DeVille Loudspeaker System $9,600 Review

January 17, 2021 § Leave a comment

In today’s world, we have grown accustomed to instant gratification and an obsessive addiction to the yearly next best thing. Old school craftsmanship has become so rare: name one speaker company manufacturing cabinets from real wood, not MDF plus veneer. It’s exceedingly expensive, requires genuine artisans with wood working experience not to mention very specific tooling and above all is extremely labor intensive. Naturally, the world has moved away from those old guiding principles with very few exceptions. Yet it is precisely these methods that will ensure longevity beyond the norm. I have often said that even as today’s cars have become such unbelievable technology driven monsters, not one of them will work and function in thirty, forty, fifty years time. I can pretty much guarantee that these DeVilles will play just as well in 2060, as they do today. Finally, if I didn’t already have a house full of speakers, I’d buy these. I really would. They sing, they dance, they connect you to the music. That’s what matters. For a first effort, these are terrific examples of the old school world of manufacturing pride. If that’s your calling, I’d run to a showroom to audition them. 


January 15, 2021 § Leave a comment

Coherent and articulate, dynamic and oozing musical intent, it’s clearly not a question of whether this latest Auditorium is recommendable at the price, but whether it’s sensible or even safe to ignore it. Living Voice’s compact floorstander established the form factor and set the bar 25-years ago. Two-and-a-half decades on and it’s just hoist that bar again – but this time with a considerably broader reach as well as setting it considerably higher. A shade over £5K is a long way from beer budget, but then the Auditorium R25A is so consummately capable and confidently superior that you can forget more affordable alternatives; this baby shows many more ambitious and much more expensive speakers exactly how it should be done as well as unlocking a world of affordable system options – systems that are, in turn capable of remarkably consummate musical performance. Bargains don’t come much more elegantly packaged or musically compelling than this – and make no mistake, the latest Living Voice is a very serious bargain indeed. If you’ve got £5,000 to spend on speakers you need to hear these one. If you’ve got £10,000 to spend on speakers, you still need to hear these – the Auditorium R25A really is that good. 


January 13, 2021 § Leave a comment

By now it should be pretty obvious that the Grande Avant Gardes do big, do bass and do imaging. They also do natural and naturally expressive. It’s a particularly impressive overall performance and balance of virtues. It ain’t hard to get big bass out of modest boxes – if you are prepared to accept a crippling electrical load, low efficiency and the sort of constipated dynamics that result in a total failure to emote. The fact that the modestly proportioned GAGs achieve the scale and bandwidth that they do, while neatly side-stepping the practical and musical pitfalls that so often result is testimony to the efficacy of their chosen solution(s). The explanation offered for the operation of the separate bass enclosure is either disarmingly or disingenuously simple – but there’s no ignoring the speakers’ low frequency performance. Likewise, the small, non-parallel and heavily braced cabinet panels suggest a low-storage enclosure, its reluctance to contribute to the sound or interfere with the music ample recompense for the cost and complexity of construction. Building a two-part cabinet this shape is never going to be cheap or easy, but in the end the results justify the means, results that certainly stand out from the crowd. Just listen to a pianist shape a phrase, accelerating through it or pausing for affect and the absence of slurring, lag or hesitation in the notes tells its own story. This is one speaker system where the music doesn’t have to drag the cabinet with it. Instead, performances proceed at their player’s pace, fast or, just as importantly, slow. Unlike a speaker or amp that leans on the leading edge to add pace to proceedings, the Gershmans allow notes freedom of passage, without editing, cropping or giving them a push. This lightness of touch is especially apparent in slow movements, with poise, grace, delicacy and pathos all equally part of the GAGs musical vocabulary. They deliver the full emotional range, whether its expressed reflectively or explosively – and they transition from one to the other with an enthusiastic fluidity that makes most other speakers at this price level sound stilted and constricted. It’s a sure indication that as a design, they are sorted, both electrically and acoustically/mechanically.


January 12, 2021 § Leave a comment

KEF LS50 Meta Loudspeakers $1499 Review

January 5, 2021 § Leave a comment

The KEFs and GoldenEars sounded more similar than different. With “Feelin’ the Same Way,” also from Norah Jones’s Come Away with Me, their bass extension was roughly the same, as were the tightness of and detail in the bass. However, the BRXes’ slightly greater upper-bass energy translated into a bit more punch with kick drum, as in Lou Reed’s “Dirty Blvd.,” though still not up to the level of the Diablo Utopias.

With “Feelin’ the Same Way,” the BRXes were able to cast just as wide and deep a soundstage as the LS50 Metas, though the specificity of aural images on those stages wasn’t as precise as through the Metas. But unlike the Focals’ highs, which were brighter than the Metas’, the BRXes’ highs were slightly duller. The Metas’ highs also sounded cleaner than the BRXes’, which were slightly ragged by comparison.

The biggest difference was in Jones’s voice, which was very tightly focused at center stage through the LS50 Metas, and through the BRXes was just as centered but more diffuse, and without as much detail and clarity. The Metas sounded more crisp through the midrange and highs than the BRXes, which made the latter sound slightly laid-back. I heard the same when I listened through both speakers to “Don’t Know Why,” the big hit from Jones’s

Volti Audio Razz Loudspeaker $4999 Review

January 3, 2021 § Leave a comment

It is one thing to spotlight all the technical wonders of a high-end loudspeaker, and quite another to lose oneself for hours on end listening to it for the pure pleasure of doing so. In the last week of my review audition, Razz showed me its truest sonic intentions: forget the reviewer-speak, just play music! 

Greg Roberts has succeeded in building a smaller, less expensive speaker for the Volti Audio product line. Razz does indeed carry the Volti sonic signature, and that is a very good thing. Audiophiles looking for a speaker in the $5k price range—especially those with small to medium sized rooms—should definitely investigate this lively, lovable, and livable, loudspeaker.

Sonus faber Olympica Nova III Loudspeaker $13,500 Review

January 2, 2021 § Leave a comment

Sonus faber Olympica Nova III Loudspeaker

For her debut compact disc Fantasy, violinist Tessa Lark had the good fortune to be recorded by veteran engineer/producer Judith Sherman. Several of the works on the CD are unaccompanied, including a pair of Telemann Fantasias and Lark’s own Appalachian Fantasy. The tonal shadings created by the soloist on her 1683 Stradivarius are reproduced with realistic immediacy through the Sonus faber speakers—bow grabbing string, the resonance of the instrument’s hollow body, minute changes in bow pressure, the room adding body to the sound issuing from the violin. String quartets, solo wind instruments, and keyboard recitals are enthralling, utterly believable in tone and timbre—these loudspeakers are a chamber music lover’s dream. And aficionados of great singing will find the most distinctive voice rendered with every ounce of its character intact.

JBL HDI-3600 Loudspeaker $3,800 Review

January 1, 2021 § Leave a comment

Easing into something a bit more subtle and quiet, I streamed harpist Mary Lattimore’s “Til a Mermaid Drags You Under” (16/44.1 FLAC, Tidal), a track from her latest release, Silver Ladders. The song’s dry, cascading layers of harp, mixed with reverb-heavy guitar (from Slowdive’s Neil Halstead), were conveyed with impressive clarity by the JBLs, and there was a notable sense of spatial depth. When the song’s bass synth drones are introduced about halfway through, the sound becomes anchored with a massive foundation that serves to enlarge both the horizontal and vertical scale. The HDI-3600 towers rendered this perfectly, disappearing into an endless-seeming soundstage that somehow reminded me of sitting in a planetarium.

Wilson Audio XVX Chronosonic Assembly

January 1, 2021 § Leave a comment

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