Most Wanted 2013 Page 2


 Page 2





Kharma Elegance dB9-S:
 ($36,000): Made in Holland, the attractive Kharma Elegance dB9-S is a three-way floorstander, using a 1” beryllium tweeter, Kharma’s Charles Van Oosterum designed 7” Kharma Omega midrange driver (carbon-composite driver), along with two 9” aluminum woofers, housed in exquisitely finished cabinets.  The dB9-S provided a well-balanced sound overall, with a gorgeous three dimensional soundstaging and superb dynamic range capability. (Key Kim)





Alexis Sound Rebecca Monitor ($850): That an $850 loudspeaker would be included in this list is noteworthy enough. That this ribbon-based loudspeaker sounds so rich and at ease comes as a major relief for this dying hobby of blowhards who believe a high-end product is based on performance – and asking price. Not so. Judged solely on its performance, I would have swore this two-way monitor retailed for at least $2800. Rejoice all you budget minded music lovers. (Clement Perry – review in the works) 





Vapor Audio Cirrus Blacks ($3,995): The Cirrus Blacks really did justice to almost any reasonably well-recorded album or CD.  There are bigger, more expensive speakers out there, but don’t count out the little guy. The Vapor Audio Cirrus Blacks are a very serious effort that has yielded a great loudspeaker. If you’re looking in this price range, or even higher, don’t overlook them. They really are something special. (Greg Simmons – Reviewedhere)

 



 


Wavetouch Audio Grand Teton Monitor loudspeakers: (Russian Baltic Birch $3,500/pr., Piano Black MDF cabinets $2,000/pr.): These small monitor speakers using newly developed Wavetouch Technology (employing horns with waveguides) produced a huge multi-layered soundstage. The two-way monitors using a 5.25” mid-bass driver and a Heil-type AMT high frequency driver totally disappeared in my room and provided greater clarity and more fine detailing than I had previously experienced from any loudspeaker. Bass articulation is superb and they extend down to about 40Hz, which, for small speakers rated at 94dB/watt is an amazing feat—and that is why I called them the “Higgs Boson” of speakers. The Grand Tetons have become my new small-room reference loudspeakers. (Frank Alles

Publisher’s Note: I too have spent the past few months listening to the Grand Teton monitors and very unique in appearance (horn waveguides), they WORK! So much in fact, I would have to say they performed way beyond my expectations in the areas of coherency, depth of stage (and width), image specificity and dynamics. These attributes lends to hours of musical enjoyment and sonic bliss. 









Akiko Audio Tuning Sticks (starting at $150.00): Designed to quell unwanted noises and AC contaminants from our beloved audio rig. I think they not only do just that, but they do it in a very convincing manner. In a short period of time they have won a few of us over (Clement Perry – review in the works).





Alan Maher TriCell Active Cell Platform
 ($950.00): Heard the effects in a super big rig and immediately became smitten by the TriCell’s sonic virtues. A major name DAC costing more than $25k had made a noticeable leap in overall resolution, overall quiet and naturalness just by placing one of these under it. Got my hands on a pair recently and am getting similar results in the same areas when placed directly under my Behold amplifiers (Clement Perry – review coming soon)   
 
 

Audio Magic Oracle 24: ($5000): Audio Magic is a Colorado based company that is doing wonderful things with the audio environment.  The Oracle 24 caught me by surprise, when suggested by a friend and this was after previously purchasing the entire compliment of the IPC products, considered by some to be the world’s best tweak.  Previous to the Oracle 24 I felt with all my adjoining tweaks, I was finally at the end of the road in the accessory department.  However, I was woefully wrong.  When given the opportunity to audition the Audio Magic Oracle 24 (we will call it a conditioner, although it’s passive), I was shocked and amazed at how the unit supercharged all my existing tweaks and accessories by enhancing the effects of each product without having a physical connection.  The Audio Magic Oracle 24 is a must have to the serious audiophile.  A full review on this product will be forthcoming.  In the meantime, if you’re interested, try setting up an in-house audition. The unit speaks volumes from the instant you turn it on. I’m telling you it will shock and amaze you. Take my word for it; this unit’s effect is far from subtle. (Moreno Mitchell)




Avanti Audio Allegro Cables
(Balanced Interconnects w/Neutrik XLR’s $225.00/1.0M pair, Speaker Cables $325.00/6′ pair, 11 Gauge A/C Power Cables
from $200.00 / 0.75M Length): 
The Avanti Audio cables are nicely built, fine sounding and surprisingly affordable. It’s amazing how much cable you can get for the dollar these days. But referring to these cables only in terms of how relatively little they cost does them a big disservice. These are not just cables for people who don’t want to spend a lot of money; these are cables for anyone who wants a high-quality product that will enhance the sound of their home audio system. The speaker cables are the best value based on how well they meshed with both planar and dynamic speakers in my system. (Dave Thomas)
 

 






Graditech Lumi 3 Speaker Cables
 and Kide 3 Interconnects: Another lovely product from Finland. These are the third cables that I’m recommending this year and probably the ones that were most fun to play with. With little effort the speaker end of the speaker cables can be connected using either silver, solid core, or stranded speaker wire or a combination of wires. Each wire type carries its own sonic characteristic and allows the user to choose the wire that gives them the preferred sound. Imagine the possibilities of with so much flexibility. I could not find a configuration that wasn’t musically satisfying. Review coming. (Dave Thomas)

 

 
 

IPC Acoustic Equalizer:  (Room Conditioner: $2950 each): Placing four IPC Acoustic Equalizers in my listening room, one behind each speaker and one in opposite corners affected the sound of my system in many ways. First, it allowed me to be much more emotionally engaged with the recorded performance (Even with audiophile warhorse recordings). Second, it sounded lusher and sweeter while having improved resolution. Third, I heard more natural harmonics throughout the frequency range and greater dynamic range. And finally, the subtleties and textures of the performances were more evident. The space heard in the recordings expanded naturally in every direction.

It is exciting for a product to come along that lives up to its hype. After hearing the incredible results in my system, the MWC designation was a “no brainer.” (Dan Secula – Reviewed by Stephen Yan, Clement Perry and Mike Silverton here


IPC Products: I can be brief (as a welcome novelty in the verbose realm of audio commentary). A raft of IPC goodies operate en suite as a potent aid to better sound chez Silverton: four Acoustic Energizer capsules, two Acoustic Equalizer panels, a Sound Power line conditioner and Disc Energizer CD treatment device. In total, a not insignificant billfold-bite, but not untowardly so in a market niche where the highest of high-end cables cost a whole lot more. (Mike Silverton)

 

 


IPC Acoustic Energizers: ($1,250): The Acoustic Energizers are among the most powerful sound enhancers I have encountered.  I use four AEs in my reference system and have experienced greater intimacy, soundstage depth and width, and more musicality than before.   I strongly recommend listening to this product in your system.  Make sure to have your check book ready. (Key Kim reviewed by Stephen Yan and Clement Perry here)



IPC Sound Power AC Conditioner: 
($3000): I have always felt if you could tame the nasties of the AC coming into your home, the benefits and improvements of your audio system would be enormous.  Most AC conditioners on the market have made claims of holding the key to delivering perfect AC power to one’s home system.  Over the years I have tinkered with just about every AC conditioner built in pursuit of perfect AC power.  Until recently the IPC Sound Power has had the biggest impact in terms of quietness and AC frequency control.  The background noise has ultimately disappeared, thus allowing a profound depth to the soundstage capturing an almost seamless sound likened to a 3D studio recording.  All the CD’s I have played since the addition of the IPC Sound Power have taken on a new and improved rendition/meaning. In other words, the music is amazingly real.  It has been tough powering my system off for the closing of the day. I go to bed late almost every night due to the fact that I don’t want to leave all that rediscovered music.  The IPC Sound Power is a miraculous product. (Moreno Mitchell – Reviewed here





Klee Acoustic Grand Illusion speaker and Digital Cables: ($8995/per 8 foot speaker cables; $1294 per one meter digital Wave Guide): The Klee Acoustic Grand Illusion Speaker and Wave Guide digital cables are the most authentic sounding cables I’ve had the pleasure to experience in my own system.  The music seems to flow like a waterfall while the acoustical space and presentation is breathtaking. I have owned my share of mega speaker and digital cables in the past 10 years, however the Klee Acoustic products are easily the most natural fit for this music lover.  It would take an act of providence to tear me away from these cables. (Moreno Mitchell – Reviewed by Staff here) 



Klee Acoustics Grand Illusion speaker cables 
($8995/2.5m pair) and TruBalance balanced interconnects: ($3,995/1m pair): I’ve been using Klee cables in my reviewing system since 2011.  I have never had the need or want to try anything else.  I have been on the cable merry-go-round enough times to know when the ride is finished.  In my research on the Klee Acoustic cable design, I concluded that there is no other cable designed from the ground up like they are.  My previous  reference cables were truly special in their separation among images, liquidity, truthfulness, coherence and clarity but the Klee Acoustic speaker cables showed me just how signal restrictive my previous reference really were.  The full suite of Klee Acoustic cables made my system sound like there were no cables installed, meaning that the cables did not impart any sonic artifacts on the music. I have made some small upstream component tweaks and these cables have always allowed me to dial-in the absolute sound. What is really different about Klee Acoustic cables, as compared to all others I have ever had in my system, was their ability to play at live sound levels without a hint of distortion.  If you consider the cost of Klee Acoustic cables and gage their performance against mega dollar cables, Klee Acoustic cables are a real bargain. (Michael Girardi)






 

Soundstring Gen II Platinum Series Cables: Take everything I said about the Avanti cables and then consider what you could get for just a little more money. The answer would be the Soundstring Generation II Platinum Series cables. Len Miller and the folks at Soundstring have been making cables for many purposes and for many years, and now all of their talent and wisdom has produced a real winner. I won’t give away too much here because a full review will be coming out soon after you read this. Suffice to say, these cables made me ask myself, “Why would anyone spend more for cables than this?” (Dave Thomas

Synergistic Research Tranquility Base: ($1995)

 

The Synergistic Research Base optimizes the treated component “internally” by negating the negative interaction of internal components while isolating the component mechanically to deliver the best possible sound.  With the Base employed, vocals are more captivating, more natural, and project more deeply into the room.  I’ve always thought my speakers disappeared well but with the Base energized, there is a dramatic reduction in the room/speaker interaction with respect to the soundstage portrayal. The lower noise floor brought about by the Base, allowed my system to be played at much higher volumes while maintaining a highly resolving clarity.  When the SR Base is installed, instruments have greater depth, the frequency extremes have better control, transients are more crisply articulated, the surrounding ambience has greater clarity, and the music is more relaxed.  I believe the Tranquility Base will unlock the hidden potential of any audio component.  I know of no other device offered today that can do what the SR Base does, so it remains in my system.  (Michael Girardi)

 

 

TriPoint Audio Troy Signature ($14,000. With the Thor PC upgrade $21,500): This is the recently released, totally new version of the Troy ground device that is 20 lbs. heavier than the original. The Thor powercord provides great improvement as well. If you think your current system has high noise reduction and great dynamics, this device may well convince you otherwise. My system already had a wide and deep soundstage, but now it seems much more real. This device is seldom seen in the U.S. but it’s routinely raved about in Asia… and by me. (

Dynamique Audio (62)Origin Live (58)Als Audio (66)

Stereo Times Masthead

Publisher/Founder
Clement Perry

Editor
Dave Thomas

Senior Editors
Frank Alles, Mike Girardi, Key Kim, Russell Lichter, Terry London, Moreno Mitchell, Paul Szabady, Bill Wells, Mike Wright, Stephen Yan, and Rob Dockery

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David Abramson, Tim Barrall, Dave Allison, Ron Cook, Lewis Dardick, Dan Secula, Don Shaulis, Greg Simmons, Eric Teh, Greg Voth, Richard Willie, Ed Van Winkle, and Rob Dockery

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