Electrocompaniet's Smooth Warmth
Electrocompaniet's display had something for everyone. In their entry room, Electrocompaniet's US distributor, Peder Beckman of Oakland, was demming a small system and a medium system. With prayers that I am not assailed in the comments section for going for Electrocompaniet's high-end system, I headed through a terribly squeaky door for the second room, where Peder's partner, Adam Piotrowski, was showing the Nordic Tone loudspeakers ($29,500/pair), EMC-1UP CD player ($7290), EMP-1 SACD/DVD player ($9990), EC4.8 preamp ($4990), and AW600 Nemo monoblocks ($8950 each). I was especially interested in hearing the Nordic Tones, which created a fair amount of buzz at CES 2010.
Playing someone's recording of a Vivaldi harp concerto, I was struck by how warm, non-fatiguing, and smooth the system sounded. There was a little overemphasis on the bass, but that was clearly due to the room. (See my ASC Tube Traps blog from day one that discusses the bass problems encountered in the Hilton). Even sitting much too close, with the little space for the speakers to bloom, the sound was simply lovely. As in lovely. Anyone who thinks that solid-state lacks midrange warmth needs to hear Electrocompaniet electronics.
I made a point to play the same recording of mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson singing Handel that I had played on these speakers at CES. Once again, I experienced a curious phenomenon. The voice was gorgeous lower in the range. But as it rose above a certain place, where presumably the tweeter was more active, I noticed a bit of distortion and buzz when Hunt Lieberson opened up her sound. Nonetheless, the lower range was a total winner. Equally important, the system conveyed all the tenderness and warmth that this great artist had to offer. When Electrocompaniet addresses the discontinuity between drivers at the crossover pointat least that's what I surmise is happeningit will have a sure winner on its hands.