Aurally Awesome Aurum

Needing a shot of the real thing after a particularly disappointing dem from another manufacturer, I headed down the hall to hear Aurum Acoustics' total package. ($48,000 gets you the Integris CDP CD player, Integris Active 300B amplifier and speakers, Integris two-shelf Isolation Rack in matching veneers, 2m power cable, Aluminum Base kit, and Loudspeaker Grille Kit. As I said, the whole package.

After stumbling upon founder/designer Derrick Moss's company at its 2006 CES debut at the Alexis Park, I was so impressed that I requested a review sample of the Integris CD player ($12,000), which I favorably reviewed for another publication. With the company now ensconced on the 30th floor of the Venetian Tower, I seized the opportunity to revisit their whole system.

And what a system it is. The amp/speaker combo, which sends 5W to the tweeters and midrange drivers, and 100W to the woofers, is capable of thundering low bass and strong, non-piercing highs. Playing the final track of Reference Recordings' astounding new disc of The Music of David Maslanka, I heard strong percussive thwacks and the kind of low organ notes that would make any speaker manufacturer proud. As impressive as the low- and high-frequency extension were the stunning depth of soundstage, undoubtedly enhanced by Derrick's choice to face listeners toward the upper half of the two-tiered room. I'm not sure I like Maslanka's music, but the climax to his 30-minute Symphony 4, played by everyone and their mother in the Dallas Wind Symphony, is one of those unending tour de forces that will easily bring most of the audio systems on the planet to their metaphoric knees.

Next shifting to a recent CD transfer of a 1973 analog recording of soprano Elly Ameling and pianist Dalton Baldwin performing Schubert's late lied "Die Sterne" (The Star), then to Florilegium's new Channel Classics SACD, Bolivian Baroque II, I heard a most convincing representation of early instruments. As brilliant as that from the $22,000/pair Magico loudspeakers I write about in another entry? No. The top was softened just a bit, enough to make the system acceptable in bright rooms such as the Venetian's, which in this case came with glass surfaces behind listeners and on either side. But then again, absolutely no other loudspeaker at the show possessed the Magico's degree of treble openness and veracity. And the Magico, which costs almost half as much as Aurum Acoustics' entire system, could not reproduce the bass of Maslanka's climaxes with anything approaching AA's authority and control.

I also heard a bit of characteristic SET midrange gray in a rather narrow band of the system's strong midrange. To many listeners, this will be exactly what they enjoy about SET amplification. It certainly did not detract from the system’s abundant musicality.

While Moss has already established a dealership network in Canada, and already received two reviews plus Soundstage.com's 2006 "Edge of the Art Award" in his first year of operation, Aurum Acoustics has yet to establish a dealer network for more than the CD player in the United States. But unless everyone has cotton in their ears, I feel it safe to bet that several US dealerships will pick up the entire system within a few months.

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