Audience Ups the Ante
I walked into Audience's room expecting to see the usal assortment of cables, power conditioners, and high-quality parts, but I was confronted with an entire Audience system, from a heavily modded Denon CD player to preamplifier, power amplifiers to loudspeakers!
The speakers are unusualcalled ClairAudient Line Source Array 16 ($33,000/pair), the pair I heard employed 32 3" drivers, and a subwoofer. Audience's John McDonald wasn't actually playing the ClairAudients when I walked in, he was playing two pairs of those drivers, mounted into boxesno crossovers, no filters of any sorts, and no subs. The drivers are amazingly dynamic and balanced and, according to McDonald, have extraordinary power handling.
So, I asked him the obvious question: "If these drivers are that good, who needs a loudspeaker designer?"
So he played me the ClairAudients and shut me up proper. They're impressive.
The Wavemaster preamplifier ("$10,000$12,000) can be run passive or active. It employs relay switching and has an autoformer volume control. Based on the sound of the system, it is fast, lean, and tight. Also small, which can come in handy.