Avatar: Reference Audio on a Budget
"Reference Audio on a Budget" was the tagline for the exhibit from Darren and Bonnie Censullo's Avatar Acoustics of Fayetteville, GA. Most important, the room featured two world premieres. First was a product you're sure to hear more about, the Axis Voicebox S loudspeaker ($3000/pair). A 5 ohm, 83dB sensitive model with a frequency response of 45Hz20kHz ±3dB, this little baby was paired with Abbingdon Music Research's AMR AM 777 60Wpc hybrid integrated amplifier ($4500), AMR CD-777 player ($4500), Dr. Feickert Analogue Woodpecker turntable ($4995) with DFA 10.5 tonearm ($1000), AMR PH-77 phono preamp ($11,995, and soon to be reviewed by Michael Fremer)), and DFA premium tonearm cable ($600). Throw in $11,265 worth of cabling and power distribution from Acoustic System International and Avatar Acoustics, including the world premier of the Avatar Acoustics Mach 4 Power Distributor ($1800 with power cable), and $10,240 worth of Acoustic System International Resonators, and your hypothetical budget would top $50,000.
Happily, the system did live up to its claims of reference audio. In a small room, I was quite impressed with the marvelous size of images and compelling sense of acoustic space that this little set-up produced. In fact, I was so intrigued that I took a second listen at show's closing. That time, I played the CD layer of Revueltas' Sensemaya performed by Australia's Ebony Band on a fabulous Channel Classics hybrid SACD. The size and weight of images, as well as they placement at the rear of a huge soundstage, was mind boggling fabulous. How much the Acoustic Resonators played a part, I don't know. What is certain is that the Axis Voicebox S from Australia, with its 50mm true-ribbon tweeter and 5.5" woofer, looks and sounds like a winner.
John Atkinson adds that when he visited the room, Avatar's Daren Censullo (pictured) was playing the MA CD of Alternesia, composed and performed by Stereophile's self-described "Web Monkey" Jon Iverson. Wonderful synchronicity and equally wonderful sound.