The room shared by Audio Physic and Esoteric was one I returned to, as I couldn't quite believe the superb treble quality being produced by the 25th Anniversary edition of Audio Physic's Virgo speaker (to the right of the photo, $12,800/pair). Couldn't believe it? It was because this speaker was using a cone
tweeter. But as AP's Reinhard Goerner explained, with the break-up problems of soft-dome tweeters now well-understood, it made engineering sense to use a cone. The Virgo's aluminum-cone midrange unit features a cast basket with minimal surface area to interfere with the diaphragm's backwave and the twin woofers are mounted on the enclosure sides to minimize vibrational excitation.
Esoteric was featuring the A-01 class-A, solid-state, 50Wpc amplifier fed directly from the K-03 player, which features a new Esoteric transport mechanism, five power supplies, eight 32-bit AKM DAC chips and 32-bit digital volume control. Cabling in the system was all Nordost Valhalla and the sound of a live Jimmy Witherspoon recording, Live at the Mint, made with Robben Ford six months before the bluesman's death, sounded startlingly real, as did a recording from veteran jazz bassist Dave Holland accompanied by a tabla player.