Audio Physic Virgo loudspeaker Page 7
Music for Bang Baaroom and Harp (RCA LSP 1866), Belafonte at Carnegie Hall (RCA LSO 6006), and The Weavers Reunion at Carnegie Hall (Analogue Productions APF005)—all of which have really big stages (and none of which I ever play for musical enjoyment)—were reproduced as large and as spacious as they are through the 7'-tall ETs, with even better focus and rear-corner instrument placement. The Virgos rendered reverberation bouncing off stage walls more cleanly and better timed than any other speaker I've auditioned.
If you've never heard "Buck Dance"—from Bang Baaroom and Harp, which was recorded in Chicago's Orchestra Hall in 1958—you've never heard two geezer tap-dancers clicking their way out the backstage door and seemingly into Michigan Avenue traffic. "Why the hell would I want to hear that?" I hear you asking. You'll get your answer soon: Classic Records is reissuing it on vinyl.
If your system renders depth like the Virgos did, you'll hear those guys go way back to the left-hand corner behind the tubular bells just before they disappear—and, despite your better judgment, you'll enjoy listening. Every other aspect of spatial presentation—image focus, dimensionality, and size—was exceptionally well-depicted.
The Virgo was able to play loud without strain and without changing its fundamental character, and it was able to play at very low levels and still provide ultrahigh resolution—which is the design's forté. I derived equal satisfaction at either volume—performance few speakers can deliver.
With the exception of the lower bass, the Virgo handled both large and small dynamic swings the way a 911 takes a hairpin turn: surefooted and without hesitation. And, with the exception of the lower bass, the Virgo got out of the way and allowed the essential character of both reference recordings and reference associated equipment to shine through. In that sense, the Virgo is a reference-quality loudspeaker.
I'm fortunate to have three very different pairs of speakers in my home right now, each with differing strengths and weaknesses. I have owned the Eminent Technology VIs ($3700/pair) for a number of years now, and I find them exciting and seductive despite their inability to portray wide dynamic swings. Their midrange performance is superb, and bass is surprisingly robust, fast, and satisfying. Too bad it takes a few hundred watts minimum to drive them. Nonetheless, after having them out of the system for extended lengths of time, I always get a charge firing them up.
The NHT 3.3s, at $4000 and change for a pair, are a genuine bargain of a "muscle car" speaker. You get G-force low bass, outstanding frequency response, pinpoint imaging, superb dynamics, and more. What you don't get is the low-level resolution or the suave rendering of acoustic instruments you get from either the ETs or the Virgos. But if rock and pop or organ music are your bag, the NHTs are an outstanding design and bargain-priced for what they offer.
The Virgos, at a grand more than the NHTs, didn't give me the bottom-end authority or the dynamic slam of the 3.3s, but they did offer a combination of musical sophistication, ultrahigh resolution, and holographic imaging and soundstaging. They also have living-room-ready good looks—an outstanding design for the '90s, and most certainly worth a listen if you've got the scratch.