Bob Carver’s Amazing Speakers

I wasn't able to meet the legendary Bob Carver, who gave talks on tube amp development and Ribbon Line Source loudspeakers on both Friday and Saturday afternoons, but I did make two visits to hear his new Amazing Line Source loudspeakers ($22,000/pair). The speakers were coupled with a Sunfire Subrosa subwoofer ($5000), Black Beauty 305W monoblocks ($12,900/pair), Purity Audio Ultra GT preamp ($28,000), AMR CD777 CD player ($5000), and Analysis Plus cables.

Myy first visit began with a listen to ultra sobby country music. Pardon me for smiling at someone's misfortune, but this generous outpouring of sentiment suggested that someone desperately needed to spend some time practicing Transcendental Meditation rather than wallowing in self-pity. The soundstage was huge and spacey, the midrange quite warm and inviting in a mellow sort of way, and the bass boomy. (Small air-walled rooms present a host of problems in the bass department). Especially impressive was the snap of the steel guitar.

Further listens to a Keb Mo recording on Mobile Fidelity confirmed the beauty of the system's midrange. When I turned to two of my own references from the classical end of things, however, I was surprised to discover that Mahler's Symphony No.2 lacked some of the weight and size of instruments that I've come to expect. (Okay, Mahler wallowed in suffering as well, but he was certainly more artistic about it). A far simpler recording, of Dutch soprano Elly Ameling singing Schubert to piano accompaniment suggested that some of the system's mellow, exceptionally airy midrange was achieved at the expense of focus. I look forward to hearing these speakers in a different set-up.

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