Good Stuff from Avatar Acoustics
At T.H.E. Show Newport, Censullo presented a system of Rosso Fiorentino Voltera loudspeakers ($12,995/pair), Dr. Feickert Analogue Firebird turntable ($12,995) with DFA 12.0 tonearm ($1495), Abbingdon Music Research CD-77 CD player ($10,995) used as a transport into the AMR DP-777 DAC ($4995), and an AMR AM-77 integrated amplifier ($9995). Censullo had two phono preamps on hand: An AMR PH-77 ($11,995) and the Monk Audio phono preamp ($2995). Digital files were served via the Andreas Milkovits-designed AMI-HiFi Purist HDR Mini D/A music server ($6995).
Accessories included the controversial Acoustic System International Resonators ($250$2850, in various configurations), as well as that company’s Top Line Feet ($750). Interconnects, speaker cables, and power cords were provided by Current Cable, while power conditioning was Avatar’s own Mach 4 distributor ($1995) and Afterburner 8 wall outlet ($80).
When I walked into the room, Shane Censullo had just finished listening to one of the 45s he’d purchased from a vendor at T.H.E. Marketplace. He was proud to have cued the record all by himself. Shane’s dad, Darren Censullo, then hooked me with “The Flat Earth,” a live recording from Thomas Dolby’s The Sole Inhabitant Tour. The music was completely new to me, and, up until two seconds ago, I thought I’d never heard of Thomas Dolby at all. A quick Wiki search, however, shows that Dolby is responsible for the 1982 hit single, “She Blinded Me with Science,” a song with which I am embarrassingly familiar.
Voices and percussion were placed on a wide, stable soundstage, and sounded particularly bold, powerful, and lifelike. I stayed for a bit of Kenny Burrell’s Midnight Blue, which was appropriately smooth and warm without sacrificing speed, impact, or control. Good stuff.
Jason Victor Serinus adds:
As someone who has encountered Darren and Bonnie Censullo at more shows that California’s Redwoods have rings, I cannot help but note that the attention that Darren pays to set-up and presentation is equally lavished on his very special children. Shane’s intelligence, clarity, and fearless directness are clearly a reflection of nurturing upbringing by two sterling individuals, one of whom spent years working as an airline pilot.
Beyond the personal, I thought the sound in the room honest and well balanced. When I mentioned to Darren that I noticed a touch of brightness on CD, he recalled that he had changed the “Digital Master” filter setting on one of the Abbingdon Music Research components at the request of a previous visitor. Once he returned to “Digital Master 1,” the brightness was tamed, and I was able to sit back and, for the few minutes I had, indulge in the beautiful sound and playing on the LP, Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster, and my CD copy of L’Arpeggiata’s fabulous new CD, Los Pajaros Perdidos. I especially enjoyed how the soundstage was set way back from and totally independent of the speakers. Bravo.