Good Stuff from Avatar Acoustics
Avatar Acoustics’ Darren Censullo builds systems that are just as easy on the eyes as they are on the ears.
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.