House of Stereo and the KEF Blade
Jacksonville's very own House of Stereo, run by Bill Gibson, gave me my third opportunity to hear KEF's relatively new Blade loudspeaker ($30,000/pair). Coupled with Ayre electronicsAyre MX-R monoblocks ($19,000/pair), Ayre KX-R preamp ($19,000), Ayre DX5 universal player ($10,000), and Ayre phono preamp ($2500)an Oracle Mk.VI turntable with SME arm and Oracle cartridge ($13,000), and an assortment of Audience Au24 cabling and line conditioners, the system had a laid back and non-fatiguing presentation that just made you want to take off your shoes, lie back and chill. This was an exceptionally quiet and smooth system, especially on vinyl, and one that threw a huge and inviting soundstage.
The Blade could not plumb the depths of Mahler's Symphony No.2, but that may have had to do with component set-up and the sheer size of the room. A case in point: the lowest lines on this recording first emerged in full on my home reference system when I exchanged the equipment supports I had been using for Magico Q-Pods. And while my room at home is of good size, it's nothing compared to the size of the air-walled suite in which House of Stereo had set up home.
BTW, Bill made his format preference perfectly clear. The picture doesn't show them all, but there were maybe 12 or 16 LPs total displayed on the ledge that ran from the left sidewall and across the back wall.