Real Music from Vivid and Luxman
“If you don’t mind, ladies and gentleman, I’m going to play you something you don’t ordinarily hear at an audiophile show,” states On A Higher Note’s Philip O’Hanlon, as he moves across the floor and inserts a disc into the lovely Luxman D-06 SACD/CD player ($8500).
The music begins quietly with a pulsing rhythm before erupting into a pummeling and relentless wave of heavily distorted guitars and breakneck beats. The band is Future of the Left, and with their frenetic “Arming Eritrea,” O’Hanlon has quickly cleared the room. Lucky me: I take a seat in the sweet spot. I marvel at the fantastically clean and drop-dead silent breaks which occur between the delirious downpours of sound. The system sounds effortless, in total control.
When the song ends, we look back at the empty room. Philip remarks: “Well, I’m not going to play you fleas farting in stereo and show you the depth of their soundstage…”
I scribble his words into my notebook, repeat them out loud, laugh.
Philip does play tracks from Fever Ray, Junior Boys, and Wilco, and later plays Steeleye Span, the Ray Brown Trio, and a bit of Beethoven. And when he plays “Blow Away” by A Fine Frenzy, I am blown away: Pinpoint images atop a solid foundation of bass, drums, and acoustic guitar, and a voice that almost makes me believe there’s a gorgeous redhead in the room.
No matter the source material, the system exhibits the same effortless control and holds the same respect for the music, seemingly taking us from the concert hall to the rock club with no trouble whatsoever. Speakers are the striking Vivid B1 ($15,000/pair); the amp is Luxman’s 120Wpc L-509u ($10,000), among other things, notable for its complete lack of remote control; cables and interconnects are Argento Serenity Signature, along with Argento Flow AC cord. This is an expensive system, but after hearing the music, I do not question the price.