Beauty is in the eye of the beholder—but all too often there is little of beauty to be found in high-end audio. In these aesthetic dark ages, we have been indoctrinated to forsake grace and elegance; we all know that every underlying penny should be spent only in the pursuit of superior sonic performance.
When you wish upon a star,
Makes no difference who you are;
Anything your heart desires,
Will come to you.Jiminy Cricket
12-21-92-17-52-46. Big deal, another $100,000 lottery winner. Where's Jean-Phillipe? Probably off getting us something to drink. Who can blame him? I can't believe people sit around dreaming and waiting to hear all these winning numbers. J-P, you out there?
Young, good-looking, brightJ-P had a lot going for him. He certainly didn't need to sit here listening to winning lottery numbers. Ah, there you are. What are you mumbling about?
"12-21-92-17-52-46. I've won! I've won! I've won!" He shouted over and over, almost crushing me in a bear hug.
My oh my, J-P had really won a big one. And what was it he'd been dreaming about while buying all those tickets every payday for the last three years? Speakers! He'd wanted to own the best loudspeakers in the world, and now he could.
If reviewers can be believed, the diminutive, $995/pair Epos ES11 loudspeaker has been a phenomenal success worldwide since its 1990 introduction. Stereophile added its voice to this hallelujah chorus in Vol.14 No.7, when the '11 kicked butt in a blind-listening-panel evaluation of inexpensive small speakers. While the ES11 did plenty of things extremely well, it was inevitable that it was limited in terms of ultimate sound-pressure levels (spls), deep-bass extension, and dynamic persuasiveness. While the ES11 was an unqualified success given its modest size and price, one couldn't help but wonder what Epos might be capable of in a larger model. (While a larger Epos model already existed in the $1695/pair ES14, it predated the technology of the ES11 by four years.)
If you read Stereophile regularly, you already know that all audio equipment does not sound the same. But did you know that a given piece of gear can sound better or worse depending upon how it's set up and used? With a few simple tweaks, you can bring out the best in your audio system.
Immedia introduced the German Audio Physic speakers at the 1994 Winter CES. As I mentioned in my Show report (Vol.17 No.4), I felt the price:performance ratios of the three models displayed was an indirect one: the least-expensivethe Stepsounded best. Since I'm always looking for products that offer great bang for the buck, I arranged to receive a pair of review samples.
Reviewing audio equipment has always been a blast. With each passing month, some potentially wonderful new piece of audio gear finds its way into my system. But as an audiophile, I don't want to be constantly changing the equipment in my system—I want to put together the best setup I can and spend my time optimizing its performance. In spite of the revolving equipment door, I try to listen to the majority of music on my own equipment.
Slowly, painfully, high-end audio seems to be dying. We all know it but we're apparently unable to resuscitate the patient. US dealers are closing at alarming ratesit must be the economy. Women continue to avoid the High Endit must be the technobabble combined with male equipment fetishism. Younger people aren't hopping aboardit must be all those other things competing for their money. (Then again, it might be the High End's abhorrence of rock'n'roll.)
Despite displaying its products at nearly every CES since 1985, Merlin remains essentially unknown in the US. Problems have plagued the company in this country: key suppliers have gone under, marketing efforts have lacked focus, and the principals of the company seemed to have gotten caught up in audio politics.
Solamente una faccia bella? At first glance, the Sonus Faber (pronounced Fah-bear) Electa Amator appears to be a typical minimonitor: a small vented box with two drivers. The speaker is significantly better-looking than Franco Serblin's first speaker system, the Snail, a subwoofer with two satellites attached via arms (see photograph in Vol.11 No.3, p.34). And, like the Oracle Delphi turntable or Goldmund Apologue speakers (the latter also an Italian design), the Amator's appearance has received at least as much attention as its performance. But is it just another pretty face?