Salk’s beautifully finished SoundScape 8 uses the same RAAL ribbon tweeter, Accuton midrange unit, and 12” side-firing passive radiators as the company’s larger SoundScape 10 and 12 floorstanders, but where those designs use single 10” and 12” woofers, respectively, the SoundScape 8 employs two 8” drivers. While the base price for the SoundScape 8 is $8000/pair, custom-finished models such as those seen here, which had a marble-like appearance, can cost up to $12,000/pair.
I’m not at all embarrassed or ashamed to admit that there have been times when I was so distracted by a system’s appearance that I couldn’t properly appreciate its performance. Similarly, there have been times when I was so overwhelmed by a system’s price, that I couldn’t even hear its music.
But, here, in the MBL suite, just as in the Wilson/VTL suite, the sound of music was so compelling that I was easily able to ignore those aspects that are beyond my appreciation and reach.
You know the slinky hi-hat, the funky wah, the groovy bass line; the slow-building horns, the deep voice, the suggestive lyrics: Who’s the black private dick / That’s a sex machine to all the chicks? / (Shaft!) / Damn right…
There was a party going on in the Xact Audio room.
Based in Taiwan, Lawrence Audio Co. (“Inspired by Musical Masters”) manufactures limited-edition and custom-made loudspeakers modeled after stringed instruments. Lawrence Liao, founder and chief designer, is also an interior decorator, music lover, and musician: He plays saxophone, violin, and piano.
Lawrence’s line includes the two-way, standmounted Mandolin; the slightly larger Violin; and the 3.5-way, floorstanding Cello ($18,000/pair), which was playing when I walked into the room.
KT Audio Imports put together a cost-no-object system, comprising: Eventus Audio Nebula loudspeakers ($65,000/pair), a large three-way design with a specified sensitivity of 91dB; Triangle Art (“Design for Perfection) Reference turntable ($16,500); NAT Audio Magma single-ended monoblock power amplifiers ($44,990/pair), rated to deliver 160W into 4 or 8 ohms; NAT Signature Phono phono preamp ($7800); and NAT Symmetrical balanced line stage ($8690).
First of all, I’d like to point out that, though I probably should have, I did not take this picture. This picture was taken by VPI’s young Mathew Weisfeld, who is way cooler than me.
Now, the turntable is VPI’s Traveler, which I review in our November issue. What turntable, you ask? That turntable therethe one behind the girl in the red glasses. (The red glasses, she told me, weren’t hers, but instead belonged to Music Hall’s Leland Leard. But that’s another story.)
“These blood-red eyes don’t see so good / But what’s worse is, if they could / Would I change my ways?”
So sings Dan Auerbach on “These Days,” the closing track from the Black Keys’ excellent 2010 album, Brothers. As Auerbach sings, achingly, slide guitar weeps, bells chime, bass guitar thumps along woefully, cymbals splash, and floor toms rumble. It’s a beautiful few moments of R&B-inspired pop music, flooded with heartache.
I’m sure you’ll know what I mean when I say I hate “Lilac Wine,” even though I think it’s a beautiful, touching song. A girl once put it on a mixtape for me, and you know how those things go. Lilac Wine is sweet and heady like my love. Yadda yadda yadda. I can hardly stand to hear it. But I sat all the way through it, happily, yesterday afternoon in the Resonessence room.