Gradient Earned Its Cover Story

Tim G. Ryan of SimpliFi Audio was making sure no one entered his room without awareness that the Gradient Helsinki 1.5 loudspeaker ($6500/pair) is on the cover of this month's Stereophile. Sounding far better than it did at T.H.E. Show last January, this little baby was throwing a mesmerizingly large, spacious soundstage that I found quite exciting. Irresistible, in fact.

It certainly helped that the rest of this $16,600 system consisted of Resolution Audio's Cantata Music Center ($6000), C50 DNM-based 50W integrated amplifier ($4000), and DNM stereo speaker cable (is there a mono version?—$300). Oh wait. There was one more little secret. Amarra 2.0, the latest version of what I believe to be the finest computer music player for the Mac ($695, with a $75 discount certificate for Reference Recordings' hi-rez recordings). Amarra Version 2.0 now converts FLAC to AIFF, and also flawlessly plays CDs inserted into your computer's disc drive.

High-powered Tim was also showing the DSI Audio/ Studer A25 power monitor ($10,000/pair). I'm afraid too much was being thrown at me too fast for me to get a handle on their sound. I was still floating from the Gradients, and wishing there has been more music and less talk.

alan hulsebus's picture

These speakers have so many virtues; I first noticed the total lack of coloration in the bass and midrange yielding great clarity and micro resolution. The presentation of hall size was very realistic and extended well beyond the small size of the hotel room in both width and height. Image focus was precise with voice and instruments of realistic size. Close your eyes and the physical speaker location disappeared for all instruments and voices. I think they look pretty cool too! The cosmetic design of the Resolution Audio electronics is very clever, you have to see them in person because photos can not capture the unique design of the top.