Tower Of Power via Vivid and Mola-Mola

"Go hear Tower of Power," said Jon Iverson, "on the 35th Floor of the Venetian. See Philip O'Hanlon and tell him I sent you."

"What is the Tower of Power?" I asked.

"You'll see when you get there," he said.

I found Philip O'Hanlon in the "On a Higher Note" exhibit suite. Philip imports Vivid Audio speakers, as well as Bruno Putzeys' Mola-Mola Electronics. Now I had heard of Vivid Audio, of course; their Giya G3 loudspeaker was Stereophile's 2014 "Component of the Year." Of course, I had heard of Bruno Putzeys, the Dutch electronics engineer whose Hypex and NCore 1200 class-D amplifier output-stage modules are among the few that have been found to sound and test well in recent Stereophile reviews.

I told Philip I had come to hear the "Tower of Power."

"Not so fast. I don't play Tower of Power that often. I can only listen to it just so long. First you must hear some other music."

"But what is the 'Tower of Power?'" I asked.

"You'll see," said Philip, "but listen to this first."

He took me into another of the rooms at his exhibit and showed me Vivid Audio's $9600/pair Oval V1.5 loudspeaker (above). This two-way, vented design has a 26mm dome high-frequency unit, and 158mm metal-cone woofer, and has a rated frequency response of 42Hz–39kHz, ±2dB. It's elegant, teardrop-shaped enclosure is mounted on an integral pedestal and the samples at the show featured a matte "Dutch Museum Blue" finish, designed to match that used in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Unlike many other exhibits at the Venetian, only one component system and pair of loudspeakers had been placed in each room in O'Hanlon's suite. This gave the V1.5 no interference, so that its soundstage was unusually wide and deep playing an air check of Boz Scaggs singing "Low Down." The speaker's generous soundstage and transparency was more evident playing a recording of a Belgian school chorus singing Nirvana's "Creep."

In the other room, the Vivid Audio Giya G3s were being driven by the Mola-Mola's $18,000/pair Kaluga monoblock amplifiers and the $13,450 Makua preamplifier. The sound was fast, detailed, and rich in timbre. The preamplifier had a new internal DAC designed specifically for that unit by Bruno Putzeys. I asked Philip if the DAC had a name. He didn't answer me.

Instead, he yelled out, "Bruno, what's the name of your DAC?"

To my surprise, Bruno Putzeys himself turned around. I had no idea he came to high-end shows in the US. He answered immediately, stating, "I don't bother with the name of the DAC until I'm sure it's working, just like you don't name a child until after he is born."

That accomplished, Philip cued up my recording of Rutter's Requiem to play on the Giya G3s. The sound was glorious, with a wide and deep soundstage, and terrific resolution of individual voices, as well as clear delineation of the pipe organ underpinning the work. This room had some of the best sound at the show. After that, I was ready for anything.

"Here you go," said Philip, "You're ready now." He cued up the group Tower of Power performing "Diggin' on James Brown," a truly explosive rock anthem. I just about got up and jumped around!

John Marks's picture

I was not at CES, but... my guess is that what Philip O'Hanlon played was the song "Creep," which was first sung by the UK group Radiohead, in a performance by the professional women's chorus from Belgium known as "La Scala," which is directed by and its music arranged by the Kolacny bothers, so, the credit is usually given as, "Scala and Kolacny Brothers." Scala and Kolacny Brothers' recording of "Creep" was featured on the soundtrack to the film "The Social Network." Scala and Kolacny Brothers have many videos up on YouTube.