AGD The Audion and Vivace Monoblock Amplifiers and Andante DAC/Preamp/Streamer, Ocean Way Audio Eureka Speakers

A weekend in Florida in February, plus high-end audio gear galore? Yes, and yes. After five years (that's half a decade, but who's counting?) with rival publication The Absolute Sound, I'm now a free agent, so when Stereophile asked me to fly south to cover the Florida Audio Expo at the Embassy Suites in Tampa, it didn't take me long to accept.

It's a less-than-sunny, cool Friday in the Sunshine state (the nation's third largest, I'm told) but the enthusiasm is running hot. As Southern fashion would dictate, the show's vibe feels casual, convivial.

Now, to kick off the audio coverage: One of my first demo room stops took me by surprise on a few counts—first because there was a female show attendee in the room who wasn't there "under duress."

Second, it was presented by a brand that's brand-new to me, the L.A.-based AGD Productions.

Third, I learned that founder/designer Alberto Guerra makes all the components (save the speakers and cables)—even including his own active devices—in the US. His trademarked GaNTube devices contain proprietary technology with a Gallium Nitride MOSFET power stage integrated within a glass tube. These unique devices power his architectural-looking Vivace monoblock amplifiers, which were designed by Albert War, to deliver 200W into 4 ohms, 100W into 8. THD in these amp applications is stated to be <.0005% @10W/1kHz.

The AGD system displayed a suite of diminutive chassis that looked slick and sleek in their shiny chrome special-edition finishes, and sounded great. AGD debuted their latest product, the Andante, an all-in-one DAC/preamplifier/streamer that retails for $12,000 in the special chrome finish and with an optional built-in phono stage for MC and MM cartridges; $11,000 gets you the standard brushed-aluminum chassis, which is machined from a single block. The Andante offers further versatility with an XLR and three single-ended analog inputs, plus the expected digital inputs: USB, AES/EBU, coaxial, TosLink, and LAN (Ethernet)—and there's aptX HD Bluetooth. Streaming is via UPnP and DNLA, with services from Roon, Tidal, and AirPlay (wired network).

A pair of smaller AGD Audion monoblock amplifiers ($7500, chrome finish; $6800, standard), which feature the same GaNTube "valve" in a class-D topology, delivering 170W into 4 ohms (85W into 8), drove a pair of Ocean Way Audio Eureka speakers ($12,000/pair), designed by celebrated pro-audio engineer Allen Sides. The Eureka is a two-way reflex affair with a 1" silk dome tweeter and an 8" aluminum cone low-frequency driver. As for the sound quality of this combo, violin strings (under a pretty believable bow) were lush and lovely. Pipe organ had an authentically airy quality; and I was struck by the dimensionality I heard from both an acoustic guitar recording and a Wynton Marsalis track. The roundedness and richness that many tube fans crave were on display here, without getting goopy or syrupy. Playback was detailed but not in a hopped-up way. An ear- and eye-pleasing demo overall.

John Atkinson's picture
"when Stereophile asked me to fly south to cover the Florida Audio Expo at the Embassy Suites in Tampa, it didn't take me long to accept."

Welcome to the team, Julie.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Jason Victor Serinus's picture


ken mac's picture

. . .from currently freezing New York City. Have audio fun (aka "work") in the sun!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

At that price, those Eureka speakers are in competition with the Joseph Pulsar2 Graphene speakers :-) ......

Anton's picture

Is that the amp on top of the speaker?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Seems like it ....... All that amp 'enclosed in a glass tube' ....... Could make both the transistor crowd and the tube crowd happy :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Wonder what happens to that 'glass tube' after JA1 does his pre-conditioning test for 1 hour at 1/3 rd power? :-) ........

Ortofan's picture

... 100W and are a Class D design with a claimed efficiency of >94%.
Do the math.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be .... when they are cold, they glow blue and, when they become slightly warm, they turn red? :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Also, the display on the amp says, 'enough playing Beethoven 9th, play something else' :-) ......

Anton's picture

Is that the amp on top of the speaker?

RH's picture

Thank you for the report(s) Julie!

What an interesting looking speaker! Whenever I see something like that I'm really curious about how it sounds.

AaronGarrett's picture

Another excellent reviewer at Stereophile!

Strat56's picture

A visionary, brilliant Italian engineer, capable to bring industrial technology to the purest audio application.

Sooner or later this technology will be the audio power standard.

Congrats Alberto.

Wavelength's picture

Welcome to Stereophile. You didn't miss much here the weather has sucked as it does today. Great reports from the show sounds like you had a fun time.