Aperion Audio Intimus 6T loudspeaker Page 2

I continued my listening sessions by analyzing four recordings of Attention Screen made by JA at our favorite club, Otto's Shrunken Head, in New York City. (We plan to compile a selection of those performances' highlights for a disc to be released on the Stereophile label in early 2009.) I studied each piece from the nearly six hours of music to select the moments that showed us at our best while also providing the greatest variety of musical textures. The Aperion 6T made this an easy and enjoyable task, and put me in an analytical mood. So I cued up "Pachuco Cadaver," from Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica (LP, Straight/Reprise 2MS 2027), and plumbed the masterful interactions of Don Van Vliet's howling bluesy rasp with bass, drums, and two electric guitars played in ways that Leo Fender probably never intended. Every angular twist and turn of each instrument was soooo easy to follow and analyze with the Aperion.

I was also impressed with the 6T's ability to render low-level dynamic nuances in an organic fashion. This was quite noticeable on vocal recordings. I cued up "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair," from Patty Waters Sings (LP, ESP 1025), a lengthy performance that showcases this iconoclastic singer's broad vocal palette. Waters plays the husky seductress in the lower end of her range, and later in the song lets loose with some wild upper-register whoops and wails that would frighten Yoko Ono. The Aperion gave a riveting projection of this fascinating vocalist that demanded that I pay close attention.

Although the Aperion's resolution of detail was one of its many strengths, on several familiar recordings I didn't hear as much high-frequency air or midrange ambience as I've heard from other speakers in its price range. Through other speakers, the upper register of the flute passages in Timothy Seelig and the Turtle Creek Chorale's reading of John Rutter's Requiem (CD, Reference RR-57CD) have sounded more airy, and there's been more air around Sonny Rollins' solo in "I'm an Old Cowhand," from Way Out West (CD, JVC VICJ-60088). Rollins' tenor sax sounded natural, but the solo itself wasn't quite as involving as I've heard before.

Percussion fans will love the Aperion's rendition of lightning-fast transients. In his Studies for Player Piano, American composer Conlon Nancarrow punched his own player-piano rolls because his works for solo piano were impossible to play by a single pair of human hands, in terms of both tempo and the number of keys depressed at once. Most speakers smear and blur the subtle inflections of the three parts of Study No.41, from his Complete Studies for Player Piano, Volume One (LP, 1750 Arch S-1768), but not the Aperions. As the cascading glissandos, crescendos, and pianistic explosions lurched from the speakers and slapped me about the head, I was aghast at how close it sounded to a live Nancarrow performance (I heard one in New York in 1992, just before the composer's death).

One word cropped up multiple times in my listening notes: coherence. The Aperion's stellar ability to layer the instruments in a recording made me want to listen to music longer and longer. I cued up "In the Time of Our Lives," from Iron Butterfly's greatly underrated Ball (LP, Atco SD 33-280). During the dramatically psychedelic instrumental opening, I was transfixed by the chewy, vibrant, substantive interaction of Erik Braunn's guitar with the chugging rhythm section. Throughout the piece, the dynamic swells of Ron Bushy's drums enveloped the band in a cocoon. Similarly, listening to Tom Waits' "Sins of My Father," from Real Gone (CD, Anti- 86678-2), I found myself analyzing all of the subtle low-level rhythmic figures with which the percussionist wraps the entire band with excellent pacing and bloom.

Speaking of bloom, the 6Ts really bloomed with B-I-G classical recordings. In the opening passages of Helmut Rilling and the Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra and Choir's reading of Krzysztof Penderecki's Credo (CD, Hänssler CD 98.311), the Aperions reproduced the massed choral passages with chilling verisimilitude; during the high-level passages, the music surged forth with a rock'em-sock'em blast. In fact, with all recordings having wide dynamic swings there was never a sense of strain or any limitation in the Aperion's high-level capabilities. Moreover, the speaker's dramatic but uncolored bass presentation gave all such music a sense of authority while never sounding overblown. Gerald Zacher's chilling performance of György Ligeti's solo organ work Volumina (LP, Candide CE 31009) shook the room when the pedals opened up full-throatedly, and the steely, dissonant, upper-register tone clusters set my teeth on edge—as both should with this piece.

I haven't much discussed the timbral qualities of the Intimus 6T because I have little to say about any particular frequency range. With all of the recordings I played, there was no meaningful deviation from neutrality in any given frequency region—the 6T just sat there and played music.

I compared the Aperion Intimus 6T ($1390/pair) with the Monitor Audio Silver RS6 ($1200/pair) and the Epos M16i ($1998/pair) loudspeakers.

The Monitor Audio RS6 revealed more low-level detail in the midrange than did the Aperion Intimus 6T, with high frequencies that were a bit more extended and natural. I also felt that the Monitor's low-level dynamic articulation was slightly more delicate and organic. While both speakers had superbly tight, deep bass, the Monitor's was possibly a tad more so.

The Epos M16i's bass seemed as deep and as tight as the Aperion's, but I felt the Intimus 6T had more of a sense of weight and drama with high-level passages. The Aperion's bass was more relaxed, the Epos's more polite. The latter's transient performance was equal to that of the superb Aperion, but I felt the highs were slightly cleaner through the Epos, which also revealed more inner detail.

Summing up
Aperion Audio should have another winner with this neutral, detailed, dynamic, sexy-looking floorstander—I had a difficult time hearing any flaws in the Intimus 6T, which could be the ideal choice for someone seeking a large speaker with a dramatic sound but who doesn't want to pay more than the price of a pair of good bookshelf speakers. And with Aperion's liberal, no-risk return policy, the Intimus 6T should be on many readers' short lists. Keep up the good work, guys!

Footnote 1: Since you asked: Max is a direct descendant of two North American Champions, Ringsend R'Crest Rising Storm and Ringsend Inside Trading.
Aperion Audio
18151 SW Boones Ferry Road
Portland, OR 97224
(888) 880-8992