Aretai, Convergent Audio, Aurender, ViaBlue

In Tampa, Latvian brand Aretai made another very good impression with its 100S speaker, a 2.5-way standmount in a sealed box ($9000/pair). Visually this speaker was among the more arresting offerings at the Florida expo: a neodymium-magnet tweeter in a handsome white horn sits atop a 16"-tall, matte-black enclosure. (The 100S is also available in piano gloss and various wood veneers.) Each speaker has two 6" drivers that deliver bass down to about 32Hz. The low-frequency onslaught that is Massive Attack's "Angel" sounded remarkably tight—a consequence of the sealed design, explained founder Jānis Irbe, which eliminates shifted phase summation that he says is typical for similarly-sized ported speakers.

The 100S's stood only about a foot from the sidewalls; Irbe believes that it's fine for them to be close to room boundaries, where they will acquire a bit of mid-bass emphasis. Adjust to taste. He added that the 100S speakers do best in small and medium-sized rooms, and that they also excel as nearfield monitors.

Since Aretai's AXPONA 2022 showing, where the 100S speakers were paired with well-regarded Benchmark gear, the company decided to hit the road with Convergent Audio electronics costing many times the Benchmarks' price. Convergent's JL5 power amp retails for $27,995, while the SL Legend Extreme preamp has a price tag of $59,995. Add the $15,000 Aurender A20 music server and DAC, plus cabling by Germany's ViaBlue, and the outlay for associated equipment was well north of a hundred grand. That seems high for a pair of speakers that costs $9000; most 100S buyers will surely pick more modestly-priced equipment. But if you'll excuse the double negative, I can't say that the sound in the Aretai room wasn't excellent.

The speakers imaged like champs, rendering most music with a bright-'n'-sunny presentation that reminded me of KEF's famous LS50s. I don't mean bright as in fatiguing, or with exaggerated detail: I mean that the sound from the Aretais was like an Ambrosia apple—crisp and sweet.

Steve Gorban's picture

Has anyone heard them and if so your thoughts.
Planning on purchasing them in April