Essential–Teo–Transmission Audio

"Updating of a legend..." read the one-sheet in Barrington retailer Essential Audio's room. It was referring to the Transmission Audio M1i speaker, a much-evolved descendant of the Red Rose Music R3 loudspeaker designed by Bo Bengtsson that Michael Fremer favorably reviewed for Stereophile back in May 2001. The M1i combines a dipole quad-ribbon tweeter with an aperiodically damped 5" woofer and costs $4500/pair.

The speakers were being driven by Atma-Sphere MA-1 OTL tube amps, an Atma-Sphere Mp1 preamp, Abbingdon Music Research CD-771.1 CD player and DP-777 DAC, with the analog front end a Dr. Feickert Firebdird turntable fitted with Reed 3P and Kuzma 4Point tonearms and Lyra Kleos and Shelter Harmony cartridges, respectively. Phono preamp was the legendary, John-Curl-designed Vendetta Research SCP-2, updated to T status.

Other than Clarity Vortex power cords, all the cable was from Teo Audio, featuring their liquid metal conductors. But what was most fascinating was the Teo racks, which use shelves formed from aluminum foam. Depending on the way it is made, this material has 10–40% the density of solid aluminum and is both light and very stiff. Each of the large shelves of the Teo rack weight just 14 lbs.

I auditioned a recording with which I am very familiar, Crosby, Stills, and Nash's "Wooden Ships," but while the sound in this room was very detailed, it was also darker than I was expecting.