Gershman Acoustics, Eon Art, Oracle Audio, Reed, Cardas

Jacques Riendeau of Oracle Audio

I was running out of time.

The show was closing soon and I hadn't heard either of Gershman Acoustics's two new offerings at the show. Well, one new, the other new-ish. The new-ish one was the company's Grand Avant Garde 30th Anniversary Edition model. This wasn't a Special Edition with a limited run but a tweaked version of the popular Grand Avant Garde, a speaker I always liked for its rich, full-bodied sound. It replaced the original, and it offers bass extension specified to go 2dB lower.

The other model was genuinely new: It launched at this show. The Studio XdB ($12,000) looks like a standmount, but it isn't, or not exactly. It looks like a box on a stand, but the stand is equipped with Gershman Acoustics's patented Bass Trap, which is said to extend the speaker's bass response down to 23Hz and eliminate the back wave.

The crux of my dilemma was this: The models were being shown in different rooms, and I had time to visit only one. I wanted to hear both. So, which one? After some soul searching, my decision was made. Switching into James Bond mode, during which Monty Norman's classic "James Bond Theme" played like a cool movie score in the back of my head, I darted past the crowd and across the mezzanine, down the escalator (leaving a trail of dazed bodies in my wake), and into the spacious St-Laurent 8 room.

I took a seat facing the system, which included an Oracle Audio Delphi Reference MkVII Signature turntable with 24K Gold plating ($18,500 US), fitted with a Reed 2G 9.5" tonearm ($4850 US) and an Oracle Corinth cartridge ($2350 US). Phono preamplification and equalization were performed by an Oracle Paris PH200 Mklll phono preamplifier ($2250 CA), which fed a pair of 250W (rated into 8 ohms) Eon Art Boson integrated monoblocks ($72,535)—"integrated" because each monoblock has its own (tubed) preamplifier. Cardas cabling interconnected the system.

The speakers, of course, were the $12,000 Gershman Acoustics Studio XdB.

The system produced an open, large-scale vista of colorful, expressive, intimate, organically flowing, tonally colorful sound. It made me happy I'd picked this system over the other.

Still, after I'd left the room, I felt emptiness. I really wanted to hear that 30th Anniversary Grand Avant Garde model; who knows, maybe I'm even happier in the alternate 'verse in which I chose that room instead. Maybe, in this verse, they'll show them at this year's Toronto Audiofest in October. Cue the James Bond Theme.