Happy Music from Vanatoo's Transparent One

I first met Gary Gesellchen (left) and Rick Kernen, the duo behind Vanatoo, at the 2012 Music Matters event, held at Definitive Audio in Seattle. At the time, Gesellchen and Kernen, who, through prior business relationships and active participation in the Pacific North West Audio Society, have known each other for 28 years, were just bringing their design to market. Now, the Vanatoo Transparent One powered loudspeaker ($499/pair) seems fully realized.

Michael Lavorgna spent quality time with the speaker and provides a complete description of its abilities. In short, the Transparent One combines a 1” silk-dome tweeter with a 5.25” woofer and a rear-mounted 5.25” passive radiator. All of the electronics and active circuitry, including the 60W direct-digital amplifier, DSP processing, various digital inputs (USB, optical, coaxial), and single 3.5mm analog input are housed in a single chassis.

The company takes its name from the Pacific island of Vanuatu, which, in 2006, was deemed “happiest place on earth” according to the New Economics Foundation’s Happy Planet Index.

Gesellchen and Kernen were streaming files via USB from a laptop running JRiver Media Center. It took a while to get the internet connection sorted (mine was the first dem of the day), but it was well worth the wait. When the signal finally transmitted, we were rewarded with music—big and bold and forceful, full-bodied and lovely. I left the room feeling very happy, indeed.