MK Audio's Arion Audio Apollo 9 loudspeakers sing with Audio Research, Chang Lightspeed, VIP, Soundsmith, EMM Labs, and Wolf Audio Systems

A direct-sales company new to me, MK Audio of Charlotte, North Carolina, journeyed cross-country to present their Arion Audio Apollo 9 loudspeaker system ($35,900/pair) with full DSP and advanced room correction. The Apollo 9 is also available in Dual-Pack Woofer Package ($5900) that includes two additional woofers with two amps. With AMT drivers built in-house, the speaker is an open-baffle design with a claimed whopping 105dB sensitivity.

The woofers, which crossover around 120Hz, are also open-baffle, housed in a separate cabinet to avoid interaction with the main cabinet. For more information, contact Mike Kalellis through

The Apollo 9 lifted off in good company: Chang Lightspeed (powerline filters range from $720 to $4295); Audio Research Corporation's Reference 6SE line stage ($18,000 and reviewed by moi, Reference 3SE phono stage ($18,000), and Reference 80S power amplifier ($15,000); a VPI Industries HW-40 direct-drive turntable ($22,000) with Soundsmith phono cartridge ($4995), EMM Labs DA2 v2 DAC ($30,000), Wolf 3SX music server ($10,000), and ASC Tube Traps.

The LP Amos Lee sounded fabulous. On "Seen It All Before," the sound was laudably smooth with a seductively lovely midrange. I rolled my eyes when I was offered a track from Jazz at the Pawnshop, but in 24/352.8 MQA played through the DA2, the sound was maximally smooth, detailed, colorful, and fresh. I really enjoyed my time in this room.