Quintessence–Sonus Faber–REL–Audio Research

Chicagoland dealer Quintessence devoted a large ground-floor room to the Fine Sounds groups of companies—Sonus Faber, Audio Research, Wadia, and Sumko/REL—along with the superb racks from Harmonic Resolution Systems and a Clearaudio/Benz Micro LP player. A pair of the Sonus Faber Amati Futura speakers that I reviewed in May 2012 ($36,000/pair) was being vertically bi-amped with two tubed Audio Research Ref250 monoblocks driving the midrange/tweeter sections and two solid-state Audio Research DS450M monoblocks for the woofers. No fewer than four REL powered subwoofers were handling the low bass. Preamp was the Audio Research Ref5 SE that Brian Damkroger and Bob Reina raved about in Stereophile, and cabling was all Kubala-Sosna Emotion series.

Source was a preproduction prototype of Audio Research's new CD9 Reference CD player. To be priced at $13,000, this uses technology derived from the Minnesota company's Reference DAC and offers upsampling, switchable reconstruction filters, an asynchronous USB port and AES/EBU and S/PDIF digital inputs.

csmalak's picture

JA...what were your overall impressions of this set-up? Any thoughts on ARC's new Ref CD 9 CD/DAC? Thank you.

John Atkinson's picture

csmalak wrote:
what were your overall impressions of this set-up? Any thoughts on ARC's new Ref CD 9 CD/DAC?

The room was really too big for the speakers, which rendered the top octaves too mellow, while the low frequencies were undercontrolled, which I felt to be a room acoustics problem. I visited this room on the first day and intended to return on Sunday to see if things had been sorted out, but unfortunately I ran out of time. I don't really have a properly formed impression of the CD9, therefore, other than to say that it didn't appear to be doing anything wrong. :-(

I have asked Audio Research for a review sample when the CD9 is in production.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

csmalak's picture

Thanks for your reply John. Appreciate it. Hoping you get a review sample of the Ref CD 9 and looking forward to the review down the road.

Audio nut's picture

it sounded as if they were playing some sort of electronic dance music. I thought they were really just trying to show off the bass capabilities of the subs in the large room. I have heard these speakers in a much smaller setting playing jazz and they sounded pretty good. But saturday I could not really tell.

Elvis1's picture

I would like to invite you to come and listen at the store, and make sure you bring your favorite tracks to play. Please see my comment to atillahun below for current set up in our listening room. We also have Ref 610's and an array of other choices if you prefer.


attilahun's picture

My amateur ears need training it seems. 

This was one of my favorite rooms at the show and I thought the sonus fabers performed better than other speakers costing far more (particularly the room straight across the hall).

Having the four REL gibralters provided immense bass and power. 

Even without those in the loop, I was very impressed. 

Can't imagine how good this would sound in a properly tuned room.

Elvis1's picture

Atillahun, if you live in the area please feel free to stop in and listen. And do bring anything you would like to listen to. The Amati Futura is set up in our listening room one with 1 REF-150 stereo amp, REF-5SE pre, and CD8. Come on in and we'll turn down the lights, close the door and let you audition privately.


Elvis1's picture

We tried to play all different types of music, and never play the same genre back to back. We ran the gamut from classical to techno and everything in between. I am surprised at how may people complain on the internet about the music choice that was playing as they briefly visitied us, opposed to just asking us to play something they like. We sure tried to fill any request for a track. Either way we hope we did not offend anyone at any time. If you live in the area we sure would love to have you stop by the store and listen to the Amati Futura in a more realistic setting with your own music.

Sincerest Regards,

Dave W.