Surreal Sound’s Fifth Row Loudspeaker

Ralph Hellmer’s Surreal Sound Audio, based in Chesterfield, VA, debuted their impressive-looking, 95dB-sensitive, customizable Fifth Row loudspeaker ($20,000–$26,000/pair). Quote from the brochure: “Fifth Row was designed with the knowledge that the life of music is in the midrange.” With an Oppo player used as a transport, an ExaSound DSD-capable DAC, what appears to be an Atma-Sphere MP-1 preamp with outboard power supply ,and Atma-Sphere monoblocks, the sound of guitar sounded strangely tinkly to my ears. All in all, the sound was a little edgy and honky with an artificial spaciousness. Perhaps that’s what’s meant by “surreal sound.”

vinylsound's picture

I own these speakers and they do not sound in any way edgy,  honky or artificial. Perhaps your reviewer ought to have his or her ears cleaned before listening.

davidmc's picture

Two people listening to the same piece on the same system will come away hearing different things, that is why there are so many companies making gear, specially speakers. I was helping host the room and was approached by many with unsolicited comments about how our room was one of the best if not the best sounding rooms at THE Show Newport. I will not comment on the Stereophile reviewer, his ears and processing of sound are his own, but no where near the comments we were getting from the vast amount of folks visiting the room.