Art Loudspeakers' US Debut

Art loudspeakers, made in Scotland, paired up German-manufactured audio components from AcousticPlan and a line transformer from Japan to make their joint US debut at the 2007 RMAF. In two adjacent rooms, I heard two different Art models. As depicted in the photo with Art's Derek Dunlap, I first auditioned the art Stiletto 6 loudspeaker ($5000/pair), mated with AcousticPlan's Sitar hybrid-design integrated amp ($7500, complete with external power supply), Audio Technic line transformer from Japan (also debuting), and Cary Audio CD player. The Stiletto, a vented two-way made from birch plywood without use of MDF, measures 88.5dB sensitivity and has a fairly linear frequency response that starts at the mid '30s. It features a SEAS 6" coated-paper driver and a 1" soft-dome tweeter equipped with a proprietary horn to create a delightfully open soundstage. I was quite impressed with this system, which produced very warm, rich sounds that belied the speaker's diminutive size.

In the second room, the larger Art Emotion Signature ($20,000/pair) was connected to AcousticPlan's Sarod tube preamp ($9300) and 50Wpc class-A hybrid tube amp, which features a triode input and MOSFET output ($9300). This system produced a fuller, warmer, extremely quiet, most inviting sound, with significantly more overtones and microtonal shadings, but there was also a hint of driver integration issues.