Nothing like visiting old favorites. So we did some more swimming through the shoals of the not-great and the really-bad, and finally arrived at the top floor. Ah! Sweet music to our ears! How nice! And what a contrast to the roar and blare of the rest of the show. We were at the Audio Kinesis room, of course, hosted by the ever-affable Duke LeJeune, one of the nicest (and most knowledgeable) guys in audio. His subtle use of additional room-reflecting drivers has evolved since last year, looks better, has much more flexible placement options, and last but certainly not least, sounds better. Going out on a small limb here, but Duke's speakers combine the natural and relaxed sound of high-efficiency with the spacious ambience of dipoles and electrostats. They thrive on good vacuum-tube amplifiers of moderate to medium power, and to my surprise, sounded damn good on a visiting Class D amplifier (which I didn't expect at all).
By contrast, the spacious big-sky sound of the Audio Kinesis is not designed to shock-and-awe, but quietly sneak up on the listener and give them a big smile. The longer you stay, the better it sounds. I suspect the long-term satisfaction is good, because this is the room I keep coming back to, year after year, and it always sounds more like music than the prevailing fads of the high-end world. Duke has good taste, and that counts for a lot in my book.