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Discovering the simplicity of this system and it’s total cost blew me away. I have heard and reviewed digital sources that cost more than this entire system. That would still be true if you added the phono preamp module to the LIO and a first class analog source to the system. You could also make these additions and keep the system price under $50,000. So, it is a very easy call for me. This simple and great sounding system wins the Beatnik’s Bongo Award for the Best System Under $50,000. Don’t forget, as the room was set up, this incredible system was just a little over $25,000. Well done to all!
Congratulations to Vinnie, Spatial (Clayton) and AntiCables! It truly was a great sounding room!
The combination of Rossi’s electronic wizardry and Shaw’s innovative speakers did create a spooky sense of realism that was noticeably different from most traditional high-end systems.Demo tracks such as the classical selection and tunes by Tori Amos and Dire Straits revealed a presentation that was close to what I imagine it would have been like to be sitting in the studio during recording.Voices had electrostatic-like clarity and reverb trails seemed to hang in the air forever. Instruments were clearly defined and located precisely on a wide, deep soundstage. In addition, soft passages still had weight and clarity, while louder moments remained free from congestion and glare.In particular, Amos’ piano was extraordinarily live-sounding, while Knopfler’s electric guitar had an especially beautiful tone. Overall, there was a cohesiveness across the audio spectrum that multiple-cone box speakers can struggle to achieve.Indeed, the total price of the rig was less than what I’d seen for wire alone in a number of systems at the LA show — and the Rossi-Spatial room did more things right than some of those megabuck exhibits.
Clayton Shaw presented a new (to me) speaker dubbed the Spatial Audio X1 Uniwave. This is a dipole bass plus wave-guided compression driver operating from 300Hz up, bi-amped (the compression driver’s sensitivity is so much higher than the dipole bass’ that only bi-amping makes sense). Driven by Vinnie Rossi’s electronics, the speaker gave a depiction of orchestral sound of truly remarkable realism. I cannot recall any show demo ever that sounded more like an orchestra than this, and there have been few that were its equal. In a moderately large room—the exhibit was in a suite-sized room—this system was producing both truthful timbres and a stunning sense of the recording venue’s actual space on one of my perennial test CDs, Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances, Dallas, Mata conducting on ProArte (not the dry-as-dust Johanos-conducted Dallas recording). I have heard this recording many, many times on many systems. This was one of the best, with a really surprising sense of the spatial and sonic scale of an orchestra—what I personally think of as the “Wednesday night” experience (Wednesday nights being when the orchestra I play in rehearses). And, as mentioned, one really felt transported to the acoustics of the recording venue. The speakers sounded natural and convincing on smaller-scale music as well. Harnoy/Dussek’s Schubert Arpeggione Sonata (cello and piano, on RCA) was bewitching in its tonal naturalness and spatial realism as well. At $14,000 a pair ($17,500 in wood finish), these X1 Uniwaves offer so much that one has to consider them a real bargain as well as masterpieces on their own, independent of price, if I can go by my vivid first impressions. (I was fascinated and went back several times.) This system may be a bit difficult to find for audition at first, until it becomes as established as it deserves to be. But meanwhile, as the Michelin travel guides say of their top-rated things to see (or in this case, to hear), it is “worth a journey.” (Pending editorial approval you can expect a review.)
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