I had the opportunity to spend a few hours yesterday afternoon with the man himself, Danny Richie. I was given the opportunity to demo the A/V 1, A/V 3, Criterion, and lastly the Alpha LS. Danny was kind enough to put my preamplifier (Monolithic PS-1 with HC-1 power supply), my amplifier (Monarchy Audio SM-70 25wpc Class A), along with my Nordost Flatline speaker cables, into his system so that I could get a good idea of the sound that I would get at home. We began with the Criterion using only his components and it had a very clear high fidelity sound to it. Vocal based music sounded especially good through the Criterions. Then my preamp and amp were substituted in and that is when the Criterions highlighted the solid state glare that my components provided to the sound. My hearing is especially sensitive to the high range of loudspeakers so I found the sound with my components to be too harsh for my tastes. So we switched to the A/V 1 speakers. Now, we were talking a sound that I could enjoy! Danny seemed to think that the highs were too soft compared to the Criterions. I respectfully disagreed and pointed out that I found the sound of the tweeter on the A/V 1 to be more to my liking. There was less "air" as compared to the Criterion, but I still preferred the A/V's sound reproduction. Then we switched to the A/V 3 loudspeakers. I did not know what to expect since I had never heard an MTM speaker before (I have only owned 2 driver 2 way speakers). Needless to say I was very impressed with the sound of the A/V 3. It sounded great with my little 25wpc amp especially the impressive microdynamics. I never noticed the amp having difficulty pushing the speakers, even though Danny played the CDs at a greater volume than I normally use. So, Danny had a sale! I originally came into his sound room with the notion that I would be working on a purchase for a pair of Criterions and instead I found that the A/V 3s were better suited to my electronics. Lastly, after I had decided on the A/V 3s, Danny asked me if "I was ready to be ruined." Yes folks, Danny demo'ed the Alpha LS speakers using a 25 wpc amp! Well, the difference between the Alphas and the A/V 3s is the difference between a clean recording and a live concert. The Alphas were magnificent and recreated the orchestral recordings as if they were the "real thing." If you have the money, and also good electronics (although my electronics were not very expensive), the Alphas would be the last speaker that you would ever need. To sum up, the Alphas are the king of all the speakers that I have ever heard (much better than the Hales Transcendence 5s, which were twice as expensive and sounded very good, in my opinion). The Criterion is a speaker which requires very good electronics to sound its best. The A/V line is more suited to those of us who have electronics which are not the top of the line. I found my match in the A/V 3s and wish to thank Danny again for his hospitality. By the way, the dAck really is an amazing little DAC, easily besting my 20bit ladder type DAC.
Chris - fairly new to audiocircle.com