[Community of A/V Enthusiasts]
Eficion's F300 wonder
I am one of several members of the Bay Area Audiophile Society – at least three so far – whose sound rooms are graced by the Eficion F300 ($16,000 and pronounced as if saying aficionado with a twist). First discovered by BAAS President Bob Walters at RMAF 2009 or 2008, and blogged by me for Stereophile, this speaker has joined the Wilson Sophia 3, larger Evolution Audio speakers, and a few others on my short list of favorite loudspeakers under $30,000. Given that it extends pretty flat down to 23 Hz, and way up beyond 20 kHz thanks to its rear-firing supertweeter, it is an extraordinary bargain for the price. Although currently available only through Peigen Jiang’s Eficion website, and also through Bruce Jacobs at Stillpoints, the F300, built by Aurum Cantus in China, is worth seeking out.
It’s also quite unusual, in that it features two separate enclosures connected by jumpers. Through experimentation, I’ve found that it sounds best if both parts are supported by Stillpoints Steel supports. In this photo, they’re used on bottom, with a thin sheet of shelfing paper separating the two cabinets. Note that the speaker is available in both single-wire and bi-wire models.
Given that jumpers are required, owners have the option of experimenting with different wiring to achieve optimal sound. Given that the rest of my system is wired with Nordost Odin, I use Nordost Odin jumpers. The resultant transparency and tonal plushness make me one happy camper.
The speaker also has an unusually large air motion transformer (AMT) tweeter. Although the AMT does not have a wide dispersion pattern, either horizontally or vertically, and requires moving the speaker closer together than some may wish in a large space such as mine, it delivers such astounding detail and realistic timbres that the trade-off, IMHO, is more than worth it.
It is also extremely sensitive to placement. Due to its ported woofer, distance from the front wall is critical. Equally critical is toe-in angle. Too much, and midrange warmth is replaced by brightness; too little, and the speaker gets a little flat. Get it right, and it’s heaven.
CAS II marked the first time that the Eficion F300 was shown with its new crossover. Judging from the truly lovely, grounded sound I heard from the speaker, with copious air, ear-catching three-dimensionality, and a very clear depiction of room dimensions, I am in the process of getting my upper modules upgraded.
In a room with no room treatment whatsoever, the voices of both baritone Matthias Goerne and soprano Elly Ameling sounded absolutely correct in timbre. (I’ve heard both live, so I know). The pianos accompanying each singer also sounded true, with no trace of extra resonance, ring, or change of tone as drivers shifted one to the other. As I wrote in my notes, “Simply beautiful full range sound, with enrapturing air and depth. Gets all the warmth. Bass very deep, though needing the benefit of room treatment for additional solidity. I didn’t want to leave.”
Associated equipment include a Plinius 5A103 125 watt/channel solid-state amp, an old BAT 3iX tube preamp, Oppo 83SE used as a transport, Cary Audio Xciter DAC, and an assortment of unfancy cabling from Furutech, Monster, XSymphony, and Nordost. “They are really nothing,” said Peigen. Which says even more about the quality of the Eficion F300’s sound.
AudioVision SF's Dynaudio Premier
Dynaudio chose CAS II as the place to debut the Dynaudio C1 Signature loudspeaker ($8950/pair with stands). Mated with the Simaudio 650 D CD/DAC transport ($7999) and 600 I integrated amp (also $7999); a Shunyata Hydra Triton power conditioner ($4995); Quadraspire Sunoko Vent rack ($395/level); and a host of Shunyata cabling (interconnects $2499/1M pair) lifted by Shunyata Dark Field cable lifters ($295/12 pack), the sound was gratifyingly down to earth rather than tipped up as it was with the Gallo loudspeakers. Although the room challenged Dynaudio’s fabled bass, the system produced so many nice sounds that I wished I could have stayed longer.
Angel City Audio of Rancho Cucumunga in Northern CA was demming a system from Melody Valve HiFi PTY LTD. (!) of Australia. In addition to the Trinity LR loudspeakers ($1699-$1999/pair, depending upon wood), the system featured the Melody Pure Black 101 preamp ($4499) and M845 Monoblock amplifiers ($5899/pair), driven by an Onyx CD player and connected with Beta test cables. The system had a bright top (as did many systems in small rooms where the mirror, glass-framed prints, and/or windows were left uncovered), but lovely mids. The string of lights was a definite turn on.
Von Gaylord Audio
The San Rafael, CA-based company formerly known as Legend Audio Design won a large number of awards from publications from 1997-2003. I can understand why. Playing the late Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s medley of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful World,” the system had a captivating, unquestionably lovely mellow midrange that literally glowed with beauty. Perhaps the mids were a bit exaggerated, but they were too lovely to fret over.
Playing were the VB-One speaker system ($7500/pair), Uni Earth 180-watt four-piece monoblock amplifiers ($12,000), Uni Class A preamp with outboard power supply ($15,000), and Uni Digital AC with outboard power supply ($9995). All components were connected by Von Gaylord’s top-of-the-line Chinchilla cabling (interconnect $1350/1 meter pair). Definitely a system to investigate.