It’s just a puff of smoke, a wisp, a few particles, so what can it do? Nothing, right? Wrong, it can take your house down and overturn your life – that’s what an atmospheric disturbance can do when it reaches the nth degree. It starts out innocently enough but writhes into a twister, a whirlwind of chaos, particles potently arranged and propelled with deadly force.
Words are also wind, exhaling, vocalizing – like a speaker, but with biological impetus. In this article I will (virtually) evacuate the vapor in my lungs to convey how good the Vapor Audio Nimbus White speaker is with the hope that at a minimum you hear it and at best have a chance to own it, as I do.
Yes, I own this speaker, so prepare yourself with whatever high-level skepticism, broad based denunciations and hypercritical analysis of my writing you feel merited. Weight my comments accordingly; I’m not worried, for this is no ordinary speaker, and Ryan Scott’s Vapor Audio is no ordinary speaker company. I am quite confident that subsequent shows and customer testimonials will bear out that I have not overstated the merits of the Nimbus White.
This November two days before Ryan visited, tornadoes ripped apart central Illinois. Based just south of St. Louis, Vapor Audio was just out of harm’s way. No one knows the dangers of the wind better than Ryan who is a degreed Atmospheric Scientist and trained at the National Weather Service to be a weather forecaster, consequently finding inspiration for his speakers’ names in the weather conditions he studied so passionately. As with an atmospheric condition, use of the Nimbus White is not so much the experience of an object in operation as it is being immersed into the conditions under which fine audio reproduction occurs. For example one does not think of a snowstorm as an object, but an event. Similarly, the Nimbus White speakers are so thorough in what they do that one senses not the speaker playing but rather a musical event happening.
That is a strong statement that requires backing. Many speakers claim to put one in the hall, to recreate the real thing, to evoke the passion. Getting beyond the Ad hype, how well they actually do so is another matter. One way to assess a speaker’s potential is to assess its build quality and design. For Ryan if the speaker’s parts are not of high quality, the speaker cannot be of high quality. This sounds self-evident, however there are a surprising number of manufacturers as well as audiophiles who believe that this principle can be skirted, that one can get top sound with average parts.
The longer I am in the audio game the more I believe two things; parts matter, but the designer matters more. Note carefully I am not saying that if the designer is really good the parts don’t matter! The ideal is to have both great parts and a superb designer. The default assumption is that means a storied or highly credentialed designer with at least one degree relative to the field of electronics. What if I were to tell you it is not absolutely essential? What matters more is a manufacturer with vision, with an eye toward obtaining a sound quality better than everyone else. So what, everyone is trying that! But some are clearly better than others, and they don’t have to be credentialed. You guessed it, Ryan Scott is not credentialed in the field of electronics, however, he has had highly technical training which influences his designs, does have a particular eclectic genius and an indomitable will to excel in order to be the best. That combination pushes him to achieve extreme results such as are displayed in the Vapor Audio speaker line. Consider, how many manufacturers, credentialed or not, have ever attained anything on the order of the Nimbus White? As this article continues you will understand why I ask that question.
RISK TAKING AND RADICAL SPEAKER DESIGN
Ryan has done a fair number of things that involve risks most are not willing to take. He started and sold automotive websites, was a Pro Motorsports photographer, published his own print magazine, day traded stocks, and is a self-taught gunsmith (imagine being on the hook legally for the safety of the custom firearms you make!). This is not an exhaustive list but shows the varied and extreme lengths he has gone in pursuit of enjoyment in his work and exploration toward producing notable results. He has even done some reviewing of audio gear! The man adapts! He is not satisfied with good enough but wishes to create something unique. He seems to relish enjoyment of his accomplishments more than closing a sale at a higher price. He is as much a visionary as businessman, a characteristic that will need to be kept in mind later in this article.
Ryan Scott, at least at this point in time for who knows what the future holds, appears to be most concerned about having people own his genius when it comes to speakers. How do I know this? I simply look and listen to the Nimbus White! It is a $20K plus speaker if there are any $20K plus speakers in the world. He could sell this speaker all day for $20K, and I’m quite sure sooner rather than later he will. But for now, for a short period of time it is available at a fight-in-the-aisles- Black-Friday-Sale price of a smidgen under $10K.
I had been speaking of atmospheric conditions. Well, there are (ahem) “conditions” which pertain to purchase of an exotic, low production speaker put out by a visionary running a small company. Chief among those conditions is that it can be challenging to find someone to talk to you when you attempt to contact them. Sound familiar? The lament follows this form, “… does not answer the phone,” or “I don’t get a response when I send an email,” or “…I tried contacting them days ago and have heard nothing,” culminating in “Are they still in business?”
I can relate, and will not withhold straightforward criticism in the hopes that Vapor Audio will relent and beef up its customer service because I am a reviewer and owner and I am not getting the level of responsiveness I want either. To be fair, it is not technically that I can’t get any response – it’s that I can’t consistently get timely response. Ryan seems to march to his own chronological drummer, catches up with correspondence on the fly, and is subject to long lapses in response times. We live in an age of, “As a customer I deserve to have you get back to me now,” communication and we expect it all the more for premium products. My experience is you will need to practice your extreme waiting skills when making arrangements with Vapor Audio.
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