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2011 RMAF – Coverage IX: Rooms that surprised me the most

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Rooms that Surprised Me Most

The Silbatone Acoutics room had several big surprises. The first was Joe Roberts was there. Joe was the founder of Sound Practices Magazine that started in the Summer 1992. Sound Practices was the first mag I had run across that was dedicated to the sound of SET amps and the speakers that bring the little amps alive. That’s just about the time I first heard an SET amp and he was a great help for me. I commented to him that we had talked on the phone several times back then and how glad I was to meet him. He said he had thought that talking on the phone all day was a lot of work, but now he got more emails than anyone could answer in a day.


Their system included a pair of very rare Western Electric 757 speaker system that consisted of a 728B Woofer, 713C driver with a KS-12027 Horn. It’s rare enough to see one of these compact monitors from 1948, yet even rarer to see and hear a pair of them. They were being driven by Silbatone’s Reference 300 (300B) Signature Integrated amp and their phono preamp. The source was a Schroeder turntable and arm. Their other source was a little 3 1/2 inch Solovox reel-to-reel. On Friday, the system sounded a little aggressive, but by Sunday it was one of my top three favorite rooms at the show.



This room sounded unlike anything else at the show. Give this system some time and it could change what you expect from a sound reproduction system. You will have to give up listening for how your equipment sounds and instead how the artists and music moves you. Funny part of this room, they weren’t there to sell anything. Joe Roberts and Manho Oh simply wanted to share how good music can sound and educate those in the room.

Polk Audio without a doubt was the room that surprised me the most. I have to admit that this is because it was the room I expected the least out of. To be honest, I haven’t listened to a pair of Polk speakers in over 10 years. I always thought of them as mid-fi and almost didn’t even go in their room. That would have been a mistake though. Their new LSiM line of speakers sounded really good and looked the part as well. Even the little LSiM703 sounded great and their flagship speaker the LSiM707 only cost $4,000. I can’t imagine if you had been going from room to room at the show that you would have batted an eye if they had said they cost three times that much if you hadn’t known they were Polk speakers.


Fletcher Haynes Audio is an almost complete line audio company that I have to admit that I had never heard of. Peter Fletcher/Haynes and his wife were gracious host Their room and system was one that provided very musical sound. His Heirloom speaker weigh 175 pounds each and use a single 8-inch Fostex driver. They sounded completely full range and made beautiful music. They sell for $3900 to $6500 a pair depending on finish.


Their Kopele Mono-block amps are equally interesting in that they allow you to virtually change power tubes on the fly. They produce 40 watts per channel of ultralinear push-pull AB power. They also have a really nice passive stereo attenuator with input selectors that sells for only $549. This unit is call the Diminuendo and seems to be quite a bargain. They also had a nice sounding phono preamp, but I’m sorry that I don’t remember the price.


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