Publisher Profile

2019 CAS Report by Doug Schroeder

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Open Baffle Speaker Systems

There were a satisfying percentage of rooms employing open baffle designs, including Sound Lab, MartinLogan and PureAudioProject. As with any audio show there were a few tougher cases of integration of systems with rooms, and in this particular instance open baffle designs in smallish rooms had an uphill battle. Nevertheless, I was able to appreciate the essential character of these systems.

Sound Lab Majestic 645 electrostatic speaker system, Room 5201.

Bricasti Design M21 dual-mono DAC (top shelf), M28 monoblock amplifiers (bottom shelf), Room 5201.

I admire the boldness of a company that willfully shoehorns into an approximately 18’ x 13′ x 9′ space with one of their smaller speakers at a touch over six feet tall, the Sound Lab Majestic M645. This was a difficult one to assess in situ, as the enormous panels would sound much more free and uncongested were they in a much larger room. Nevertheless, the paring of Bricasti Design M21 DAC and M28 Monoblock Amplifiers was clean and powerful enough. Having reviewed the Ultimate 545 and hearing systems with Bricasti components several times, I’m not sure the Audio Reference Technology cables were assisting the end result.


MartinLogan CLX ART electrostatic speaker system, Boardroom 3.

Bay Area dealership Tim Marutani Consulting presented one of the most upscale systems at the show, featuring, I was happy to hear, the MartinLogan CLX ART speaker system, along with four BalancedForce 212 Subwoofers. All the stops were pulled out with sources ATR Services ATR-100 studio mastering reel-to-reel tape machine refurbished by The Tape Project, and the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series 3. Completing the rest of the system were the Doshi Line Peamplifier V3.0, Doshi Tape Stage V3.0, Doshi Monoblock V3.0 and 512 Engineering Symmetrical Power and Cable System. This setup exhibited superb clarity, not suffering from head wall reflection smearing, as it was placed well into the larger boardroom. The character of the sound was slightly tipped up despite the impressive analogue front end, but not irritatingly so. As expected, the images were spread widely, but that would be moderated by placement in a different setting. Overall, an excellent effort.


PureAudioProject/Whammerdyne Heavy Industries, Room 5101.

Perhaps I am biased in favor of the PureAudioProject Trio15 speaker system due to having reviewed three iterations, namely Tang Band, Voxativ, and Horn 1, and considering it one of the best values for a full range speaker on the market. Aside from that, attempting to consider the performance even handedly, I was most pleased with the combination of the Classic 15 speaker with the Whammerdyne DLM-4 Amplifier and accompanying “Remote Advanced Magnetics” or RAM (outboard output transformers). Wyred 4 Sound’s Connect running Sonos, Jena Labs cables, Equi-Tech power conditioning, and Marigo Audio Lab isolation products rounded out the combination.

This setup, too, was influenced by the tight quarters, the speakers being too close to the head wall for comfort. The effect of the close placement and severe toe-in resulted in a soundstage midway between a standard stereo setup and a good pair of headphones. However, placed in a near field setup I found the quality every bit as good as the system for these speakers at AXPONA 2019. The Classic 15 held a distinct advantage over similar sized floor standing speakers, as it was more effortless sounding below 40Hz than the other small towers at the show. Whammerdyne’s DGA-1 without the RAM drove the Classic 15 with less authority and with softer edges to images, but tonally well balanced.

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