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Give me that emotion!

 

It has been great to receive a
pair of ART speakers called the "EMOTION". I had been promised, before they arrived, that they were wonderful but knowing manufacturer as I do, I know that each and everyone of their "newborn babies" is wonderful! Anyhow, the EMOTION have arrived and I will say from the outset that they are truly a great speaker.

These speakers re-produce the intent of the music, and I am not surprised that Derek and Ramsay (of ART) have decided on the name EMOTION for them. And, by the way, a big thanks to David Speirs, my long time audio guru, for putting me in touch with Derek in the first place, and so leading to these new speakers' arrival.

You will see from the picture that the EMOTIONS are a 2-way speaker, using the very best parts possible, including Jensen capacitors and Kondo internal wiring.

I have had the opportunity to play them to one or two friends, and the reaction has been always good, in fact ecstatic!

It did occur to me, when I came to write this piece, that I have been writing rather a lot about speakers this year. The reason for that has been my frustration (and I know it is the frustration of many) with speakers, and their limitations, and which always seems to be the component that let's the system down. I have really struggled to find a reflex box speaker that does anything other than an "average" job, at best, and it has been very frustrating.

The ART EMOTION came about because I asked Derek some time ago if he could make a speaker that could convey all the excitement and immediacy of a horn speakers but also capture the fuller, more solid sound that box reflect speakers can manage. It would be helpful too, if they could be made as domestically friendly as possible. I needed this type of speaker to mate with relating low powered amplifications.

My favourite electronics are products made by Kondo and Kimura San (Kimura San of 47Lab), and they are both of the "small watt" school. To my ear, this is a good thing, big powerful amplifiers sound to me thick and course and there is certainly nothing thick and course about Kondo or 47Lab amplifications. However, it does mean that speakers are harder to match because the speakers have to be relatively sensitive to work properly.

When I received the EMOTION, I used a pair of 47Lab Gain Card amps, with a Kondo IO-j cartridge and Kondo KSL-M7 phono amp; I tell you the result was just staggering. They produced a huge realistic presentation with a tremendous sense of the weight and scale of the music. Scale is so difficult to capture (and yet so important) and the only other speaker I have ever owned that did this successfully was the "Carfrae", now, alas, no longer made.

The other bonus is that the EMOTION can be placed against the rear wall, if necessary, in a smaller room because the ports fire down onto the base of the wooden stand which is an integral part of the speaker. I think they look quite elegant in a rather old fashioned simple way. No "bells and whistles" to their looks but nevertheless they appear pleasing with their very high quality veneer.

In any event, this speaker seems to have no fault (and this is a remarkable achievement in itself) and lots of virtues. I am always a bit amazed at how much can be said by equipment reviewers and this article is only intended as a statement of my own belief, and so keeping it short, the EMOTION works!

If any product deserves to be successful this is it; the ART name is still not very well known, but my goodness, these EMOTIONS are good enough to make them a serious player!

Hong Kong Tube Audio Show 2005

 
We were delighted to welcome Kondo and Masaki San and the team from Audio Note Japan to the Hong Kong show. A really unusually pleasant big room was filled with the sound of music, care of the KSL ONGAKU 211 amplifier and a KSL-1000 pre-amplifier. CDs were spun by a 47Lab PiTracer. Kondo cabling DAC and IO-j cartridge, and a DPS turntable with Ikeda tonearm completed the electronics line up.

For the first time at a show Wilson Watt 7s speakers (provided kindly by Ken Chan at the Sound Chamber) were the loudspeaker of choice mated with Kondo electronics.

If the comments from the people attending were genuine we achieve the best sound of the show by a large margin!

Some pictures below record the attendance at the show by the ANJ International team (who are the international marketing people for Kondo) and the Audio Note Japan team, including Kondo San and Masaki San themselves.

Super CDs and Small Speakers

 

I would like to speak on two separate topics in this article :-

The first topic is how important it is to purchase good quality CD pressings. Everyone who seriously collects LPs has in mind the quality of the pressing, for example, first pressings, by particular record labels, were better than later ones; they were and still are more collectable and also more desirable sonically. The theory, as I understand it, is that as the pressings continue, the master tape deteriorates and the sound becomes less like the original.

For some reason, not much is said or written about superior quality, collectable, compact discs.

These thoughts come to mind because I recently inadvertently stumbled across a record shop called Sam The Record Man. The shop name seems inherently a good one for a purveyor of recorded music and in fact I had heard of Sam from someone and so I was interested to explore. I came across Sam after a decent dinner in Times Square and so was in a fairly sanguine mood, which is a good mood for browsing through music collections.

Sam proved to be a dapper, articulate man, who quickly moved into salesman mode and he is good! $5,000 later, I was the proud owner of four Japanese first pressings compact discs. This, to my accompanying partner and her children, seemed an extraordinary outlay, and produced several quick intakes of breath!

Sam explained that the Japanese first pressings were collectable because they sounded sonically superior.

I had succumbed to the following discs: The Best of Vienna Boy's Choir, Bill Evans; a Horowitz in Moscow; and an extremely expensive Cliff Richard; I think that the Cliff Richard CD actually had a price tag of HK$2,900, and therefore required some considerable thought before I paid the bill.

In any event, the real purpose of relating all of this is to say that I was charmed and also a little surprised at the real excellence of the recordings in question. Played on a 47Lab PiTracer, and using Mactone valve amplification, with Lowther speakers, I must say that the reproduction was quite stunning.

In the old days, all one could get from a compact disc, was a rather small, mean, unpleasant sound; now this is not necessarily true, at least not with the right equipment and the right pressing. These pieces of music were thoroughly engaging. When I played Bill Evans, from an "ordinary" Bill Evans pressing, the difference was frightening!

If anybody from any record company is reading this, my plea is, can't you please improve on the pressings and have ��ordinary�� CDs sounding more like these first edition pressings from Japan.

Now onto the subject of speakers; a subject that I have been going on about for a few months now. I am still searching for something that is totally satisfying. In earlier articles, I have expressed my general enthusiasm for horn speakers. However, the difficulty with horn speakers, of course, is that they tend to be physically large. With the desire to set up a system in my bedroom, I rediscovered the virtues of small speakers, and the result has been very satisfactory. I used a pair of 16 years old ProAc EBT (extended bass tablets). I placed them at the head of the bed, on a pair of Foundation speaker stands. The electronics are entirely 47Lab, a Flatfish, the Gemini DAC, and the Progression amplifier. Whether I am lying in bed (a great place to listen to music) or seated at the end of the bed, the musical output sounds splendid!

In fact, so enamoured was I by the result of that I decided to replace (at least for the moment) my Lowther horn speaker in the living room with a pair of 47Lab "Lens" speakers. This small and new speaker from 47Lab uses one driver in a small box enclosure. On this occasion, I linked them up with Mactone electronics, namely the new 330 pre-amp and a MA-300B power amplifier. Again, the result was shockingly good! There I sat with the lights down, believing in the musical illusion thoroughly, but finding it hard to believe that the illusion was being produced by this diminutive 47Lab speaker!

Obviously I am not alone in admiring the virtue of small loudspeakers. In particular, I recall the owner of Acoustic Energy (I cannot immediately remember his name, for which I apologize) and Mr Kimura of 47 Laboratory both enthusiastically explaining why they prefer small speakers to large.

In essence, both felt that the small speakers were better at conveying the meaning of the music while large loudspeakers were just that loud.

The moral of the tale is don't feel you necessarily have to get large speaker to get a good listening result, play around with small ones. This has the advantage of a fairly modest outlay in expenditure and if you get it wrong it is not going to be the end of the world!

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