Vaughn Loudspeakers’ New Glass of Wine: playing the new Pinot Monitor

Wanna see something crazy? Check out my desk. UPS came by today with a delivery that actually forced me to clear a bunch of crap off my desk.

Say “hello” to the new Pinot Monitors from Vaughn Loudspeakers! Originally offered at $3500, Jim Jordan has been struggling with getting the speaker to a more affordable price point. The new V2 sheds the bamboo and the carbon fiber for a more traditional look.

Some internal changes were made, too, including moving down a notch with the bits and bobs on the inside. No more Bybee filters and the Mundorfs capacitors are Supremes, not Silver/Oil, but the result is that the Pinot now comes in at $2,000. That’s quite a haircut!

The cabinet sports a 6.5″ Fostex FE168EZ Sigma “full range” driver on the front and a 6.5″ passive radiator on the back. That means no port! A Fostex FT7RP ribbon handles the high end so that full ranger won’t have to get all unsettled at those frequencies.

The crossover to the ribbon is all first order and there’s only 1 cap and 1 inductor in the path. Pretty simple circuit and it’s phase coherent.

Still making some decisions on tube amps, so the overachiever from Red Wine Audio, the Signature 15, is doing all the honors for the near future. Cabling is all Blue Jeans. The DAC is my little HRT Streamer II+, connected via a Synergistic Research Tesla Tricon USB cable into my MacBook Pro, which is running Pure Music.

Here’s some specs:

  • Impedance: 8ohms nominal
  • Sensitivity: 94.5dB
  • Frequency Response: 45-40kHz
  • Power min/max: 5-80 watts
  • Weight: 36lbs each
  • Size: 17″H x 10″W x 12.5″D
  • Price: $2,000

Okay, now the meat. These things are the best headphones I’ve ever heard! I have some stands in storage (I need to go get them!), but until then, I’m doing some serious violence to their intended use — I have them sitting on my desk, cradled by a pair of monitor isolation stands from Ultimate Support that allow me to tilt them up at me (they’re awesome). The drivers are 36″ apart, center-to-center, and they’re toed in so they fire over my shoulders. I sit back about 24″-40″. The image produced is razor sharp and pinpoint accurate — and hanging freely in space, between the speakers. Sitting this close, the speakers are almost (almost) at the edges of my peripheral vision, so vocals just emerge directly out of this free space. Like magic. There’s no obvious source! Totally bizarre and completely hypnotic. This is what headphones wish they sounded like. For what it’s worth, Jim recommends that these guys sit 3′ or more off a back wall and between 7′-10′ apart on stands that are 24″ tall. Once I have the floor stands in hand I’ll be moving things around, but for today, near field it is. And they’re so cool this way!

Ultimately, I don’t think monitors over 17″ really work this close up unless you have a monster desk, and the Pinot’s are quite imposing on my mid-sized Ikea special. Smaller cabinets would probably be ideal, but, well, going smaller isn’t without serious trade-offs. If you want bass punch, and I freely admit that I love that shit, smaller cabinets mean less bass. Maybe way less bass. Boo!

So, what do I have on here? Well, I’ve got the demo tracks on repeat, and I have to say, I’m impressed. Sure, these Pinots will not rattle my skull as thoroughly nor as convincingly as the Tekton Pendragons or eFicion F300s. But! But! Butter butt!  Let’s consider a moment. Jem’s Finally Woken CD has a track “Come On Closer” which does evil things with bass that the eFicion and Tekton speakers have a lot of fun with. My Magnepan 3.7s have trouble with this tune (until I crank it way up) but these Vaughns are doing a very credible job “going there” — and not needing the Maggie-required volume boost to do it. Hmm!

The treble is open and airy and pretty much invisible — nothing is calling attention to itself. But yes, it’s the mid range where these Fostex drivers do their magic thing. And they sound pretty much as you’d expect them to — that is, great. Beautiful voices! And detail retrieval is very good. Not on par with the AKG-K701s, but then, nothing is — but I think they’re better than the eFicions in this regard. Ribbon over AMT, maybe? Near field vs far? Who knows. I know this — these Pinots are a delicious brew.

No, this is not a review. I’ve had them for exactly half a day so far! I’ve got more amps to try out, more cabling, more everything. As always, stay tuned for all that.

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15 Responses to Vaughn Loudspeakers’ New Glass of Wine: playing the new Pinot Monitor

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  4. Bill Domeika says:

    Do you know if the Vaughn Pinots are still available with the Bybees and Mundorfs? Did you get a chance to listen to the $3500 version vs the more cost effective V2′s? Just wondering if the Bybees et al made any meaningful difference in SQ?

    $3500 isn’t terrible for a great monitor…assuming the Pinot V1′s were indeed a great monitor.

    Cheers,

    Bill

    • Part-Time Audiophile says:

      No, this is the first and only Pinot I’ve heard. Jim Jordan was going to send me a floor standing version, but I think other things have captured his attention. AFAIK, the “old” version is still available, if you’re interested.

  5. Norman says:

    I dunno, for desktop speakers ToneAudio seems to really like ML Motion 4s.
    See here: http://www.tonepublications.com/review/the-martinlogan-motion-4-2/

    • Socrates7 says:

      Great price, too. I was trying to stay away from 4ohm speakers if at all possible, though. Probably fine with most amps, especially if it’s a flat-4, but 8ohms is so much friendlier. ;-)

      • Norman says:

        Well TA was driving it quite well with a Primaluna Prolog 1, so it’s easy to drive and is an honest 70hz.

        Heil type AMT tweeter too, crossed at 2.9khz. For desktop use, this is hard to beat!

      • Socrates7 says:

        Hmmm. Wonder where I can get a pair to try out ….

  6. Xavier says:

    And what about the small Klinger Favre from France (D26 or D36) ? Theres quite a big buzz on this brand at the moment :)

  7. Xavier says:

    Hey there,

    been looking for some good desktop speakers and those look pretty cool, but way too big for my desk.

    Any opinion on the Anthony Gallo Strada speakers ? Theyre not expensive (around $1500) and their footprint isnt too big.

    Reviews have been generally VERY positive it seems

    ANyway, love your website, keep it going

    • Socrates7 says:

      Thanks for the kind words!

      No, these Vaughns are ludicrous for desktop use. Entertaining, though.

      The Gallo Strada is a wonderful speaker. They sound tremendous and image like crazy. They’re a bit hard to drive, though; they’re not tube friendly in any meaningful way. However, they’d be awesome with some of the brand new Peachtree Audio amps.

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