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RMAF 2011: Wood Artistry, Linkwitz, Pass Labs

I’ll admit it. I’ve always been fascinated by the Linkwitz Orion loudspeaker. Using quality drivers from SEAS and almost always sold in a kit, the new v4 Orion was shown as a pre-built, completely finished, product from Wood Artistry from $14750, including the active custom-built crossover. But while ‘fascinated’ covers a wide variety of sins, ‘covetous’ was not one of them. Until this year’s RMAF show. This was an entirely different sort of feeling.

Finished in an elegant black and fronted by electronics from Pass Labs, the Orions were showstoppers. I’ve never heard them sound better. Explosive. Wickedly dynamic. Sweet. Sexy, even. In a word, this presentation was worthwhile, and that’s the first time I ever truly felt this way about them.

The showing with Pass was a first for me, as I’ve always heard these speakers fronted by inexpensive DIY gear, so with this entry, I suppose I’m now able to separate out the speakers from their customary front end. Let’s just say that with the Pass Labs amps and preamp, and the Marantz disc player, the sound in this room was easily a contender for Best-In-Show. Very well done.

Certainly not cheap by any means, but I am forced to note that full range speakers have a alarming tendency to reach astronomical prices at a pace that is entirely non-linear to their performance. With that said, the price of the Wood Artistry Orion-4 are on the more affordable side of that spectrum.

Where the Orion “system” starts getting expensive, of course, is on power. These babies need at least six channels of amplification to run … which means you’re going to spend some (most?) of that saved cash powering them. Ah, well. There’s always a catch.

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2 Comments on RMAF 2011: Wood Artistry, Linkwitz, Pass Labs

  1. Simon Kelly, Perth, Australia // May 12, 2012 at 1:38 AM //

    Please, if you have any respect for the designer of the Orion, Siegfried Linkwitz, read http://www.linkwitzlab.com/orion-faq.htm#Q10 where he asserts that the loudspeaker inductance or capacitance have little effect in an active system, leaving only resistance. He recommends less than 0.1 ohm per metre of cable. He uses 16 gauge Monster cable from Radio Shack.
    And please do not advise to people to waste significant amounts of money on cables. There is no magic in electricity.

    • Part-Time Audiophile // May 12, 2012 at 8:50 AM //

      The Great Cable Debate will rage on, regardless of what we say or do here. My issue is that I’ve actually sat down and been treated to an anonymous cable demo. I wasn’t able to see what was being done, all I was told was that something had been changed (which wasn’t always true), and then I was asked to listen. It opened my eyes, but I was most definitely not happy about it.

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