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.