RMAF 2011: Estelon, Bricasti, Zesto, Concert Fidelity

I was immediately star struck. Look at those beautiful shapes! Gorgeous, flowing, white!

Then I looked into the high-mounted Accutons and saw … what are those? Eyes? Are these speakers? Or … Schmoos?

Har? Okay, that’s not right. Lord, I apologize!

But still, even if they don’t immediately evoke that particular visceral response, I did wonder at their WAF. Of course, my wife’s idea of “attractive loudspeaker” is something along the lines of “invisible”, so perhaps that might not be a fair measure … I must have said something along these lines aloud (it happens), because I was immediately assured by the lovely young lady from Estelon that the speaker design is “very Euro”, and that she and her friends, at least, considered them quite attractive. I must have frowned suspiciously at her because she then repeated herself, a couple of times, adding “no, really!” I heard later that she might have been the daughter of the designer. Suspicious ….

Anyway, the soft white finish of the new $64k Estelon Diamond speakers really adds dramatic punch to the visual presentation. The speakers look very clean and elegant. Touchable. But since it’s unlikely that the four-year-olds are supposed to be wiping their hands, wet with the colored chalk they’ve been using to “paint” the driveway, anywhere near the audio rig in the first place, I think you’re probably okay.

The Japanese-made $28k Concert Fidelity ZL-120 V2 monoblock amps are good for 120wpc into 8ohms and 200wpc into 4, and are, interestingly, RCA-only.

The $6200 Hanss T-60, here mounted with an $8.5k Durand Talea II tonearm on the side. Fit and finish on the turntable are excellent and the price is surprisingly low given what is on offer.

With two tonearms, I suppose it wasn’t too surprising to find that there were two phono stages. The first was a $3900 Zesto Audio Andros PS1 (top) and other a $14k Concert Fidelity SPA 4C. The linestage preamplifier was a $20k Concert Fidelity CF-080LSX.

CDs were played back using a $13k Neodio NR22T transport through an $8k Briscasti M1 dual mono DAC.

Stillpoints rack & isolation used throughout.

The sound in this room was, quite simply, among the best at the show. To all of those audio reviewers who scoff at comments of sound quality at shows, I have this to say — well, you’re probably right. That is, it’s really not fair to write off speakers at shows for any particularly poor showing. That said, the converse isn’t true — just because its a show, doesn’t mean every demo will sound bad. If this is your mindset going in, you’ll miss a lot — and this Estelon room was a beautiful case in point. I visited the room quite early in the show and kept coming back to reassure myself that I wasn’t misremembering. I wasn’t. If anything, the room sounded even better on each visit. Quite an accomplishment, at least in my book. Happy to call this one a “Best in Show” and I look forward to hearing more of (and about) these wonderful Estelon speakers.