I’ve heard the $10k Aerial 7t loudspeakers at a local dealer, so I kinda knew what I was getting in for here in Audible Illusions’ second room (the other was that crazy Martin Logan demo).
Jeff Dorgay, of TONEAudio and my sometime/future editor, insists that the Audio Research Reference lineup — here, it was the $13k Reference 5 preamp and the $13k Reference 150 amplifier — are da bomb (my words, not his), so I was a little stumped by what I heard here.
It was “okay”. Again, this was perplexing because I’ve heard and loved the Aerial 7t speakers. Great bass, fantastic imaging, layered sound stage, detail, you name it, the 7t brings it. And the ARC gear should have been sweet.
But today, the bass seemed to have called in sick. Or maybe the mood lighting put it to sleep, which is pretty much how I’m explaining my inability to focus in this room; I left with only a pair of usable images out of the dozen I tried to snap off. Whatever. I chalked this up to “show acoustics” as everything else held up. Treble extension was clear and clean, imaging was pretty good, and the room was usually crowded (good sign!). Take a few of those bodies out of there and these speakers probably would have opened up dramatically.
Anyway, it was the $10k Krell Evolution 505 was spinning the silver discs on my visit. That is a gigantic chassis. And all those little buttons are very nifty to look at. An ARC DAC 8 sat below it, I don’t even think it got turned on. The Tape Project had a deck in here too, but if they played anything, I missed that as well.
Transparent Audio Reference cables were used throughout.