Here again, I found the lovely Alissa Vassilkova and her father Alfred, the designer of the gorgeous sound-making sculpture that had the room completely in thrall. This time, the pair was showing off their newest — the $32,900 Estelon XB, and she was wearing a daring blue.
There are only a few manufacturers that are really bringing the Accuton drivers to the high-end here in the States, now that Kharma seems to have forsaken us. There’s Marten, TIDAL, Lumenwhite and Estelon, but only a few American companies, like Vapor, Fritz and Clearwave, seem to be playing with them these days. The reason? Not exactly sure, but Fritz has told me that while they’re extraordinarily linear, they’re problematic too — it’s hard to get “real bass” out of an all-ceramic design, and blending those drivers with … well, with anything else … tends to give you nothing but a hot mess. So, if you’re gonna go Accuton, you’d better bring the big brains — or else.
Well, obviously Alfred Vassilkov has brought it — the Estelons on both RMAF debuts have been just stunning. And while I’m not prepared to call $33k a bargain, exactly, I’m also hard-pressed to avoid using the term “value”. It’s really hard to find a loudspeaker this transparent, this fast, and this enjoyable, period. Yes, they’re that good. And the fact that it actually looks like art, well, consider this a sharp poke in the eye for loudspeaker makers fond of mere boxes. This is not to say that the aesthetic will universally appeal, but it is as statement, and trust me, folks will be talking about your hi-fi. If they’re able to find and wag their tongue at all, that is.
The XB is for “smaller rooms”. That said, the website has the specs with the low-end rated down to 22Hz. Yikes. I will say this — I’m seriously beginning to wonder how these loudspeakers would look in my main rig. Ahem….
The electronics in this room came courtesy of Vitus Audio, quickly becoming one of my favorite ultra-fi brands. From the Signature (mid-tier) lineup, the Estelon team was demoing with the following:
- SM 010 100wpc monoblock amplifiers
- SL 102 preamplifier
- SCD 010 CD player
A brand new power conditioner from Silver Circle was providing the power — a new $10k Tchaik 6. This is Dave Stanard’s latest and greatest, and according to him, is a huge step up in performance over the Pure Power line. I’m hoping to get one of these in here at some point — you listening, Dave?
Also in the rack was a curious Silver Tellus device from Entreq, supposedly for grounding issues, and Kubala-Sosna Elation! cabling was used throughout. An attractive steel Stillpoints rack held everything up, and the feet on the loudspeakers were also from Stillpoints, a full set of Ultra 5s.