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RMAF12: NOLA and ARC

The $10k KO loudspeakers from NOLA were very popular at the show, and everyone I stopped and talked to had them in their top 5 for "best in show". I thought they were really interesting -- imaging in the sweet spot was sharp -- and the room was set up to show them off to their best effect.

This is one of those head-scratching moments at the show, though. If NOLA can pull this kind of sound out of its hat for $10k, why are we paying $100k for loudspeakers, exactly? I honestly can’t answer that.

That said, my favorite NOLA loudspeaker is, and remains, the Boxer, which was on static display in the corner. That little guy is awesome. $1,500 — a very convincing case for value, in my book. Oh, and it sounds fantastic. I came by this room twice and each time, I was happily impressed with the sound. And each time, I wondered if it’d be rude to see if the Boxers could be swapped in. Ah, well.

The always-sexy $13k Audio Research REF5SE preamplifier was paired with the new $10k REF75 amp to round out the demo package. That stereo amp, unlike its big brother the REF150, has those sweet vu meters on the front — and, from what I’m told, a substantially sweeter sound. Dunno myself, but I am very curious about these two pieces.

Yes, those are wheels turning in my head. Leave me alone.

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