There were three rooms on the first floor that were notable, even if only for the shockingly expensive loudspeakers on display. I’ll have to warn you up front that I’m instantly suspicious when loudspeaker prices climb past $60k, and the higher the prices go, the more disinterested I become. It’s not that you can’t justify prices this high, I suppose, but rather the fact that we’re now firmly into Julia Rule territory and my expectations are so high that to just meet them is to fail miserably. No, at those prices it isn’t enough to “be better” — the sound must amaze. Dazzle. Baffle my senses. Otherwise, it’s gonna be a let down.
I wandered through a couple of these rooms several times (they were near a stairwell that I had to use quite a lot), and quite frankly, I was left feeling a bit bemused. Why? Well, everyone I’ve read has fawned over the sound they found in these rooms. Armed as I was with my belief that any trip into the stratosphere must perforce leave me breathless, I found my stays tellingly short.
Lansche, Ypsilon, Bergman
- Lansche Audio 7 speakers ($108,000/pair).
- Ypsilon SET100 monoblocks ($125,000/pair)
- Ypsilon PST-100 Mk.II preamp ($37,000)
- Ypsilon DAC-100 ($29,000)
- Ypsilon CDT-100 CD Transport ($26,000)
- Ypsilon VPS-100 phono preamp ($26,000)
- Bergman Sleipnir w/ tonearm ($54,000)
- Lyra Atlas cartridge ($10,000)
Lansche makes some truly remarkable loudspeakers, but I’m not sure if this remarkability is because of their sound quality or because, like Acapella, they use plasma tweeters. Everyone loves those plasma tweeters. Everyone talks about how wonderful and how fast and how detailed and how generally awesome these things are. Maybe they are, but personally, they worry me. Powered tweeters? Powered tweeters that wear out? The average, projected, life span of a Corona (plasma) tweeter is ~5,000 hours, or about 3 years of (reasonably heavy) use. So, that’s a pair of loudspeakers that I’ll need to keep paying $2-4k every couple of years just to keep working … [shakes head]. I guess this marks an arbitrary boundary in my audiophile patience — either that, or I’m just not in the economic bracket they’re targeting. Magical sound or not, I’m moving on.
For whatever it’s worth, I really do love the Ypsilon electronics. Looks aren’t everything, but they are something — and the looks here are very fine indeed. As for performance, I’ve heard them make systems sound fine on several occasions — color me a fan. But at the risk of being called a wet blanket, I have serious concerns for any company trapped in the current Greek economy. Not trying to be negative, but the entire country is on strike. Or broke. If that doesn’t concern you, you’re not paying attention.
My favorite piece was the Bergman Sleipnir turntable. Vacuum hold-down, and an awesome tonearm and that big green Lyra cart — very nifty.