RMAF12: VAC and Gershman

Kevin Hayes of VAC makes some truly remarkable gear — it just looks great and sounds even better. Sadly, this gear commands a price that respects that level of performance … and if wishes were purchase orders, piles of this stuff would litter my listening room.

The Esoteric gear was familiar, except for the new K-03, but the loudspeakers were an entirely new-to-me brand, called Gershman Acoustics.

The aesthetics of the Gershman offerings were polarizing, and pretty much carried through the line. Love it, hate it, depends on your taste. Regardless, the sound I heard in both rooms was rather similar, color it big and fleshy on the whole, and given the typical audio show hotel room bass challenges, I’d say the combinations here warrant another, extended, investigation.

Two rooms, two setups, two price points. Let’s do the numbers.

Room 555: High End

  • VAC Signature Mk IIa preamplifier (w/phono): $19,500
  • VAC Statement 450S Stereobloc amplifier: $39,000
  • Gershman Acoustics Black Swan loudspeakers: $45,000/pair
  • Clearaudio Innovation Wood w/ Universal 9″ tonearm: $15,000
  • Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement moving coil cartridge: $15,000
  • Esoteric P02 transport: $23,000
  • Esoteric D02 DAC: $23,000
  • Esoteric G0rB Clock: $17,800
  • Critical Mass Systems PXK system: $1,650/level
  • Critical Mass Systems Black Sapphire Filter System: $995/level

Room 553: Still High End

  • VAC Sigma 160i integrated amplifier: $9,900 (add $1k for MC phono)
  • Gershman Acoustics Avant Garde loudspeaker: $8,000 – $10,000
  • Clearaudio Ovation w/Clarify tonearm: $5,500
  • Clearaudio Stradivari v2 moving coil cartridge: $3,750
  • Esoteric K-03 DAC/SACD: $10,900
  • Critical Mass Systems PXK system: $1,650/level
  • Critical Mass Systems Black Sapphire Filter System: $995/level


  1. just purchased new avant garde and paired with bryston b100 integrated amp, bda 1 DAC and apple mini with amarra hifi playing super HD tracks . Detail is amazing, range is great at any volume.

  2. Really? You haven’t heard of Gershman? You need to get out more! They aren’t exactly a new shop, Gershman has been around for twenty years. The Black Swan is neat because you can move the top section fore and aft independently of the bass driver, so you can time-align it in your room precisely. I just wish it didn’t cost so much.

    • Heard of, just not heard. They’ve been around … just not at many audio shows ….

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