Up front were either Audio Physic’s friendly-size Classic 10 ($3750) or Classic 20 ($4950). Whim determined which would play at any given time. Electronics changed just as much. You might have walked in to hear Wadia’s stupidly good-looking Intuition 01 ($7500) handling everything. Your next visit might have had you listening to an all Rega chain (around $7k all-in depending on which turntable they used). Another trip might have had you listening to Naim, with an XS-2 integrated ($2800), a ND5-XS network player ($3500) and a UnitiServe music server ($3800).
The cabling was all Nordost, and it seems to have survived a weekend of being replugged as the mood struck. And those moods, man, they struck all the time.
The mood was basically set by 9am on Friday, when the speakers got broken in all at once by the Ode to Joy filling the hallways at “turn the knob right until it breaks off” levels. Everything after that was just a giggle.
Let’s start with the Audio Physic speakers. The Classic 10 and Classic 20 sound more alike than they do different. In terms of tone and voicing, you could easily mistake one for the other from a distance. When you sit down, though, you start to realize that the Classic 20 disappears in a way that the Classic 10 doesn’t quite manage. The Classic 20 offers a wider (and taller) sweetspot, that allows for a bit more sprawling. Both dig down below 40hz, but the Classic 20 goes lower more easily. In terms of resolution, the Classic 20 seems to farther ahead of its littermate than the price difference would suggest.
Which isn’t to say that the Classic 10 is a slouch. My low taste may be showing, but the Classic 10 was more than up to the task of listening to a Getz/Gilberto 45 played through the Rega chain. No, the resolution wasn’t on a par with the same album heard through the Naim amplification and Classic 20 (same turntable, same phono pre), but the relaxed breathiness and easy sense of the recording’s spareness came through undamaged.
This room was a winner, and it didn’t cost more than a Volkswagen. I was impressed.