I’m on record as being a fan of Philip O’Hanlon and his On A Higher Note — he carries marvelous brands and never fails to put on a good show. The dapper Irishman always seems to have the best music — and now I know why. Okay, well part of why. On Saturday, Philip hosted an announcement/event showcasing a new DSD-download service from the Channel Classics folks, called Native DSD. “The site is individual label oriented, and focuses on those labels with native DSD recorded content, both stereo and multi-channel, including DSD re-mastered analog tape recordings.” Sounds great to me!
As for the room, well, that was pretty great too. Har har. No, really, it was.
Front and center were the Mike Wazowski-like Vivid B1 loudspeakers ($15k). These speakers feature integrated stands, with the speaker terminals way down on the base-plate. Tidy. The B1 is a 3.5-way vented cabinet — and I mean vented, the port goes straight through — made of “carbon-fiber filled polymer”. These are 4-ohm, rated at 89dB, and good for an F6 at 35Hz and 36kHz. Despite my Monsters Inc reference, the B1 is actually quite handsome looking, with an extraordinary auto-quality painted finish. The sound from these little guys is clean, fast, and totally transparent — and powered by Luxman’s top integrated, the L-590Ax ($10,500), 30wpc has rarely sounded this good. The remarkable Brinkmann Bardo (price starts just shy of $8k, and the ‘arm and cart are sold separately) sat forlorn on the top of the rack, it’s pride of place taken by the Luxman DA-06 DSD-capable DAC.
This may well be the least expensive setup I’ve seen Philip show at RMAF, and I was really taken with the sound. The Vivid + Luxman pairing is exhilarating — warmth and speed, detail and pure musicality. And aside from the lowest octave being unavailable (though the corner setup did ameliorate that a bit), the sound I heard was faultless. If you can get past the uber-modern styling of the Vivid, they’re most definitely worthy of an audition.