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RMAF 2013: Madisound and Linkwitz

The magic genie of the internet, Madisound, delivers DIY parts to your door. I'd be amazed if there is a single garage hero who hasn't waited by the door for his package of goodies to arrive. This year, Madisound took out two rooms in the Atrium to show that Fostex drivers aren't all you can get from them.

Linkwitz

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The first room was helmed by the great magician, Siegfried Linkwitz, who spent the weekend demonstrating his new LX521 monitor. Linwitz has been digging in the open baffle fields for at least two decades, and this is the latest treasure he’s unearthed. This is a four-way, five driver, actively crossed, equalized, and highly optimized tool for recreating the live experience. Shown here with Emotiva power on each driver, and a Bel Canto CD spinner topping the rack, the LX521 soundstaged like few other speakers I’ve experienced. It may be my imagination, but the tone, texture and resolution on offer seemed far more realistic and musical than I remember from my experiences with Linkwitz’s earlier Orions. The LX521 is a significant evolution.

The best part, of course, is that you can put it together yourself. Madisound sells driver kits (just over $1600 per side), the active crossover ($980), and even flat pack kits for the cabinets ($580 per side). That’s just about five grand plus sweat equity. You’ll also need four channels worth of sturdy amplification for each speaker.

DIY doesn’t always mean cheap, kids.

The LX521 is a serious assault on the state-of-the-art by a man who has spent his career defining what state-of-the-art means. Barring matters of taste, I suspect that it will be the end-game system for many of its builders.

Madisound Proper

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Compared to Linkwitz’s ambitious room, Madisound’s self-branded room was a cosmic funhouse. Between a couple of simple systems, tables strewn with drivers, and the almost disconcerting energy of Madisound’s Adam Johnson, the room was a constant, anarchic joy.

We’ll skip over the drivers on offer, of course. You have a web browser, and you can find those yourselves. If you’ve read this far, I halfway suspect you already have daydreams about what you’re building next.

We’ll also skip over the big system, fronted by the PBN designed the B741 kit ($7,000 per pair) and powered by Pass Labs. Great designers designing great, big things is nothing new for an audio show (even if offering a commercial product as a kit is far too rare). It’s hard to get too excited about all of that.

Much more interesting — and much more entertaining! — was the new standmount kit from SEAS. I hate it. I love it. I have no idea what to make of it. I definitely want to play with one.

Called the KingRO4Y (about $3,000 per pair), it features a magnesium coax driver from the Seas Excel line, one of the 10″ subwoofers out of the Linkwitz product, and a DSP-capable, two channel, Hypex plate amp per side. While a passie crossover does sit between the mid and the tweet, the Hypex product provides the crossover to the bass and dsp filtering all around. F3 is 28hz. If that’s not enough, there’s a floor standing variant that will cost you about $600 more in parts and go down even farther.

Fed a balanced signal from a Benchmark DAC and a Squeezbox, these little speakers stole my heart with capabilities entirely out of proportion to their size. I’m still not entirely won over by Class-D and DSP, but this little kit may have started to change my mind. I don’t think there was another $3,000 (with amps!) option at the show that delivered that much sound.

DIY still has some price advantages after all.

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Get your Occasional now

4 Comments on RMAF 2013: Madisound and Linkwitz

  1. For “five grand” , you don´t need to work with screw clamps….
    See the assembled LX521 cabinets on http://www.magicLX521.com
    You get them in plywood, MDF, as well as in more than 53 wood types of choice.

  2. The price for LX521 drivers is for the pair, not per side as stated in the story. It’s the same with the flat pack cabinet kit – the cabinet pair is $580 from Madisound.

    • You’ll forgive me, I hope. I was deceived by the “each” on the Madisound website pricing. An even halfway careful reading of the price list would have shown that “each” included the drivers for a pair. I somehow managed to be less than halfway careful.

      So, yes, the damned thing is an incredible bargain.

  3. Wowee! Madisound catalog on my short list. The Linkwitz system … hhmmm???

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