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Newport 2014: Robert Lighton, Audio Note UK, and the smoking jacket

DSC_0453 hiresnewportlogoforwebRobert Lighton is a furniture designer and Audio Note UK dealer, and this sensibility shows in Robert Lighton Audio's new statement products. Audio Note UK provided the guts for the Regency 300B integrated amplifier ($16,500), including double C core output and power transformers and copper foil capacitors, but the exterior is all Lighton. The 8w per channel amp features a mahogony surround with a copper top plate and custom bronze transformer covers, knobs, and screws. The accompanying Essex Turntable ($9,000) has a mahogany plinth, rosewood armboard, and matching rosewood Audio Note tonearm. The weighty platter is polished aluminum with a layer of copper on top, matching the amp beautifully. The 94db sensitive standmount speakers, which are available at 15" tall with a 5" driver ($9,500) or 22" tall with an 8" driver ($17,000) glow as only fine furniture can. They are made of solid mahogany without bracing or damping, with a bass reflex rear port turned from solid wood. The drivers are alnico paper cones.

So, basically, the whole set-up’s made from gloriously beautiful handrubbed unobtanium.

The sound here was warm, inviting, and detailed in the ways I’ve come to expect from alnico drivers. I definitely detected some box coloration from the speakers, which gave them an almost old-fashioned sound, but listening was a pleasure. I felt a bit like I should be wearing a smoking jacket.

All joking aside, I really respect what Lighton’s doing here; there’s a very strong sense that, much like the furniture he sells, this gear is meant to be lovingly cared for and handed down as an heirloom for generations.

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