Empirical seems to be aiming squarely at the top of the PCM food chain with this revision. It’s hard to call anything that costs nearly ten grand for the package a good deal, but my first instinct is that it may be justified here. I couldn’t find anything to complain about when listening to a Basie track that Steve had thoughtfully preloaded.
An Antipodes DV music server ($4,000) provided the bits, and a pair of Clayton Audio M300 monoblocks ($16,500) provided the almost stereotypical solid-state power. The Empirical kit handled its own volume duties, so no preamp was needed.
Of course, Vapor had something to show as well.
A pair of Joule White — the left speaker brutally scarred from a CNC mishap — delivered on its promise of a more HiFi sound than Vapor’s fan favorite Nimbus series, displaying an almost scary facility with detail and throwing an exceptional soundstage in the small Hilton room. The bass, a tight, cyborg-like affair, locked into the Hilton’s evil room-boom to provide a true pummeling. This echoed what little I heard from a previous Joule White during an abortive audition at last year’s RMAF. It comes across as a much more tightly coiled beast than Vapor’s Nimbus. Listeners are likely to have a strong preference for one or the other.
Pricing on the Joule White starts at $12,995 per pair, but there are countless internal upgrades and finish options available. The pair in use here didn’t seem to be the base model, so it’s probably best to inquire about actual pricing before you commit.