CAS 2014: Turning Up Tub’s Audio


Dyn_CAS-logo-2I confess: I love coffee. Love it. I know people will say that I just tell it that to get it into bed, but I really do love it. It’s not always a happy relationship, though. Have I ever told you how much trouble I have making coffee in the morning? There have been days that I forgot to fill the pot with coffee, so I got nothing but a steaming hot pot of water. There have been days that saw me forget to fill the pot with water and then stand around just waiting for thirty minutes for the coffee to brew before realizing my stupidity. There was one day that I brewed the coffee, pulled out a mug, poured some milk, and then poured my usual pint of coffee only to start screaming when the hot coffee hit my bare foot because I’d been pouring on an upside down mug. Some days, it just seems like nothing goes well.

Which brings us to Tub’s Audio.

Toby Shaughnessy and Tub’s Audio have been building incredibly gorgeous PA speakers for a while. He debuted his new M-Supreme speakers ($17,000 per pair) here, and they are squarely in my wheelhouse. Coaxial drivers? Check. High efficiency? Check. Horn loading? Check. Risk taking industrial design that works? Check. On paper, and on first glance, these speakers have everything. The bass alone is exceptionally tuneful and powerful down to about 35hz, which I discovered late on Thursday night in my sleeping room a floor away as Toby ran through some of his exceptionally cool record collection while tuning the room.

He had really dialed that bass in by Saturday morning, too. Trust me on this. It was better than an alarm clock.

Amplification here was the do-it-all Red Wine Audio Signature 57 amplifier ($6995 as configured with Bellina Pro Dac, Analogica Phono Stage and a headphone output). Sources came from Canada’s Tri-Art. Silver discs were spun with the Pebbles CD player ($650) and black discs got rotated by the Pebbles turntable and tonearm ($1295). A Grado woody (I didn’t write down the model) rode the grooves.

I guess you could say it was warm? It was certainly warm. There was a whole lot of warm. If anything, the warmth was a bit too much of a muchness. Toby happily stuck to his glorious stacks of vinyl, outdoing even the Zu guys for just plain fun throughout the weekend. And it was all warm. It was definitely warm.

Switching to digital for the title track from First Aid Kit’s Stay Gold reduced the terminal warmth somewhat, but left the sound of horn honk, recessed vocals, and that general feeling of discombobulation. Tone seemed off, treble was absent, and the expected detail was muddled. The sisters’ harmonies sounded more like a double tracked vocal than two separate voices, while the twang of Klara’s guitar was, if not skipping class that day, then certainly showing up hungover and wearing a bathrobe. Umm….

Toward the end of the track, on a hunch, I goosed the volume well past three o’clock. I should have done that sooner. I should have done that a lot sooner. These things cook. These things like to cook. Almost everything I just complained about righted itself instantly, and the sound snapped into place.

All in all, I don’t think this room showcased what any part of this system could offer. Even then, Tub’s Audio’s design, priorities, and style are exactly the kind of things that I want to see. I’m looking forward to my next chance to hear these things. I’m also looking forward to my next chance to hear Tri Art’s gear with different partners. You know… Just in case.








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