I’ve been giving Endeavor Audio‘s chief, Leif Swanson, a hard time at the last few audio shows. Why? Just because. It’s a principle thing, really.
I first heard of Endeavor, courtesy of Mal & Kirsten’s coverage last year at CAS, and I got my first taste this year at AXPONA. Since then, running across Leif and Kevin O’Brien of Your Final System, has become a must-stop on the tour. These fine gents have put on some of the most startlingly unexpected sound at each show I’ve been to. And RMAF this year was no exception.
This year, Leif was showing off the big boys, the $30k/pair Endeavor E-5. These towers are huge, but almost strangely delicate. At 6’6″ (before the outriggers are attached), the 140 lbs (each!) speakers don’t so much loom as they do tower. Ha! The driver complement centered on a Scanspeak Beryllium Illuminator, flanked by two 6.5″ kevlar (the same as is found on the E3 model), which are in turn flanked by four 7″ aluminum woofers. The frequency response is 24Hz-40kHz ±3db with an 8Ω impedance. The cabinets themselves, here shown in an annoyingly camera-unfriendly piano black, are made of a “cellular matrix composite” significantly more damped than wood or MDF, and shaped asymmetrically with non-parallel walls. The front face is 9″ and tapers to 5″ on the dual-ported rear. Internal wiring is all single-crystal copper and terminated with WBT NexGen gold binding posts. The outriggers are ½” polished aluminum. The whole thing is impressive as all hell.
Complementary electronics came from the Constellation Audio‘s new Inspiration line. These components, a PreAmp 1.0 and a pair of Mono 1.0 , retail for $30k for the set, and mark the “entry-level” when it comes to Constellations upscale brand. The PreAmp is a dual-mono, triple transformer design, just like the upscale Virgo. The Mono 1.0 is a 400wpc amp, doubling into 4Ω, and at 55lbs each, weighs less than half what the Centaur amps do. My back likes the sound of that.
A Your Final System Reference 3 HD computer “transport” system ($9k, including the SOtM USB card and a separate, second PSU just for the card) was wrapped up in its imposing steel rack-mount case. I’ve been very curious about YFS for some time now (mainly after running into them with Endeavor so often), but the issue of “computer audio” is still complex and troubling to many — finding a vendor consistently able to be part of a great sounding demo is about as high a level of praise I can offer and lands YFS on my “must explore” list.
Leif’s “It’s MINE, don’t touch it!” EMM DAC 2X handled the conversions. Masterbuit cables and GIK Acoustics room treatments rounded out the room.
The sound in here was life-threatening. That is, I really felt like they were being kind to us mere mortals and that if they chose, jellification could have been a rather trivial-to-acomplish result. The brooding sense of power was unnerving — the deep-bass rumble was bone-chilling — and the system completely filled the room with a stunning sense of pressurization. It also managed this without the usual bloat. Instead, bass was textured and precise, and while the room was overloading, it was a peripheral thing, as if the room was ready to fly apart, and not like it was impinging on the tunes. Again, think “pressure” and you get the sense of where my head was at. This sensation is exactly what a personal audio system cannot capture, and while the cost-to-entry was by no means “affordable”, so what? We were so far past “entry level”, the usual expectations were not even in consideration. Seriously, this effortless experience was like goofing with Gabriel’s Horn. At any moment, we were gonna get serious and then the sky was going to open and by-God, then we’d be in it. There’s just nothing like a big speaker for sound like this … did I mention they even played Kansas for me? Ha! Top that, suckers!
Great sound from the team here. One of the first component setups at the show that I was truly tempted to refinance for.
I can totally imagine that conversation, too. “But honey –” My wife would just kill me ….