RMAF 2014: Enchanted by Lawrence Audio & Jeff Rowland

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Logo - Blue VectorPachelbel’s Canon is kind of like the Baroque version of The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge.” Everyone went through a phase of loving it — right before hearing it approximately eighteen jillion times. It gets played with such nauseating repetition that at this point I can only really forgive it at weddings, and even then I sometimes wonder if someone found “The Bridal Chorus” too avant-garde.

It’s a pretty neat trick, then, when a system can take something like that and make it fresh all over again. That’s just what the Lawrence Audio Double Bass ($28,000) did for me on Saturday. I wish I had thought to ask which string quartet was performing on the LP of the Canon that was spinning, because it was utterly fine. I have heard quite a bit of digital on this same system, consisting of the Jeff Rowland Model 825 stereo amp ($32,000), Aeris DAC ($9,800), Capri pre-amp, paired with a Bryston BDP-1 music player ($2,100), at past shows, but I believe this was the first time I had opportunity to hear the Lawrence speakers paired with analog. The results were exceptional. The turntable was a Rega RP10 ($5,500) with an Ortofon 2M Bronze cartridge ($440), and the set-up was making sweet music.

I have always really enjoyed Lawrence Audio’s speakers; in fact, the Double Bass made my “Lottery List” last RMAF while barely breaking a sweat. The addition of an analog source is the last garnish that completely pulls everything together, though. I can’t recall the last time I found Pachelbel’s Canon so emotionally involving. The enveloping texture and tone from the individual instruments were wonderful, and I loved the feeling of getting a refreshed look at an old friend. I feel the Double Bass proved themselves to be not just magnificently precise and detailed — factors for which I have praised them before — but also utterly enchanting and relaxing for a long listening session.

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