by Darryl Lindberg
Aaudio: Lansche, Ypsilon, etc.
I think this year’s Aaudio system, featuring the Lansche 5.1 ($50K) driven by Ypsilon electronics, was one of the best I’d heard from Brian Ackerman. In the previous two years, the larger Lansche 7s and much larger 8s were shown in the same room and sounded excellent, but, for whatever reason, I found the smaller 5.1s a bit more engaging and better integrated than my memories of its larger siblings (note that I’m talking about sonic memories over the past two years, so I really can’t be certain). As in the past, the Lansches were driven by Ypsilon electronics (Phaethon Integrated-$24.8K, VPS-100 Phono Stage/MC26L Step-$32.2K for both).
Of course, the big deal with Lansche speakers is that corona plasma tweeter, a massless driver that operates by modulating a high temperature ball of ionized air (plasma). The 5.1s were way out in the Larkspur room, far enough away from the back and side walls to essentially limit the room’s influence. Ypsilon’s Demetris Backlavas graciously played one of my favorite choral LPs, Grex Vocalis (For X FXLP 39), on the Thales Compact turntable ($13.2K) and Simplicity II arm ($9.2K), which sported an Ikeda KAI cartridge ($8.5K). The sound was scrumptious: the voices were beautifully rendered and the imaging was pretty spectacular.
In my estimation, one of the major challenges of using the corona tweeter is integrating it with conventional drivers in that its excellence creates the expectation—either conscious or subconscious—of analogous performance in terms of purity and extension from the non-corona drivers. But from what I heard, Lansche has done an exceptional job of integration in the 5.1s, even though cone drivers are, by their very nature, at least an order of magnitude slower than the plasma tweeter.
Audio Limits: Polymer Research, Thrax
Another large room that featured an outstanding sound from a speaker positioned far away from the walls’ influence was the Polymer Research MKS-X ($60K). Although the MKS-X is relatively diminutive size-wise, it certainly isn’t a lightweight in terms of actual poundage (365 lbs./speaker) or sound.
Driven by Thrax electronics the sound was full range and room filling, to say the least. The Polymers have generated a fair deal of buzz in the audio press over the past few months and now I understand why.