I wanted to start out with that third-grade book report opening to throw you folks off the scent. “Shared a room with,” doesn’t really give you the proper sense of “spent a weekend blowing minds.”
Front and center was a fairly well loaded version of Vinnie Rossi’s LIO (too many pricing options to quote) amp, dac, can amp, preamp, phono amp, desert topping, floorwax, and all-around, supercapacitor-charged miracle product. Sources were either a laptop or an Acoustic Signature Manfred MKII ($3,800) with a Soundsmith Sussurro cartridge ($4,900). Speakers were a glorious pair of Harbeth Super HL5+ ($6,800+ depending on veneer).
I’ve never heard a small Harbeth sound like this. It was direct, controlled, and forceful — more Monitor 40 territory than HL5 territory. Some Lucinda Williams sounded properly like Lucinda Williams, with just the right undercurrent of gravel in her voice rather than the usual, overly attractive audio-show presentation. A Katie Melua record on deck was captivating enough that I left the room fairly sure that she she would soon curse the next decade of Audio Shows the way that Diana Krall cursed the last decade. It just sounded too good, too tactile, too real.
From a pair of Harbeths. In a hotel room. That never happens.
Vinnie Rossi’s LIO is, at the very least, a career defining product. It’s going to take a while to fully assess the impact it’s going to have.