Part-Time Audiophile

Newport 2015: Stillpoints and Exemplar Audio

Now this was fun.

“Show Conditions” don’t usually offer the chance to listen to gear that was recently living in your house, but the tenth floor room shared by Stillpoints and Exemplar Audio offered just that — with a source and amp that I recently wrote up as part of a long-winded piece for Positive Feedback Online. The Giant, John Tucker, was even using the same hard drive I’d become so familiar with when he left it at my house. It was easy to ask him to cue up a little Professor Longhair while I got to know his tiny, little speakers.

While I got to know his tiny, little, gorgeous speakers with alnico magnets and insane bass, that is. Four grand for the pair, built around drivers I would have dismissed out of hand, and wrapped in the best cabinet work that David Florio has to offer. There’s some deep magic in there.

Sure, the soundstage was a little bit constrained, and, sure, the dynamics didn’t quite leap out at you like a desperate mugger, but I wasn’t expecting that from the hard drive as a source. I also wasn’t expecting to walk away thinking that I’d wish I’d lived with these instead of the Big Duplexes. The music had a relaxed and natural quality that was, in every way that mattered to me, the opposite of cerebral. John had to kick me out when I tried to camp in a chair.

Some of the credit for this room has to go to Stillpoints and their “tweaks.” First up was the Entreq Silver Minimus ($729) that Stillpoints distributes in the US. This is a one-in/one-out box that works some weird magic on the AC ground. Then there were the Stillpoints feet — far too many to count — under everything. Even the speaker stands were breathed on by Stillpoints, and they cost a bit extra. Then there were the delightfully effective Aperture acoustic panels ($650 each, base price) around the room. I don’t even know how something that small manages to have any effect, but this was noticeably one of the best sounding rooms in the hotel.

The problem, of course, is that some of the credit also has to go to John Tucker’s one-off power conditioner — that’s the big, power-amp looking box at the bottom of the rack. Unfortunately, it’s not for sale. “It’s insane,” says John. “Do you know what that costs to make? I can’t sell that!” If it’s as effective as it seems to be, I think John may be underestimating the market potential.

Proud to sponsor Part-Time Audiophile and The Audio Traveler at THE Show in Newport 2015!