- An empty room.
- Beautifully finished speakers.
- A gorgeous turntable, tasteful-looking amp, and pre-amp.
- Unique music.
At the Westin O’Hare, these things added up to a wonderful 30 minutes spent with Kris Kosiba of Lakeview Audio, and his carefully curated system.
It was still fairly early Friday morning, and I was hopeful to get to some of the rooms I had mapped out as “must see” before the hotel playing host to AXPONA 2016 had gone full-tilt, sweaty-faced, and bug-eyed with audiophile peeps.
Thankfully at this hour, there were only a smattering of cheerful souls cruising the hallways, holding coffee cups, nodding, and mouthing “good morning.”
For the most part the music issuing forth from display rooms was mellow, inviting, and not trying to drown out every other demo room in proximity with the loudest rendition of Famous Blue Raincoat. But, I digress.
Like me, Kosiba still seemed to be waking up when I walked into the room, and embracing the day slowly, so we chatted for a few minutes about the system he brought from Rensselaer, Illinois for AXPONA which was, in fact, his own personal set-up. Not only was the flawless-looking Achates idler-drive turntable kitted out with the new Miyabi-successor Fuuga cartridge from Japan, but it had the absolutely stunning Kuzma 4Point tonearm mounted as well. Kosiba was running the ‘table through the David Berning Pre One ZOTL (Zero hysteresis Transformer-Less circuit architecture) pre-amplifier ($12, 360 USD), and the 30-watt ZH-230 ZOTL stereo amplifier ($8,360 USD).
The sound being pulled mechanically from the Achates via electrons to the Fuuga, through the Kuzma, and David Berning amps was palpable, engaging, musical, and utterly liquid in its presentation. Big, meaty, and weighty bass, and mids were to be had from Berning’s ZOTL circuit, and I once again reminded myself to seek out more information on these sonically-masterful designs.
The speakers were from a Canadian company I’m ashamed to say that I’m not familiar with; LaHave Audio, which hails from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Both speakers that Kosiba was demonstrating were single-driver based designs that were stunning in their frequency-response range, generously lush mids, and non-fatiguing highs. I would describe the sound as incredibly cohesive, dynamic, and with the imaging, and (pin-)point source emmision I’ve come to love from single-driver loudspeakers.
The larger of the two designs was the Avaza in Crotch Mahogany ($11,000 USD), which in part, because of its generous cabinet size was really able to reproduce excellent low-end grunt, and room-filling pressurization when Kosiba cued-up Major Lazer Peace is the Mission.
The real surprise came when Kosiba swapped out the large Avasa for the demure, equally beautifully-finished CFR (Compact Full Range) bookshelf speaker in Birdseye Maple ($3,000 USD), and once again dropped the needle into the groove for Lean On.
I’ve heard the baby Harbeth P3ESR fill a room with its own neat trick of sounding much larger than its size suggests, but what the CFR did that morning left me shaking my head. While bass was limited by the cabinet, and driver size, the CFR threw a sound stage, and bass/midrange weight around that hotel room far larger, and deeper than any speaker that size has any right to do. When the bassline dropped in on Lean On, my head snapped around as if on a swivel to eye Kosiba with awe, and wonder what dark arts were at play at LaHave that they had been able to produced such startlingly prodigious sound from such incongruously small boxes.
A masterful, intelligent, and incredibly musical combination, with an obvious nod to synergy, the Lakeview Audio room is one I won’t soon forget.
For more information, please contact Kris directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.