AXPONA 2016: Endeavor indulges in Audio Alchemy


axponaAudio Alchemy, Peter Madnick’s newest project, showcased here a slightly different flavor of gear than I found (and talked about) in the ELAC room. Here, I found the DMP-1 digital media player ($1795), the DDP-1 DAC/preamp ($1995) with optional power supply ($595) and a pair of DPA-1 mono power amplifiers ($3990/pair).

It may be hard to see, but in “real life”, the AA gear is quite nicely turned out, almost to a fault, and the prices all fall in that sweet-spot of “expensive but not heart-breaking” zone. Does that make them the total package? Hard to say, but what it does say is that they really seem like something quite special. At some point, I hope to explore these more fully.

But the star of this particular room is the newly released E3 MkII from Endeavor Audio Engineering, now part of Von Schweikert Audio/VSA. At $8k/pair, the E-3 are also not exactly affordable, but … I want to say that they’re still in that surprisingly-affordable zone, especially when compared with offerings from Zu, Joseph and Living Voice, and a big step up from Polk, PSB and the like. Oh, and the other speaker in the Endeavor line? The E-5 — which is $30k/pair! Not sure that qualifies the new E-3 as a bargain, but it certainly is headed in that direction.

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The shape of the cabinet is a little unusual — the side walls are not parallel, but instead tilt together toward the rear. The driver complement is also a little unusual — a ring-radiator tweeter, a woven-Kevlar midrange, with two aluminum woofers. The speaker is said to be 4Ω and flat, with a 20Hz-20kHz range at 90dB sensitivity. That’s quite a set of specs.

In-room, the sound was a bit throttled by the room (I think they can go much louder), but still managed to punch and roll. I really want the bass to get all badonkadonk, but alas and alack, the boys running the room were far too kind to their neighbors. This speaker is an excellent platform — color me “impressed” (which is usually a cheerful shade of blue, instead of my typically brooding electric-purple).

At some point, Mal Kenney has promised to give us his official take on these speakers — a review we’re very much looking forward to seeing. Stay tuned for that.