Sometimes you have to take time to listen to what’s not there.
So when I sat down to take in the room that Neli, and Mike Davis of Audio Federation, now out of Palo Alta, California had put together, what wasn’t there made it one of the sweetest setups at the Los Angeles Audio Show for me. There was absolutely no treble glare of any kind, regardless of the material I heard being played while I was in the room, which varied from classical, to jazz, to alt-rock to electronic. There was no one-note bass, or boominess despite the usual stepped-ceiling hotel room dimensions. There was no note smearing on complex instrumental, vocal or electronically-created synth passages. And, most importantly to me, there was no artificiality to the reproduction, there was only an open, organic, and highly dynamic presentation with real frequency cohesion, and none of the disconnect between upper/mid/bass crossover response that always ends up plaguing a number of rooms at any show.
The set-up was simple, and to the point: Musical. An Audio Note UK CDT Five transport ($48,350 USD, $65,100 CAN) was feeding Redbook to an Audio Note UK DAC Five Signature ($87,825 USD, $118, 260 CAN) into an Acapella LaMusika integrated amplifier ($100,000 USD, $134,685 CAN) with a mixture of AN UK, and Acapella cabling translating the signal over to the Acapella High Cellini speakers ($55,200 USD, $74,340 CAN). Rack was by HRS with MX3 Isolation Bases ($13,880 USD, $18,700 CAN).
These are middle-of-the-road Acapella transducers, and feature the company’s famous TW1s ION, plasma tweeter, two ten-inch bass drivers, and a spherical horn-loaded midrange. At 67 inches tall, and 265lbs a piece, Acapella refers to this as “a more compact home loudspeaker” which is a fair assessment considering how huge their designs can go, but for anyone considering a pair of Cellinis, you’re going to need some room to let them breathe, and get the very best out of them. Audio Note UK continues to put out hand-made equipment with little to no fanfare anywhere in the world, but with a hardcore following of loyal customers who know there’s something very special in their simple circuit designs that implement virtually no off-the-shelf components. The company designs, and builds practically everything in-house at their country factory near Brighton in England, including silver-wired output transformers, bespoke resisters, valve-rectified power supplies, internal cabling, potentiometers – you name it, AN UK does it.
This was a real standout at the show for me, with a chilled-out atmosphere that was all about the music. The fact that the AN UK gear and Acapella amp, and speakers were simply, visually stunning gave me a quiet assurance that they would fit into any room’s decor as well. A point sometimes lost on many looking to buy larger horn-based systems in my experience. The High Cellini’s not only sounded the part, but looked it too.