Through the Looking Glass.
This is the Lewis Carroll sequel to the much more famous Alice in Wonderland. In it Alice again acquires entry to a magical world, this time by climbing through a mirror. The title instantly sprang to mind after spending a few minutes in the High End Zone room at the Los Angeles Audio Show looking through a pair of the transparent-glass cabinet Perfect8 Technologies Point Mk III loudspeakers being driven by Ypsilon Electronics amplification, and being fed the ones and zeros from an Aurender W20 music server.
When I first saw the Mk III loudspeakers I thought they looked gorgeous, but I was skeptical that glass speakers with dipole drivers were going to be capable of great sound reproduction. I thought this would be a demo session where talk of sonic trade-offs was brought up again, and again… was I wrong. Listening is very different from looking, and what I was hearing sounded like a blend of the best simple wooden-box, and the cabinet-as-cement loudspeakers I’ve heard over the years.
Seems glass doesn’t maintain it’s sonic-ringing qualities when a completely invisible anti-resonance layer (called Super Silent Glass) is sandwiched between two layers of the stuff. Instead it goes inert, and becomes almost completely resonance free, allowing the transducers it is supporting to enjoy complete pistonic freedom, and be the only thing moving the air to create the music.
Simple wooden boxes tend to use a mix of tuning, and sympathetic resonance to get the most of their enclosures, and to my ears do the best job of reproducing the finest variances in the musical performance of instruments like violins, cellos, bass, guitars, pianos, simple drum kits, and the human voice. Now, that said, I’ve been deeply impressed by the advance in driver technology, and the manufacturing abilities of modern companies to create complex, dense, close to resonance-free, and practically inert transducer enclosures alá Magico, B&W, Bang & Olufsen, etc. These loudspeaker designs are all about resonance elimination, rather than embracing it. To each their own I say, and while some refer to these types of speakers as “accurate,” “analytical,” or “transparent,” they may also cite a lack of tone, timbre, and warmth in their playback abilities.
So which is best? Totally up to you people, but I will tell you again that when I was listening to those Mk IIIs I was getting a little spooked because here was a design that eschewed resonance in the cabinet that was still recreating the delicate nuances of a bow on cello strings with the warmth, timbre, and tonal cues I listen for, and love from simple wooden boxes, and at the same time was holding a rock-solid grip on the lowest registers, with the punch, snap, and heft I’ve come to appreciate from pistonic-driver cabinet designs. How? I’m not a speaker designer, but the obvious research & development that Perfect8 CEO Jonas Räntilä has put into these designs is paying huge dividends because the blend of the two created an intoxicating listening experience.
Since I’ve never heard these designs previously, I can’t say how much I was enjoying was the speaker itself, or it’s ability to flawlessly, and transparently translate the Ypsilon PST 100 MKII stereo preamplifier, Aelius II mono blocks, and DAC 100. I can say that I was completely surprised, and captivated at the utterly effortless, and completely musical presentation that was being recreated in this room, and that while not a system-on-the-cheap, for the price points involved, and compared to some megabuck systems I’ve been floored by, this system made a lasting impression on me.
- Point Mk III loudspeakers with point source Dipole speakers, and symmetrical radiation housed in the proprietary Super Silent Glass (SSG) enclosure. SSG virtually eliminates all vibrations.
- Custom cabling done by Perfect8 with silver and cotton
- Aelius II Push-Pull Hybrid Mono block Power Amplifiers $39,000 USD
- DAC 100 Stereo Valve D/A Converter $29,000 USD
- PST 100 MKII Valve & Transformer Stereo Preamplifier $37,000 USD
- W20 12TB Reference Music Server with 240GB solid-state drive cache $17,600 USD
- A10 4TB Music Server/high performance digital-to- analog converter $5,500 USD
- Silver Electra 7 Power Conditioning cords $950 USD/3M run
Platinum Eclipse 7 Balanced XLR Interconnects $8,200 USD/3M pair