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RMAF 2017: Spatial Audio and Vinnie Rossi declare for Sparta

Laying waste to larger armies since the 6th Century BCE

Clayton Shaw is a quiet man with a room-filling plan. His company, Spatial Audio, has made quite a splash crafting inexpensive, open-baffle, loudspeakers and using them to embarrass the living tar out of his colleagues and competitors at audio shows.

This year, Shaw brought his newest — the $9,600/pair M2 Modular, another open-baffle loudspeaker with significantly updated and upgraded drivers and design.

The X2 introduces an advanced Air Motion Transformer (AMT) that cover both mid and treble ranges up to 23kHz, with virtually zero sonic signature. Its 101 dB sensitivity, low distortion and controlled directivity properties allow it to easily outperform traditional tweeters. A state of the art Acoustic Elegance 15 inch woofer provides crushing impact, extreme articulation and high output down to 18Hz. The X2 is an all passive design with the circuitry built into the chassis. The best electrical components are used, such as Clarity Caps, Duelund wiring and WBT Nextgen terminals.

The open-baffle/controlled directivity designs means “room friendly” — this approach has become my default recommendation for audiophiles with challenging rooms. At 94dB (overall), the speaker does not require a whole lot of power — here at RMAF, Shaw had tapped a Vinnie Rossi LIO “Super Integrated” ($12,995 as configured) with it’s 25 watts/channel — but at 4Ω, it’s not quite tube friendly (he has other designs for that).

What I heard here in this room was clearly an advance — an elevation, if you will. Memory being a tricky thing, I’m cautious but feel justified to I say that I think the new model has greater extension and overall refinement, with a immediacy and palpable sense of texture and impact. Really, there’s nothing to complain about — this room was just excellent. And there was just nothing in there. Two speakers, some wire, and an integrated and that’s it. Yes, the total cost was still north of $20k, which is shocking, but compared to the stacks of widgets in just about every other demo room here in Denver, this room’s approach bordered on Spartan, and like the Spartans, kicked enough ass to embarrass an army of Persians. Pretty good argument for value, if you ask me.

I think the new design (a “T” shape, looking down on it from above) is still quite elegant and minimal, and assuming you get a paint job to match your decor, the whole thing comes off as very mod (personally, I like them best with grill covers on, but YMMV).

I’ve been a huge fan of Shaw’s since his time at Emerald Physics, but I will confess, I find his latest thinking in loudspeaker design and execution to be refreshingly excellent.

One day, I hope to do more than just drool briefly or from afar. Stay tuned for that.

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About Scot Hull (979 Articles)

Founder, Editor and Publisher at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional Magazine.

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