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AXPONA 2018: PranaFidelity, a one man powerhouse of sound

KEF R Series

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The Story

Fresh and original, much of the story from here forth revolves around that feeling. Steven Norber is not only the founder of PranaFidelity, he is also their head designer. Prana is unique for a small company in that they design and manufacture loudspeakers, amplifiers, and pre-amplifiers. Though that may seem like a tremendous undertaking, this isn’t Steven’s first go-round in the electronics industry, he was a founding partner of EDGE Electronics. Steven’s design philosophies toward designing and listening are many. In listening, Steven expects listeners to be passive, do none of the work, just let the music slide over you. Relax and take it in. In designing it is equally apparent that Steven doesn’t want to leave any of the recorded information behind. The nearly one-brand system in use at Axpona had me stupefied. My analytical nature was knocked back on its heels, as well all that was left in me was a double dose of calm and intrigue.

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PranaFidelity’s Bhava loudspeakers were quickly making the chatter and gossip train that wormed its ways around the halls of the hotel. Part of the reason for their popularity as a hot topic, is that they are monitors. A true two-way symmetrical array, dual six-inch woofers and a single 1¼-inch tweeter. Easy to drive in both impedance load and output sensitivity, these forty-pound boxes deliver the heft and body of larger towers. Many show-goers listening to the Bhava monitors were often unaware that the larger Vayu tower speakers were in fact not playing, when Steven mid-demo would say, “Now let’s switch over to the towers.”

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The Sound

Smooth from beginning to end, without a hint of imbalance to the dark or light sides of the force. The PranaFidelity Purna/Ca and Purna/Ma combination of electronics had a firm and relentless grip on the speakers. It’s possible this is due to the Pruna/Ma amplifier’s 400 watts at 8Ω (700w/4Ω, 1200w/2Ω), or the Pruna/Ca preamplifier’s dual-mono power supplies regulating noise into far-out dimensions of the ether.

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AXPONA 2018 Coverage brought to you by Zesto Audio

Listening to the Michael Friedman’s (of Dotsero) project album Swingset Jazz, which is ideal for introducing young children to jazz, I found myself looking around the room to nail down how far outside of the visual boundaries of the system that these sounds were going. Huge and musical, never tiring, the sounds of this recording were limitless in realism.

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It’s rooms like Steven’s which keep me excited about audio shows. Discovering a fresh take amidst what can often be called a sea of copycat artists trying to pretend that what they offer is dazzling and different. This is why I return.

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The System

PranaFidelity Purna/Ca preamplifier
PranaFidelity Purna/Ma amplifier
PranaFidelity Bhava monitor loudspeakers
PranaFidelity Vayu tower loudspeakers

Kuzma Stabi-Reference 2 turntable
Kuzma 4Point tonearm
Kuzma CAR 40 cartridge

Technics RS-1500 Reel-to-Reel
Erhard Audio Nina tape head preamp
Luxman D-08u SACD/CD Player with USB

Kubala-Sosna Elation! speaker, interconnect, and power cables
Kubala Sosna Xpander AC power distribution

1 Comment on AXPONA 2018: PranaFidelity, a one man powerhouse of sound

  1. Kurt Hertel // May 1, 2018 at 5:25 AM //

    I met Mr. Norber in a context completely unrelated to audio, and found him to be one of the most honest, unassuming, inquisitive, and well-grounded people I have ever met “in the wild.” We never discussed audio, but I wouldn’t ever doubt his sincerity and honesty. Fwiw.

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