Raven Audio shows us their famous tube electronics, along with their new loudspeakers and cables. Along with a little help from Mytek Digital. When I first saw Raven Audio in the Florida Audio Expo show-guide listed as the sole exhibitor in Room No. 616, I thought for sure it was a clerical error or that show plans had not quite solidified for Raven Audio in time before media guides went to press. I was wrong.
Walking into the Raven Audio exhibit here in Tampa, was an entirely new experience. It felt like walking into a whole new brand of products. Never before had Raven Audio shown with speakers, and yet here were a pair of towers, and a pair of MTM monitors. Off to the side, like a barrel of snakes, a slew of new cables also from Raven. I scoured the room for signal handling components that were not of Raven manufacture and only came up with the MyTek Manhattan II DAC that was getting plenty of love from all the Raven Audio staff on hand.
Firstly let’s talk about the electronics. The Avian Blackhawk Mk3, which is only one notch above their entry-level tube integrated. At $3,795 USD it features 20wpc, and Raven’s usual approach of cost-no-object build, all the while doing so at an amazing value. On the higher-end of things and leading the dance was Raven’s Elite Silhouette PreAmp at $10,995 USD and from there, the Elite Silhouette tube mono-block amplifiers, which again are built to Raven’s cost-no-object standard of craftsmanship, and carry a $25,995 pr USD price tag.
These are electronics I am more recently familiar with at worst, with a few models being ones I’ve witnessed a few times in pairing with Legacy Audio loudspeakers at audio shows across the US.
Enter the new loudspeakers, all prototypes and scheduled to launch mid-year of 2019. The new Performance Towers, each a ported tower speaker with two 6-inch drivers and a ring radiator tweeter surrounded by a foam wave guide. The tweeters are loaded in a time aligned configuration with the woofers. When I asked Raven’s speaker designer James Connell for a sound-bite on the Performance line, he said “ The Performance towers were designed to make all recordings sound good. We consider these our fun speakers.”
Also the new Corvus Reference Monitors, each a sealed MTM reference monitor with a time aligned tweeter surrounded by a foam wave guide. This series is designed to be a reference or master grade speaker with all the detail and accuracy a mastering engineer would expect, but with a sweet and musical character that would satisfy the most demanding audiophile for two-channel stereo use or in an ultra-home-theater system.
As if the folks at Raven Audio haven’t already been the busiest of bees, they come out with an attractive new cable line. Dubbed the Soniquil line, they are Power, XLR, RCA, and Speaker Cables that Raven designed to be reasonably priced, known for no losses of tone or dynamics, and impart no colorations so that Raven customers don’t have to worry about a cables acting like tone controls at either of the sonic extremes.
When I came out of the elevator doors on floor six, I heard a preponderance of bass to my left, and decided to follow it. Once I had found it tucked away at the end of the hall, I found myself with Raven. Warmly greeted by smiling faces, I took a seat to listen in and not disturb the mood. I took a mental note of the stereo sub-woofers on the floor outside of the towers, and began to take sonic impressions. The song came to an end, and Dave Thomson owner of Raven Audio said, “That is our Performance Tower playing off of our Avian Blackhawk Mk3 integrated, at just 20 wpc. At this point, I begin scratching out my notes.
As I think back about how the Performance Towers sounded, and refer to my second round of notes, I can’t agree with Raven’s speaker designer that they are just “fun speakers”. My initial impression of them is that they deliver an awful lot more of the audiophile pie that just fun. Coherence and imaging are scary good, while tunefulness is measured and seemingly dialed in for accuracy. There is nothing entry level about the entry level towers made by Raven.
We switch over to the (MTM) Corvus Reference Monitors and then it becomes clear why they are the given the “Reference” moniker. Everything I heard in the Performance Towers just got turned up a few notches. Imaging became tighter, mid-bass attack was faster, and with the help of the sub-woofers this time, arguments in my mind were forming how much of a giant killer this system was.
– Elite Silhouette PreAmp – $10,995 USD
– Elite Silhouette Mono Blocks – $25,995 USD
– Avian Blackhawk Mk3 Integrated – $3,795 USD
– Corvus Reference Monitors – $7,995 USD
– Performance Towers – $3,995 USD
– Soniquil Power, XLR, RCA, Speaker Cables, and Interconnects – starting at $149 USD
– Manhattan II DAC – $5,995 USD