Ever since I heard Spatial Audio, Linear Tube Audio and ANTICABLES at the Capital Audiofest last fall, I’ve had a bit of a crush. The combination of these open baffle speakers with the ZOTL amplifier circuitry designed by David Berning create a lucid, warm and detailed sound that seems totally out-of-whack with the relatively low cost of the components. After that first encounter, I told myself that I could easily own that system in another life, one where I was still an audiophile but a little less obsessed about it. When I prepared for AXPONA 2019, I made sure that Spatial Audio, Linear Tube Audio and ANTICABLES were on my short list.
The system at AXPONA 2019 was very similar to the CAF set-up with one notable exception–Spatial Audio replaced the M3 Triode Masters with the larger X3s ($7500/pair) which also feature a 15″ woofer powered by an N-Core DSP amplifier. With the smaller M3s, I was still impressed with the size of the soundstage and low-frequency extension of the system, but now the room boundaries were kicked over with a little more gusto. The Linear Tube Audio Ultralinear power amplifier ($4450) and microZOTL preamplifier ($6800) still continue to seduce me with their modest simplicity, a purity that translates to an incredibly quiet delivery, but the stakes are definitely raised once the X3s are plugged in.
Bigger and Better
Everything I loved about the CAF system was still there, that “magically open and transparent sound” that I remembered in detail long after I returned home from DC. But now, thanks to the X3s, I started to envision bigger listening rooms and more types of music. The combination of Spatial Audio, Linear Tube Audio and Anticables was still completely natural and lifelike with the human voice, amazingly so, but now that reach-out-and-touch-it sound felt unrestrained and willing to tackle all sort of ambitious projects.
Finally, I mentioned the ubiquitous presence of ANTICABLES at AXPONA 2019, and how each room that featured this Minnesota-based cable manufacturer managed to sound pretty darned great. I managed to chat with ANTICABLES’ Paul Speltz for a bit, and it’s fun to meet a manufacturer who is still excited about high-end audio and the things that are happening in the hobby right this second. One of those “exciting things” is the emergence of affordable cable companies, and how you can achieve an even higher level of performance without spending the big bucks.
Spatial Audio, Linear Tube Audio and ANTICABLES seem to share a common approach to sound, one that achieves that excellence through simplicity and elegance. I continue to be in awe.