Everyone’s looking for giant killers in this hobby. I’ve always maintained that they don’t exist, that elusive component that gets the job done for an insanely low price. (I also maintain that the Law of Diminishing Results is also overused in high-end audio.) At High End 2019, however, I heard a loudspeaker, diminutive in appearance and relatively inexpensive, that completely defied expectations. It was a petite little 2.5-way floorstander, finished in flat white and placed in a giant room with a lot of expensive equipment. Those little speakers, with an MSRP of just £5000/pair, filled the room with beautiful, almost full-range sound. Those speakers were the new “entry level” speakers, the Living Voice R25A.
A, of course, stands for “Anniversary,” since this model commemorates the 25th anniversary of Living Voice’s original Auditorium loudspeakers (these speakers replace the lauded Auditorium R23 in the LV line-up.) I’ve known about Living Voice for a long time, mostly because they feature high-efficiency designs that are often favored with SET amps, and I went through that phase a while ago and always considered LV as a very viable option. The Living Voice R25a is the result of a major crossover re-design, one that evolved from 25 years of constant refinement within the line. The crossover point is now lower, the slope angles have been changed and the tonal balance has been altered. Surprisingly, the enclosure has no internal bracing since it has already been tuned to reduce resonances.
The R25a had quite a bit of help sounding this good–Grand Prix Audio turntable, Kuzma tonearm, Ortofon SPU cartridges, vintage Kondo electronics and Living Voice’s own CD300 digital player, all on Living Voice equipment racks and powered by the Living Voice Pure Music battery power system. In addition, Living Voice also brought the new Vox Palladium horns with the new Vox Basso bass system to High End 2019. On the second day I spent in this room, the big horns were playing and I was just as smitten with the enormous sound in the room, especially with all of the Brazilian jazz that was played. But the Vox Palladium and Vox Basso cost just a bit more than $5000.
I returned from High End 2019 in Munich thinking of one speaker more than any other, those small white speakers that filled the big room with a full, magical sound. I’m still not prepared to call them giant killers–maybe just a small miracle that needs further investigation.