LOS ANGELES (PTA) — In operation since 1995, Audiophile Zone is a high-end audio store that serves California’s central coast. Originally started as a retail site, Audiophile Zone became the repair center for many of high-end audio’s most popular brands. Here at THE SHOW 2019, in partnership with AGD Productions and Ocean Way Audio, they brought forward a showstopping system that broadened the horizons of both technology and sound.
Two California based companies, one being AGD Productions was demonstrating two of their most current amplifiers, the AGD Vivace GaNTube™ Monoblock amplifiers and the all-new AGD Audion GaNTube™ Monoblock amplifiers, the other being Allen Sides’ Ocean Way Audio with their Monterey tower loudspeakers and Eureka stand-mount monitors.
First, I want to start with the new and smaller AGD Audion GaNTube™ Monoblock amplifiers. Yes, that is a Gallium Nitride based power-stage integrated in a glass tube. It’s these GaN MOSFETS that are the magic behind the reference level performance of all AGD amplifiers. The AGD Audion specifically delivers 85-Watts / 8-Ohms (170-Watts / 4-Ohms), within a bandwidth of 5Hz to 100kHz, a dynamic range of >120dB, all while weighing in at only 5lbs dripping wet. The larger AGD Vivace GaNTube™ Monoblock takes things up a notch, with available power now up to 100-Watts / 8-Ohms (200-Watts / 4-Ohms), a smidge’ more bandwidth, PWM Frequency up to 768kHz and a weight of 22lbs.
Each amplifier set was mated with a pair of speakers. The AGD Vivace with the Ocean Way Monterey towers, and the AGD Audion with the stand-mount Ocean Way Eureka monitors. During my listening sessions, it was only the AGD Audion / Ocean Way Eureka combination that was actively playing, and being fed by a computer based server and Playback Designs Merlot DAC.
Allen Sides of Ocean Way audio has two feet, one planted in pro-audio and the other firmly in hi-fi. His Eureka and Monterey loudspeakers were the two hi-fi designed models on display. The Monterey uses a proprietary three-way dual/hybrid waveguide system, which looks like a combination of direct driver and horn loading. The Monterey’s twin 12-inch woofers are loaded in a ported enclosure and are available in many custom finishes, from piano high gloss to fine woods. However during my time in the room, I wasn’t able to listen to them. For shame, as they won a best-of-show award when on demonstration duties at Axpona 2019.
The Eureka is a not-so-small two-way stand-mount monitor that uses a 1-inch silk dome tweeter, mated to a 8-inch aluminum woofer, all loaded into a highly braced ported and time aligned enclosure. From 35Hz up to 24kHz is covered, and efficiency is rated at 87dB, and are available in many custom finishes, from piano high gloss to fine woods. During my time in the exhibit, these were playing strong and full. Leaving many listeners uncertain as to which of the loudspeakers were playing. It must be said that the 18-layer lacquer finish dramatically ups the cost, and lead time.
The Eureka play big, as they should with 17.5×17.5×11.5-inches of cabinet around them. Driver integration is top-notch, with bass extension dipping dangerously close to what demanding ears would call full-range. The time-aligned slope of the front baffle defines how they load the room, and the heavy cabinet — even with ear pressed against it (which garnered some stares) — exuded no resonances.
Obviously impressive were the little-amplifiers-that-could actively displayed on top of the monitors. Clever to say the least, the GaN based power sounded nothing like the Class-D I know. Remarkably tuneful and delicate on the most detailed passages, I was hooked. Power was given by the bushel as the uber-efficient design lends itself to do so.
– Merlot DAC
Ocean Way Audio
– Eureka Stand-Mount Monitors – starting at $7,000 pr USD
– Monterey Dual/Hybrid Tower Loudspeakers – starting at $25,000 pr USD
– Audion Monoblock Amplifiers
– Vivace Monoblock Amplifiers