The Return of the Arion Audio Apollo System | T.H.E. Show 2019

I first reported on the Arion Audio Apollo System at last year’s Capital Audiofest, when I had to be careful not to go into too much detail on the company’s proprietary technologies. While the Apollo System ($24,900/pair) looks like no other loudspeaker in the world of high-end audio, the sound is not typical of unorthodox designs. As I wrote the first time, “They have a smooth, coherent and musical quality to them that are about as far from gimmicky as it gets.” At T.H.E. Show 2019, I had a second chance to hear the Arion Audio Apollo System, and I feel like they’ve been refined even further than before.

Some of these improvements in the Arion Audio Apollo System may have been the result of the surrounding system, which included the Arion Audio LS-200 hybrid line stage ($3995) and HS-500 monoblocks ($6995/pair), the Wolf Audio Systems Alpha 3 music server ($7045), EMM Labs DA2 DAC ($25,000), a VPI HW-40 Direct Drive Turntable ($15,000), SoundSmith SG-200 Strain Gauge cartridge ($8599), with powerline filters from Chang Lightspeed, Stillpoints and cabling from JPS Labs. The real kicker was a pair of custom 2A3 vacuum tube amplifiers that put out 3.5 beautiful watts of power to the enormous Arion Audio towers, which have an efficiency of 105 dB.

The Arion Audio Apollo System consists of those two big full-range dipole towers accompanied by DSP-controlled open baffle woofer modules. Each tower includes the proprietary HVT (High Velocity Transducers), nine per side. Each of these drivers are matched to a one-pound magnet made from neodymium. These drivers are made in house and are “patent pending,” which is why Arion Audio is still reticent about these new technologies.

As I mentioned, the Arion Audio Apollo System sounded even better this time–and it sounded pretty darned good back at Capital Audiofest. The overall presentation was very, very smooth and hypnotic, with music settling into perfect groove. (Didn’t we used to call this PRaT?) This was a relaxed, open system that was utterly seductive. There might have been a feeling of a rolled-off treble, but I find that to be typical of low-powered 2A3 amplifiers. The midrange had all that SET magic, with a stunning presence marked by tangible outlines of sound. While $25,000 is a lot of money for most people, I can’t help but think that the five-piece Arion Audio Apollo System is quite the bargain–you do get a lot for your money.