Nola Speakers, VAC and a Pair of Audio Legends | RMAF 2019

Scot Hull summoned me to the Nola Speakers and VAC room at the 2019 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest to discuss a review of a pair of loudspeakers. When I walked into the room I couldn’t help but notice the pair of Nola Concert Grand Reference Gold Mk. 2s sitting there, practically grazing the ceiling, each one weighing 275 pounds and containing 12 drivers. “What, these?” I asked Scot. Yeah, I’ll be able to unpack these and move these around for proper positioning with one hand tied behind my back, right? Just let me hit the gym for a few months before they arrive. Scot immediately assured me that we were talking about a much smaller pair of Nola speakers and that’s when I met Carl and Marilyn Marchisotto, who have headed Nola Speakers for a very long time.

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Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019 coverage sponsored by Core Power Technologies A/V

How long? I can remember reading about the Marchisottos back when Sam Tellig was The Audio Cheapskate, and an issue of Stereophile was still stapled together. Since 2004 they’ve been building Nola Speakers under the name Accent Speaker Technology Ltd., but I’ve been reading about the Marchisottos and their speaker designs since I was a young audiophile pup and I have to admit I was a little starstruck. Luckily the Marchisottos are warm and friendly and utterly approachable, and I enjoyed my time in their room, but it’s time to talk about the giant red speakers that were equally entertaining.

The Concert Grand Reference Gold Mk. 2s ($250,000/pair) are impressive in every respect. The frequency response of these behemoths in 18 Hz to 100 kHz. That’s right, 100,000 Hz, thanks to the ribbon supertweeter. The Nola Speakers and VAC system was placed in an irregular-shaped room, tucked in sort of an alcove, and at first I thought the sound would be typical of the giant speakers-smallish room configuration which often sounds like you’re listening in a tunnel. Not so here. I felt the system, which also included a VAC Statement 450S power amp, VAC Master Line Stage, VAC DAC mk. II, ARC REF CD8 and Nordost Odin 2 cabling , possessed an unusual clarity and projected a realistic sound stage that sounded incredibly open and inviting.

This was one of those rooms where I loved the sound as well as the company. While I’m certainly looking forward to reviewing a much smaller pair of Nola Speakers in the near future, the Concert Grand Reference Gold Mk. 2s delivered a sound that I won’t soon forget–scalable according to the music, yet as dynamic as it gets. In many ways, this was the best low frequency performance I heard at RMAF 2019 with loads of texture and visceral impact.

What’s even more incredible is that these massive speakers aren’t even the Nola Speakers flagship–that title belongs to the four-tower Grand Reference VI Gold! No, I won’t be reviewing those any time soon, but I can’t wait for the smaller pair.

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