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United Home Audio, ESD Acoustics, Aesthetix and Synergistic Research | CAF 2019

To me, United Home Audio means one thing–fabulous reel-to-reel decks. Scot Hull has one in his reference system, and I’ve been mesmerized by the sound from this deck on more than one occasion. At the 2019 Capital Audiofest, United Home Audio was featured in a big room, with big horn speakers and big amps, all led by their Ultima OPS-DC deck ($30,000). What kind of music were they playing? Pipe organ music! What else?

Capital Audiofest 2019 brought to you in part by Tenacious Sound.

Capital Audiofest 2019 brought to you in part by Verdant Audio!

The United Home Audio system was all about moving air until the legs of your pants flapped in the wind. This was one of the big conference rooms downstairs at CAF, and yet the massive ESD Acoustics Crane Series horn loudspeakers ($52,270/pair) easily shook that big room over and over. I could feel the low notes of the organ–what is that, 16 Hz or so?–roll out from under the speakers and across the floor and then vibrate in the legs of my chair. I felt like I was sitting on a Harley, going 80 mph down I-470. If you want to understand why people need big rooms for big horn speakers, the United Home Audio room is Lesson #1.

The source components in the United Home Audio room weren’t lost in the shadows. We’re talking about Aesthetix here, truly fine amplification and sources by any standard: Romulus Eclipse Transport/DAC ($14,000, but not used as long as the OPS-DC was performing its magic), Metis preamp ($25,000) and Atlas Eclipse monoblocks ($28,000/pair). Everything was hooked up with Synergistic Research Galileo SX power cords, speaker cables and interconnects and an ESD Acoustics DPC-1 Power Center. While the musical program focused on maximum visceral impact, I was still impressed by the inner detail and smooth balance that comes naturally from analog tape.

Despite all the bigness in the United Home Audio room, I couldn’t help notice an intriguing pair of bookshelf speakers along the side wall, the ESD Acoustic Panda field-coil speakers. The ESD Cranes might be a little too imposing for my listening room, but those cute little Pandas look promising. If I ever get one of those cavernous listening rooms that look like a leftover set from The Favourite, however, this is the type of system I’d love to have.