Fern and Roby Raven II, LTA, Black Cat Cable, Auralic | CAF 2019

As I mentioned, the Fern and Roby Raven loudspeakers were featured in two separate rooms at the 2019 Capital Audiofest–in that very special room with ModWright Instruments amplification, and this room with a more familiar match with Linear Tube Audio gear. The biggest difference, of course, is that this room featured the smaller but very similar Fern and Roby Raven II loudspeakers ($5750/pair). The Raven IIs are a bit more conventional in appearance than the floor-standing Ravens I recently reviewed. They’re smaller, of course, and they resemble your typical “bookshelf speaker” despite that full-range SEAS driver and the simple yet stunning walnut enclosures. The Raven IIs are just as efficient than their big brothers (96 dB with a 4 ohm impedance), and they still go down to 30 Hz when corner-loaded in a room. Small but mighty, in other words.

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

The Fern and Roby Raven II loudspeakers were matched with the LTA Z10e integrated amplifier ($6950), as well as the Fern and Roby Montrose turntable ($7500) with the brand new Maverick phono preamplifier ($1850), a joint product between the two companies. Everything was hooked up using the Setsuna line from Black Cat Cable. Compared to the sound of the Fern and Roby/ModWright room, this was a more delicate presentation without losing any of that direct, pure character that you get from this amp/speaker interface–something I’ll cover in more depth in my upcoming review of the LTA Z10 Integrated.

This was the first time I’ve heard the Fern and Roby Raven II loudspeakers in action–surprising since I’ve already heard so many of Christopher Hildebrand’s products. When I visited the factory with Eric Franklin Shook earlier this year, as covered in summer issue of The Occasional, the Raven IIs were intended to literally be placed on a bookshelf, just like The Cube loudspeakers (which were also in the CAF room). Since then Christopher and the Tektonics Design Group team have come up with a simple V-shaped stand so that the Raven IIs can sit on the floor just like the Ravens. If the Ravens resemble a pair of Quad ESL-57s, the Raven IIs now remind me of some of the Klipsch Heritage floorstanders such as the Cornwall and Heresy.

Later this week I’ll be attending the Grand Opening of the new showroom at Fern & Roby on November 23rd. The last time I visited, I came home with the Raven loudspeakers. This time, I will come home with the Raven IIs. Judging from the sound of the room at CAF, I’ll get to revisit many of the same strengths of the larger speakers–a beautiful, laid-back sound that’s full and extremely satisfying. I’m looking forward to hosting another gorgeous product from the mind of Christopher Hildebrand and his team.