Written by Dave McNair
Tampa, Fl. (PTA) — I’ve worked as a recording engineer in almost all of the Alan Sides’ (famed studio owner/designer/recording engineer) various Ocean Way Recording studios. In addition to housing an impeccable microphone collection filled with vintage Neumann and AKG tube types, one of the hallmarks of Alan’s studios was always his custom-built monitors. Soffit mounted boxes with dual 15” woofers, various types of 2” compression drivers, horn mids and tweeters. Mostly powered with tubes, the sound is clean, wide bandwidth, and very dynamic with a vibe that skews more audiophile than pro studio monitor.
At the Florida Audio Expo, Ocean Way Audio (OWA) rolled out their first non-horn type speaker, the Eureka, ($14,800 USD with stands). I heard that familiar Ocean Way sound, once again.
Powered by a complete set of AGD Productions electronics, including their new Andante preamp with built-in DAC and phono preamp ($11,000 USD in satin finish) I was instantly impressed with the sound – smooth and liquid with a gorgeous 3D soundstage and effortless dynamic contrasts. A very large sound from a 2-way, stand-mounted loudspeaker. Then again, for a stand-mounted speaker, the Eurekas look like a 200 lb bodybuilder in a medium-size T-shirt.
Listening to a sampler-demo-playlist off the DAC in the Andante, the music had tons of texture, with deep layers of sound that was visually reinforced by seeing the glow of tubes protruding from the little Audion amps ($7,500 USD in chrome finish) sitting atop the speakers with smallish sized Vivace monoblocks ($15,000) on the floor. I asked AGD designer Alberto Guerra if the amps were 8-watts or something, thinking the Eureka’s must be hella efficient to be rocking with these little single tube cuties. He said ‘No, those are class D using Gallium Nitride power MOSFET components in a vacuum tube container with an output of around 100 watts.’ PSYCHE! I had taken the bait – hook, line, and sinker. I didn’t care, because it all sounded so damn good!
The AGD amps are more proof that class-D continues to sound better and better.