Suncoast Audio, Stenheim, VAC, Aurender, Acoustic Signature, Critical Mass Systems | FLAX 2020

Every time I visit a high-end audio show room with Stenheim loudspeakers, I mention how I’m trying to get a pair in for review–specifically, the Alumine 2 bookshelf speakers ($11,950). I’ve heard these Swiss speakers, known for their aluminum enclosures, for a few years now–I tend to listen to them every time I visit with Fidelis AV, the US distributors for Stenheim. After visiting the Suncoast Audio room at FLAX 2020, I think I finally have a review all set. I hope.

Sponsored by Core Power Technologies A/V
Florida Audio Expo 2020 coverage sponsored by Core Power Technologies A/V
Sponsored by Living Sounds Audio
Florida Audio Expo 2020 coverage sponsored by Living Sounds Audio


Suncoast Audio is a high-end audio dealer in Sarasota that had a strong presence at the Florida Audio Expo. They built a system around the incredible Stenheim Alumine 3 floorstanding speakers ($29,950/pair) that included the VAC Master Line Stage ($28,000) and Signature 200 iQ amplifier ($14,500), Aurender A30 digital streamer/ripper/storage/DAC ($18,000) that we just reviewed, an Acoustic Signature XX turntable ($5000) with TA-2000 arm ($2995) and TANGO reference phono stage ($5000), Dynavector XX-2 cartridge ($2000), cables from Wireworld, power conditioning from an AudioQuest Niagara $5000 and a rack from Critical Mass Systems ($3000). Lately I’ve been impressed with the synergy between Stenheim and CH Precision, also from Switzerland, but I feel that the match between Stenheim and VAC was a bit more to my liking–clear, detailed and yet fulsome.

I had a wonderful time talking to Stenheim’s CEO, Jean-Pascal Panchard. We first met at High End 2019 in Munich, and I bugged him to tell the folks at Fidelis to arrange for a review and he was all for it. It certainly isn’t Fidelis’ fault I’ve been waiting so long–after all, they gave me the Palmer 2.5 turntable and Audio Origami arm for review, and I’ve had tons of speakers running through my living room in the last few months. When I return the Palmer rig, I’m supposed to pick up the Stenheim Alumine 2s. I can’t wait.

Back at the exhibit room at FLAX 2020, Jean-Pascal asked me if I wanted to hear Steely Dan’s Aja on LP. (I’m not sick of it yet, even though I heard people starting to gripe about it at FLAX.) I was intrigued because it was a mystery pressing–I assumed it was some recent re-issue since the cover looked pristine. I checked the album cover for clues and found none–the label was ABC records. We determined that it might have been an early original pressing, maybe even a first pressing since it sounded magnificent. At any rate, this might be the finest Aja I’ve heard. Again, I can’t wait to get those Stenheim Alumine 2s into my home system!