The biggest surprise at the 2023 Florida Audio Expo shouldn’t have been a surprise at all. But the debut of the new flagship Acora Acoustics VRC-1 loudspeakers seemed to tower above all else at FLAX, with almost everyone I talked to quietly proclaiming them to deliver the best sound at the show.
Words and Photos by Marc Phillips
A few months ago, when the PTA staff was focused on picking the 2022 Product of the Year, Dave McNair told me to reserve the top spot for 2023 because the Acora Acoustics VRC-1s were going to knock us for a loop. Dave loves Acora–we wound up awarding the previous flagship, the $37k/pr SRC-2s, the ultra-rare PTA Summit Award. Dave even bought them for his work as a mastering engineer.
I’ll tell you a secret. The editors at PTA argued about that Summit Award behind closed doors. One of the reasons against awarding a high-end audio product the “best ever” award is because gear keeps improving over time. “What happens when the SRC-2 comes out in a Mk. 2 edition?” I thought. “Do we give it the Super Summit Award? Or maybe the newly created Everest Award?” Well, the Acora Acoustics VRC-1 is here, and now we have to confront this issue. It is magnificent.
The Acora Acoustics VRC-1, as you might imagine, is a significant beast. (Acoras, after all, feature those signature granite enclosures.) They weigh 430 pounds each. The whole time I stood next to them, I secretly wondered what would happen if made the VRC-1 my personal tackling dummy. Would I be able to knock it over? Or would I bounce off it like a goose down pillow? Who cares–how do they sound?
Let me just say that I’ve grown disappointed in the sound of the “big rooms” at high-end audio shows. All the big gear, like the Acora Acoustics VRC-1, usually shows up in these large conference rooms, and in most cases these huge rooms create more sonic problems than the equipment can’t overcome.
Val Cora of Acora encountered this last year at AXPONA with his Acora SRC-2s–it was a huge room that seemed to be partially under construction. It was a mess of a space, and I couldn’t focus in on what the SRC-2s sounded like. Val confided that he had only one day to set-up that system–as a former high-end audio show exhibitor I know this is one of the biggest flaws of the system. These big systems require more than a single day to get dialed in.
The Acora Acoustics VRC-1 loudspeakers absolutely commanded the room at FLAX 2023, however. Imaging was incredibly precise for such a large loudspeaker. Val played some Joni Mitchell for me, and she was there, and the acoustic guitar was right next to her, exactly where it should be if this was a live performance. On large scale music, the VRC-1s seemed incapable of compromise. With a system that included VAC amplification, Cardas cabling, LampizatOr and Aurender digital and a beautiful Oracle turntable and CD transport, the Acora Acoustics VRC-1 stood tall and vanquished all comers.
You want to know the cost, right? Val hasn’t quite settled on a number, but it will be a bit north of $200K/pr USD. That’s okay–there are larger and heavier and more costly loudspeakers in high-end audio, and they don’t all sound this good. Bravo, Val!
If you would like to hear even more coverage from FLAX 2023, check out our recap report and highlights from our audiophile-oriented show The Occasional Podcast. You can stream the episode direct from the embed below, or from your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, Android, Google, Deezer, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more.
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