If I haven’t made myself clear yet, I do like this little monitor from Latvia, the Aretai Contra 100S ($9,000/pr USD). I’ve heard them several times now, starting with Munich last May, and I think they’ve been at every show since then. Janis Irbe of Aretai is focused on getting proper distribution in the United States for his line of speakers, and ten years ago I would have told him, “I’ll do it!” They’re my kind of two-way monitor.
Words and Photos by Marc Phillips
At AXPONA 2023, the Aretai Conra 100S was placed in a very similar system to the one exhibited at FLAX 2023, with Convergent Audio Technologies amplification, an Aurender server, and a loom of cables from an interesting company known as OePhi from Denmark. OePhi spaces wooden blocks along the cables, and they also focus on the quality of the terminations. I may get a chance to investigate a loom in the near future.
It’s the Aretai Contra 100S that was the star of the room, as speakers usually are, but there are a couple of things I always notice about the Aretai. First, they have really smooth and extended lows. Second, they can play really loud without losing their graceful tonal balance. In other words, these are relatively small two-way monitors that sound like much bigger speakers. This sounds like something you’ve heard before, and it’s something I’ve definitely written before. But wait, there’s more.
With the Aretai Contra 100s, these three winning characteristics are in perfect balance so that when you listen for just a few moments, you soak it in all at once. That means you’re too busy getting into the music to care about the individual characteristics. You just start floating. In the AXPONA 2023 room, the Aretai Contra 100S speakers were lined up along the long wall, and the listener was seated very close to the speakers. Still, I heard an expansiveness that is uncommon at almost-near-field conditions–which means I discovered a new reason to admire these monitors. Quite simply, they excel in small rooms, and that gets my attention.
And yes, I’m working on getting these in for review.
If you would like to hear even more coverage from AXPONA 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.
Also don’t forget to check out our collaboration to commemorate the event with our solid bronze record weight available only for a limited run. This 800 grams of solid bronze features the PTA roundel on the top with also acts as a 45 adapter. You can purchase direct from the PTA Approved Store here on the site.
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