I’ve been in this game long enough to know that something special is arriving when it comes in flight cases the size of telephone booths. I half expected to see “Pink Floyd, Wembley Stadium, London” stamped on the side. Ben Lilly, ATC’s cheerful sales director, read my mind as he flung open the rear doors of the firm’s smart blue van. He smiled and said, “Don’t worry, it’s not too bad, they’re on casters.” When I was younger I thought it would be great fun being a roadie, traveling the world, getting drunk with rock stars, getting laid by groupies, and sharing the camaraderie of the tour bus at 4 a.m. as the sun rose over the Nevada desert. Nowadays, my aspirations are more limited—managing to haul these ATC speakers into the house without my feeble spine crumbling into a mixture of dust and broken sinews would do. I reckon I could still manage the getting-drunk-with-rock-stars thing quite well, but I’m not sure I could keep up with the groupies anymore.
Blue Note Records BST-84221 / Ume 4579754
Musical Performance: ****½
Sound Quality: ****½
Overall Enjoyment: ****½
Jazz organist Larry Young died too soon—in 1978, at the age of 37—but he had played on many notable sessions throughout the ’60s and ’70s, both as sideman and leader. He appeared on Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew and John McLaughlin’s second album, Devotion, both in 1970. He was a member of the Tony Williams Lifetime from 1969 to 1971, alongside McLaughlin and Jack Bruce. Young recorded as a leader for a number of labels, but his best-known album under his own name was Unity (1966), his fifth album and his second for Blue Note Records.
As I walked around the AVA Group’s facilities in July with Hans-Ole Vitus (CTO) and Alexander Vitus Mogensen (CEO), it became clear to me that both father and son were well equipped to answer any question I had, explain any technical process associated with the construction of Vitus Audio or Alluxity products, and walk me through the machines AVA has invested hundreds of thousands of euros in, on which they rely heavily. It was also quite obvious to me that before Alexander took over as CEO earlier this year, he had learned the business from the ground up—he knows the products and what goes into them from the inside out.
Vitus Audio has been a staple of the high-end solid-state electronics realm since Hans-Ole Vitus established it, under the umbrella of AVA Group, in 1995. His son, Alexander Vitus Mogensen, started AVM-TEC—primarily a manufacturing and measurement firm—at the ripe old age of 18. Around that time, Alexander also launched Alluxity, a high-end brand that makes design-conscious—but still very high-end—electronics, including integrated amplifiers, power amplifiers, and preamplifiers. This year AVA Group and AVM-TEC merged, and they operate out of a shared building in Herning, Denmark. It took roughly an hour and a half to travel from Aarhus—our home base at the time—to Herning to tour the factory and learn more about the new AVA Group.
If you click through any high-end publication today, you’re bound to find advertisements for many alluring turntables and tonearms. If you look a bit closer, you may notice that despite looking very different, most turntables and tonearms appear to be exorcizing similar demons: induced vibration and improper stylus alignment.
I don’t visit stereo stores very often. As a reviewer, gear ships to me, so I don’t need to scratch the itch to visit stores to see new stuff. Another reason is that, when I do walk into a store, I feel vaguely guilty. The salesman is trying to earn a living—he’s trying to sell product, and I’m most definitely not buying, so it seems wrong for me to take up his time.
Pacific Jazz Records ST-61 / Blue Note Records B0033487-01
Musical Performance: ****½
Sound Quality: ****½
Overall Enjoyment: ****½
When jazz trumpeter, arranger, and composer Gerald Wilson died in 2014, at the age of 96, he was celebrated as a great and important American musician. He had received many accolades throughout his later years. In 1990, the National Endowment for the Arts named Wilson an NEA Jazz Master, and various other awards came to him in the years that followed. Over his long career, a number of his recordings were nominated for Grammy Awards.
The Kodo experience
As the culmination of our July tour of the Gryphon Audio Designs facility in Aarhus, Denmark, my wife, Andrea, and I, along with Abigail and Ian, our daughter and son, entered a brand-new Gryphon listening room—a space that had recently been renovated by the company. On demo was the mighty Kodo speaker system, a four-tower design. Not only is the Kodo the flagship of Gryphon’s current speakerverse, it’s the largest loudspeaker system the company has ever produced. The ones we would be listening to were Soul Red Crystal, and they retail for $360,000 per four-tower system (all prices USD).
Please see the accompanying profile on Perlisten Audio founder Dan Roemer.
Perlisten Audio debuted in 2020—seemingly out of nowhere—in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The S Series, rolling five models deep, was less of a first draft than a polished finished article. It features the flagship four-way S7t floorstander ($17,990 per pair; all prices in USD), the four-way S7c center speaker ($8495), the three-way S5m standmount ($12,990 per pair), the three-way S4b bookshelf speaker ($7990 per pair), and the S4s surround speaker ($7590 per pair). As this review was being written, Perlisten added a sixth model, the smaller three-way S5t floorstander ($13,990 per pair), to the S-Series lineup. Each model comes in standard Piano Black and Piano White finishes, with wood veneers available for a surcharge. The company’s loudspeakers boast cutting-edge technology, including bespoke, hand-built drivers—none of that off-the-shelf nonsense that many other ultra-high-end companies use—and a unique DPC array that differentiates itself from most everything else on the market (more on the DPC array below). Perlisten has also released four sealed subwoofers that leverage its own driver and amplifier designs. I jumped at the opportunity to hear for myself what this upstart hi-fi firm has to offer.
The first leg
If you pay attention to the news, you’ve no doubt been alarmed if you have travel plans booked that involve multiple flights and tight connections. The number of flight cancelations reported in the past several months is enough to make even the most seasoned travelers nervous—especially if you have a tight itinerary booked once you arrive at your destination. When my wife, Andrea, and I made arrangements to travel to Europe in July with our two teens—Abigail, 17, and Ian, 16—we experienced some skepticism that it would all work out, particularly since we had a packed schedule once we landed.
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