Hollis Audio Labs – CAF 2018
Open-baffle servo subs, Parasound amps, open-baffle DIY monitors, and software. Quite a pleasing ensemble.
The large room in Plaza One on the main floor of Capital Audiofest felt more like a laboratory than your average audio show room. Erected behind a floating Stonehenge of GIK absorption and diffusion pannes, was a modestly sized system, consisting of crafty looking open-baffle monitors, sitting atop an equally crafty looking pair of open baffle subwoofers. On the floor gathered around and connected: a smearing of power conditioning boxes, speaker cables and a pair of Parasound Halo A23 stereo amplifiers. Behind my listening seat at the seven o’clock position, was Rich Hollis of Hollis Audio Labs. At Rich’s fingertips a keyboard, a few boxed devices and a large computer screen.
In front of him, onscreen, all kind of graph and music info. Measurements of the waves and music to boot. Rich is demonstrating the Hollis Audio Labs MS-3 Music Server, in tandem with a Danville Signal dspMusik 2/8 Multichannel DAC. From there, everything transitions over to what is in front ot me. Starting with a pair of Parasound Halo A23 stereo amplifiers, feeding a speaker system called The Monoliths. The Monoliths speaker system comprises of two channels of bass module, each with two 12-inch open-baffle servo subs. Using four subs total in open baffle and maintaining the small footprint and form factor is a benefit not lost on me. Atop the sub-woofer modules are a gorgeously interesting pair of open-baffle monitors, each with planar tweeter and planar midrange drivers. This is indeed a full-range speaker system, that requires tri-amplification. Meaning the supplied Rythmik Audio HX300XLR3 stereo amplifier controls the sub-woofers, and two Parasound stereo amplifiers mentioned earlier, each handle a pair of the mid-range, and a pair of the tweeters — independently. Six channels if you will, but all in stereo.
This system is a complete package and priced at $7,500 USD minus the Parasound Halo A23 stereo amplifiers. Those or any amplifiers of your choosing are yours to source on your own. But with speakers, subs, DAC, DSP, and music server you get a lot for the asking price.
As with anything at the show, looks matter and I felt that this room wasn’t getting it’s deserved attention. Often at small shows like Capital Audiofest you have the opportunity to visit rooms often or more commonly walk by them frequently enough to gauge their audience. During the weekend I never saw the room crowded and sometimes, with only Rich manning the system.
What really grinds my gears is that this room, and Hollis Audio Labs founder Rich Hollis put on a good show, engaged the attendees, and assembled one of the best sounding systems at the show. On top of that, the price was easily one of the most budget friendly, considering how much speaker, amplifier, and technology is included in the asking price. Judge ye book not by the cover.
By Eric Franklin Shook