Vinnie Rossi has me all tied up with the idea that I have to get my hands on a pair of Harbeths. Why? Because every time I hear his near field presentation at an audio show, it sound like angels singing…if angels knew 80s and 90s hits well enough, that is. Vinnie keeps the track selection fresh, fun and high fidelity. He knows now when he sees me that a good throwback to either of the previously mentioned decades will put a smile on my face and his selection is ripe with options. In his room arrangement at AXPONA this year the speakers are placed along the long wall, instead of the far side – reducing the space between listener and transducer to a few mere meters. The image is always tight, direct and unique from almost all the other rooms at the show.
Its a different vibe for sure, but one that serves him well. On the plate this weekend was the 40th anniversary editions of the 40.2, 30.2 and P3ESR ($18k, $7k, and $3k respectively). But top notch speakers isn’t even the real reason Vinnie is attending the Chicago-based audio show at the Schaumburg Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. Its because he has mono. Not the kissing disease, mind you, but two new reference mono blocks to pair with a new pre that will soon be gracing the market alongside his modular LIO integrated amplifier.
Unfortunately the new L2 Pre wasn’t ready for primetime enough to make an appearance at the show but the L2 Signature Monos were, and hooked up in line with the LIO DHT acting as a pre ($12.5k as configured). The new L2 Pre will retail for around $15k when it becomes available this summer, with both a new DAC and phono options running an additional $3295 each. Those add ons will be the only two available, as Vinnie has trimmed the wild customization of the LIO down a bit for the second run of products.
Monos are prepped and due out in the end of May or early June. The units on display in room 486 were still pre production prototypes, but will also retail for around $15k a pair when they become available. Specs available from the show handout are as follows:
* Vinnie Rossi’s new statement-level, Class AB MOSFET design topology
* Super high bandwidth, flat frequency response from 20Hz – over 250kHz
* Power Output: Approx. 75W RMS into 8-ohm, 140W RMS into 4-ohm (2-ohm stable)
* Over 100,000uF of low ESR power supply rail capacitance
* Custom-wound, 500VA toroidal power supply transformer
* WBT NextGen Binding Posts, Neutrik RCA and XLR input jacks, 0.5” thick solid aluminum chassis
For my listening session Vinnie fired up the Harbeth Monitor 40.2 40th Anniversary Edition with the Tori Amos cover of Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence. Her voice was razor sharp as it played through the monitors, with attack and decay landing in a natural presentation from an organic-sounding piano track. The texture was well resolved, with detail pushed to above par accommodations. Again, the imaging in close quarters changes a bit from the large scale presentation of big box showman, but is no less intriguing and some might argue, at an advantage with strong initial waves and room reflections sunk further into the background. The grand sum of all the parts here was an AXPONA show highlight.