As I came upon the Well Pleased AV room on the 5th floor of the short tower of the Marriot Tech Center, I could hear the familiar drone of Eddie Vedder’s voice calling to me from the hallway. The track was Long Nights from the Into the Wild soundtrack. An interesting pick, considering it wasn’t the “hit” or even one that gets played very often.
But Mr. Vedder sounded clean and clear, more “right there”, less haze, and more immediacy than most I had heard that weekend. The track is a little laid back, so the next up on the rig backed by Innuos Statement Music Server ($13,750), LinnenberG Power ($19k) and Pre ($5.6) drove the point home even more. But the real interesting bit for me was the QLN Prestige Three Loudspeakers ($10k). In an attempt to sidestep a well worn audiophile cliche, it was big sound from a somewhat tiny source. The physical height landed less than the average man’s waist, and the straightforward 2-way design didn’t shout “look at me!!!” from across the room. In fact, the only standout form factor is really the time alignment backwards lean and the velvety black fabric surrounding the tweeter. But the sound was BIG, Yoda would be proud. From the company site:
“The bass/mid range and treble drivers have been specifically selected and custom developed by industry renowned Danish driver manufacturer Scan Speak and offer the latest in 21st century advanced driver technology.
The unique coated Kevlar® bass/midrange driver with its built-in copper rings in the magnet system offers symmetric drive and higher dynamics in the midrange concurrently suppressing intermodulation distortion and resulting in industry leading high-end voice handling and astonishing micro/macro dynamics from a 2-way speaker design. The long stroke woofer with 19mm long voice coil work in a perfect match to the large inner volume that give powerful bass below 30Hz.
Likewise, the unique tweeter offers superb vocal rendition and excellent imaging at all listening positions. Its large roll surround and textile dome diaphragm provides a flat frequency response above 30 KHz with outstanding off-axis dispersion. The unique AirCirc magnet system and its rear chamber eliminate any reflections and resonances.”
The presentation evolved into a very brave A/B from Innous director Nuno Vitorino. It was brave due to his introspective comparison from his old server vs. the new Statement, not another competitor’s brand. But Nuno was quick to make his point clear, the quality of a music servers makes a difference – its not just the DAC that can fog things up. Indeed, his A/B left this reviewer with a subtle but noticeable increase in performance. A more organic, lived-in effect that is usually associated with the top tier of digital audio equipment in hifi. Point taken.
Well Pleased AV’s curator/owner Mark Sossa appears to have a good set of ears on his head. One of our favorite rooms at the show.