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At a Glance

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15 Dec 2012: Akis Michalopoulos


By Tony Pothitos

Beauty and the beast...

We all know about the famous tale Beauty and the beast. How the most beautiful woman in the world fell in love and was in harmony with a beast. Well in tonight’s version, we simply take the beast and call it Music while taking the impossible job of reproducing live music as the beast.

Can one system, despite its cost, ever be in total harmony with each other? Can true music ever respect reproduced sounds? Can a kiss ever be reproduced by something other than lips? Should we even try?

It seems that many a men, and much time has been spent in actually doing this exact feat.

Tonight, listening to the system of our fellow ACA member, we will have this analogy and his system in mind.

Miclalopoulos-Dec-2012-pic06First off let us take a musical event, either a band or orchestra, and compare it to any speaker in the world, a listless piece of wood and a few screws with some rubber and uncanny technology behind it. Then connect this to another piece of wire which has yet many more wires connected amongst themselves trying desperately to complete an image which we can, if we fathom to, compare it to a live performance. Sounds hard? It’s not. It’s simply impossible. Just like a kiss and the lips behind it.

The analogue source...

I think of these things every time I listen to systems which claim to have a realistic philosophy to their build and to systems which claim they reach the haven mentioned above.
Let us start with the front end: I will not start with the analogue source, not that I do not find it an excellent piece, but because in this system the analogue reproduction was simply light years ahead.

Turntable: Transrotor Tourbillion
Tonearms: Kuzma Air Line and Glanz 124-X
Cartridges: Dynavector XV-1t and Transrotor Merlo Reference

The first thing that can be said about the system, without even listening to it, is that this is the nicest pair of lips…sorry, analogue sculpture I have seen lately. I say that fully aware that I am subjective, and that a kiss always is. At least a good one!

So after the beast of metal which I consider to be beautiful, and under no instance I insist on anyone else seeing it as I do, let us see how it connects to the Focal Stella Utopia EM.

Miclalopoulos-Dec-2012-pic05Before we do though, let us remember that every lip is considered a mouth, which is nothing else but flesh and nerves, bones and arteries, veins, etc. A face expresses almost everything, albeit no face ever seems to be the same.
Let us imagine the connections of silver or whatever metal is used as nerve endings and flesh as the turntable itself. If we take this concoction of metals and imagination we must connect it through what pumps the blood through the face, in this case being the Anniversary Luxman’s 1000 and the VTL companion to finally reach what we call the ultimate in the face, the lips which in this case are the Stella Utopia Em’s sitting in front of me.

As I sit here looking at this speaker I cannot but only think that the amount of work and precision to make such a speaker, taking physics beyond its own realm, and separating each driver for the ultimate listening experience is astonishingly simple and ingenious at the same time. It is the exact same as taking an orchestra and separating its bass from its horns, its vocals from its violins and making us feel the ultimate kiss of life.

This in no way means that this system will produce a kiss, but without it playing music and listening to it, it has my attention as a true set of voluptuous lips would!!

My wife, or should I say, my lips of life, also an ACA member and an avid fan of the Audiophile scene worldwide is next to me as I am about to hear and see what James has in store for us tonight.

The Listening...

Miclalopoulos-Dec-2012-pic15We listened to the system for over an hour, although our eyes were closed and in reality we never even spoke to each other, it was obvious something beautiful was happening tonight. Kelly, my wife, was as calm as a flower in the wild, as I was without a body but a bee to suck the serum from Stella and instead of taking it away from the flower, simply filled it with music.

Not that the system was perfect in any way. It needed more breaking in than a Harley did, but some things in life, no matter what anyone says, simply sing, even though it comes from a lifeless product coming from man’s insatiable need to create life in any way or form it can be created or imitated.
Surely the bass was stiff, like a drum too tightly clamped or screwed in, the mids although complete were not what other Utopia speakers offer, or the highs that I know and have heard on lower models from the same line of speakers have.


This just might be the best artificial kiss I have felt yet, but until the system is finally run it, I will have to just wait and see. It certainly shows it can produce music like no other, especially at the price range, but let me wait for it to mature first.

Until then, my wife will not allow me to play my own system until she is ready to lose the music she has in her head. Until then though, I might just have to change from Kelly to Stella!

The system...

Amplifiers: LUXMAN B-1000f Anniversary
Preamp: VTL TL-7.5 II
Phono Preamp : VTL TP-6.5
Turntable: Transrotor Tourbillion
Tonearms: Kuzma Air Line and Glanz 124-X
Cartridges: Dynavector XV-1T and Transrotor Merlo Reference
CD player: Esoteric K05
Power Conditioner: Shunyata Research TRITON
Cables: Various from Shunyata,Acrolink,TTAF

The Music

  • Boccherini, The famous Fandango, Vinyl record by Philips
  • Bizet, Carmen, The favorite arias, Gold CD by Cisco
  • Crieg, Peer Gynt , The London symphony orchestra, Vinyl record by Decca
  • Patricia Barber, Mythologies / Persephone , CD by Bluenote
  • Kate Bush, 50 words for snow, Vinyl record by Fish People/EMI
  • Hans Theessink, Missing you, Bass and drums the collection, 24k gold CD
  • Richard Bargel, Bernreuther, Bayer & Kossowska, Little red rooster, Meyer records vol. 2, Vinyl record by Meyer records
  • Hadouk Trio, Barca solaris, Live a fip, CD by Celluloid Records


  • Michalopoulos meeting 15-12-2012 video 01
  • Michalopoulos meeting 15-12-2012 video 02
  • Michalopoulos meeting 15-12-2012 video 03

Akis Michalopoulos' Member Page

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