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21 Apr 2018: Spyros Vernardakis

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By Tony Pothitos

Monthly Meeting ACA at Spyros Vernardakis

Imagine Margot Fonteyn / Rudolf Nureyev, about to get onto the stage to perform. It is 1962. The two ballet dancers have the world on fire, and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that these two dancers are impeccable. Now imagine the orchestra, the ushers in the Royal Palace, getting everything ready, preparing for the events obvious success and setting of history for the evening ahead.

The lights go dim, the chimes have rung, while the curtain stray backwards to open to a stage where both Fonteyn and Nureyev, are about to sing on their feet, perfectly timed, perfectly practised, perfectly composed.

The first notes begin, the first movements follow, and you are immersed as much you are submerged into the natural motion which only history can describe as epic.

After only a few minutes, and while Fonteyn is doing her triplets and axles, she slips and falls, leaving Nureyev right stage now ready to do his pirouettes, totally still.

You obviously never believed it could happen, you definitely did not want to see it happen, but it did.

Something very close to this happened tonight at our hosts home that evening. We evidenced the top of the range equipment, start their charismatic mental brainwash of ever incredible notes, suddenly crash.

The bad luck (for lack of a better word) would not be heard by 90% of the people, had they the chance to listen to the Ayon and the Wilson speakers play together.

Both companies top in their field, with exponentially unlimited abilities to pair and match, to make anyone’s jaws drop. But, the crowd tonight was not a normal crowd.

It was the Audiophile Club of Athens meeting, and these thirsty machine and music lovers expected a perfect homeostasis between the two companies involved. Nothing less than absolute is expected, or at least as close to it as we can get.

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So, knowing that the Ayon, and the Wilson, were top notch, we all immediately, within seconds realised something was off.

Nuances are tolerated, but flaccid bass, lowered highs is simply never accepted. Imagine a swirl of notes caressing the ears for a moment, before something else took the note from an F Sharp Major or G Flat Major at the same time, (otherwise known as “The Wallflower”, this happens due to the fact that both F-sharp and G-flat have the same number of accidentals, F sharp has six sharps and G flat has six flats) there's a tonal similarity to most, but when reproduced on a high end stereo and you cannot tell the difference, then something serious is wrong.

I scratched my head and since my recollection of both the Ayon and the Wilson speakers are known to me, it was only a matter of seconds before I spoke to the representative of Ayon, who remarkably was sitting next to me, and in confidence I could tell him what I thought was tonally incorrect. I then found out that just like changing to a new pair of ballet to pointe shoes before a show, the host had done a multitude of changes to make things perfect for the evening. Yes, it fell flat on the floor, just like Fonteyn mentioned above did. The one little difference in a pointe shoe, changed it all, and as subtle as it seems or over exaggerated, in any high-performance system, this happens.

The evening went on, despite the constellation of starts moving backwards (speaking metaphorically), I quickly went to the host to got a rain check, to come back after the appropriate changes were done, as to accurately listen to what this system had to offer the listener.

Over a month later, mostly due to my own hopping around from show to show, I finally had the chance to go back to our host and have another dance with the devil. To my surprise, the host was not home, nor was the Ayon distributor, so without avail, I set forth to get my own time with the setup before they started picking music for me to listen to.

The personal help of the home, assisted me get into position, and after warming up the system, I had at my disposal what I call a diplomatic tragedy. Never leave a reviewer alone with a system, he will play everything that will expose the system in seconds. He will take it to the limits in every way, and go for the quarter note differences, while looking for a soundstage, energy, boastful tight bass, speed and effortless reproduction of sound.

It was the best mistake that could have happened. One disc led to the next and while the hosts puppy was next to me, I did what I mentioned above and took it to the limits and boundaries where nothing should be so scrutinized. I was taking the system from classical to pop, loud horns to shallow French horns and from one bad recording to another, I did it my way and it was great.

So, let’s take the system apart now, shall we?

This is what I heard, and this is what I felt.

A homogeneous representative of music reproduction. I would even call it a flow and subtle character which allowed me to listen to such an effortlessly rendered musical reward, that was both fluent in movement, but also in highs and lows, midrange as well. It was an unadulterated passage of space and time. It was never overpowering or loose, it was easily listened to and appreciated at very low volumes, all the way to almost moving my frappe which sat on the table in front of me. While it was giving me such a high that when the host came, meaning I had to greet him, it through me off course. Wishing I was simply left alone for hours on end.

The System - The Music...

  • Digital Source (Transport)
    Ayon CDT
  • DAC
    Ayon Skylla II
  • Preamplifier
    Ayon Polaris III
  • Amplifier Solid
    Golmund mimesis 9.5
  • Speakers
    Wilson Audio, Watt Puppy 6
  • Cables
    Atlas asimi series (interconnects)
    Nordost Valhalla (power)
    Audioquest Redwood (speakers)
  • Power Distributor
    Nexus
  • Rack
    Custom by Audiodesign

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Surely, the old Wilsons were outdated and the weakest part of the chain, but even so, it was such a moving experience I simply did not want to end. The density of the vocals was rich, while remaining totally realistic, showing both neutrality and sensible warmness to keep it vivid and fresh. What really impressed me the most though was the seamless tonal stability, meaning, it was not pushing anything overboard as to say, “hey you, listen to me, look at me”, but rather it was eloquent and without being shy, it let you invite yourself into the realm of its creative reproduction. Subtle, is an understatement here in wording, more like a disappearing act where the music was there and literally everything else didn’t matter.

The music was there, the love was even more persistent and the depth of the vocals still ring in my ears weeks afterwards.

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The Ending

We thank you the host for the evening despite the problems, it was a great evening and everyone was fine about the problem that had aroused the wrong notes to come through.

Too bad they were not there to listen when I went back. They would have been smiling until there mouths hurt.

More proof that ACA enjoys what is real and not what is fake in a reality of false beliefs and negative thoughts.

Until Tasos Syrigos, see you next time

  • MEETING 21 APR 2018 SPYROS VERNAR Vid 01
  • MEETING 21 APR 2018 SPYROS VERNAR Vid 02
  • MEETING 21 APR 2018 SPYROS VERNAR Vid 03

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