High End 2016 • TABlog

by Jason Kennedy | May 17, 2016

s Roy Gregory described last month, Kevin Scott of Living Voice has built a version of his show-storming Vox Olympian and Vox Elysian horn-loaded four-box loudspeaker system that’s designed to appeal to European tastes and to come a bit closer to being affordable in that part of the world. The Vox Palladian (210,000/pair) and its partnering subwoofer the Vox Basso (90,000/pair) eschew the elaborate veneer of their range mates and go for exposed laminates, lighter but no less luxurious veneers and a simpler aesthetic.

In Munich, Kevin showed the Vox Basso with its distinctive bronze ring around an enormous reflex port, but he did not include it in the system because he was not happy with the sound. It’s always tough adapting to a reflex box after using pure horns for so long. Instead he had an early version of the Vox Elysian alongside the Vox Palladians and played a broad range of music, with a heavy emphasis on classical material.

What I heard was remarkable on day one and inspiring by day three. It’s a great irony of audio shows that the best sounds are usually to be had in the final hours of the last day. While I admit to not being a classical enthusiast to the degree found among other contributors to The Audio Beat, it was very easy to enjoy what I heard, largely because this system still has the edge over pretty much all of the competition at this large show. Instruments and voices benefit enormously from such enormous dynamic range and that gives them a vitality and presence that conventional speakers cannot match. The 100dB-plus sensitivity is an open window to the finest nuances and the awesome power of crescendos; the ease with which the Vox Palladians can go from nuance to crescendo is second to none.

In a far larger room, Silbatone played a vintage Western Electric W11A horn system of movie-theatre-filling scale. This, too, had decent dynamics, but it was so obviously colored that the music couldn’t be mistaken for the real thing. The Living Voice system managed to give the power, detail and speed of a horn system without the distortions that many such speakers introduce. The combination of design and sound made this the most appealing Living Voice system so far -- and I still haven’t heard those subs.

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