Thanks to John and Juanita for opening up their home to the group!!
We had a great time and I learned a ton from the experienced RCAS members that were there. I highly recommend that everyone sign up for showings - they're really invaluable opportunities to learn from fellow RCAS members who've been at it for a long time. You'll also have a chance to listen to some great gear and some great music too!
John had three sets of speaker up for us to hear:
Atlantic Technologies AT-1
Mirage M3si (I think it was the M3si but not completely sure)
It was an a great mix because they're all very different speakers.
The Mirage is an omnidirectional so you don't have to be sitting in front of your speaker set to get great sound from them, although they did have a sweet spot. They were about 5.5 ft tall and really filled the large living area with sound. John says that he uses that setup during large social events. Another set that was brought up in discussion was the Ohm Walsh speaker which is also multi-directional. John had a set of Ohm Walshes until recently and David B has the set now. Both RCAS members are big fans of Ohm as well so I'd bet they'd be open to any questions that you guys have.
If you're in the market for a speaker set, Multi directional may be worth a look.
In a separate room upstairs we found the Atlantic Techs and the Ushers set up side by side for an A/B comparison.
If you haven't heard of Atlantic Technologies, I assume most haven't, they are a HT company who's owner has come up with an engenious design, which he's patented, and is now utilizing in highend 2 channel in the AT-1. Check out their website to learn more:
The technology is H-Pass and it somehow pressurizes the air within the cabinet to produce huge bass using small drivers. I believe it had two 3.5' drivers and a tweeter but it put out some real punch--way more bass than you'd ever expect from a set of 3.5' drivers. The build quality was excellent and they looked great. The cabinet was made of a black/grey metallic composite and there was a plate of glass on top. We agreed that the value was very high on the AT-1 and that they'd be well worth a look before investing in a more expensive speaker set. Galen Carol caries them here in town if anyone is interested.
The Ushers were the big boys of our test and they were very impressive (as they should be, retailing at about $16,000 news Vs. The $2,500 retail of the AT-1). They weighed in at nearly three hundred pounds per speaker and the cabinet was wrapped in a beautiful wood that looked similar to Sonus Faber. We talked about that similarity and how we have read about companies such as Sonus Faber have accused Usher of copying them--not only in cabinet appearance but in mechanicals and drivers. This may have something to do with why USher is less expensive than those European companies, selling for about half their price with similar appearance and drivers etc. I believe the BE20 was the top of the line at Usher.
I sat behind the sweet spot most of the time in the "2nd sweet spot" which put me more ear level with the BE20's tweeters and I really liked what I heard. The sound was very accurate but what I was most impressed by was the bass. It was very tight and deep. They decay on it was so lingering and controlled that I was in awe.
I have had some great systems in my short time in audio but they've all been mid to highly efficient speakers and low power amplification. I've had great results in highs and midrange but I've never heard the controlled bass that the BE20s delivered. With the 250 lb weight per speaker and the high power delivery from John's parasound amp, the Ushers did deliver.
I highly advise everyone against dropping 16k on a set of speakers!
That said, do take a look at Usher-the first set I heard was the CI-6311 about 6 months ago in Dave B's house. I remember really liking them and being shocked at the low $1,500 price tag--they can be found for less than 1k online. They came with a cast iron base that alone must have weighed 100 lbs and I think the weight of the speakers is a key in producing the bass depth and control. The Ushers are solid contenders in my opinion and I'd recommend hearing them if you can.
John and Paul are Kansas boys from a small town that produced two bands in their high school days that topped the national charts. Seeing those guys reminisce about high-school and hearing the tunes was a great time. John burned us our own copies of the tracks we listened to during the comparison so we could go home and hear the same stuff on our own systems to get a better feel for the different characteristics of what we heard.
Wow, I did not mean to write so much but I hope this report is helpful to the group.
I highly recommend that everyone visit fellow members' homes when given the opportunity. Post back to this post and let us know your impressions of the different gear.
Thanks again to John and RCAS. I'll see you all at Bjorns.