tone imports

Auditorium 23

Dr. Coleman on the A23 Speaker Cables

Just a word, actually two, about these speaker cables: buy them. Whatever else you purchase for your system this year, do yourself a favor and purchase these speaker cables. They are the most balanced, natural yet revealing speaker cables I have ever owned or heard. They are at home in every system I have ever heard them in - regardless of price. And by high-end standards, they are not just a bargain but a steal.

Jeff Day on A23 the Speaker Cables

For cables I used a Nirvana Transmission Digital Interface between transport and DAC, Nirvana S-X interconnects between DAC and preamplifier; Nirvana S-L interconnects between preamplifier and amplifiers. My usual Nirvana S-L speaker cables between amplifiers and speakers weren't a particularly good match with the Omegas. Instead I used a very interesting pair of LS Auditorium 23 speaker cables ($880 for a 2.5 meter pair) designed and manufactured by Keith Aschenbrenner in Germany. Keith handcrafts the LS cables rather than cutting 'em off a roll. The cable consists of two different (and secret) twisted leads with differing cross sections wrapped in a soft green outer cotton sleeve. Beryllium copper bananas terminate both ends. Germans consider Keith their Tube Pope and resident audiophile guru. Besides his Auditorium 23 business, Keith is also known for his large collection of Klangfilm, Westrex and Siemens gear. In case you haven't already guessed, the 23s are designed specifically for tubes and high efficiency speakers. Jonathan Halpern of Shindo USA is smitten enough by them to have become the US importer. The LS cables are somewhat expensive in the context of today's $749 Omega/Skylan combo but they did sound very good indeed. The LS cables allowed the Super 3s to develop a warmer and more natural tonality than the Nirvanas while maintaining a sense of speed & transparency, excellent detail recovery and a huge billowing soundstage.

Jeff Day - snippets on the A23 Step Up Transformer

I drove over to Terry Cain's famed Cain & Cain world headquarters in Walla Walla/Washington with the full-boat Garrard 301 restoration project with his plinth, the VTAF and Silver arm and Denon 103 cartridge tucked carefully into my Miata. I also brought along a little surprise that had come from Jonathan Halpern - the Auditorium 23 moving coil step-up transformer designed for the Denon 103 cartridge. The Auditorium 23 is an unassuming looking step-up tranny that is about the size of a pack of cigarettes with RCA inputs on one side and RCA outputs on the other. That's about it. Jonathan Halpern of Shindo USA is so enamored of the design that he's begun importing it to the US so others can get in on the fun. But I'm getting ahead of myself again...

Then we dropped the needle on one of the many LPs we would spin that day and heard pretty much what Pete and I had heard with the burned-in Origin Live Silver in my system - good but not great. "Hey Terry," said I, "Whaddya say we drop in the Aud 23 step-up tranny and see what happens?" "Sounds like an idea," said he. So we did and dropped the needle again. "Whoa!" said I. "Whoa!" Terry tossed right back at moi. All of a sudden everything that had troubled me about the Origin Live Silver arm vanished. In its place was one of the most stunning portrayals of the analogue kingdom I have ever heard - breathtaking! The vocal sheen and sibilance were gone and in its place was real flesh-and-blood vocal magic. The arm now conveyed music that was warmer, darker and fuller without losing any of the detail and snappiness that made it so engaging in my system. The notes became more liquid and fragrant too. Fed by the Auditorium 23 to amplify the Denon 103, I couldn't find a nit to pick with the Origin Live Silver arm. It was a beautifully emotive as well as a great-sounding presentation of the music. If you have a Denon 103 and a low-gain phono preamplifier, you should run out and get an Auditorium 23 tranny right now! Don't even think about it - just do it! Terry and I ended up spinning disks all day and never got around to getting the second armboard mounted. I left it with him to work his magic, hoping it wouldn't take too long...

A bit of a teaser: I was telling Don Garber of Fi fame about my experience with the Auditorium step-up tranny and he told me that he thought the best way to amplify the signal for a moving coil cartridge is to use a low-gain moving-magnet phono stage fed by a step-up transformer. "It's the best way!" swears the Don. Just so I can find out for myself what Don's hearing, he's going to send me a Fi phono stage so I can tell all of you what the combination of Fi phono stage and Auditorium 23 step-up tranny can do for the music. Stay tuned and be sure to come back and see us here in the Great Pacific Northwest.

Paul Candy on the A23 Speaker Cables

Along with the Leben, Jonathan Halpern also sent a 2.5m set of Auditorium 23 loudspeaker cable that retails for $880. Rarely do reviewers -- let alone audiophiles -- agree on anything. However, in this instance I am in total agreement with my colleagues. The Auditorium 23 is easily the finest speaker cable I have had in my system yet. Like the CS-300X, no one area stands out as this green cotton-clad cable excels at walking that ever-tricky tightrope between resolution and musicality. The Auditorium 23 is a touch expensive to these cost-conscious ears yet I believe they are worth consideration and have clicked with every amp/speaker combo I've tried to date (and this from a guy who frowns upon mixing and matching different brands of cables).

Michael Lavorgna on the A23 Speaker Cables

What I've come to realize is the Auditorium 23s are largely responsible for that uncanny representation of the place in the recording. Spatial cues between performers are so palpable that you can actually listen in to the performance. The Auditoriums also provide more bass heft than the PHY speaker cables while holding onto the PHYs' detail and differentiation, something the Nirvanas did not do... As a system, the PHYs deliver all the details and the A23s supply the bloom.

AcousticPlan | Auditorium 23 | EMT | Leben Hi-Fi | LignoLab | Line Magnetic Audio | Sentec | Shindo Labs

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Tone Imports is the North American Importer and Distributor for AcousticPlan, Auditorium 23, EMT, Leben Hi-Fi, LigoLab, Line Magnetic Audio, Sentec, and Shindo Labs