I know, I know—our beat here at Audio Video Show 2022 is supposed to be new products, but over breakfast this morning, Doug and I discussed a potentially different approach for covering this event.
“How about we try to cover what people need to know about AVS 2022?”
Well that sounded good to me. This show is huge, as Doug detailed in his opening article, and there’s so much more happening here than just a showcase for new product launches.
So the first room that really stopped me in my tracks was hosted by Nautilus, over in the Golden Tulip location. Nautilus is the Polish retailer and distributor of Estelon, Accuphase, and Crystal Cable, and—seriously—you really need to know about this.
While the room itself was essentially square, the speakers and supporting infrastructure were set up in a manner that naturally drew my eye toward the system as an organic whole. It’s often difficult to capture an entire system in a photograph, but the layout made it easy. It felt like there was a classical ratio at work here.
There’s an undeniable confluence of opinion that the Jaguar E-Type is the most beautiful car in the world. This car dates back to the early 1960s, and its classic, immediately recognizable lines still captivate me whenever I happen to see a vintage example in the wild. I hereby nominate the Estelon Extreme Mk II as the most beautiful speaker in the world. I am of the opinion that 60 years from now, this speaker will be recognized as a classic, and will be as sought after as the E-Type is today.
Full disclosure: I reviewed the Estelon YB speakers back in 2020 and ended up buying the review pair. So I’m predisposed, I guess, to looking at speakers from this Estonian company and seeing their beauty. But still. I think you can draw your own conclusions by looking at the photo of this system, of this speaker.
They’re not cheap, though. As you might expect. In their Bronze Royale finish, the Extreme Mk II retails for €218,000 per pair. Still, the Extreme Mk II is one of those speakers where you look at it, hear its price, and think to yourself, yeah, I guess that makes sense.
Backing up the Estelons was a phalanx of gorgeous-looking Accuphase components—two P-7500 stereo amplifiers, each bridged to mono, a matched set of 1000-series DAC and transport, the C-47 phono preamplifier, and the C-3900 preamplifier. The contrast of the Accuphase components’ gold faceplates and gorgeous mirror-finished rosewood cases against the black- and gold-finished Estelons quite literally made my mouth water.
In most demo rooms, the exhibitors go to great pains to hide the conglomeration of wires tangled up behind the equipment rack. Not here, as the Crystal Cable Da Vinci cables, all part of the company’s Art Series line, plus a few cables from other brands, were tidily arranged in a sinuous, organic pattern that highlighted the slinky elegance of their transparent Teflon sheaths and sleek silver shields. The cables’ gold nameplates perfectly tied in with the color scheme of the Accuphase faceplates and Estelon chassis.
But how did it sound, Thorpe? I can hear you shouting. Well, if this system didn’t sound fabulous, there would be something seriously off in the way the world works.
And of course, it did sound fabulous in the Nautilus room. These are components of a high pedigree, all well-engineered and set up with thought and care. I listened to a few tracks and drank in the sense of restrained bottomless power in the bass and the open, clear top end, nodding my head as my experience matched my expectations. All well and good.
Then the distributor dropped John Zorn’s Zevulun into the Accuphase transport. I know this album well, and have listened to it for years. Hearing Zorn’s complex, polyrhythmic klezmer on this system was a wonderful experience.
As soon as I get back to Toronto, I’m going to cue-up Zevulun on my system and see if I can recreate a small nugget of this experience on my dramatically more modest system.
Senior Contributor, SoundStage!