Mimic Audio’s room with Ampsandsound, Acora, SW1X, VAC, TW Acustic, Charisma, and Cardas

Two months ago, at the Tampa audio show, I got better acquainted with Acora Acoustics and its flagship loudspeaker, the VRC. They made some of the most impressive music at the expo—as they should for a price north of 200 grand.

For 15% of that fortune, could an Acora speaker further down the line, like the SRC-1 ($35,000/pair), keep pace? I found out in Mimic Audio’s dealer room on the hotel’s 12th floor, where a high-level UN meeting of sorts was going on, with brands from four countries.

Acora’s generously-chamfered, two-way bass-reflex columns, in white granite, had been coupled to the just-introduced Ampsandsounds’ Arch monoblocks ($50,000/pair, above). The digital front end consisted of a tubed SW1X DAC (model IV Special, $40,000) along with the company’s USB-to-coax S/PDIF converter ($2250). The analog signal came from a TW Acustic Raven LS-3 turntable with a solid copper platter ($24,000, below), a Raven 10.5 tonearm ($6000), plus a Charisma Audio Signature 2 cartridge (price to be determined). All cables were Cardas Clear Beyond. Medium-heavy curtains hung on three sides of the room, helping keep reflections under control.

Acora and Charisma are Canadian marques, SW1X is British, TW Acustic is German, and Ampsandsound, VAC, and Cardas are US brands. Talk about world music!

The sound was neutral, fleet-footed, and fresh, as opposed to ponderous or thick. The SRC-1 isn’t a full-ranger, but it goes down to a more than respectable 30Hz (give or take). The single 7″ mid/woofer means—reasonably enough—that the speaker doesn’t quite have the bass weight and slam of the mighty VRC, but does it matter? Not on most material. I thought that the double bass on an unknown-to-me piano-trio recording sounded nimble and tonally excellent, but that the instrument seemed smaller than in real life.

Then again, when we listened to the Minnesota Orchestra’s Snow Maiden—a bit of a torture track for any system—the bottom end was perfectly matched with the rest of the frequency spectrum. All was there: heft, power, midrange purity, top-end sparkle, liveliness, soundstage, a terrific sense of space—the whole deal, and, to my ears, the real deal.

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