I’m a late adopter of social media, having only recently conceded that it’s a must for brand building and networking. I joined LinkedIn back in August, and started posting to “the ’gram” (jeff_hifi) in November. For me, LinkedIn was the real eye-opener. One of my most striking discoveries was just how small the business side of high-end audio is. The number of people directly involved in the making, marketing, selling, and reviewing of audiophile gear is nowhere near the countless crowds involved in many other high-tech industries. Being involved in high-end audio is somewhat like living in a small town: you get to know just about everyone, at least on some level.
The products I’ll be describing below—with one exception—do not yet exist. And honestly, there’s every chance that some of them never will. With others, I think you’ll find sound reasoning that a new design just might exist, if not on a drawing board somewhere, then at least as a gleam in a CEO or engineer’s mind. Either way, these fantasy products are the high-end audio offerings I’d love to see announced in 2023. I’m not only convinced good commercial reasons exist for each of them to come into existence, I’m also being a little selfish. These are all products I want to hear and write about. If I could will them into reality, I surely would.
If you’re a regular reader of SoundStage! Ultra, you’ll recall that back in October of 2021, I set up my personal pair of Sonus Faber Maxima Amators in my reference listening space. They sounded phenomenal, and I enjoyed several months of listening to them in that environment. The SFs were eventually supplanted by the Vivid Audio Giya G1 Spirits, which would take pride of place in my reference audio system—an experience you can read about by clicking my name under the Reference Systems tab on the front page of Ultra.
In “Jeff Visits Audio Advice, Part One,” you were introduced to the Raleigh-based, high-end-audio superstore: their floor and physical space, some of their product groups—accessories and portable audio, home theaters, high-end lifestyle all-in-ones—and a few of their vast loudspeaker offerings. In many establishments, that impressive lineup would be all. Audio Advice is that and more.
What’s more fun than shopping for high-end audio equipment? If you’re someone who enjoys SoundStage! Ultra, walking through a high-end audio store can be a revelatory—and exhilarating!—experience. Although you’re unlikely to find dealers of speakers, amps, cables, and sources on just any corner these days, there are still many good purveyors of fine audio gear out there. But what about great audio dealers? I visited just such an establishment recently—Audio Advice in Raleigh, North Carolina—and man, was it impressive.
In my first article describing my visit to Sonus Faber, located in Vicenza, Italy, this past July, I left off in the leatherwork area of the factory. This article picks up on Europe Tour 2022 in a room where a small group of experienced SF technicians creates the crossover networks for the various Sonus Faber loudspeaker models.
The city of Vicenza, Italy, is situated just west of the popular tourist destination of Venice and about 200km east of the bustling city of Milan. It’s famous for its historic buildings and architecture, including works from 16th-century architect Andrea Palladio. We—my wife, Andrea; our son and daughter, Ian and Abigail; and I—arrived on a Sunday evening after a four-and-a-half-hour train ride from Lake Como, in Italy’s north. After sitting on a train for almost half a day, we were ready to explore—on foot.
As I walked around the AVA Group’s facilities in July with Hans-Ole Vitus (CTO) and Alexander Vitus Mogensen (CEO), it became clear to me that both father and son were well equipped to answer any question I had, explain any technical process associated with the construction of Vitus Audio or Alluxity products, and walk me through the machines AVA has invested hundreds of thousands of euros in, on which they rely heavily. It was also quite obvious to me that before Alexander took over as CEO earlier this year, he had learned the business from the ground up—he knows the products and what goes into them from the inside out.
Vitus Audio has been a staple of the high-end solid-state electronics realm since Hans-Ole Vitus established it, under the umbrella of AVA Group, in 1995. His son, Alexander Vitus Mogensen, started AVM-TEC—primarily a manufacturing and measurement firm—at the ripe old age of 18. Around that time, Alexander also launched Alluxity, a high-end brand that makes design-conscious—but still very high-end—electronics, including integrated amplifiers, power amplifiers, and preamplifiers. This year AVA Group and AVM-TEC merged, and they operate out of a shared building in Herning, Denmark. It took roughly an hour and a half to travel from Aarhus—our home base at the time—to Herning to tour the factory and learn more about the new AVA Group.
The Kodo experience
As the culmination of our July tour of the Gryphon Audio Designs facility in Aarhus, Denmark, my wife, Andrea, and I, along with Abigail and Ian, our daughter and son, entered a brand-new Gryphon listening room—a space that had recently been renovated by the company. On demo was the mighty Kodo speaker system, a four-tower design. Not only is the Kodo the flagship of Gryphon’s current speakerverse, it’s the largest loudspeaker system the company has ever produced. The ones we would be listening to were Soul Red Crystal, and they retail for $360,000 per four-tower system (all prices USD).