We have built it. Will you come?
We can tell you what we’d do – or rather what we did. As part of the move to our new 18,000-square-feet Audiophile Fort Knox, we decided to create two state-of-the-art Acoustic Sounds showrooms – a place where we can both demo audio equipment and recordings for customers, and evaluate them for ourselves. No expense was spared in the construction of these rooms or in the selection of gear that would outfit them.
Acoustic Sounds owner Chad Kassem decided early in the process that the crown jewel of these rooms would be the Avalon Sentinel loudspeakers. We had just struck a deal to begin sale of a select part of the Avalon line, and what better way to get this relationship off the ground but to feature Avalon’s flagship product in our flagship room? More importantly, the Sentinels sound so unbelievably incredible, and we’d decided at the very beginning that our listening rooms were going to feature the absolute best. So, Acoustic Sounds in-house carpenter Charles Littell got on the phone with Avalon owner Neil Patel, and the two mapped-out the perfect specifications to make the Sentinels sing their sweetest.
LET’S LOOK AT WHAT WE BUILT
Both rooms (they are adjoined by a connecting door) are 33-feet long by 18-feet wide with 10-foot ceilings.
The exterior walls are made of eight-inch split-face block filled with Foamcore. Then there’s three inches of airspace before a 2x4- structured wall filled with R-13 insulation. Next is 12 inches of airspace, followed by a second 2x4-structured wall with more insulation. The whole thing is finished in one-inch sheetrock. You’d never know by listening that on the other side of the rooms’ east wall is Salina, Kansas’ busiest street. The rooms are dead quiet. The ceilings are one-inch sheetrock with R-13 insulation. The floors are solid concrete with a half-inch dense pad and three-quarter-inchthick carpet. Both rooms are trimmed with oak crown molding.
As for juice, we've got plenty. Every 110-volt, hospital-grade duplex outlet is isolated on its own 20-amp single-ground circuit. The high voltage supply continues in our Reference Room with a couple of 220-volt, 20-amp circuits with dedicated grounds for use with the Richard Gray SubStation and/or PowerHouse. The sound rooms' breaker box is also isolated from the rest of our building with a commercial-grade transient voltage suppression system. On the street are brand new transformers installed by the city just for our building.
So, we built the rooms to what we figure are the perfect specifications. The back room is our Reference Room, where the system will undergo minor tweaks and tradeouts but mostly stay fixed. The front room is our Evaluation Room. This is where we’re constantly switching out gear of all kinds, evaluating seemingly everything under the sun.
The Reference Room
In the Reference Room, we first installed the Avalon Sentinels. Avalon Vice President Lucien Pichette drove from Boulder, Colorado to Salina to work his magic with placement, room treatment, break-in and the like. To hear ‘em is to love ‘em. We are now the exclusive North American dealer for the Sentinels. Also in the Reference we’ve got a pair of the Vandersteen Model 5As ready to rip. Then there’s the VPI HRX turntable with the JMW 12.6 arm and a Lyra Titan i cartridge. For phono stages, we switch between the Sutherland Ph.D. and Manley Steelhead. On the digital front, we’re using the Muse Model Eleven universal player. For preamps, there’s a Pass Labs X1 and a Sutherland Director. For power, we’ve got the Pass Labs X350.5 stereo amp and the Manley Neo- Classic 250 monoblocks. The Richard Gray RGPC 1200S line conditioner enhances it all. We’re using various models of AudioQuest cables, featuring Perfect-Surface Silver and the Dielectric Bias System. For acoustic treatment, we’ve got DAAD (diffusion absorption acoustic devices), designed and manufactured in Italy by Acustica Applicata, along with Auralex Acoustics sound control products.
The Evaluation Room
The Evaluation Room is changing constantly by nature. At the time of this writing, the room’s inventory included the Clearaudio Emotion and VPI Scout and Scoutmaster turntables. For cartridges, there’s the Benz-Micro Ace, the Clearaudio Aurum Beta, the Lyra Dorian, the Shelter 501II and the Sumiko Blackbird. The phono stages include the AcousTech PH-1P, the Musical Fidelity XLPS V3 and the Musical Surroundings Phonomena. For digital, we’re using both the Cayin SCD-50T and the CDT-17A. The preamplifiers are the Sutherland Director and the Music First Audio Passive Magnetic Preamp. For power amps, there’s a pair of the Cayin 860 Tube monos and a pair of the VAS Citation Sound 2 monos. Then for integrated amps there’s the Manley Stingray, the ARCAM A-65 Plus and FMJ A32 along with the Cayin A-50T, A-70T and A-88T. For speakers, we’ve got Avalon Studio Pros, Harbeth NRG2 and NRG4s, Harbeth HL-3ES, HL-7ES and HL-5s and the Harbeth Monitor 30s along with the Sound Anchor speaker stands. Cables include Audience, AudioQuest and Silver Circle. Room treatment is by Auralex Acoustics, with furniture by Billy Bags and Noblesse. IsoTek power conditioners, Target speaker stands and turntable racks and reel-to-reel machines round out the room.
Exhausted? Try carrying all that stuff in there.
Oh, and we’ve also got some really comfy couches. And most importantly, every audiophile recording you could possibly hope to hear is available in the next room.
So, when can we expect you for a listen?