Below is an excerpt from Jonson Lee's article titled "T.H.E. Show 2021, Part 3" which was published over at PMA Magazine (scroll down for a link).
Be sure to read his Part 1 article to gain further insight into how Jonson brought his own audio file and a plan for comparing the different rooms and equipment.
Thank you so much Jonson for your kind words about our system and for giving us your top spot!
This is it, folks! The big winner! What can I say? When my wife and I heard the first few bars of Brubeck’s Take Five, we just looked at each other. Not a word needed to be spoken between us to convey what was going through our minds. Even without a subwoofer, the bass in this room was the deepest I’d ever heard in any room, ever, which doesn’t mean the system’s balance was leaning to dark. Quite the opposite. It was… illuminated. The Heavenly Soundworks system also struck me as providing the most faithful and realistic reproductions of the music on my three very familiar test CDs of any system I’d heard at the show.
Even as I’m writing this, I’m still trying to come to terms with how huge yet detailed the sound was. This dichotomy between bigness and refinement was the musical equivalent of watching a sumo wrestler knitting the daintiest lace-embroidered tablecloth.
Here’s something else that’s interesting: The Heavenly Soundworks system is almost just speakers — there was no outboard DAC, preamp, power amp, nothing but a $500 Bluesound Node 2i music streamer feeding the FIVE17 active, DAC-integrated speakers. A digital file containing music ripped from my CDs was used for playback.
These extraordinary speakers were created by a father-and-son team, Kevin and Jonathan Couch. As I was speaking to them, the word synergy came to my mind. They seemed so attuned to each other and single-minded in their vision that I imagined there’d be no need between them for endless meetings, constant back-and-forth emails, or trying to get their point across to each other in a screaming match. It reminded me of the synergistic-like sound I heard in their room.
After 17 pairs of speakers and 20 amplifiers, I am still looking for that sort of magic chemistry in my system. But in that room devoid of electronics and cables, I couldn’t help think that people like the Couches, and the designers of some other active speakers and integrated systems, know better than I do when it comes to component-matching.
Oh, and the Heavenly Soundworks room was also my wife’s first pick of the show.
- Jonson Lee (PMA Magazine)