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Salsa on steroids

The best surprise at CES was the Renaissance Audio Group room, where they were playing salsa music. I never expected to feel the pulse of Latin America in the Venetian’s calm setting. Having spent New Year’s Eve listening to a Cuban jazz band, I was stunned by how sharply Renaissance’s two-way Prelude speakers ($2195/pair) reproduced the starts and stops of Latin rhythms. There were two reasons for the incredibly lively sound.

First, the Prelude’s drivers are among the best in class. Until three years ago, Renaissance was part of Morel Acoustics USA, which has over three decades of experience in the manufacturing of speaker drivers. The Prelude’s transmission-line enclosure is tuned to derive tight bass from a 6.5" paper-cone midbass driver with a double magnet. The triple-magnet tweeter sounded as extended as most of the rare-metal drivers presently in vogue, yet sweeter.

The second ingredient was unique amplification from a company called Heavenly Sound. Their E-100 amplifier (400Wpc, $1195) is an "internal active crossover biamping (IACB)" device that enables the user to biamp a system without bypassing the speakers’ internal crossovers. My experience with active crossovers has been mixed. Thrilling dynamics are offset by a slight veiling from added electronics in the signal path. However, connecting an amplifier straight to a driver’s input should allay any vestiges of veiling. Certainly, the lyrics of "Bésame Mama" were clearer than I have ever heard them in my own home. The Muse Audio Polyhymnia CD player ($6000) no doubt contributed to the clarity, as must have the $480 worth of cables. For allowing me a moment of foot-tapping glee, the Heavenly Sound E-100 wins a special Jimmy Award for Most Exciting Amplifier Design in Show, and the Renaissance Audio Group’s Prelude for Best "Active" Loudspeaker in Show.

Jim Saxon

March 1, 2008


for the original Jimmy Award site, click HERE


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Renaissance Audio Group  ~  414 Harvard street   ~  Brookline, ma 02446 - USA ~ tel 617.277.6663 ~ fax 617.277.2415 email
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