Living Voice Auditorium R25A Loudspeaker

What you are hearing is not just this speaker’s ability to get out of the way, to pass the music without leaving audibly grubby fingerprints all over it, but to help the driving amplifier do the same. By fingerprints I’m not talking about the typical tonal aberrations dissected in such minute detail by so many reviews. At the end of the day, a violin is a violin, and you’ll recognise it immediately as a violin, whether it is played in the Festival Hall, the Wigmore Hall or my front hall… What I’m talking about is discontinuities. Those kinks or shifts in energy or pace, rhythm or timing that come with dynamic demands and changes in frequency: shifts that fracture the pattern of the music, the placement and amplitude of notes. In short, discontinuities that alter not only the notes the performers play, but the relationship between the performers themselves.

Those discontinuities come from energy being absorbed by the cabinet and released later at a separate, dominant frequency; they come from poorly designed crossovers and the uneven dispersion of different drivers where their outputs meet; they come from the inability of the amplifier to meet the changing power demands of the speaker with frequency. The beauty of the Auditorium is that it isn’t just efficient, it’s an easy, non-reactive load and that makes all the difference in any system, let alone the low-powered systems in which this speaker is most likely to find itself. But best of all, that difference translates directly into musical performance and the ability of your speakers and system to capture the sense and intent of whatever recordings you play.

To really appreciate the R25A’s astonishing agility and articulation, as well as just how musically important it is, there are few better places to start than a challenging piano recording. My weapon of choice in this instance is the (in)famous Martha Argerich/Claudio Abbado/BPO performance of Ravel’s Piano Concert in G Major (MQA-UHQCD DGG UCCG-40086). Sonically impressive, it’s a recording that leaves systems teetering on the brink of a-musicality, unable to respond to its sudden dynamic and rhythmic shifts. I’ve always found the Ravel deeply reminiscent of its near contemporary, Gershwin’s An American In Paris, but the organised chaos of its opening movement makes the Gershwin seem almost sedate. Navigating the jaunty, carefree spray of notes generated by the orchestral parts, the sudden shifts in pace and density between their vibrant energy and the more measured contributions of the emerging solo instrument, the switches of mood and tonal colour, requires considerable clarity and a sure grasp of musical pattern. It’s all too easy for the sharply contrasting parts and the sudden changes in tempo to reduce the piece to clashing, unstructured noise, yet where so many speakers strugglethe R25As allow the parts to flow, maintaining the balance between piano and orchestra, left and right hands, capturing the inner workings of the piece and preserving the coherent, musical sense of the whole.