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Cirque Du Soleil
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Cirque Du Soleil
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Julius Curcio
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"Come Alive"
Changing Into Me
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Audio [Issue #25]
: Ars Aures Mini Sensorial Speakers - Audiomeca Memphisto II X CD Player
By Ken Micallef

High end audio is really not that different from any other sphere of commerce, manufacturing, or the like. Put simply, you get what you pay for.

Sure, you can have fun with your iPod, blast your “mini system,” even experience audio nirvana in the comfort of your cushy two-seater. But to really hear music as the audio gods intended, you must a) spend some cash, and b) spend it on pure high-end audio, not fashionable knock offs from likes of Bose, Panasonic, Pioneer, etc. True high end gear is typically built by hand, and you can often get the guy who designed, tested, and built the product on the phone if need be. Try getting anyone from Sony on the phone (though their SACD players are the real deal)!

The Ars Aures Mini Sensorial speakers and Audiomeca Mephisto IIx CD player
are expensive, well built, beautifully designed pieces of audio gear, and they both sound and look it. This is where the hi-fi metal meets the road, where you begin to hear true return for your dollars. The good news? This gear retains its value rather well on the second hand market should you ever care to move up. The downside? The Ars Aures speakers will run you around $10,000 with stands, the Audiomeca CD player boasts a tag of $7,500.

The Audiomeca Mephisto IIx uses their 24x192kHz Enkianthus DAC “using [the] latest generation Anagram ATFMKII asynchronous upsampler module with resolution up to real 24 bits.” The CD mechanism is the “high precision read-out mechanism 2.0 designed and produced in house,” as stated on Audiomeca’s website. Beneath this top-loading machine’s hefty sliding door, a “magnetic clamp is machined with high mechanical accuracy for minimum off-centering.” A four-point suspension is adjustable via receptacles beneath four handsome gold stanchions using the supplied Allen wrench. For perfect leveling, a small green sprit level is visible on the top lower right of the player. The front display is easy to read, with large blue lettering against a darker background readily discernable from up to five feet away.

The sound? The Mephisto IIx is a CD player designed for vinyl lovers. It certainly sounds analog in that sense and never displays the kind of digital glare or “hi-fi” sound heard in even some stupid-money CD or universal players. When the Mephisto was warmed up and running, I never longed for anything else. When simply enjoying music in the moment, the Mephisto gave me all the juice my caboose could hope for. A machine that can appease the audio junkie gods and allow you to just relax and enjoy your CDs is a rare find, indeed.

Measuring roughly 9”(W) by 12”(D) by 18”(H), the Ars Aures Mini Sensorial is striking not only for its finish, but for its highly unusual flared cabinet design. Here is where opinions tend to diverge. I found this Darth Vader-meets-Alien appearance a real turn on but you might see it as simply a case of Italian design run amok. Its drivers - a Scanspeak 9900 Revelator tweeter and two 4.5” Seas P11 mid/woofers - are arranged in a D’Appolito configuration with a first order crossover and a rear-firing 2½” port. Sensitivity is 89dB with claimed response of 60-30,000Hz and a minimum 4.5-ohm impedance.

Regardless of cosmetics, the Minis were certainly maxi! Not a head banging speaker, they were truly exceptional on jazz, classical, and pop. Hip-hop through the lil’ 4.5” woofers sounded like a baseball bat hitting a ball of cotton. While the Minis lacked deep extension in the nether regions, the bass they did present was appropriately warm, tonally accurate and well balanced with the speaker’s superior midrange and outstanding treble performance. As long as you don’t plan on Megadeth bass bombs, the Mini Sensorials are very holistic performers. Their level of bass performance was solid given the tiny mid/woofers; and I was impressed with the speaker’s performance as a whole. Given their overriding traits as diaphanous, clear, fast, airy, beautiful sounding and very immediate (and dynamic and with a soundstage of stupendous depth and layering), the Mini’s bass performance was substantial but, with the amps I had on hand, not as well articulated as the rest of the speaker’s range. Jazz trio recordings like pianist Enrico Pieranunzi’s Improvised Forms for Trio [Challenge SA CHR 75032] showed how potent the Mini’s bass performance can be as they laid down strong upright notes that were fat and completely tempting if not as carved out in deep space as the rest of the instruments. The Minis allowed recordings, amps and sources to be heard for what they were, with very little editorializing due to the speakers’ exceptional transparency and soundstaging gifts.

Ars Aures:


Ars Aures Mini Sensorial Speakers - Audiomeca Memphisto II X CD Player

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