Ars Aures Mini Sensorial Speakers - Audiomeca Memphisto II X CD Player By
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
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 Audiomecas
website. Beneath this top-loading machines 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 DAppolito 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 speakers
superior midrange and outstanding treble performance. As long as you dont
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 speakers 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 Minis
bass performance was substantial but, with the amps I had on hand, not as well
articulated as the rest of the speakers range. Jazz trio recordings like
pianist Enrico Pieranunzis Improvised Forms for Trio [Challenge SA CHR 75032]
showed how potent the Minis 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.