I’ve already covered these British made floorstanding speakers in some detail in my lengthy Shindo review (Part 1 and Part 2). They’ve been working hard at my home for months and I’m in no rush whatsoever to take them back, especially now that I’ve got my own amplification hooked up to them.
They were quite marvelous with Shindo’s Montille power amplifier and Aurieges preamplifier, although I did have this to say: “There’s a remarkable level of synergy here but as good as the Living Voice speakers are (and they are very good indeed within their limitations), I believe that it’s Ken Shindo’s magic that elevates them, along with the source to superior levels.”
I knew that they weren’t a perfect match for the 15 watt per channel Montille but where there was magic, it was like the return of Gandalf. Then I got the Spec RSA-V1 integrated amplifier in for review (coming very soon) and noticed that the bottom end noticeably filled out while all the strong points stayed in place – that wonderful openness, sense of purity and perfect timing suited the Spec as if the two manufacturers collaborated deeply during product development. Chalk one up for the speakers then – they continued to impress and I began to rethink my statement above, at least to a degree.
With my StereoKnight Silverstone Balance TVC (Transformer Volume Control) and my Viganoni and Viganoni Sachem three-box monoblock power amps in place, the Avatar II’s are performing beautifully. The somewhat dry and lean StereoKnight/Sachem combo is light years removed from either the Shindo pair or the very valve like Spec integrated but the sound quality is still superb. The Sachem’s speed and dynamics are there in spades, and the ultra-clear sound coming from the SACD player through the TVC is proving revelatory. The speakers don’t seem to add their own character in any major way beyond an ever so faint touch of warmth, rather the pure and clean sonic baseline of silk tweeter and paper mid/bass woofers just gets out of the way and lets the music flow. the basslines are tight totally controlled and the imaging is as good as I’ve ever heard from this amplification setup.
I’d love to get my hands on the R2 or RW models of Living Voice’s Auditorium series, which are uprated versions of the Avatar II’s with the Scanspeak Revelator tweeter and the option of external crossovers. As far as the Avatar II’s go however, they’d be easily overlooked on a shop floor standing next to more exotic looking speakers at the low five figure price point but they’ve grown on me in a big way. They really are vastly more capable than the looks would lead you to believe and while they’re not big hitters in the low bass, they do everything else very well indeed.