"Once I had the speakers correctly up and running I was immediately struck by their gorgeous midrange. And this was fresh out of the boxes.  What was to come was nothing short of breathtaking.  While it took a fairly substantial break-in period (300 plus hours) for the Triodes III to really sing, once they were broken in I was awestruck by the extreme musicality of the speakers.  While the top end and bass were exceptionally good, the midrange absolutely took the cake.  Surprisingly, the voices were textured and palpable, and the nuances in vocals were mesmerizing, even right out of the box.  How many hours do these bad boys have on them?  Only 50? Impossible."

LEWIS DARDICK, Stereotimes

REVIEWS and AWARDS

Single ended triode, Output transformerless amplifier, line array, full range loudspeaker, coherent loudspeaker, high end speakers, high end audio,
RMAF 2018
John Atkinson - Stereophile

I suppose it fair to say that Wavelength's room featured a similarly idiosyncratic system. However, the sound of this room, the second-to-last one I visited, was superb. I listened Elvis Presley, Bonnie Raitt, John Lee Hooker . . . I didn't want to leave. The big Vaughn speakers were used with (I think) a REL subwoofer and were being driven by Wavelength's SET amplifiers and use a remanufactured Dukane plasma tweeter. I was tempted to name this as "Tweeter of RMAF," so clean and uncolored were the high frequencies.


Read more>> 

"Folks, this is a speaker that can compete with any speaker made anywhere, and it costs only $20K." more

"The whole wove one of the most convincing musical portrayals at RMAF this year." more

"So? What do you think?" I said I thought is was not just the best sound at this show—it might be the best sound at any show, ever. more

The overall speaker sounded so good though that you found yourself anticipating every note." more

Just wanted to give you a quick update on the speakers.

These are the best speakers I have ever heard (and trust me i heard a lot) combined with the S.E.T Kronzilla AMP i am getting the most amazing results yet. The mid-range is heaven, the bass is the real deal and the tweeter just amazing, $6,500 is a joke for this value, they can easily be sold for 60K$ these days. Just unbelievable.

Thank you! and keep up the extraordinary work! more

"One of the few designers getting it right is Jim Jordan of Vaughn Loudspeakers." more

Maybe you've come it was the realization that SET tube design is superior to all or most others, but only delivers about 8 watts/channel and requires high efficiency loudspeakers?

 

Perhaps you live in an urban apartment, and can't play your gear at high levels, so you are considering a no compromise design that sounds great and rich at low levels?

 

Hopefully you've had a chance to audition our full-range designs at a show or your friend's house and can't get the coherence or the clarity out of your head?

 

You've arrived at Vaughn, welcome.

see details >>>

JAMES L. DARBY, Stereomojo  

"This type of review is what Stereomojo is all about – discovering those precious unheralded gems in a minefield full of components and speakers that are highly advertised, highly hyped and oft reviewed in other publications. These type are lovingly hand made by individuals who have a passion for music and strive to express it through their own creations. ......"

 
PHILLIP HOLMES, Dagogo
RMAF 2017
Herb Reichert - STEREOPHILE

"They're the best speakers I've ever heard."

By "best" I meant they had the most tonally accurate, perfectly detailed, and fully textured midrange (maybe a little short of the Western Electric 12A and the Quad ESL). For me, midrange tone character is king and god. Tone character is what separates classic, enduring loudspeakers from wrong-sounding "tweeters-in-boxes" also-rans.

I promise you, no one will ever say that about Vaughn's spectacular plasma tweeter. In fact, I have never met a soul on earth who would argue that plasma tweeters are anything less than the best tweeter available today—period. Ribbons and quasi-ribbons gallop in second place; while those little domey domes limp across the finish line—a distant third.

This plasma tweeter is not the only reason these Vaughn speakers are so good—but it is surely what makes them such an extraordinary value at $20,000. Folks, this is a speaker that can compete with any speaker made anywhere, and it costs only $20K.


Read more>> 

"At recent shows, I’ve been seeing more use of full-range drivers with tweeter and woofer augmentation, but most of those had the tweeter and woofer crossover points too close to the full-range driver, thus stepping on its toes. One of the few designers getting it right is Jim Jordan of Vaughn Loudspeakers."

RMAF 2016
Herb Reichert - STEREOPHILE

... "So? What do you think?" I said I thought is was not just the best sound at this show—it might be the best sound at any show, ever. (But then you know I am prone to wildness and hyperbole.)

What really impressed me was the Vaughn Plasma Signature's ($20,000/pair) exquisitely, perfectly resolved midrange, coupled to the best top octaves I have ever experienced.


Read more>> 

RMAF Assessment >>

Scott Hull - Part-time Audiophile 

WAVELENGTH AND VAUGHN PLAY WITH LOTS AND LOTS OF FIRE

Last year, the sound from the Vaughn-Wavelength pairing was easily one of the Best-In-Show. This year? It was better. Much better. Coherent, airy, completely transparent to the source, this sound was effortless and awesome. Very well done. Read more >>

Michael Lavorgna - Audiostream

I suppose the reason so many people were talking about this room was because it sounded O-so-smooth, O-so-natural, and O-so-musical. You, know, like music.


Read more>>

Roy Gregory - The Audio Beat

... With no fewer than 27 drivers in use, the clarity, precision and transparency of this system were little short of remarkable...

Read more>>

 

RMAF 2014
JOHN ATKINSON - STEREOPHILE

"Are those Ionovac tweeters?" I asked Wavelength's Gordon Rankin, pointing to the horn-loaded ion drivers on top of the Vaughan speakers in his room. They were indeed Ionovacs, Vaughan having bought the entire remaining nos stock of this legendary tweeter, and after rebuilding it, using it to reproduce signals above 3.5khz. an Accuton driver is used down to 80hz, with then a 10" subwoofer providing the low-end grunt. With the speakers driven by 8w Wavelength Napoleon monoblocks and for the source, a computer feeding the new dsd-capable Crimson DAC, there was indeed something quite magical about the quality of the high frequencies in this room. The cymbals and shaker on Lyle Lovett's "North Dakota" sounded extended, detailed, and smooth. nice. very nice!"

STEPHEN MARSH - 6 MOONS 

"This room looked to be a repeat of last year but there were some noteworthy changes. The system was comprised of a macbook pro controlling files on a RAID library sent to the new dsd-capable Crimson DAC ($9,000) and on to the new analog and digital europa preamplifier ($7,500). The amplifiers were the same as last year, the limited edition Wavelength Napoleon ag Silver 300B SET mono amps ($35,000/pr). Cables were by Audioquest. The Vaughn Plasma speakers using restored Dukane Ionovac plasma tweeters were still the featured speaker, however the Fostex midrange driver used last year had been replaced with a 6.5-inch Accuton ceramic driver. (I had commented last year that the Fostex was challenged to keep up with the Ionovac tweeter.) Bass is handled by a 10-inch powered woofer. While the slight speed mismatch between Ionovac and midrange seems to have been largely ameliorated, i think there is now a slightly cooler tonal signature to the midrange. still, this is a great speaker and it is mesmerizing to hear the infinitesimally small dynamic nuances that this tweeter can suss out of a recording. I think the speaker is still a work in progress though."

RMAF 2013
BEST OF SHOW
SCOT HULL - ABSOLUTE SOUND
"Speakers under $20,000.00"

"Speaking of interesting drivers, Jim Jordan of Vaughn Loudspeakers had an outrageous demo of his new Triode/Plasma floor standing speaker, here paired with some very nifty tube electronics from Wavelength Audio. The Triode/Plasma ($15,000/pair with factory supplied plasma tweeters) is something of a chimera, featuring some rebuilt vintage parts (the Dukane plasma tweeters), some “retro” bits (the Fostex wide-band/full-range driver) and some rather modern parts (the powered woofer). The whole wove one of the most convincing musical portrayals at RMAF this year. Availability is subject to, well, availability – in this case, due to a limited number of Dukane Ionosphere tweeters wandering about, but for those wanting what may well be the pinnacle of audiophile tweakery and extreme performance (tweeters made of fire!) this Vaughn needs to replace “the list”. Breathtaking sound here – and judging by Jim’s giddy helplessness as he walked through the demo, he knows he’s got a winner."

HOME THEATRE SHACK 
"Vaughn Loudspeakers - Room 9007"
ENJOY THE MUSIC - STEPHEN MARSH

"Vaughn Loudspeakers, Wavelength Audio Ltd. Wavelength’s tube electronics (Napoleon limited edition all-silver 300B monos at $30,000/pair, Europa preamp at $7,500, Crimson + Denominator DAC at $9,000) and Vaughn Plasma Loudspeakers ($15,000 per pair) were a match made in heaven. The preamp was the analog, digital and networked Wavelength Europa. Interconnects and speaker cables were top-shelf AudioQuest models: Sky interconnect ($2900/meter pair), Redwood speaker cables ($8800/eight-foot pair) and Diamond USB cable ($699/meter-and-a-half length). Files were played from a MacBook Pro 4TB library. The speed of the restored and refurbished vintage Dukane Ionovac plasma tweeters with rebuilt power supplies was startling and addictive. Lyle Lovett sounded both relaxed and refined. I requested some classical music and Anne-Sophie Mutter’s performance of Carmen spun up. Her violin solo was mesmerizing! You could hear every minute change in pressure applied to the bow. It was tactile. This was state of the art reproduction of fine nuance and dynamic shading. Of course the Fostex midrange below 5kHz,had to do yeoman’s duty to keep up with the Ionovac tweeter. It did an admirable job. Bass was provided by a 12-inch side-mounted 300-watt powered woofer with a 12-inch passive radiator. This seemed like a good formula for bass extension with control but keeping up with that Ionovac is a tall order. The overall speaker sounded so good though that you found yourself anticipating every note."

RMAF 2012
BEST OF SHOW
SCOT HULL - ABSOLUTE SOUND
"Speakers under $20,000.00"

"Speaking of interesting drivers, Jim Jordan of Vaughn Loudspeakers had an outrageous demo of his new Triode/Plasma floor standing speaker, here paired with some very nifty tube electronics from Wavelength Audio. The Triode/Plasma ($15,000/pair with factory supplied plasma tweeters) is something of a chimera, featuring some rebuilt vintage parts (the Dukane plasma tweeters), some “retro” bits (the Fostex wide-band/full-range driver) and some rather modern parts (the powered woofer). The whole wove one of the most convincing musical portrayals at RMAF this year. Availability is subject to, well, availability – in this case, due to a limited number of Dukane Ionosphere tweeters wandering about, but for those wanting what may well be the pinnacle of audiophile tweakery and extreme performance (tweeters made of fire!) this Vaughn needs to replace “the list”. Breathtaking sound here – and judging by Jim’s giddy helplessness as he walked through the demo, he knows he’s got a winner."

HOME THEATRE SHACK 
"Vaughn Loudspeakers - Room 9007"
ENJOY THE MUSIC - STEPHEN MARSH

"Vaughn Loudspeakers, Wavelength Audio Ltd. Wavelength’s tube electronics (Napoleon limited edition all-silver 300B monos at $30,000/pair, Europa preamp at $7,500, Crimson + Denominator DAC at $9,000) and Vaughn Plasma Loudspeakers ($15,000 per pair) were a match made in heaven. The preamp was the analog, digital and networked Wavelength Europa. Interconnects and speaker cables were top-shelf AudioQuest models: Sky interconnect ($2900/meter pair), Redwood speaker cables ($8800/eight-foot pair) and Diamond USB cable ($699/meter-and-a-half length). Files were played from a MacBook Pro 4TB library. The speed of the restored and refurbished vintage Dukane Ionovac plasma tweeters with rebuilt power supplies was startling and addictive. Lyle Lovett sounded both relaxed and refined. I requested some classical music and Anne-Sophie Mutter’s performance of Carmen spun up. Her violin solo was mesmerizing! You could hear every minute change in pressure applied to the bow. It was tactile. This was state of the art reproduction of fine nuance and dynamic shading. Of course the Fostex midrange below 5kHz,had to do yeoman’s duty to keep up with the Ionovac tweeter. It did an admirable job. Bass was provided by a 12-inch side-mounted 300-watt powered woofer with a 12-inch passive radiator. This seemed like a good formula for bass extension with control but keeping up with that Ionovac is a tall order. The overall speaker sounded so good though that you found yourself anticipating every note."

RMAF 2011
JOHN ATKINSON - STEREOPHILE

"Are those Ionovac tweeters?" I asked Wavelength's Gordon Rankin, pointing to the horn-loaded ion drivers on top of the Vaughan speakers in his room. They were indeed Ionovacs, Vaughan having bought the entire remaining nos stock of this legendary tweeter, and after rebuilding it, using it to reproduce signals above 3.5khz. an Accuton driver is used down to 80hz, with then a 10" subwoofer providing the low-end grunt. With the speakers driven by 8w Wavelength Napoleon monoblocks and for the source, a computer feeding the new dsd-capable Crimson DAC, there was indeed something quite magical about the quality of the high frequencies in this room. The cymbals and shaker on Lyle Lovett's "North Dakota" sounded extended, detailed, and smooth. nice. very nice!"

STEPHEN MARSH - 6 MOONS 

"This room looked to be a repeat of last year but there were some noteworthy changes. The system was comprised of a macbook pro controlling files on a RAID library sent to the new dsd-capable Crimson DAC ($9,000) and on to the new analog and digital europa preamplifier ($7,500). The amplifiers were the same as last year, the limited edition Wavelength Napoleon ag Silver 300B SET mono amps ($35,000/pr). Cables were by Audioquest. The Vaughn Plasma speakers using restored Dukane Ionovac plasma tweeters were still the featured speaker, however the Fostex midrange driver used last year had been replaced with a 6.5-inch Accuton ceramic driver. (I had commented last year that the Fostex was challenged to keep up with the Ionovac tweeter.) Bass is handled by a 10-inch powered woofer. While the slight speed mismatch between Ionovac and midrange seems to have been largely ameliorated, i think there is now a slightly cooler tonal signature to the midrange. still, this is a great speaker and it is mesmerizing to hear the infinitesimally small dynamic nuances that this tweeter can suss out of a recording. I think the speaker is still a work in progress though."

RMAF 2015
SHOW FAVORITE

"...The result was sound that was at once fast and airy, rhythmically and dynamically uninhibited, solid and present with a remarkable sense of both instrumental timbre and texture. But what made this system really special was the source -- or rather its absence. Musically, it was so communicative and coherent, so contiguous and unimpeded that it was nearly impossible to hear past the music itself to identify the nature of that source."

SCOT HULL

"Jim Jordan of Vaughn Loudspeakers is on fire. I mean that. Literally. He’s a fire juggler. There’s fire on his fingers and fire coming out of his speakers...."

Heaven or Hell? The Lady or the Tiger? The Rocky Mountain Audio Show, 2015

by Lynn Olsen

"...it was a mistake going to the Vaughn/Wavelength room first. It took a half-hour of chit-chat in the hallways, with all the rooms booming away at once, to tolerate the sound of ordinary loudspeakers again."

Audiocircle from PEZ
Best of RMAF 2015
stereophile 
Gold and more at the end of Jason's First day.
 

"The way this system honed onto instruments and soloists was extraordinary. Alison Krauss's voice hovered in the air, like a Siren calling to me, as I enjoyed the familiar pairing of Wavelength Audio and Vaughn loudspeakers. A recording of solo violin sounded equally wonderful. Equally lovely was Lyle Lovett's "She's Already Made Up her Mind." There was something very haunting about this system's sound that drew me in."

AudioStream from Michael Lavorgna
Wavelength Audio feat Vaughn 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Fan Mail

Hi Jim,

 

The Triodes arrived safely. Been trying to wrap myself around how damn fine these things sound. They are all over stuff that I had only previously thought I might have heard a hint of. After I reorient my audio ear, I will give you a shout. This has been a spectacular success for me. These Triodes are everything I had hoped and more.

 

I want to thank you for the work and planing that it took you to come up with a product you could put your name on. The Audio world is the winner here.

 

Thanks,

Pat McSween

 

 

 

Hi Jim.

 

I felt like it is time to give you some feedback on the Plasma II speakers that I bought from you. As you know, I purchased the vintage plasma tweeters that you rebuilt. These are by far, the finest tweeters I have ever heard. I have been into audio for a few decades and have tried many, many speakers.The plasma tweeters mesh very well with the line array drivers and also the powered woofer that is in each speaker.The line array presents a very large and realistic sound stage. The tonal qualities are spot on..My wife is a professional piano player and she feels these speakers reproduce piano better that any we have had. The tweeters fill the room with non-fatiguing highs, that are never grainy or etched.

 

Overall, as you can tell, I am very,very pleased with these speakers. Thank you for such a fantastic product!!!

 

Dan

February 10, 2016

 

 

 

Double Happiness 

 

Jim... I want to fill you in on my experience with the Cabernet IIs after 3 months. Wow! After settling in for about 2 weeks, my music came alive. It appears to be fully broken in now, so I thought it would be a good time to share my impressions.

 

As you know, I'm not fully utilizing the Cabs because they are in a small room (11' x 14') and there is no way to give them the room to breath. Plus, I need to keep the volume down. No matter at this point, I figure when I finally do move, I will get another boost in performance. As a true audiophile, that is the name of the game - improvement. The only concern I had was that the sound coming out the back would sound muffles, but it does not. So glad I spent a little deeper than the next logical step up from my B&W CDM7s. Let me say I loved those speakers and thought I would only experience an incremental improvement with the Cabernets. Nay nay. I have enjoyed an order of magnitude improvement in soundstage, clarity, depth, air ... performance on every dimension.

 

Again, so glad I paid just a few Ks more for such amazing performance. You know, they really are a full range speaker, capable of very full bass. Before I purchased the Cabernet IIs, I was very focused on tweaking. It was fun and I learned a lot, but my recommendation to budding audiophiles is to put the tweak money into a speaker like the Cabernets rather than other options in the 4 - 6 K range, you will not regret it.

 

Richard Stanton

Boston, MA

JUN 2015

 

 

 

April 5, 2014 Vaughn Triode / Plasma

 

Hi Jim

I just wanted to let you know the speakers have settled in nicely,with about a 100 hours on them WOW!...you've hit the bullseye with this combo.The Triode plasmas truly give me the illusion of live music.Only one way to describe them..is they just play music right..I don't even mis the Avantgardes at all! The Triode plasmas are everything I've ever wanted in a speakers system and then some..

 Thanks again Jim for your superior service..Your the best..Jim Yager

 

 

Hi Jim:

 

I had been listening to Vaugn Cabernet for the last 3 weeks.

 

Congratulation on making nice balanced speaker.

 

I made a decision to buy the speaker based upon Accuton ceramic driver.

 

About 10 years ago, I used to have Avalon Ascent speaker.

The newer model used ceramic driver to get fabulous mid-range sound.

I improved sound by bi-wiring instead of using jumper cable.

I also had tryout the Spiritual Audio power conditioner to find that I give more detail and tightening the bass.  

After all this, Cabernet provide good sound stage with excellent balance from bass to high. 

The most nice thing is good timber in the mid-range.

Keep the good work.

Thomas

 

 

Jim                                                               4/25/2013 - Triode

 

Speakers are breaking in nicely, at about 75 hour mark. I finally have top notch 

upstream components to really unleash the magic of these beauties.

I could not be happier. Such a pleasure doing business with you.

 

George

 

 

 

Hi Jim,                                                         9/20/2011

 

Just wanted to give you a quick update on the speakers 

These are the best speakers I have ever heard (and trust me i heard a lot) combined with the S.E.T Kronzilla AMP i am getting the most amazing results yet.

The mid range is heaven, the bass is the real deal and the tweeter just amazing, 6500$is a joke for this value, they can easily be sold for 60K$ these days.

Just unbelievable.

Thank you! and keep up the extraordinary work!

 

 Yaniv

 

Dear Jim,  

                                                                                                                               June 23, 2011       A little time has passed since the Zinfandel speakers arrived so they are broken-in and also a pair of Wavelength Cardinal 300B amps has been added to raise the game and provide a true measure of the speaker’s capabilities!!  Not being able to buy affordable and listenable high efficiency speakers is why I left SET amplifiers some years ago, having owned twenty or so different amps!  It was so frustrating to have beautiful amps that only worked with 10~20% of my music, now I have finally found the solution and it’s the Vaughn Zinfandel!!  Finally, I have a full range speaker with gorgeous coherent sound that requires no apologies for unique drivers and mechanical noise.  I am listening to symphonic music played at concert hall levels that highlights individual instruments as would happen in a concert hall.  I have been in many and know how music sounds without filtering through the recording process. I wish that you had started your speaker designs 15 years earlier it would have saved me a LOT of money and headache!!  Anyone who loves SET sound should be auditioning the Vaughn line of speakers as nothing that I have heard comes close in listening satisfaction. Sincerely, 

Bill Anderson

_

 Jim,

 

The speakers arrived in perfect shape and are setup in my room with the CJ ET-5 and ET-250S on at low level.  To give you my conclusion first, they are the finest speakers that I've owned, an incredible bargain at the price paid.  Now I have to choose a suitable amp (amps!)  

 

The crates had all four end panels falling off, In spite of this minor hassle, I am most pleased with the speakers.  My CJ dealer was here today and commented that my sound was better than most rooms at the shows, he is usually pretty plain spoken so I believe that he wasn't blowing smoke!! 

 

Best wishes,

 

Bill

 

Dear Jim,

 

I am writing to thank you for my purchase of your Pinot speakers along with the JAS integrated amplifier.

 

Yes, I am writing to thank you for my purchase.  That might sound strange, but I have been searching for a music and home theater system for a sitting room in my house, and having listened to the Pinots for about a week now I cannot tell you how pleased and satisfied I am with their sound.

 

The acoustics are extraordinary:  highs brilliant without being tinny or metallic, midrange smooth and warm, bass sharply-defined and full.  It is rather artificial to speak of highs, mediums, and lows because the sound from the speakers is so integrated and harmonious.  I have an REL subwoofer but don’t use it half the time because I don’t need to.  The Pinots even transform the sound of my TV,  though it is only connected to the JAS with some cheap, nondescript 3.5mm-to-RCA splitter cable.

 

In short, the Pinots sound as good as they look—they are beautiful—and I am so grateful to find such a premium speaker at such at affordable price.

 

You are the best.

 

Mike R.

Indianapolis, IN

 

Jim,

 

After about 200 hr of break-in period for Cabernets I think I can give you my 

full report. The speakers are simply amazing. I never thought that I will have 

that kind of sound in my house. And after going digital, lossless, the listening 

is a truly glorious experience for me now.  When I close my eyes and listen to 

some vinyl rips or master track downloads in 24/96 or 192 I have the feeling 

that I am 10 ft in front of the band or orchestra. No hint whatsoever that the 

sound might be coming from the speakers. 

 

I have not tried any tubes yet but i think that I am as close as I can be with 

the YBA. A friend of mine that has Kuzma phono, with Statement by Coincident, 

Frankesteins, and Coincident Reference speakers etc. could not pick up his jaw 

off the floor the other day when he was over to listen to Cabernets. Although my 

room is not optimal he said that he couldn't even imagine that the speakers 

would sound like this. The sweetness and fulness of the sound, the presentation 

and above all the the depth of the stage are truly beyond what I even imagined 

that it can be. 

 

Anyway, congratulations on a great product and I am glad that I have it in my 

house. Looking forward to many hours of great pleasure Cabernets are going to 

provide me.

 

Best,

 

Miki

 

 Unconditional Love. Honesty. Pleasure.

 

. . .

 

These are my simple answers to the question: What have the Vaughn Pinots given me?

 

So why not a mainstream description of these speakers? Because all relationships involve sharing a story. I started this relationship sight unseen and unheard. Kinda like the old days when things were arranged. It is how I approach this hobby - in-home evaluations within my system and room context are what matter to me.

 

A primary goal for me, with respect to our hobby, has been experiencing different speaker design and implementation, which is why and how the Pinots entered the picture.

 

A high efficiency full-range driver -- ribbon tweeter combination has been on this list. And the Fostex full-ranger, specifically. The Pinots clearly address this. Side firing woofers are also on my list, which made it easier to justify going forward on the Pinots. Given their design, ’the’ question was how well, or not, the three disparate drivers would integrate.

 

Do they integrate! I would rate and describe the integration between the full-range Fostex driver and the ribbon tweeter as seamless. Music is presented with a oneness and solidity that needs, deserves to be heard and experienced. Coupled with their low frequency performance, which is natural, full, and taut through their rated high 30Hz spec, these speakers engage the listener emotionally and takes this listener from a place where music is heard to a place where it is felt -- magic.

 

Are you an audiophile, check.  A music lover, check.

 

Expect speakers that disappear?

 

Do you love large, spacious and airy soundstages?

 

With detailed imaging, transparency, presence and insight?

 

Bass that is full, taut, and powerful?

 

Dynamics and speed that will make you pull so many more of your recordings out?

 

Naturalness, honesty and accuracy that you will fall in love with?

 

That’s six more checks!

 

Broad synergy and compatibility with amplification. A small, livable footprint and a finish that is easy to coordinate with your furnishings and room. Direct from factory pricing and support. Interfacing, one-on-one, with the designer and business owner.

 

If you’re prepared to hear your music, feel your music, be moved into enjoying more of your music, and you identify with what I’ve highlighted, well…now’s your chance!

 

R. David Sen

Rochester, NY.

 

Jim,

 

The Atma-Sphere S30, Zinfandel combination is wonderful.  My basis of comparison is my original Quads which I have owned for more than 30 years.  I wanted speakers that were more dynamic and that could play louder without sacrificing the midrange which is the strength of the Quads.  I got what I wanted.

Eric     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Hi there Jim,

 

Received shipment in good condition, excellent packaging. I have not yet received my SET amp, but I have been testing the Pinot-s with my Prima Luna dialogue amp on triode mode (18-20 watts).

I must say that I am highly satisfied with the speakers. I thought my Martin Logan Summits were transparent, but wow, the Pinot-s are much more transparent and so linear. This is exactly what I was looking for with my SET amp set-up. 

 

I will contact you again when I will be in a position to upgrade to your top of the line speakers hopefully in 12 months time.

 

In the meantime thanks very much for your help.

Kind regards,

Gudmundur 

Iceland.

____________________________________________________________________

 

Jim, 

 

I wanted to thank you for your Zinfandel speakers and share a few of my thoughts about using them.  As a 10 watt single ended tube weenie I’ve been looking for years for a speaker that was low power tube friendly, could fill a room, and was a reasonable size.  The Zinfandel’s fit the bill.  We have a large living room and at 97db the music easily fills the room and the house.  The bottom end is full and the mids have that natural, clear sound that is the dream every single ended tube owner is looking for.   And while price was no object it was satisfying to be able to sell my Merlin’s, a similarly wonderful speaker but without the rich bottom end and not able to fill a large room with 10 watts, and have their sales price used be the same as a pair of Zinfandel’s new!  Thanks for making the effort to build such a great line of speakers.

Reed Koch

Seattle, WA

A happy Wavelength/Vaughn Zinfandel owner

____________________________________________________________________

 

 

Aloha Jim

 

Before moving to Hawaii I lived in the Midwest and had a good size listening room with stacked 57 Quads.  Open sound and a big sound stage, a very sharp image and a REL sub woofer. I liked it!!!

 

We moved to Hawaii where homes are a lot smaller (size not cost).  No room big enough for the Quads, so good bye Quads.

 

I now have your Pinot Monitors.  They too have a very open sound with a big sound stage.  The image can be scary at times.  I see on the internet that the Roger Waters CD,  AMUSED TO DEATH is used to check the soundstage.  On the first track at the very beginning of "The Ballad Of Bill Hubbard" they speak of hearing the barking dog a couple of feet to the right of the right speaker. I hear the barking dog at my three o clock position on your Pinot Monitors.  Like I said kinda scary at times.  I can live with these speakers with no upgrade needs.  I still have the REL but I don't really use it.  Another thing I love about these speakers are they're so efficient that I can use my low SET watt amp or a big watt amp.  I don't need two different speakers or need to sell a amp because it won't work.

 

Enough writing, time now to go listen to Steely Dan  "Cousin Dupree" from  TWO AGAINST NATURE and Buddy Holly "True Love Ways" from  FROM THE ORIGINAL MASTER TAPES. 

 

Rex

PS Make sure you add I like the fact that the speakers sound as great and open at low volume also.

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Hi Jim,

 

I just received the new Zinfandel speakers and am blown away! My older prototypes without the bass drivers were fantastic other than the low bass but these new ones are better in every way. The bass is amazing and I have no regrets in getting rid of my REL Stentor. I am hearing things I have not heard before in recordings I have heard many times. The resolution is the best I have heard without being bright, edgy, or analytical, the Zinfandels just sound like real music. 

I really like how I can use whatever amp I like, my old, little Stromberg amp plays these speakers like a big powerful amp. From small jazz to large classical pieces the Zinfandel's are a revelation, I am listening to more music than I have in years. Thank you again, I am more than a satisfied customer!

 

Fred R.

Raleigh, NC 

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Jim,

 

Thank you for bringing the new Pinot speakers over and comparing to my long time favorite New Audio Frontiers speakers. I was skeptical as many other speakers have been put in their place by the NAF's. The Pinots were significantly better in putting real musicians in my room. I am 100% happy with this purchase and will be enjoying these speakers for a long time, needless to say I am keeping this pair.  My 20 watt EL84 amp drives them effortlessly and I have not even gotten around to hooking up my REL Strata yet. The bass completely fills my small listening room and it will be interesting to see how they do when I move to my upcoming large listening room. 

Best of luck in promoting your new speaker line. All you need to do is get music lovers to listen and you will be very successful.

 

Thanks again, John J.

Eureka, Ca

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Vaughn Cabernet Loudspeakers 

 

Boy, equipment reviewing is tougher than it looks!  I just wrote 1868 words, reread what I had, and realized I sounded like a bloviating dork.  Here goes on a second try… but this is most definitely not my day job, so please be kind. 

 

I’m not the biggest believer in the idea of a single “absolute sound” for everyone.  Listening is very much an individual experience.  Your tastes in music likely differ from mine; your ideal sound may also be different.   As far as I’m concerned, everything from super-detailed solid state to the lushest tubiness has its place.  As long as it gets you where you need to be, it’s the best possible sound.   It may be helpful for you to know a little about what appeals to me, however, to aid in understanding my review of the Vaughn Cabernet loudspeakers. 

 

I’ve been in the hobby for about 30 years.  My musical horizons have broadened, and my sonic preferences have shifted over time to better serve that broader range of music.    I’ll spare you the agonizing boredom of retracing that long journey, and just inflict a little pain to try to explain where I am, now. 

 

I generally favor tube electronics for expansive soundstage, 3-dimensionality and solidity of images, more complete rendering of the harmonics (and for lack of a better term) the flow of music. I am definitely not in the “lush tubbiness” camp, however.  I favor vinyl over digital for the same reasons, but I’m definitely not an iconoclast.   I’m currently using computer audio as my sole source (a long story), and I’m very satisfied, for now.  I plan to add vinyl again when my son is a little bit older, and less prone to messing around with my gear in my absence.  

 

The sound needs some spark, some life.  Quick transients, macro and microdynamics help define this for me.  Many speakers will come alive at higher volume levels; not as many will at a lower volume.  I do like detail and treble extension, but not at the expense of a harsh, shrill or sibilant sound.  I like balance from bass to treble.  In the bass, speed and articulation trumps sheer quantity, but there needs to be enough.  I don’t do pipe organ much, but when I do, I’d like it to sound like a reasonable facsimile thereof.  I do love the human voice and acoustic instruments; brass, woodwinds, strings.  The more realistic the presentation here, the easier it is for me to get lost in the music.  The music needs to speak with one voice, floating free of the speaker box.  If I hear the woofer, the mid or the tweeter as individual entities, or the sound coming from two boxes, it really pulls me away from that special place, and dumps me unceremoniously back in my listening room.  

 

I realize some of my sonic preferences are a bit contradictory. Based on what I’ve written, you could make a good argument for big-watt solid state, or flea-watt SET, panel speakers, line source speakers, horns, etc, etc.  Just as I’m not a big believer in an absolute sound, I don’t believe any one speaker / system is capable of everything, or at least, I haven’t heard it, yet!  I do believe it is possible to artfully compromise, and reach that elusive goal of forgetting all about the sounds being reproduced, and emotionally connecting to the music itself. 

 

Whew! 505 words… not exactly pithy, am I?  

 

 

 

BACKGROUND  

 

The Vaughn Cabernets are the top of a range of loudspeakers manufactured by Jim Jordan.  Jim long ago fell under the spell of what single-ended triode amplification does right.  For those who have never listened to SET amplification, I would define this “rightness” as a certain purity of the sound; an absence of artificiality that interferes with the ultimate believability of recorded music; a wealth of harmonic detail; a waterfall of sound.   Words, even though I use a lot of them, fail me in truly articulating this.  When I first heard an SET amp, I couldn’t explain it, but I recognized it instantly.  Instead of actively using my brain to listen through something, or around something, to get to the message in the music, I was able to shut down on some higher cognitive level, relax, and readily connect to the emotion of the music. 

 

Jim recognized the problems inherent in pairing low power, zero negative feedback amplification with many of the loudspeakers on the market: lack of dynamic impact, inability to play at satisfying levels without distortion, and flabby bass.  He set out to find a pair of speakers that would work well with SET, and ultimately came up short of his ideal.  He then did what any self-respecting audio nut / perfectionist would do… he decided to build his own.    He worked with Gordon Rankin of Wavelength Audio (a longtime designer and manufacturer of many highly-regarded SET amplifiers, and fellow – traveler on the audio nut / perfectionist path) on the initial loudspeaker designs, and then spent the next 6 years further developing and refining the original concepts.  In 2008, Jim and Gordon began showing Jim’s prototype designs with Wavelength Audio electronics at major shows.  After another year or so of further speaker development, Jim was finally happy enough with the results to begin production for retail sale. 

 

Vaughn loudspeakers are not sold through a dealer network; they’re only available direct from the manufacturer.  This saves a significant amount of money on dealer markups, but also makes it problematic to listen before making a purchase.  When we last spoke, Jim said he was working on trying to establish a few locations in the United States where auditions would be possible year round.  Big shows will also provide some opportunities to listen.  You may want to contact him for further details.

 

   

 

Why was I willing to buy a pair of loudspeakers sound unheard?  Jim Jordan was a Wavelength Audio dealer for many years before embarking on his loudspeaker venture.  I bought a used Wavelength DAC from Jim in 2005, which took me a big step further toward liking digital sound (I had been through 7 different digital sources in the prior 4 years).  I talked extensively with him before and after the purchase, and realized he liked the DAC for the same reasons I liked it when listening.  This led me down a slippery slope to a Wavelength USB DAC, a very big step forward for me in digital audio, and to Wavelength SET monoblocks, which had that SET ‘rightness” with my speakers, but also some of the problems (even though based on specs, the amps and speakers should have paired fairly well).  I decided to try some truly SET – friendly speakers about the same time I read some very favorable press on Jim’s prototypes paired with Wavelength electronics.  It was pretty easy for me to take a chance on someone whose tastes seemed aligned with my own, on a product developed with electronics very similar to my own.   

 

Hey, 1076 words, and finally time to talk about the speakers!

 

CONSTRUCTION

 

 

 

Jim Jordan has designed all his speakers around the same basic set of sonic goals: transparency, resolution, excellent soundstaging, bass and treble extension, and the ability to specifically work well with low powered amplifiers.  Some computer modeling was employed, followed by exhaustive listening tests using different cabinet materials, damping materials, drivers, loading schemes, brands of crossover parts, binding posts and wire compositions and brands.  The quality of the sound was the final arbiter for the Cabernets, not some predetermined footprint or price point.  As a result, the form here very much follows the function. 

 

The Vaughn Cabernets are floorstanding loudspeakers 42 inches high, 14 inches deep and only 9 inches wide.  The cabinets themselves are of a newer design you may not have seen pictured anywhere before.  The carcase is solidly constructed of ¾” bamboo plywood with a 13 ply Baltic birch face and back, with internal damping materials and minimal internal bracing. Minimal internal bracing is employed to minimize interference with sound wave propagation within the cabinet itself.  The cabinet is divided internally into an upper sealed compartment that houses the midrange and tweeter, and a lower sealed compartment (further reinforced with MDF) that houses the side – firing bass drivers.  When rapped sharply with a knuckle, the cabinets give a “pop” rather than ringing or echoing, or yielding a dull thud. It would seem the cabinets are designed for the rapid release of energy, rather than attempting to freely resonate it or completely absorb it.  

 

The new cabinet sides and top now display some of the distinctive ray pattern seen in bamboo, rather than the simple vertical grain pattern of the earlier cabinets.  Jim has made very clever use of the internal ply structure of the bamboo, exposing it on the face edge and the rear edge of the speaker.  The alternating grain patterns of the internal plies, when finished, yield a half inch wide margin of narrow bands of varying hues from a pale almond to a rich chocolate, which give the appearance of marquetry inlay.  This adds greatly to the visual appeal of the cabinets.   

 

The joinery and sanding of the cabinets are done to a high level of quality.  The wood is amber finished to somewhere between satin and semi-gloss using a low VOC material that has near the clarity of lacquer, but much greater durability, according to Jim.  I find no finish flaws in my cabinets.  If you like quality woodworking, you’re going to like these cabinets.  

 

The lion’s share of the front and rear faces of the cabinets are now both covered by gloss carbon fiber panels. The rear face previously had a Marmoleum surface. The Accuton wide range driver and split ribbon tweeter are protected by mesh screens, which means these drivers are visible on the front face.  Four black circular metal grills cover the two bass drivers and two bass passive radiators per speaker.  This is my one quibble with the speaker design.  The grills serve an important protective function if you have small children or pets (we have both), but interfere a bit with the clarity of the bass reproduction.  I currently listen with the grills off, and replace them when I’m finished.  Jim said he is considering some possible alternatives that might still offer some protection while maintaining sonic clarity.  The midrange passive radiator, located high on the back face of the cabinet, has no cover.  

 

The cabinets are available standard with a bamboo plinth equipped with spikes.  For an extra charge, some heavy gauge anodized outriggers equipped with heavy brass spikes and leveling knobs at all four corners are available.  I’ve had hands-on experience with both, but not listened for sonic differences between the two.  The outriggers definitely add to the stability of the narrow Cabernets, and for my tastes, improve the visual appeal.  

 

The overall visual effect of the speakers is one of subtle interest and elegance.  They definitely do not dominate a room.  I could easily envision this design fitting well with many different furniture styles.  The look works well enough in our living room (with a large stone fireplace and arts and crafts style furnishings) that my wife actually told me she was very happy with how they fit the room.  This quite surprised me, because she does not share in my enjoyment of “The Hobby”.

 

COMPONENTS

 

 

 

The heart and soul of the loudspeaker is a 6.5” Accuton ceramic driver, used to cover the range from 80Hz to 5,000Hz.  This means a tremendous amount of the musical information in any given recording is presented without interference from a crossover.   An LCY split-ribbon tweeter covers the range from 5,000 Hz to 60,000 (!) Hz.  This design uses side-by-side, paired ribbons to form the driver, creating a device twice as wide and half as tall as a conventional ribbon tweeter.  Vertical dispersion is much improved over a conventional ribbon, while maintaining the excellent lateral dispersion, accuracy, effortless extension and refinement that a good ribbon is capable of delivering.   Two 10” woofers per speaker cover signals from 80 Hz down to 34 Hz.   

 

Jim has also made extensive use of passive radiators the Cabernet design. The Accuton driver is paired with a 6.5” passive radiator on the back face of the cabinet.  Each of the woofers is likewise paired with a 10” passive radiator.  The active and passive bass elements are set up in a mirror image on the two Cabernets.  This allows placement of active woofers facing out toward the sidewalls of the room (Jim’s recommended arrangement), or active woofers facing in (smaller rooms, and / or problematic bass within a room).   Jim feels that passive loading of the midrange and woofers frees them up to provide improved dynamic response at both high and low listening levels. 

 

Another of Jim’s design goals was to integrate the drivers using the simplest crossover possible.  By selecting drivers with complementary sensitivities and roll off characteristics, he has managed to build the Cabernets using a crossover comprised of just two inductors and one capacitor.  The crossover parts and internal wiring are high quality: Mundorf, Alpha Core, Nordost.  A single pair of WBT 5-way binding posts are located 32 inches up from the floor on the back face of the speakers.   Keep this in mind when considering speaker cable length. 

 

 

Bybee Large Purifiers are added internally to the positive and negative legs of the crossover, with the option of adding a Large Gold Purifier to the positive leg for an additional $500.00.  Initially, their use would seem to fly in the face of the “simplest crossover possible” design goal, but this is another case where listening made the choice to include them quite simple.  Jim tried them first on a pair of Cabernets, and had what he called a “Holy Cow!” moment.  He describes the Bybee Purifiers as “ removing all kinds of grunge and phase abnormalities from the sound, leaving you with nothing but the music.”  After listening to the speakers with the Purifiers, he said the speakers without them almost sounded broken.  He liked the Cabernets with Purifiers enough to decide to add the Bybees to his entire line of speakers.  What does the Gold Purifier add above and beyond the standard Purifier?  According to Jim:” The Gold Bybee is more of a refinement than a change in the sound.  Everything is clearer and more defined, with more naturalness to the sound.”  Is it worth it?   Jim said: “I’m going to have Golds on my own pair, and I think it is an upgrade most serious audio guys would feel is worth the price, if able to A/B them.”  “Once you get to this level, smaller improvements can be very significant, and unfortunately are expensive.”  

 

Do the Bybee add-ons really make a difference?  From my own perspective, the answer would be an unqualified yes.  I was a very early adopter of, and remain an enthusiastic user of a wide range of Bybee products in my system.  Of all the Bybee products I use, the greatest effect has been from the speaker cable tails.  In my experience, they do exactly what Jim describes; they strip away layers of grunge, making it much easier to sort out complex musical passages, and dramatically increase the sense of a reality in solo voice or instrument.  In short, brain disengages, music happens.   

 

Is the Gold Purifier worth it?  Again, from my own prior Bybee experience, the answer would be an unqualified yes.  I’ve had Bybee Slipstream speaker cable tails (roughly analogous to internal Large Purifiers) and Bybee Golden Goddess speaker cable tails (roughly analogous to the Gold Purifier) in my system for years.  The Golden Goddess tails were an improvement over the Slipstream tails in exactly the way Jim describes.   For me, the Golden Goddess tails were well worth their $1000 price.  Both Slipstream and Golden Goddess tails are now, unfortunately out of production.  The only external option currently available are the Bybee Super Effect Speaker Bullets, at $4200 per set.  I’ve heard them, they’re definitely even better, but I can’t justify, in my own mind, that price / performance tradeoff.  My Cabernets have the Gold Purifier option, which I consider a bargain at $500. 

 

INTANGIBLES: 

 

There’s not a local dealer involved here, so how responsive / trustworthy is the manufacturer? Jim’s gig before speaker manufacturing was audio dealer, and he has carried the ethos of a guy who really cares about his customers forward into this venture.  Over the 5+ years I’ve known him, Jim has always been very easy to talk to, always willing to take a phone call, and always responded quickly to emails. With the Cabernets, he kept me well informed through the build process for my speakers (which was happening at the same time he was experimenting with carbon fiber and Bybee).  He gave me the opportunity to upgrade my Cabernets “on the fly” during this period, then shipped quickly, with tracking information provided.   

 

FedEx thoroughly thrashed that first pair of speakers (imagine the force necessary to bend a steel mounting plate and break a stout binding post, among a laundry list of other injuries).  I let Jim know, and he basically took care of everything.  He dealt with FedEx, made arrangements to pick up the damaged speakers, and had a new pair of Cabernets in my possession in 10 days.  I’ve had enough problems with enough equipment over the years to realize how rare this level of service is.  Jim also provided a second outer box for each speaker.  All Cabernets now ship double boxed.  I suspect FedEx would now have a very tough time repeating their “Dance of Death and Destruction” on any new pair of Vaughn speakers. 

 

LISTENING: 

 

I plunked the Cabernets in my room in the same spot that had worked well with my last two pair of speakers and hooked up with a brand new pair of speaker cables (my old ones were too short).  I sat down and started one of my longtime equipment test songs, intending to begin the tedious process of dialing the Cabernets in and breaking in a new pair of cables.  I had, as Jim would say, a “Holy Cow!” moment of my own.  I did say “Holy”.  I didn’t say “Cow”. Discretion (and an ongoing fear of the nuns from my parochial school youth) precludes me providing a direct quote.  

 

What struck me immediately was a wider soundstage than I’d ever experienced in my room.  I really had little sense of the sidewalls of my room.  Depth did not truncate, but did not seem subjectively any deeper than my other speakers had been.  The next thing that struck me was BASS.  More than I imagined possible from 300B tubes, and particularly the Western Electrics I had in the amps at the time. The next thing that struck me was the tenor sax player wailing away right in front of me.   The next thing that struck me was “I’ve been here for 45 minutes”. I had stopped paying any attention to the sound, and had simply been reveling in the music.  This was a process that was repeated many times early on in my listening.  I’d try to get something productive done on improving the sound, and the darn stereo would just force me to sit and listen.  

 

I eventually came to feel the bass was a bit overblown and not as well defined as I would have liked, and I wondered about the possibility of improving the soundstage depth.  I threw on a test disc, and rediscovered a couple of things I already knew from prior testing in my totally untreated room (with the typical California crappy suspended floor).  My floor has a sympathetic vibration at 80Hz, and the fireplace has a strong hooting resonance at around 40 Hz.  I briefly considered asking my wife if I could brick up the fireplace and reinforce the floor.  My medications finally kicked in, and I opted for a less controversial approach. 

 

I removed the woofer/ passive radiator grills, swapped the Cabernets so the woofers now fired toward each other, and replaced the spikes with Finite Elemente Cerapucs to try to isolate the speakers from the floor.  The test disc went back on, and I found the Cabernets going +/- 3 dB at my listening position from 80Hz – 20KHz.  From 80 Hz to 40Hz, I still had a pronounced response rise, but the floor wasn’t trembling, and the fireplace was barely grumbling.  Jim rates the Cabernets to 34 Hz.  I still had plenty of usable bass at 25 Hz at my listening position.  I put on some music.  The bass was significantly improved: much better balanced, tuneful, and well articulated.  I messed around with speaker position for about 30 minutes and wound up about 6 feet from the back wall, 3 feet from the side walls, 9 feet between the speakers, and angled to fire over my shoulders at the listening position, about 9 feet away.  This was within about 18 inches of my starting position, but made a world of difference.  Everything just clicked.

 

THE ANALYSIS

 

 

 

Before this, I’ve never written a review of anything I’ve owned.  I don’t think I’m particularly prone to blind love at first sight (or listen), with new equipment, and I’m long past the point where I seek any validation from others regarding a stereo purchase. I did want to be certain of my thoughts about the Cabernets before I committed them to paper, possibly influencing someone to spend their own hard-earned money on a pair of speakers they might not be able audition before buying.   

 

I’ve lived with the Vaughn Cabernets nearly 6 months at this point, long enough to ease any concerns about speaker or speaker cable break-in. Please feel free to check my profile for details of my system.  If I wrote it all here, I’m fairly certain the few of you strong enough to read to this point would be pushed into a catatonic state.  

 

I’ve used solid state and tube preamps, and my 300B and 845 amps.  I’ve listened to music of just about every genre.  I’ve listened loud.  I’ve listened soft.  My preferred combination is the Sequerra preamp and the Wavelength monoblocks with the Western Electric 300B tubes.  I have Sophia Princess Mesh plate 300Bs, as well.  They were my preferred 300Bs when I used the Wavelengths with my last speakers.  I’m sure I’ll try them, some day.  Right now, I’m so happy with what’s happening, I just don’t have the desire.  Here’s what I hear: 

 

The widest, and deepest soundstage I’ve ever heard in my home, and equal to any system I’ve ever heard, save one.  The soundstage height reaches above what I would expect from a speaker only 42 inches high.  I suspect the vertical dispersion of the tweeter is playing a significant role in this.   Images are layered on the stage, palpable, 3 dimensional, and appropriately sized.   

 

Imaging and soundstaging are not confined to a tiny sweet spot.  Instead of “head in a vise”, I find myself able to relax in many different positions in my listening chair, or sit on the couch and be happy, if I don’t feel like pulling the living room apart to get my chair in the right spot.   

 

The speakers disappear as a source of sound, even better than my mini monitors did.  I hear no cabinet sounds.  I don’t hear a woofer, or a midrange, or a tweeter.  The Cabernets speak with one voice, like a good panel speaker.  

 

Because I think of the Cabernets as having one voice, I almost hate to try to analyze the individual drivers, but I feel compelled to comment a bit more.  I’ve long favored ribbon tweeters for the absence of the shrillness I hear in so many dome tweeters, and for their effortless, shimmering extension.  Having said that, I’ve heard good ribbons, and ribbons that are too polite, too wispy, too lacking in detail and nuance.  The Cabernet ribbon is definitely a good one.  Another downside to ribbons of my prior experience is the lack of vertical dispersion.  Slouch down below or stand up above the axis of the tweeter, and the treble goes missing.  This just doesn’t happen with the split ribbon.  In the bass, I hear great impact, yet with speed and definition that marries beautifully with the other drivers.   In the midrange, I hear a combination of transparency, tonal purity, detail, palpability, and harmonic complexity I simply haven’t experienced before, ever.   

 

Can the Cabernets play loud on 16 watts of 300B?  Heck yeah!  Only occasionally, in big crescendos, in big symphonic pieces, did I get any sense of congestion or soundstage collapse.  Even then, this happened only at levels much higher than my ordinary comfort level in my 18 x 28 room.  Can they play louder on 60 watts of 845?  Heck yeah!  No congestion, no strain, even at stupid loud levels.  I do, however, like my neighbors and my hearing, and I lost that SET magic.  Can they play even louder with bigger power?  Probably.  Jim recommends 8 – 120 watts for the Cabernets.  Am I going to test this?  No way. 

 

Can the Cabernets play soft?  An emphatic yes once again.   Much of my listening is done at lower volume levels, after the family has gone to bed.  My living room is mostly open at the back and partly open at the side; sound carries throughout the house.  The Cabernets are alive, and extremely engaging, even at low volume levels.  

 

Most importantly though, what the Vaughn Cabernets do in my system, better than any other system I’ve heard save one, is to free my mind from the work of listening to sound, and easily, consistently connect me to the emotion and meaning of the music itself.  I can, and do listen for hours at a time, and consistently feel refreshed, uplifted, energized.  Even now, after 6 months of listening, I’ll occasionally pull myself out of the music, shake my head and think: “Wow, these are really, really outstanding speakers!” 

 

Keep in mind that this all happens in a very difficult environment, without the benefit of any room treatment.  I can imagine how much better the Cabernets would sound in a more favorable environment, but I really don’t long for it.  I am finally ecstatically happy with my system, as is, where is.  

 

FINAL THOUGHTS: 

 

Your goals for the sound of your system may differ widely from mine.  You might not have the limitations I do on room treatment or familial acceptance of big panels or horns in a shared domestic environment.  The Vaughn Cabernets are not the very best speakers I’ve ever heard, but they’re not far off those benchmarks.  The system I experienced with superior soundstaging was over $150K, using $50K speakers.  The system that was more emotionally engaging was again well north of $100K, used vinyl only as a source, and had $67K speakers.  In both cases, the speakers were of a size that would simply not work in my home.   If space and money were no object, I might consider pursuing one of these other systems.  Reality, however, dictates otherwise. 

 

The Vaughn Cabernets are not inexpensive, but I believe they’re extremely fairly priced.  On a very rough estimate, the drivers and crossover parts alone would cost over $2,500.  This ignores the cost of the cabinets themselves, which often exceed the cost of the drivers in quite a few other manufacturers’ offerings.  It also ignores the expenses for workspace, assembly, shipping, and service, let alone a few dollars for Jim Jordan to be able to feed his family.  Frankly, I don’t know how he can sell them for their asking price.    

 

In relation to other speakers I’ve listened to, the Vaughn Cabernets are by far the best loudspeakers I’ve ever heard at anything even remotely close to their price.  For what I value in sound and music, they are simply superior to any other speakers I’ve heard at up to 28,000 dollars a pair.  The few speakers I’ve found superior to the Cabernets are 5 to 7 times their price, and would require a significantly greater investment in quality high wattage amplification.     The size and appearance of the Cabernets also provide a great degree of acceptance in a shared domestic environment, which these other speakers did not provide. 

 

In short, (if 4,750 words can be thought of as short), I believe the Vaughn Cabernets are an absolute screaming deal.  

 

I’m finished with my search for sound.  I’ve finally found the music.

 

DR. Greg K. - Salinas, Ca