In Ken Kessler's November column of HiFi News, the veteran audio journalist speaks of the Audiopax Model 88 as a very "delicious" and "amazing-sounding amp" that he "could live with [it] without complaint" and which he duly evaluated on his Quad ESL-57s, BBC LS3/5A and Wilson WATT Puppy System 7. He then goes on to explain why he excused himself from reviewing it - for reasons that might come out in his memoirs, have nothing to do with the amplifier per se but with personality clashes that could prejudice his writing. One wonders whether the UK distributor's being Scottish had anything to do with this mystery? Be that as it may, the reasons for my not reviewing the TBI Magellan VI-su subs and amps won't demand waiting for my memoirs - coz there won't be any dishing of biographical war stories when my time comes to say bye-bye and move on to the great Hereafter. No, the reasons are as follows though they do include their own personality clashes -- albeit not any involving this writer -- and a bit of a mystery. How so? Since my original review of the VBT Magellan VIIIs, I've been the involuntary recipient of numerous lengthy phone calls from six different parties involved with the firm. This included the majority owner, one of the principals, the sales & marketing director, a regional rep, the technical engineer and his new partner.

The gist of these level-headed and emotionally charged communications? It separates out into two variations on a commonly acknowledged theme. It has the investors of VBT on one side of the now stalled negotiation's table, designer Jan Plummer -- who's since launched TBI -- on the other. In a nutshell, these parties have parted ways and certain legalities need to be sorted out before I feel comfortable to endorse, by the sheer act of granting visibility via a review, not the product per se which is fabulous, but the new offspring of TBI as a company. Until such time that currently pending loose ends have been conclusively tied up, I shall hold on to the submitted product or return it, whatever unfolds as most appropriate. My understanding is that both VBT and the newly formed TBI will continue to chart their respective business courses, not as malignant competitors but the "original formula" (VBT, currently working with a new team of engineers to enhance the SPL capabilities of the patent-pending VART/Reflex loading scheme) and TBI, the "new formula", presently being developed by Jan Plummer as a next-generation version of his original concept.

As our Blue Moon Award and follow-up report on the VBT Magellan VIII should have made abundantly clear, this unique product deserves to become a major success in the musical subwoofer market. I'm rooting for all parties involved to go about their business commitments and reap the just rewards for their combined efforts -- past and present -- in due time. Regardless of whether prospective buyers will choose to deal with VBT or TBI, I can, from experience, vouch for the integrity of the product's performance. What I cannot comment upon are the respective personalities and long-term strategies behind either firm. I'm way too far removed to have the necessary insights. And even if I did enjoy X-ray vision or wire taps, it wouldn't be my place to share such findings in public. Divorces of any sort are always bitter business. Until the process is completed and time has done its usual healing, there's always plenty of separation anxiety going around.

All this by way of explaining why, upon receipt of the latest communication today, I have opted to bow out of this review until CES when I will have an opportunity to personally meet with the respective parties to be assured -- by both sides, and on behalf of consumers and dealers alike -- that things have been satisfactorily ironed out.

TBI website
VBT website