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When owners Kevin & Lynn Scott had business in Switzerland and stopped on Lake Geneva for an afternoon chat in Vevey, I had profiled the Living Voice Vox Olympian 5-way horn speaker project from afar exactly one year ago. Now it was time to visit their Definitive Audio showroom in the East Midlands of Blighty to experience the operation and first working pair in person. The 2010 Yacht Show in Monaco's Port Hercule would see the public unveiling of the first Vox Olympian production unit in late September a few weeks after my visit. As I learned, formal production benefits from certain extravagant refinements in overall finish and cosmetic trim.

The final speaker at left shows the full-grain French finished UK-grown Black Walnut with solid Lacewood string inlays as merely one example of available upscale trim. This particular finish is the result of a collaboration between Vitavox maker Octave Audio Woodworking Ltd. in Bristol and a master craftsman. The latter's portfolio includes the reception room at the palaces of HM King Abdulla II of Jordan. He works with some of the world's premier yacht and interior home designers like John Munford and Terrence Disdale. He also consults for Silver Lining, one of the most prestigious furniture makers extant. His finishing work to the cabinetry involved sealing all of its wooden pores with roughly fifteen base coats that were blocked down flat.

Temporary work lab installed in situ at Definitive Audio's Derbyshire facilities

The final polishing grit for the Vox Olympian was 9 microns just as it would be for piano repairs prior to their final gloss coat. This was followed by five to six hand-buffed top coats to arrive at a traditional high-luster French finish with sharp wood edges and a hard mirror glass surface. That's very different from a polyester coat's thick layer of plastic and meniscus edge over the wood. This technique originates from a 3rd generation of piano traders who routinely repair Bechstein, Bluthner and Bösendorfer pianos in luxury yacht installations. With such expertise, Living Voice can offer rare wood finish options like silver precipitation. That ancient recipe involves working a mixture of silver nitrate, hydrochloric acid and ammonia into the grain before sealing it off.

When Living Voice talks of bespoke finishing, they are quite serious. This could mean Silver Lining-style Shagreen (stingray leather) or rain deer skin stitched up like coach leather. It could mean bog oak, massa birch or quilted sycamore. What the Vox Olympian target audience really demands from its chosen purveyors and suppliers of luxury goods is surprise us! With the proper infrastructure in place, Kevin & Lynn Scott are prepared to deliver.

Or as Kevin put it, "visiting the Monaco Yacht Show as we have for the last two years recalibrates your perception. The upshot is, one mustn't worry about just how far to push one's offering. It's fully expected. Simply make it perfect and everything else will look after itself. At first this might reek of obscene consumption at the very highest level. Then it makes way for a renewed appreciation of exceptional craftsmanship at an equally exalted level. Such artisanship and skills are kept alive only because the necessary resources are available. This is fundamentally no different from the royal arts patrons of the past. Their employ of or commissions from famous composers, painters and sculptors subsidized many artworks we today treasure in museums, public gardens and concert halls and take for granted. Coming back to our final pre-production prototype pair, we realized that while it was sonically locked in splendidly indeed, cosmetically it wasn't good enough yet. Since last you saw us, we spent an entire year addressing just that."