Country of Origin



Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here

Sometimes far off the beaten review track, a simple shoutout is called for (from, especially in hip-hop or dance music, a mention, credit or greeting typically made over the radio or during a live performance). Today is for French speaker auteur Alain Pratali and his friend and Korean importer Simon Lee. In my formal review of Aurai Audio's Lieutenant speaker, I described their history which led to this design; what it consists of and sounds like. Today isn't about repeating any of it. Today is just an informal thumbs up for how well these deceptively conventional-looking boxes once again bed into a new sound room to be all I think a musically compelling high-resolution loudspeaker of home-friendly dimensions should be.

You won't hear about Alain in the glossies. He's officially retired. He does audio design for pure amusement and to challenge himself. He concerns himself with normal business aspects for Aurai only to the most mandatory extent and speaks no real English. It's simply not his focus or source of enjoyment. Since his departure from April Music, Seoul's Simon Kwangli Lee has worked in similar obscurity by focusing nearly exclusively on his domestic market. His formal FaceBook pages haven't updated since 2019. Meanwhile his Korean cafe.naver blog's latest entry dates back just two days. It's there that one learns of a new all-in-one called SiMON, the reference T1 and D1 CD transport and DAC respectively and more. That's two sets of highly experienced great ears attached to minds not attracted to high-end's inflationary trends who work well off the beaten tracks and don't play to the press.

After a lazy Sunday spent with my pair of high-gloss cherry Lieutenants, I felt inspired to give these two gents a well-deserved shoutout even without spinning any hip-hop or hosting a radio station. For review swapping purposes, I have four other speakers I can move in. For critical pleasure—not an impossibility even if it reads as such—these are my choice. For whatever that's worth after 20 years on the beat, there you go. Sometimes the best things in life are obscure and very hard to find without a whole string of apparent coincidences. To acquire that buck sculpture for example meant first of all moving house to make Kilrush our new local township. Otherwise I'd never come upon this shop.

It actually meant walking through Wild Atlantic Living, an optician's shoppe on the main street all the way to its very back where an ultra-narrow staircase leads to a small upstairs gift boutique of carefully curated curiosities. Then it mean spotting a sample high up on a corner shelf and asking the very helpful gal with the unpronouncable Gaelic name—very doable once I got over its wicked spelling—whether she could bring it down.

Finally it meant lucking out with a sealed version whose antlers, unlike the display sample's, still had all their resin points intact. Once more the gal had impeccable salesmanship by offering to open up the styrofoam loaded bubble-wrap stuffed box just for a look-see.

Occasionally, pigs really do fly. Be it loudspeakers or charming decorative items, now such finds warrant props and a shoutout just because. Cheers.