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Reviewer: Joël Chevassus
Financial Interests: click here
Source: Esoteric K-03, Esoteric G-02 (on loan), Lumin, Ayon S-5 (on loan), Apple iMac Lion OSX/Audirvana, Audio GD Ref 5, Trends UD-10.1, MacBook Lion OSX with HiFace USB bridge
Amp/Preamp: Rogue Audio Hera II, SPL Volume2, Orpheus Lab Three M, Trends TA-10.2, Angstrom Research Reference One [on loan]
Speakers: Vivid Audio K1
Cables: Skywire Audio 2020 digital cable, Naturelle Audio interconnects Live 8 MK2, Grimm Audio TPM interconnects, JPS Labs Superconductor 3 interconnects & speaker cables, Audioquest K2 speaker cables, High Fidelity speaker cables [on loan]
Power Cords: Audio Art Power 1 SE, Furutech
Stands & room: Music Tools Alica stand, Vicoustic panels, PYT Panels, Microsorber insulation, DAAD absorbers and Music Tools bass traps [on loan]
Review component retail: €6.000/pr

Context. Lawrence Audio from Taiwan have been working in the field of loudspeakers since 1996. Founder Lawrence Liao is a multi-talented artist/designer who entered the audio business with limited-edition custom-made speakers. Today Lawrence Audio has developed a complete line of loudspeakers and two years ago Lawrence Liao and general manager Angela Yang started to participate heavily in international hifi shows to launch the brand to Western countries. Lawrence Audio also produces top-tier tube electronics but have not yet started large-scale distribution of those.

I first auditioned the Violin monitors a good year ago during the 2012 Munich High End show where Lawrence Audio together with Onda Ligera speakers garnered one of my best of show. I remained on my chair for about half an hour listening to the Violins. You'll agree that was quite an achievement for this type of event.

Lawrence Liao designs all of the components in his catalogue to make him a modern-day Renaissance man. As a musician he plays the guitar, piano, violin, saxophone and flute. He owns three guitars, a violin, a piano, a keyboard and four saxophones. But he is also an interior and furniture designer who has plied that trade for more than thirty years. Liao’s artistic inclinations even embrace painting.

"When I was younger I wanted to be a painter." Liao studied under renowned painter Su Fung-nan whose Chinese ink-and-brush paintings have gained international recognition. That might explain Liao's singular aesthetics to cabinet design, a far cry from the traditional shoe-box concept. His passion for audio design flared up when a friend asked him twenty years ago if the expensive speakers he just bought were DIY. The necessity to listen to music and his particular aesthetic sensibilities thus brought about what became Lawrence Audio and the rest is history.

Always after the best sound, his product line has grown impressively and today begins with the small Mandolin bookshelf and tops out with the Eagle four-way flagship. The Eagle was in fact the first of the current crop and took a full year to mature. A single set today requires about three months to be crafted and all speakers are proudly MIT - made in Taiwan.

Many of the current models in the catalogue's lower reaches are inspired by musical instruments reimagined in a kind of angular cubist form factor which avoids parallel walls. Some of the top models refer to classical composers like the Firebird in memoriam of Igor Stravinsky. The cosmetics particularly of the 'instruments' confer a unique appearance to the product line and attract many people first with their uncommon shapes. Lawrence Liao is very proud of his origins and colleagues. "Taiwanese people are very innovative and hardworking. We are very passionate, energetic and also very competitive." Passion is undoubtedly what moves Liao to pursue his responsibilities of interior designer and loudspeaker manufacturer and hobbies as a multi instrumentalist and painter. How does he manage all these activities? It seems like quite a crazy agenda. It also seems that the audio business has taken first seat now as Lawrence Audio is seen at more and more hifi shows around the globe. Which gets us to the Violin.