On an encouraging note,
those same companies also demonstrated tantalizing lower-tier efforts incorporating substantial trickle-down tech that gave up little in absolute performance and promised much wider room compatibility. That indicated that star quality in a smaller package could be attained at a rather more attractive price point. Now it was a question of just how much of a dent that pedigree was going to make in my bank account? On to some of the available choices I listened to.

???

The Avantgarde Zero was an interesting upscale compact horn, partially amplified and aesthetically thoroughly modern. It came close in almost all parameters but pricing was at about the $20'000+ mark - sonically tempting but a bit above my pay grade. The editor-in-chief suggested my ear might be seduced by some of the Audio Physic models like the latest Virgo he was in the process of reviewing. His sonic assessment was correct and the detail, soundstage and effortless dynamic gradation definitely won my heart. Unfortunately, European cost versus Canadian asking price did not favour my wallet to again fall into Avantgarde territory. Beauty has a price. Unfortunately it wasn't mine.


The small MBL omni stand mount opened up a soundstage like a champion with a seductive quality of high detail and natural warmth. In a 2.1 channel context, every qualification was definitely satisfied and size was well matched to my room but… the entry cost mirrored the Avantgardes once again. Another beautiful alternative fell by the wayside. A second omni that presented itself was the new Morrison Audio, a direct descendant of the fabled Stewart Hegeman loudspeaker.


In a convincing demonstration, it proved remarkably transparent, truly full range and threw some of the most focused images and accurate soundstages I ever encountered. There was a lot to like and the $9'500 pricing was a stretchable attainability, given some spousal begging. The only thing holding me back was optimum listening position requirements. In demonstration, Mr. Morrison favoured a nearfield position with large space behind and besides the speaker to eliminate boundary effects. From a sonic perspective the approach was flawless but décor-wise, it would have automatically relegated the audio system to basement man cave. Next.