Reviews by Industry Professionals

RMAF 2011

Posted by: Jacob Heilbrunn at 3:03 pm, October 19th, 2011
Jacob Heilbrunn's Best in Show- RMAF 2011

"the soundstage was cavernous, coupled with more ambient detail than you could shake a stick at. Stunning."

Best Sound (cost no object)
Analysis Audio's Omega loudspeaker system (driven by Arion Audio HS-500 Vacuum Tube Hybrid Class-D power amplifiers) had all the classic planar virtues in spades coupled with superb resolution.


RMAF 2011 Analysis Audio / Arion Audio Room

Speaking of Analysis, it probably won't surprise anyone that the Analysis room was one of my best of show picks. Importer Mike Kalellis had set up the $22,000 Omegas, and anyone who mistakenly believes that these boxless beauties can't produce really deep bass need only listen briefly to realize the fallacy of that notion. In fact, on the first day the bass was a bit too prominent, but some fine tuning had the speakers singing in much better balance on Saturday and Sunday.

Mike was also introducing new 500-watt class D monoblocks under his new Arion brand. The show booklet mentions plans for tube/class D hybrid amplifiers, but these amps were straight class D designs. Mike told me that the amps had not been completed in time for full burn-in before the show, and they sounded a bit cold the first day. But they too were getting much more impressive late Saturday and on Sunday. I'll be taking a much longer look at them in an upcoming review, but based on what I've heard so far, and the very attractive MSRP of $3995 for a pair, I expect them to be a strong contender in today's increasingly value-oriented market. There was also a good-sounding prototype line stage, and the PS Audio Perfectwave DAC & transport, one of the most impressive of the new-generation digital front ends I have seen.

Wayne Donnelly

RMAF 2011 Analysis Audio / Arion Audio Room

The sleeping rooms used as listening rooms at RMAF are a real challenge to exhibitors but they do provide an equal reference base for all exhibitors in those rooms. The suites are bigger in square feet but the low ceilings create even more of a challenge for good sound reproduction. However, the large meeting rooms on the lobby level are the right size for dipole radiators and they support a large crowd of listeners that can enjoy a large sweet-spot.

Clearly Analysis Audio put together the premier audio system that made their loudspeakers excel. I heard uncanny accuracy and imaging, not heard in any other exhibitor's room. Let me tell you a little about me and my criteria for audio reproduction; I seek accuracy above the 'sweet pleasant sound', I want my audio reproduction system to sound exactly like the live performance. If I want just an enjoyable replay of tunes I previously enjoyed I listen to my Seeburg AY160 vacuum tube amplifier juke box.

Analysis Audio was using one Peter Ledermann's of Soundsmith moving iron phono cartridge, probably the best magnetic phonograph record transducer made and to my ears better than any moving coil reproducer. Although I still favor the uncanny accuracy of Peter's strain gauge transducer, the phase accuracy is superior to any other transducer, matching the Neumann cutter better than any other transducer or preamplifier/equalizer. Analysis Audio's preamplifier was amazing, making Peter's magnetic cartridge sound close to his strain gauge in phase accuracy. Arion Audio power amplifier was a (Vacuum Tube Hybrid) Class "D" switching amplifier that was close to perfect with lots of power. It has taken me 45 years to discover why solid state amplifiers measure near perfect but don't sound that great, even including the many I've owned, listened to and designed and made myself. The McIntosh tube amplifiers for over 60 years has been superior to all other power amplifiers, they measure and clip just like the best analog solid state amplifiers but they have no cross over distortion. A properly designed Class "D" amplifier also has no cross over distortion. Cross over distortion is the distortion of the analog audio wave during the reversal of voltage at above and below zero voltage and I'm convinced people or listeners can hear this distortion.

Analysis Audio loudspeakers are awe-inspiring at any price, the phase accuracy produced imaging that allows the listener to walk through and around the artist(s) while the artist stays in the same location in the room. Vocals are again uncanny accurate with coherent sibilance and in phase harmonics, so accurate the listener would look for the live vocalist. Violins, pianos and other string instruments are reproduced with harmonics at live levels and in time. Analysis Audio loudspeakers also play loud so recorded dynamic range is faithfully reproduced without any compression or distortion.

It was clear to me and others who found the Analysis Audio room that Analysis Audio had the best audio reproduction system at the show. I'm looking forward to hearing the best in the Analysis Audio listening room at this RMAF2012.

Richard Majestic
Las Cruces NM

Arion Audio RS-500 Monoblock Amplifiers
Big bang and great sound for moderate bucks.

No big surprises here. The Arion RS-500s are superb-sounding, technologically advanced and seemingly bulletproof designs that deliver enormous price/performance value. At an price of $3995 per pair, they are a stone bargain. Anyone looking for high power and superior sonics should have them on a short list for consideration.


Review By Wayne Donnelly - 2010

SA Equipment Review - April/May 2010

It turned out that the Omega is quite comfortable with Class D amplification. Shortly after CES 2010 I was fortunate to spend a few days with the Arion MK 1000 (RS-500) monoblocks ($3,900/pr), a new offering from Arion Audio a sister company of Analysis Audio USA, and I would like to share my first impressions with you. Power rating is 500 watt into 8 Ohm and 1,000 watt into 4 Ohm. Although the Arions could not quite match the Spectron's sense of dynamic menace, and require a long warm up period (per Mike's suggestion I left them powered on all the time), I found them to sound cleaner, smoother, and even more detailed. In fact, the Arion's ability to resolve complex harmonic layers was nothing short of amazing. The harmonic envelope of individual instruments bloomed, ebbed and flowed with remarkable conviction. I expected and got well-defined and punchy bass lines, but I didn't expect sweet midrange textures and world-class spatial delineation. I found it to be very revealing of components upstream. The Arion loved being mated with Accustic Arts' new Tube Preamp II, a magical line stage, and I'm sure that there was quite a bit of synergy at play. This should come as no surprise, as I had been advocating the use of tubes ahead of solid-state power amps for many years as a means of coaxing the overall sonic character toward the harmonic color saturation and textural purity of the real thing. Although it was being fed by a reference-class front, at no time did the Arion appear to be a sonic bottleneck. High-energy recordings boogied along suavely and with plenty of verve. The sense of transparency was so spooky that I felt that I could reach into the soundstage and touch someone. Despite its modest looks and price tag, I have to tell you that the Arion MK 1000 (RS-500) is currently my favorite amp for driving the Omega.


By Dick Olsher

RMAF Show Report: Speakers Over $20k By Jonathan Valin Nov 11th, 2009

Next up was the Bluebell Suite where the $22k Analysis Omega planar/ribbon floorstander, looking every bit the Apogee Duetta clone, was making lovely music via inexpensive ($3.9k) Arion monoblock amps and a PS Audio Perfect Wave transport and DAC. The sound was smooth, dark, sweet, not aggressive but not lacking in dynamics, either. A nice showing for Analysis.

Jonathan Valin

RMAF 2009 Show Report of Analysis Audio / Arion Audio Room

For the last few years at RMAF I have enjoyed listening to the Analysis Audio Magnetic-Planar speakers, but unable to shake the feeling that they were not living up to their potential. This year U.S. importer Michael Kalellis used the Omega model, which retails for approximately $22,000 (I forgot to write down the precise number) and is about midway in the product line. I am delighted to report that they not only reached my expectations, but surpassed them. The obvious difference from past years is that Michael is now using his own amplifiers, marketed under the moniker Arion Audio. The monoblock amps are Class D with semi-proprietary modules, producing 500W into 8 Ohms and 1,000 W into 4 Ohms. They are housed in a billet aluminum housing, and use extensive filtering and shielding. They retail for $3,900 which, based on what I heard, is an incredible value. Using the PS Audio PWT and PWD for a front-end, the sound was everything magnetic-planars should be: fast, incredibly open, transparent, and coherent. As Michael is a fellow New Jerseyan, I hope to drop by his shop for some more extended listening, and perhaps an informal review.

Laurence Borden

Arion Audio RS-500 Review

Manufactures note:
This is the English translation of D. Stamatakos review,
published at the web audio magazine "avmentor"

The Greek language does not translate directly into English. After the translation into English was completed, there were minor corrections made so the content of the review can be understood. The translation was done by a third party. We left most grammatical "issues" as translated so not to change the overall "flavor" of the review. Enjoy!

At the time of the review we had not made an official release of the amplifier and call it the MK 1000. We have officially named the amplifier RS-500. The production units have the name "ARION" engraved on the front faceplate and user information silkscreened on the back plate.
...there is no doubt that the MK 1000 (RS-500) from Arion Audio has all the prerequisites to become a big success and this for three reasons: Firstly they have neutrality and very low noise despite their very high power, secondly they do deliver -exactly- that high power that will free them who have a difficult loudspeaker and/or big space and third they achieve all these at a comparatively reasonable cost. Clearly we have a preposition that will place at the corner a lot of the big names and that someone who is about to buy a powerful amplifier should probe very carefully. Also notice the bonus of your back comfort when you should carry them and you will neither need a new air-condition for your living room! If we only knew how do they do it...?

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