A new home for Chapman T77SE's
Most good things are worth waiting for. In 1973 I walked into the apartment of a new acquaintance and received my first earful of home audio possibility. A pair of RTR’s with electrostatic tweeter panels, Marantz electronics, Linn table and Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters. An obsession was launched that afternoon. I’ve since criss-crossed the country while working and had opportunities to hear many, many high end loudspeaker from the familiar to the obscure; sanely obtainable to obscenely expensive. It has always been about the loudspeakers for me. A few of them moved me to tears, a few left me wondering if someone was pulling my leg. (Then there was the guy who oohed and ahhed his astronomically priced offering, denying my perception of a problem, until I pulled off the grill cover and pointed out a toasted midrange.) From Apogee to Zu only a few of them remained tucked away in my memory.
Sometime in the late 80’s or early 90’s I wandered into a little shop in Seattle and spent an afternoon pleasantly engaged by a plain looking but musically intoxicating loudspeaker handcrafted by Chapman Audio. Never heard of them, couldn’t find them anywhere near my then Midwest home. Years passed and I owned Epos’, B&W’s, Apogees, Thiels, ACI’s, NHT’s, Frieds and Vandersteens. Some rather briefly, some for years.
Occasionally I’d look for news of Chapman Audio, usually with little success although a friend living on Vashon Island said he heard there was a guy there with a reputation for making outstanding loudspeakers, but his name was Jones. My buddy dug up a number and I gave it a shot. Jones; Stuart Chapman Jones. I was excited to learn that he was still around and still building loudspeakers. Serendipity struck again within days. I spotted a pair of T77SE’s for sale on Audiogon and called the seller. Turned out it was none other than Douglas Schroeder who posted a glowing review on the very pair he was letting go of to make room for other review samples. We closed the sale in a couple phone calls. I just made an expensive, for me, audio purchase without an audition and without reservation. A friend fetched them and it took me a year to wrestle them out of his living room and haul them to the southwest desert I now call home. Douglas expresses the superlatives better than I could imagine so read his review.
All I can add is that my home has never been filled with music as it is now. Recording after recording I’m left smiling, clapping, tapping my toes, chair dancing, singing. Even my wife actually sat down in the sweet spot for song after song one evening until we both realized getting up for work the next day was going to be a chore-that was a first. Bad recordings are forgiven, to a listenable degree; good recordings reveal previously unheard treasures and great recordings penetrate heart and soul. Large scale orchestra? No problem. Never heard depth that extends straight back across the entire sound stage. Voice? No problem. Never heard that detail of articulation and quaver of emotion. Searing blues guitar? No problem. Go ahead and snick the volume a few more notches and don’t worry about a meltdown. Acoustic jazz? No problem. Watch and listen to the exact location of each musician. You can almost see Miles nodding to ‘Trane to take the next solo. How about that attack and decay on the cymbal? How about that trumpet bite? How about the weight of that tympani? Yes, that would be how a piano really sounds. And on and on, recording after recording.
I know that the Chapman’s are the star of my system; shining with a competent but unremarkable supporting cast. Resolution Audio Opus 21 balanced into an Aragon 8008BB via Nordost Blue Heaven out through Reality Cables into the T77SE’s. I wonder what tubes would do . . . ? One of my sisters has the Epos’, another the B&W’s, my brother grabbed the Apogee’s and my dad the Frieds. A good friend permanently borrowed the ACI’s and a better one got the Vandy’s. I can’t see anyone getting the Chapmans. They are home to stay. Want to hear them? I live in Albuquerque, Stuart knows where.