Viking Acoustic L'Instrument Grande Voix First Impressions
Many of you have followed my journey over the last 18 months to find a new system while building a new home.. I received tons of advice under Audiogon's forum - Horn Speaker Recommendation and then Will's Horn finalists through What's Best Forum.
My last system included Wilson Audio Duette 2's and Sonus Faber Amati Tradition Homage speakers, with a Raven Reflection MK2 integrated tube amp and Lumin A-1 and X-1 DAC / Streamer.
After selling my housa including all of my audio system, I embarked on a national search for new components from New Jersey to Southern California. I listened to over 30 different speakers. I live in Arizona.
I ended up buying Canary Audio Grande Reference 300 B mono amps. There are 16 golden lion 300 B tubes along with TUNGSOL rectifier tubes. This is mate to a Canary Audio C1800 pre-amp. I also have the LUMIN X-1 Dac / Streamer. I have perfect path technologies tweaks everywhere and I have 15 synergistic research HFT's in strategic locations. I have an InaKustic 3500P Power Conditioner and power cords and cables.
After an exhaustive search, I settled on Viking Acoustic Grande Voix speakers. I now have roughly 50 hours on my system and I could not be happier. It is the best system that I have owned. I was worried about bass response with a horn speakers but with an 18 inch woofer I have Bass personified. The Grande Voix have two hand-turned carved wood horns on each speaker in a custom black finish with woodtone dual horns. In my case, I need to be able to place them close to a back wall and these work perfect. I have a Cavernous room with 16 foot cathedral ceilings. Some would say that would be an acoustic nightmare. However, the Grand Voix's deliver big Symphonic sound and that is what I was after. I wanted to be able to hear the strings, the sliding fingers down the guitar frets, the pinging of the piano, the accuracy of a trumpet or saxophone and the beauty of a violin or cello. The speaker works well with rock also. It can play loud. However I am more into critical listening with the separation of the musical instruments as if I was the engineer on the soundboard
My Point of reference starts with Mark Isham - Ashes and Diamonds. The piano and trumpet are so clear and concise it makes you feel like your are sitting next to the artist. The same for - On the threshhold of Liberty. Hearing each musical instrument on this track is really important for me. Then moving on to Will Ackerman - Floyd's Ghost. The guitar screeches, piano solo's are perfectly balanced in each speaker. For critical listening the Imaginary Road album would help you define the quality of your system. Finally for voicing I selected Eva Cassidy - Somewhere over the Rainbow, Jewel - Love used to be and Annette Askvik - Liberty. The performance of the Grande Voix absolutely blows away the performance of my more expensive Sonus Faber speakers by a long shot. I thought I was sitting in the front row of a live concert listening to these talented singers and the sax at the end of Liberty just emphasized how good these speakers really perform. For fun I then tried some techno music from Yello. The sound pressure level is unreal ....you could say "club live". The sound was huge, deep and no distortion, which is proof the the Canary Amps with 125 WPC of 300B power can easily drive my 98db Grande Voix speakers with ease in my large room. Even when I am in another room I can still hear the spearation of musical instruments.
One item that separates Viking from say mass production speakers is that David Counsell can image the speakers to your musical tastes. When he listened to my speakers after they were initially completed he thought they were imaged too much toward a Rock taste in early testing. He quickly changed them to meet my more musical tastes. i will also say his woodworking skills and finish are exceptional. My wife was not a fan of horn speakers to begin with but after seeing these she changed her tune. You can see my system under Willgolf's System in the virtual section.
Throughout this whole process of building a house and finding a new system, I had some major health problems this summer which left me Functionally Blind. So, if there are mistakes....oh well.... Sometimes voice activation doesn't work as well as I would like.
I would like to thank all of you who participated in my forum and a special thanks to the following people:
Krissy Tetrault - Perfect Path Technologies
Dave Lalin - The Audio Doctor
Larry Diaz - High End Audio Palace
Peter - The Cable Company
Bob - Worldwide Wholesales
David Counsell - Viking Acoustics
John and Tony - Canary Audio
Finally, I think I almost have my be all end all system. David makes a speaker called Gottenburg which would be my dream. I am also thinking about a Lampizator Pacific DAC even though I love my Lumin X-1. Are Audiophiles ever perfectly happy with their system...LOL Peace and Happiness in the new year.