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  OX Box #4: Bob Oxley Delves Further Into The Aurum Integris System

      Date posted: July 24, 2008

The complete Aurum Acoustics Integris System

In OxBox #2 I told you about my system, a basic requirement if my observations about equipment and the music are to have any real meaning for you. At that time I said my system was sounding better than it ever had. It was, but…Let me talk about that `but`.

One of the hazards of being an audiophile is being honest about the sound of your own system. Sometimes it is hard to assess and, often, we make up things. The way we feel about our systems is almost always relative to what else we have heard. I am satisfied until I have the chance to hear something better. It’s not easy, and you have no idea where it’s going to end. The only way to enjoy the music (and stay sane) is to be grateful for the system you have and, depending on what you have in the way of mad money, be flexible enough to consider sensible improvements.

That is where I was six months ago, enjoying the music and the sound, but. I wondered if a “value for money” upgrade in the resistors and caps in the PSB [Stratus Gold] speaker crossovers would make much difference. Being in close proximity to the Aurum Acoustics workshop at Long Pond, near St. John’s, I put the matter to CEO Derrick Moss. He said, “Could be done, let me think about it. Mind you, I have been thinking of another option for you”. A month later I was the owner of a pre-production pair of Aurum Acoustics 300B Active speakers (see aurumacoustics.com for all the technical details) to go along with the AA Integris CDP Pre Amp/ CD player with the phono section installed. I even nabbed a slightly used AA two shelf isolation stand. Off the shelf, the300B Active speakers are $30,000 plus, the complete system something over $50,000.

Right Speaker
The setup now installed on my third floor is, in fact, the system that was a stepping stone to the considerable achievement of the Aurum production model. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to get a close approximation of the real thing at a reduced price. There are a few differences in the electronics, though everything is the same in principle, as are most of the parts. Mine, like the company’s early production units, uses Bryston-sourced solid-state amplifier boards for the woofers.

Just recently the company switched to Class-D amplification for the bass, the change motivated by the Derrick’s plan to launch a new range of power amplifiers based on this same new Class-D design. I would suggest that if there is a new amplifier in your future, stay tuned.

The most noticeable difference pre and post production is the speaker boxes and the bass drivers. The production model has a ten inch woofer instead of twelve inch and therefore a smaller cabinet, and, Moss says, improved bass. I’ve also had the good fortune to recently adopt a wonderful pair of Kimber Cable Select KS 1030 all-silver interconnects (think: detailed transparency). I’m using these to couple the Active 300B and the CDP [CD player/preamp], the one pair of interconnects in the whole system! And, for the record, instead of the supplied Aurum Acoustic/Cardas speaker cables, I am able to keep my beloved Kimber Select 3033 for the bass connection.

As I suggested, you can go to the web site to get all the details but a couple of things about the overall design stand out for me. The crossovers are electronic and are sited before amplification in the chassis itself along with six power amplifier channels. About 5 watts (typically 1-3 watts) drive the two tweeters and the very high efficiency mid range drivers. To me, the genius of Derrick Moss`s design is the skill with which he has integrated these “flea power” 300 B tubes in the mid-high end and the solid state at 100+ watts per side for the bass in this tri-amplified system.

The electronics, CDP at top, 400 B below
Boy, does it work! The balance from top to bottom sounds seamless. I have to admit it took me some time just to come to terms with owning such an outstanding system. I am getting there, and to put the whole matter in a nutshell, there are no more buts. Rather than attack you with a selection of adjectives and well worn phrases to describe the sound, I wish to let my feeling about it come out naturally in the this space and in my reviews. I will say that the listening experience is almost as notable for what I don’t hear as what I do. So much non-musical junk has disappeared, so that what I do hear is deeply rewarding, in a much greater way than I ever imagined. The sound of music is so beautiful. The removal of the`but` factor cannot be over emphasized.

This is especially important when you commit to a complete system from one manufacturer. I wasn’t sure how that would feel after a lifetime of being able to swap in and out with this and that. It feels great.

You can see how the system looks in the room and it has been relatively easy to place. In the photo you will see the 300B amplifier with the CDP on the top shelf of the Integris stand and beside it my old Kenwood direct drive record player which is rejuvenated by being placed on a purpose built metal spike footed stand. More about that in another Ox Box. It is time to tie the ribbon on this one. I am happy to try to answer any questions you might have and always welcome your comments.

Bob Oxley

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