A surprising partnership of Esoteric and Von Schweikert Audio resulted in very nice and dynamic sound. Esoteric apparently is serious about trying to break into the high-end, and its representatives displayed five boxes of components which surely look the part!
The demo employed Von Schweikert Audio's Endeavor E-5 Mk. II loudspeaker ($40,000 per pair), which I had never seen or heard before. But it turns out that Endeavor E-5 Mk. IIs are owned personally by Leif Swanson, VSA's Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Leif also is deeply engaged in the design of VSA loudspeakers.
It is official: I am done with small speakers, stand-mounted speakers and short and even medium-tall floor-standing speakers. I like 1) midrange - tweeter - midrange designs, and 2) tall loudspeakers which present height and scale more authentically than medium-sized floor standers which are trying to push a ton of musical information and amplitude out of a tiny dome tweeter and a single small midrange cone.
When the volume goes up most tweeter/midrange modules get congested and the suspension of disbelief falls apart. A tall M-T-M design doubles the driver surface area for midrange frequencies, and the design solves completely the sensation of the low frequencies emanating from the bottom of the cabinet.
Leif told me that this speaker’s beryllium tweeter is the same exact drive unit used in their Ultra line of speakers. For people who are wary of ceramic drivers, this speaker uses Kevlar and aluminum drivers.
Provided they are driven with high quality and high power tube electronics the Endeavor E-5 Mk. II is my new standard recommendation for box speakers in this price range. Great work Albert, Damon and Leif!