Its dynamic capabilities were also frighteningly good. In all my time with them, I never detected any hint of compression of musical scaling, no matter how hard I pushed them on either my Von Schweikert VR-55 Aktives or the new Vivid Audio flagships. Their exceptional dynamic competence had also been clearly apparent when listening to them drive the ground-breaking YG Acoustics Sonja XVs last fall. The speed and resolution they exhibited when recreating leading transients on percussion (and strings, piano, and horns) were revelatory, and their ability to deliver physical punch, producing chest-crushing impact from drum whacks or bass string snaps, was exhilarating.
Then there is their sense of speed. This was so enticing that I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. They convey such a credible sense of tempo, of swiftness, of immediacy, that all voices were that much more believable.
When it comes to soundstaging, this combo was truly world-class. I suspect a major part of their success in this category is attributable to their superb resolution of low-level spatial cues, accurately revealing and recreating the reverberations and reflections of the recording venue.
Image sizes were unquestionably realistic, neither bloated nor diminished, and locations were solid and stable, with a remarkable sense of air and space around and between the highly individualized voices throughout the stage (recording permitting). With recordings up to the challenge, the stage was compellingly wide, deep, and, most notably, the right height.
In my notes for this Audionet audition there were two attributes that I wrote about more often than any others: transparency (and by extension, resolution) and immediacy. Nothing else at anywhere near their asking price has been so incisively articulate yet so unmistakably natural-sounding.
Slaying, or Certainly Humbling, Giants
At this point in my audio journey, after some 45 years of being involved at virtually every level of high-end audio (I was selling stereo gear before I could legally drive a car), I find that this Audionet combination represents one of the highest ratios of performance to price I’ve yet encountered, exemplifying the role of the proverbial “Giant Killer.”
If the ultimate goal in this industry is to create products capable of engaging the listener so completely that we become transfixed by an entirely fabricated deception, unaware that the time and space of the events unfolding before us are merely auditory illusions generated by a complex reconstruction engine, a conglomeration of electro-mechanical devices, then Audionet has earned its place among the handful of manufacturers pushing the limits. If you are looking to spend upward into the mid-six-figures on your main electronics pairing, I urge you not to part with a dime until you seek out and hear what the PRE G2 and MAX can do. If you value performance over all else, you are going to save a pile of money.
Specs & Pricing
Inputs: Five pair Furutech RCA line; one pair XLR
Outputs: One pair Furutech RCA, one pair Furutech RCA inverting, two pair XLR, and one pair Furutech RCA Monitor
Frequency response: 0Hz–2MHz (- 3dB)
THN + N: <-102dB
Output impedance: 22 ohms
Dimensions: 17" x 5 ½" x 16 ½"
Weight: 44 lbs.
Output: 400W into 8 ohms; 700W into 4 ohms; 1100W into 2 ohms
Inputs: One Furutech RCA, one XLR balanced
Frequency response: 0Hz–500kHz (-3dB)
Damping factor: >1800@10kHz and >10,000@100Hz
Loudspeaker outputs: Two pair Furutech
Input impedance: RCA, 37 k ohms, 100pF; XLR, 3k ohms, 100 pF
Dimensions: 8 ½" x 11 ¼" x 19 ¼"
Weight: 84 lbs.
GTT Audio Audio & Video (U.S. Distributor)