AudioKinesis Auditorium Beta - First Impressions

I have recently sold my SoundLab A-1PXs and Ayre MX-Rs, not entirely voluntarily. I was determined that I would replace them with gear that I could live with happily. On Friday, I took delivery of Duke LeJeune's Auditorium Beta system, consisting of two main speakers operating in bipole configuration, along with his SWARM subs, comprising 4 small(ish) units driven by a 1000 watt Class D amp. For those of you who don't know about the SWARM, Duke's theory (and Earl Geddes before him) is that the sub modules are to be irregularly spaced relative room boundaries in order to smooth out bass nodes. An audio buddy here in Texas is using the SWARM with his Innersounds, and claims that they work VERY well. I haven't heard his system since he received the subs, so cannot comment apart from forwarding his remarks. Unfortunately, I can't yet comment on my own SWARM, as the line level box to drive the dedicated sub amp has not yet arrived.

In addition, the replacement amp for the Ayres (Atma-Sphere S-30 Mk III with V-Caps and Caddock upgrades) is not yet in house. That'll be another week or so. So, I am presently listening to the main speakers only, driven by a $500 Jolida integrated amp. Full review of the Auditorium Betas will follow after everything is in place and some serious listening time has elapsed.

Regardless, I wanted to share the following:

1) They throw an extremely large soundfield, even larger than the SLs - or any other speaker that I've auditioned, for that matter.

2) The overall spectral balance is a little different, with the Auditoriums being a bit 'lighter'. Don't know how much of this is due to lack of the subs, however. It's clear that the deep bass is missing, so I'll look forward to getting the subs connected up.

3) Imaging is a little more diffuse, especially in the center. I haven't played with placement too much yet, though, apart from rotating the angle a bit. I started at 45 degrees (relative to the side wall) as suggested. Initially, I think a slightly smaller angle will be better in my room.

4) The Auditorium betas definitely need space behind them. Duke, I believe says that 3.5 feet is a minimum, and 5 feet is much more optimal. I couldn't agree more. I'm fortunate in that my listening room is large (32' X 15' X avg. 9'). I have them set 6' from the wall behind and 3' from the side walls.

5) The absolute see through clarity of the SoundLabs is lacking just a bit, but it's close. Damn close. I'm very impressed.

6) I can say that it's clear that these sound significantly more 'uncompressed' than the SoundLabs on certain cuts, probably because the SLs (with PX panels) behave themselves quite well in terms of little harshness or other nasties - they simply compress. I find myself saying wow, I didn't know that peak was there.

7) The high frequency drivers are waveguide designs. There is no 'horn coloration' that I can discern. None.

8) I'll be playing with the resistors Duke uses to tailor high frequency balance in the future. That will have to wait until the subs are operational, and the Messenger/Atma-Sphere combo is driving things.

First impressions are extremely positive. It sounds so far as though Duke made some very sensible tradeoffs relative to the SoundLabs. As I said, full review to follow.
Congratulations, I've been using Duke's speakers for about a year now (Stormbringers, now Jazz Modules) and would love to get enough space to try the new series with SWARM. I think these use the new TD-12M drivers from John Janowitz at Audio Elegance. Heard them at RMAF and was impressed. At CES they were not being used with the SWARM (VRS room) and as such bass suffered.

Also, would like to hear how the S-30 works out. I've been running my speakers with VAC Auricle Musicbloc MB70s but had been contemplating the M-60s. Had a chance to hear the S-30 in Ralph's room at CES and was impressed.
I'll post new system photos when I get the opportunity. Meanwhile, here's a link to some discussion and to Duke's 'stock' pictures. Mine is the Beta system.

I believe you're right regarding the source of the drivers.

> At CES they were not being used with the SWARM (VRS room) and as such bass suffered.

If this was the case, they certainly weren't being auditioned in the best light. My rough estimate is that the main speakers by themselves are down 6 dB or so at 60 Hz (by design).

Since these are 16-22 ohm speakers, the S-30 will output about 45 wpc. This should be WAY more than enough power. I'll let you know. Feel free to email me for updates if you like.
Unfortunately the TAD (Pioneer) pro drivers used in the Jazz Modules and Dream Makers are getting difficult for Duke to purchase as it requires a large bulk order. However, it appears the new drivers are an excellent substitute.

When I spoke to Vincent Sanders, whose room the speakers were in at CES, the reason he said he was not using the SWARM was purely based on cosmetics. He did have another set of sub-woofers he was planning on using, but when I was visiting the room they were not hooked up and I never went back to see if they were even used at all.

Kind of a shame because in the years that I've gone to RMAF Duke's room has been one of my top five favorites. I'm not certain the speakers were done justice at CES.

I don't think my Jazz Modules go as high as the new series. While they are consistently above 8 ohm, 12 ohm might be the limit. Still, it will create more power and I know Duke uses an S-30 with these speakers as well, but he did recommend that if I wanted to play louder the M-60s with the Jazz Modules could be a better match.