Page 2 of 3
Set Up & Listening
As soon as I unpacked the Art Decos, I realized Mr. Petrescu is very serious about this cabinet. These speakers were solid. The gorgeous cherry wood was well finished, and the attention to detail was well above average. The speaker binding posts were also high quality and easily accessible. I did note the rear port Mr. Petrescu mentioned, and the spikes attached to the three feet that support the speakers.
I set up the Art Deco initially in system two, driven by the McIntosh MA6600. I gave it a week of non-critical listening, but found it difficult to not pay attention to the music. It became obvious that this was going to be a pleasant assignment. Trying to casually listen was tough. So I moved the speakers into the main room driven initially by a Carver Black Magic 20 wpc tube amp, then by an Audio Research VS55 50 wpc amp. Speaker cables were Transparent.
Once I got down to business with some extended listening sessions, it was pretty clear that Mr. Petrescu knows a thing or two about speaker design. I found myself enjoying a high fidelity, coherent, and engaging speaker. Album after album floated by, locking me into the flow of the music. There was absolutely no spotlighting of any area of the audioband, no bloated bass, and a neutral, seductive midrange. It was all about balance.
There was no wanting for resolution. I heard all details in familiar reference recordings, and there was that classic “clear window” into the performance. This leads us to another interesting aspect of the Art Deco’s performance -- it produces a much wider soundstage that its modest size would indicate. I found the width and depth quite surprising. The music seemed to extend well beyond the boundaries of the cabinet.
The sadly overlooked, but terrific, album from Shannon McNally, Small Town Talk, is full of nimble, syncopated arrangements. It is an album celebrating the songs of Bobby Charles, another unsung songwriter. New Orleans legend Dr. John is a contributing force, and the music is bluesy, funky, folky, and classic sounding. The opening track, "Street People", features her band spread across a wide mix, with her supple, easy going vocal riding on top. The Art Decos got down and boogied, really knocking me out with ability to propel the music forward. The term relaxed precision came to mind.
British alternative icon Richard Ashcroft’s Key To The World has been in heavy rotation, and through the Art Decos it sounded epic. Ashcroft’s passionate vocals floated on a cloud of pulsing bass lines, guitar hooks, and soaring melodies. The title track is especially dramatic and I found it amazing that a marriage of big music and a relatively small speaker could be so satisfying. Scott Weiland, formerly of Stone Temple Pilots, put out a fantastic solo album back in 1998 called 12 Bar Blues, and it also strives to create music on a cinematic scale, with Beatles-esque melodies and trippy arrangements. The Art Decos revealed the nuances of this album beautifully, and tracks like "Divider" and "Mockingbird Girl" sounded vibrant, despite having been played quite a bit over the years.