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Vanatoo Transparent One Powered Monitors Review Print E-mail
Thursday, 04 April 2013
Article Index
Vanatoo Transparent One Powered Monitors Review
Set Up and Listening
Bonus Interview

Bonus Interview

1) you tell our readers what the impetus behind starting the company was?

Gary: It was one of those itches that you just have to scratch. We each have had a long-term love affair with both music and technology. It became clear a few years ago that the music industry was going through a major change with the advent of legal downloads, and that the technology for moving music around your house and controlling it from the palm of your hand was emerging. This was very disruptive to the way music had been enjoyed more-or-less since the time of Edison. Disruption always spells opportunity for new businesses. And when that opportunity crosses with long-held passions, you just have to take the plunge! We saw the possibility of bringing truly high-fidelity sound with easy control into the mainstream, and couldn’t resist.

Vanatoo Transparent One Powered Monitors 2) Can you describe how the Transparent One handles incoming digital data, from input to output?

Rick: The first operation that is performed is by a dedicated microprocessor which, among other tasks, is responsible for detecting and routing the appropriate audio source to the amplifier chip based on a programmed selection algorithm. The digital music files are fed into the Transparent One Class D amplifier directly in S/PDIF format. The amplifier then resamples all inputs to 48K samples at 24 bits. Embedded within the amplifier is a 24 bit wide Digital Signal Processor (DSP) which performs all the necessary file conditioning like tone control, high pass filter, low pass filter, parametric equalizing, left/right channel swapping, summing the left and right channels for the sub out, and volume control. Once these digital manipulations are completed the amplifier converts the digital information to a Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) signal with a switching frequency of about 385Khz. This output is then filtered with a simple analog low pass filter and sent to the drivers. With this type of digital Class D amplifier your music stays in the digital domain from your hard drive through the cable to the speakers, and on through the DSP and Class D amplifier itself before it is finally converted to analog at the moment just before it is sent to the speaker drivers. No external DAC is needed.

3) are some of the challenges of selling active speakers to audiophiles?

Gary: I would say there are really three main obstacles. The first is that most audiophiles like gear (we like gear!). They usually prefer a stack of components that they can mix and match and experiment with in different ways. While the Transparent One still lets you choose your file types, sources, and cabling, we have combined some of the hardware with which people like to fiddle. The second is probably our price point; many people who are serious about music just don’t believe that a respectable job of reproducing it can be had for $499. Lastly, most people don’t understand that a smart designer with control of both the amp and speaker can do things not possible with separates.

Our answer to these challenges is pretty simple. We are probably not a candidate to replace main systems costing $3-5K or more. However, people with expensive main systems often have need for a good second system, or have friends and family who need an entry level quality system, and typically appreciate that system being less complicated. As far as the sound we can deliver for $499, you kind of have to hear it to believe it. We truly have industry leading bass extension and clarity along with terrific top-to-bottom balance from a miniscule system. The kind of performance we can offer from this small of system is not available from separates, no matter the price. Having control of both the amp and the speaker can do that for you, if you know how to take it to maximum advantage.

Rick: I would add that Audiophile or not, our biggest challenge is getting discovered. We’ve experienced a pretty good conversion rate once people have actually heard the speakers. Thus we feel pretty good about offering our 30 day audition period. Like Gary said, you really have to hear them to believe it.


Vanatoo Transparent One: Starting at $499 a pair.

Digital Input options: TOSLINK® optical, Coax, and USB audio
Analog Input option: 3.5 mm (or 1/8”) (i.e. headphone jack)
Amplifier type: Class D Audio
USB input Max sample rate: 96K at 24 bits
DSP resolution: 48K at 24 bits
Weight: Active: 12 lbs / Passive: 11 lbs
Shipping weight: 28 lbs
Shipping dimensions: 14" H x 17 5/8" W x 10 5/8"
D Frequency Response: 48Hz – 20K Hz ±3dB

Review System 1

CD Transport: Musical Fidelity M1
CDT Server: Squeezebox Touch w/ CIA VDC-SB power supply via Ethernet to MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate external drives.
DAC: Bryston BDA-1, MyTek Stereo 192 DAC
Headphone Amp: Pro-Ject Head Box II
Headphones: Grado SR60 Preamp: Audio Research SP16
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55, Bob Carver Black Magic Speaker: Martin Logan Ethos, Thiel CS2.4
Cables: Stager Silver Solids, Kimber KCTG (IC), Transparent MM2 Super (IC), Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Shunyata Venom (AC) Element Cable Red Storm (Digital AC), DH Labs TosLink, DH Labs AES/EBU, Audioquest, Forest, WireWorld Ultraviolet, DH Labs USB(USB) DH Labs (USB)
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner, Salamander rack

Review System 2

CD Player: Onkyo C7000R
Music Server: Squeezebox Touch via Ethernet to MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate external drives. DAC: Musical Fidelity V-DAC II, Rein Audio X3-DAC Integrated Amplifier: McIntosh MA6600, Wyred4Sound mINT
Tape Deck: Revox A77 Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3, Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 65
Cables: Darwin Cables Silver IC, Kimber Hero HB, DH Labs White Lightning (IC),QED Genesis Silver Spiral (Speaker),PS Audio (AC), Mojo Audio (AC), DH Labs TosLink, Audioquest Forest USB, Wireworld Ultraviolet
USB Accessories:Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Sound Anchors Stands, Wiremold, KECES XPS

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