All The Things You Are
Anthony Kershaw experiences music and balance through Anthony Gallo Acoustics Nucleus Solo loudspeakers
the house!", "Sell the kids!", "Trade the
wife!". Phrases laced with hyperbole, but these and many
more were blurted out by just some of my guests as a result of
listening to the Anthony Gallo Acoustics Nucleus Solo
loudspeakers. Even the less boisterous audiophiles among them
quietly declared them to be one of the finest sounding audio
instruments they have heard to date. As for me - being careful
to avoid the wrath of the great HP, who, in the twenty-fifth
anniversary edition of The Absolute Sound, denigrates
the gushing and fawning of audio reviewers - I am in complete
I can't tell you that Anthony Gallo has ridden his Nucleus Solos of all flaws, but for my taste, they are so few and far between, it seems churlish to elaborate. More importantly, what I have found is a speaker that has very few compromises. It is dynamic, has wonderfully-articulate bass, moves air when needed, is devoid of box and crossover colorations, throws a vast, yet believable, soundstage, images amazingly well, is easy to place, and has drivers that really are on the cutting edge of audio. It also helps that Gallo knows how to voice them, and he has done so to perfection. His tweeter is incredibly fast and accurate - nothing escapes its superb abilities, and the custom-made Dynaudio 17W75XL woofer is a driver to swoon over. As such, all octaves are looked after beautifully. The balance of this speaker is a fine achievement and taken as a whole, a very significant step in the world of speaker design.
Attaching the balls to the stands is a job made simple through the use of large thumbscrews; just hand-tighten. Adding to the overall pride-of-ownership are the heavy-duty gold single-wire binding posts. Another thoughtful idea is the four, two-inch cloth strips that will reduce the tweeter's dispersion if one has to place the speakers close to a back or side wall. The dispersion of the tweeter is by far the best I have heard, and my placement of three feet from the back and side walls negated the use of the strips. My listening was enjoyed with the Solos ten feet apart and slightly toed-in.
The Nucleus Solos are revealing transducers of the best kind. Some speakers are detailed to the point of musical exclusion, demonstrating just how much information can be extruded, but at the cost of tonal beauty. Happily, the Gallos provide inner detail that can be breathtaking yet they never lose the musical ideal. This came much to the fore during very extended listening to five Classic Records' reissues, ones used in preparation for an upcoming Audiophilia feature. Each acoustic, whether the Manhattan Center or the Symphony Halls of Boston and Chicago, was heard from a natural perspective, offering a vast soundstage and reversing the oft-used axiom of life imitating art. Yes, the Gallos are a work of art, nothing trendy or garish or rude, simply helping to improve the quality of life. This they do in spades.
Many other LPs as well as CDs were enjoyed during the two months of auditioning. Several displayed a less-than-perfect recording heritage that on other speakers sounded quite fine. With the Solos, each hearing becomes an event, all of which yield untold pleasures as they strut their stuff. Some great events included: Café Blue (Premonition Records 737) with Patricia Barber's trio three-stepping through some new and not-so-new charts. Barber's piano tone was rich and full of character, correcting my wrong assumption that CD is the best medium from which to hear a piano. Continuing the jaw-dropping experience was the replication of Mark Walker's drum solo in the trio's version of Miles Davis' Nardis. This was spectacular. One guest listener decided it was the closest he had yet heard to a live drum set! I agreed. Each of the toms, cymbals, snare and kick drum was captured vividly, nothing being left to the imagination. And air was being moved in significant ways, as always, an important test for the hi-fi inclined among our readership. But wait! This speaker highlighted many purely musical events just as vividly. One that stood the test of time was the glorious Chicago Symphony Orchestra string tone on an original shaded dog of Strauss Waltzes (RCA LSC-2500). How that old autocrat, Fritz Reiner, - he, of the minuscule beat - coaxed echt Viennese music-making from such an American institution still amazes. Here it is, though, produced magnificently by Anthony Gallo's creations. Sweetness personified.
Delving through record after record was fun and enlightening. I am always attracted to Deutsche Gramophon cover art. However, sonics can vary wildly. The Claudio Abbado/Vienna Philharmonic version of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony (DGG 2530 651) is such a record. It revealed itself to be a worthy contender as one of the greatest of all Tchaikovsky performances. Interestingly, other speakers have interpreted the sound of this DGG as bright but lifeless. Through the Gallos, the recording was energized, with all the glassiness erased, replaced by the warm and inviting acoustic of the Vienna Musikverein. The superb tonal quality continued during the pizzicato Scherzo. Here, the Vienna strings sounded peerless, interrupted only by a plangent oboe signaling the terrifying woodwind writing to come. On another DGG, and in stark contrast to the Tchaikovsky, the Berlin Philharmonic's fabulous performance of Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony (DGG 139020) - surely, our century's greatest - was ruined by the constant glare afforded by inconsistent vinyl. A real shame, as there is no greater performance.
At 90 dB, the Solos are very efficient and were driven easily by a 75W Arcam Alpha Nine integrated amp and the 100 Watts of an Aragon 2004. Efficiency such as this lent the speakers a feeling of effortlessness. They certainly did excel in conveying great energy from little power. The wonderful Athena reissue of the Dallas Symphony's traversal of Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances (ALSW-10001) drove this point most emphatically. In fact, the orchestral staccatos at the outset of the first movement proved to be the only piece that clipped both amps. When playing well past comfort level, the Gallos didn't flinch. Many speakers lose definition just before the soundstage implodes - the Nucleus Solos gave no such indication of a black hole. Crescendos, even of the most ominous kind, were handled with aplomb. Conversely, playing at low levels also demonstrated their superb balance, as late night chamber music was to prove. A great Phillips recording of the Debussy and Ravel String Quartets (LY 835 361) was invaluable in testing this parameter. The Quartetto Italiano's suave tonal characteristics only served to flaunt their musical and technical prowess, demonstrating that in this repertoire, it has few peers.
For the two months they were offered for review, I became very spoiled by the excellence and unique qualities offered by the Nucleus Solos. That they do such amazingly musical things at the absurdly low price of US$2495.00, is staggering. Unquestionably, I consider them to be one of the great bargains in high-end audio and superior to many of the "A" list products foisted before the public. Indeed, I do feel fortunate to have experienced these masterpieces. My sincere congratulations to Mr. Gallo for his insight, design brilliance and for having the acumen to bring the Nucleus Solos to market.
Nucleus Solo Loudspeaker
Manufactured by Anthony Gallo Acoustics
78 Rapelye Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11231
phone: (718) 237-1000, fax: (718) 596-4402
web: http://www.roundsound.com, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source of review sample: Manufacturer Loan
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