When I walked into the PranaFidelity room I didn’t know what to expect. Two very large loudspeakers flanked a refurbished and modified Ampex ATR-102 professional tape deck. Next to that was an equipment rack holding a Luxman D-08 CD/SACD player and a Basis Audio 2200 Signature Turntable with a Basis Audio Superarm and a My Sonic Labs Ultra Eminent cartridge (prices for these components not available). The 400Wpc purna/ma amp ($8950) and the purna/ca preamp ($4500-$9500, depending on options) were both by PranaFidelity
Once the PranaFidelity Vayu/fs speakers were fired up I knew this was something special. The sound was strikingly dynamic and clean, and the bass phenomenal. At $6950/pair in a standard wood finish ($2000 more in the glossy piano gray of the show samples), it was obvious that PranaFidelity missed the memo stating that speakers this large and this impressive-sounding must be priced over $30,000/pair.
I won’t go so far as to say this was the best overall sound I heard at the show, but it was certainly the most surprising. Perhaps the magic sauce was a combination of the room and system. But if it was, then too many rooms at the show had mislaid the recipe. True, the blocky cabinet isn’t stylish, but swoopy and curvy enclosures cost money, and lots of it—money that finds its way, multiplied several times over, into the retail price.
Unusually for a speaker this large with five drivers (four identical 6″ woofers and one 30mm tweeter), this is a two-way system. All of the woofers cover the full bass and midrange.
The designer, Steven Norber, has also included two switches on the back of the speaker. What they do is unusual. They let the listener switch the resistors in the crossover network from the non-inductive wire-wound type to ceramic. It did make a difference. While I agreed with Steven that the non-inductive wire-wounds sounded better, he has found that some individuals prefer the ceramic. That’s why he includes the switch.
PranaFidelity also makes a smaller, stand-mount version, the Fifty90, for $3950 (in standard finish-options available). It employs two similar woofers and the same tweeter.