The Key to Live-Quality Audio Is Midrange Magic. Here Are the Brands That Deliver It. These manufacturers get critical frequencies right and everything else falls into place, by Robert Ross, the Robb Report, October 2022 While it’s impossible to stuff Carnegie Hall into a living room, a good stereo system is like opening a window to a convincing sonic landscape that stirs the listener’s soul… with as many opinions as to what constitutes great sound as there are audio components designed to achieve it … neither is a guarantee of success without first knowing what success actually sounds like … “The soul of music is in the midrange,” says Philip O’Hanlon, an industry veteran whose company, On a Higher Note, distributes several premier audio brands. “This is where most of the emotion, the passion, the joie de vivre is contained … British designers in particular enjoy a reputation for accurate midranges. O’Hanlon, who’s known for putting together famously revealing playlists and glue-you-to-your-seat system demos, is especially fond of speakers from Graham Audio, which extend that realism across the full-frequency range. He calls it the British Sound plus. “The results are an uncanny realism,” he says, “where the speakers disappear and there’s nothing left but the music hanging in the air.” (Here to read full article)
The Best High-End Audio Setups for the Most Discerning Music Lovers, Whether you’re a purist, maximalist or historicist, we’ve got you covered, by Robert Ross, the Robb Report, October 2022 The Purist: Simpler systems can reveal the subtlest nuances in a recording, rendering music that draws in the listener with detail and intimacy often unmatched by more elaborate configurations unsuited to smaller spaces. Paired with an impeccably designed integrated amplifier, the accurate, natural sound of a classic British monitor allows you to indulge in the glorious mid-range—the soul of the concerto or rock concert—served up by digital sources or, more satisfying still, turntable-based analog that extracts the notes’ unadulterated essence… (citing the Bergmann Audio turntables as source, Graham Audio loudspeakers driven by Moonriver Audio‘s integrated amplifiers and standalone phonostage). (Here to read full article)
Best of Florida Audio Expo 2022, by Doug Schneider: … The sound in the On a Higher Note room—which had a Bergmann Audio Modi air-bearing turntable connected into a Moonriver Audio Model 404 Reference integrated amplifier, which was driving a pair of Graham Audio LS8/1 loudspeakers—was flat-out fabulous with every piece of music played. There was plenty of bass, while the midrange was so palpably full, you’d swear that there must be giant tubes somewhere in the system … I have to give credit where it’s due—I wasn’t listening to any one thing, I was listening to a whole system.” (Here for more …)
Five “Inspirational” Systems, by Alan Taffel: The On a Higher Note Room. Philip O’Hanlon knows his audio gear (and his Irish whiskey) and is unswayed by fads. Case in point: his room at FLAX featured a speaker, the Graham 8/1 ($9k) that according to modern wisdom is built completely wrong, along with a Moon River 404 Reference integrated amp ($5k) that no one has heard of. Yet the sound was phenomenal—extended and naturally rich, with flawless spatial performance and resolution. This from a speaker with a thin wood enclosure, wide baffle, old-tech drivers, no time alignment, and lots of parallel surfaces. Go figure (Here for more…)
Best of FLAX 2022, by Maurice Jeffries: Best old school vibes: The nod here goes to On A Higher Note’s dapper Philip O’Hanlon. Mr. O’Hanlon enchanted with a life-affirming combination of utter simplicity: the Moonriver 404 Reference integrated amp, the Danish Bergmann Modi air-bearing turntable and Thor air-bearing arm (plus Hana MC Cartridge), and the old school/new body Graham Audio LS8/1 loudspeakers.
The first great audio system I ever heard consisted of a pair of venerable Spendor SP1 speakers, Heybrook TT2 turntable, and Audio Research electronics. The sound that humble system gifted changed how I saw (and see) audio and floored me with its sheer musicality and charm. Philip’s elegantly minimal setup conveyed that same magic, taking me full circle in my audio journey. (Here for more …)
Other Press Coverage:
T.H.E. SHOW 2022 by Grover Neville, Part Time Audiophile: ” The new design is unusual – but the slot is designed to linearize the drivers, and to my ear worked quite well, while still having all that harmonic richness I’ve heard with other Graham Audio speakers. These were quite impressive for the price, with deeper bass than I’ve heard from any Graham speaker previously…”, Grover Neville, Part Time Audiophile. Read more here
Montreal Audio Fest 2022, by Robert Schryer: …I felt a wall of tears—black or not—well up in the back of my eyeballs, and this is no metaphor. It was a beautiful, tender moment, but also disconcerting: People were sitting right next to me… Touching? You don’t know the half of it. Midrange magic is real… Read more here
Montreal Audio Fest 2022, by Suave Kajko: … delivered a performance that was several notches up on the sonic ladder… offered a luscious midrange, with palpable vocals and instruments … this system sang a very rich and energetic rendition of the track… the bass played fantastically deep, offered very good articulation, and simply made me want to get up and dance… lifelike vocals, offering all the nuances I would expect from his voice, and fantastic soundstaging. Read more here.
Show Report: The Third Time’s A Charm: Part II, by Maurice Jeffries: On a Higher Note’s Philip O’Hanlon enchanted with his larger-than-life personality and large as life sound. The Swedish-designed and built Moonriver 404 Reference integrated amp ($4,995 with built-in phono stage) and Danish Bergmann Modi air-bearing turntable and Thor air-bearing arm ($8,990 for the table, $17K for the table/arm combo, plus $1,200 Hana MC cartridge) drove the Derek Hughes-authored Graham Audio LS 8/1 loudspeakers (approx. $9k per pair with stands) to truly gorgeous effect.
Everything O’Hanlon played sounded of a piece, with incredible coherence, superb focus, and scintillating naturalness. Composer/producer/bass guitar wunderkind Marcus Miller’s Siesta soundtrack sounded positively otherworldly, with ambience, air, and electric tension thick enough to cut. A BOS contender, and proof positive that vinyl replay still holds the edge over digital in its ability to engage and delight the inner music lover. (Here for more …)
FLAX 2022 Show Coverage, by Chuck Bruce: Graham audio was showcasing their UK-built, 1960s/1970s cabinet style stand-mounted LS8/1, three-way box speakers. Visually they may have a retro wood cabinet appearance, but don’t be fooled, the sound was very modern, dynamic, harmonically rich, natural with engaging female vocals, some of the best heard at the show. Completely updated with all new components and sourced by solid-state moon river electronics. Also demonstrated was a Bergmann Modi air-bearing turntable to excellent effect. This set-up attracted multiple visits all while co-hosted by the ever-engaging audio veteran Philip O’Hanlon of Irish spirits fame, we had some tasty sips after hours and just a great time listening to music! After all, this is what’s it’s all about… the music! (Here for more …)
Debut of Graham Audio LS8/1 with Bergmann Audio air bearing Modi and air bearing Thor arm. Here’s Jason Serinus’ coverage: