An audio system to die for

24 Aug

Derrick Moss of Aurum Acoustics.

August 24, 2006

By Geoff Meeker

The cheap Pioneer 5-disc CD player and speakers which I bought six years ago to use in my office – but which soon found its way into the living room – is finally wearing out. A perfect excuse to go shopping for new stereo components!

Last year, I heard about Aurum Acoustics, a stereo component manufacturer based in Conception Bay South. Since I always buy local whenever possible, I called the company for more information.

However, when I informed owner Derrick Moss of my intentions, his response was guarded.

“How much do you know about the company?” he asked, to which I replied practically nothing.

“Then you’d better sit down,” he said, before informing me that the end-to-end system, including CD player, amplifier, speakers and connector cables, is priced at roughly $50,000 US.

I conceded that it was just slightly out of my range. But being a technology nut, I asked Derrick why his product cost so much, and where on earth his customers are. As it turns out, there is a substantial market for high-end components among those who love pure music and happen to be affluent. And according to some influential critics, Aurum Acoustics is the new industry leader.

“A reviewer’s task is made all the easier if he can assign a sound stamp to the item he’s covering,” wrote Mike Silverton of Ultra Audio, about the Aurum Integris CD player. “Apart from resolution to die for, the Integris resisted such characterization. I can’t tell you how it sounded because it didn’t have a sound. Early in my listening, I thought, ‘Ah-ha — it’s on the warmish side’. Fat chance. I’d listened to a couple of warmish-sounding CDs. Moments later, I’d have sworn that the Integris shaded toward cool and analytical. Again, the recording. For want of a better, I revert to the spotless-window analogy: Through the Integris, not only do I see the forest for the trees, I see the leaves and their veins.”

That’s an excerpt from one of several superlative reviews, posted at Aurum’s web site. It would appear that, after an expensive and nerve-racking six-year product development phase, Derrick Moss has hit the ball right out of the park.

What makes his system different? Outside of using only the highest quality materials and equipment as inputs, Moss has redefined how component stereo systems work. Unlike other high-end units, the CD player doesn’t have a ‘signature sound’. Instead, it accurately enhances the digital information so that each CD sounds the way it was intended – only better.  To minimize distortion and interference, Moss has created the shortest possible path between musical input and speaker output.  The crossover between the high, mid and lower range has been moved from the speaker into the amplifier, which uses solid state technology to push the lower ranges, as well as vacuum tubes to more accurately render the high and mid ranges. Individual speakers are driven by dedicated amplifiers, which means that the speakers and amp are integrated, and shouldn’t be used with other components.

Moss admits that this concept is something of a hard sell among audiophiles. “They’ve been trained to think that mixing and matching and having a completely open (system) is best,” he said. “Our selling pitch as a company is that we do systems. You can’t listen to any one component by itself. You’ve got to have a whole string of functions, from signal in to sound out.”

While the bass speakers require higher wattage, the mid and high ends are driven by dedicated tubes that put out a maximum of five watts each, which also flies in the face of conventional thinking. “Wattage is a crude indicator, like saying horsepower is all that matters in a sports car,” Moss said. “Well, what about the handling? The wattage itself is one small indicator…and these days watts are cheap.”

But all this is tech talk. As the old adage goes, hearing is believing, and listening to the Aurum system is truly a revelation; an experience bordering on the transcendant.

And when the mortgage is paid off, I just might give Moss a call…



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