System synergy is an all-important factor in achieving satisfying sound quality, and Osage Audio specializes in that exacting science.
Upon appointment, prospective customers can arrange an in-home audition of top-flight components, in the configuration of their choice, and Jim will arrive at your door, cables in hand, to guide you on an audio journey with virtually anything you'd care to consider purchasing! The model makes perfect sense, as, in his words, "the customer would much rather hear prospective purchases in their own personal listening environment rather than in some poorly set-up store room".
I opted, instead, to visit Jim in his home, near Columbia, MO, for the grand tour. And yes, grand tour is putting it mildly! I knew I'd have a better opportunity to hear and enjoy more than a sampling of his current wares, I'd get to check out items he'd chosen for his own personal listening systems.
Among the excellent products we enjoyed were the Merrill-Williams R.E.A.L. 101 turntable with Ortofon AS212S arm, and Lyra Kleos cartridge. Coupled with EAR 324 phono stage and 534 tube amplifier, through Vienna Beethoven Concert Grand speakers, Gary Wright's 'The Light Of Smiles" came alive with a clarity and brilliance the likes of which I'd never heard it before! The warmth of the tube amp as well as the forgiving quality of the Beethoven Concert Grands, offset the somewhat bright tonality of the Kleos, and provided an example of synergy that showcased the components so well.
On to digital!
Anyone who knows me, knows of my eclectic tastes in music, and this was my first chance to get off the same-y audiophile music merry-go-round we often find ourselves on when auditioning gear in foreign environs. I compile music for archival purposes, and for my occasional forays into public radio, where I get to curate a show now and again. I compiled some of my recent findings and was very excited, not only to hear them through superior gear, but also to have another opportunity to promote sounds that rarely reach the ears of most people! Jim informed me that country was his bag, but this didn't stop me from advancing the causes of Britpop, shoegaze, and dream pop!
The next system consisted of the Sonneteer Byron CD player, Unison Research Unico Pre preamplifier, Unison Unico DM power amp, and Opera Seconda speakers. This system ticked all my boxes: clarity and definition with a whopping dollup of smooth, easy-to-enjoy sound that never gets fatiguing. With cuts from the likes of Lush, The Laurels, Darker My Love, and my personal favorite Oasis, the Sonneteer/Unison/Opera combo far exceeded my expectations, as I'd figured that it couldn't have gotten much better than the first rig! Once again, the absolutely sick level of system synergy proved that Jim truly knows sound and how to mate components for maximum effect.
If that wasn't enough, we swapped the Sonneteer for a VPI Classic II 'table with the beautiful Clearaudio Maestro V2 Ebony cartridge, and we listened to the classic "Odessey (sic) And Oracle" by The Zombies. Beautiful Mellotrons and sublime vocals dominate this period piece, and the aforementioned system with the VPI proved to be yet another winner. Once again, the right combination of offsetting effects (squarely between analytical and warm), for my ears, proved to be just the ticket to effortless, beautiful sonics that never get tiring. This was my overall favorite, though I could find absolutely nothing even remotely offensive about any of the three configs I enjoyed at Osage Audio, and I got an extra-special audition in Jim's living room to boot!
I'm a-gettin' me one of them thar newerfangled 12" licorice pizza spinner thingies, 'cause they taste so good! My old victrola could use an overhaul!
Thanks, Jim, and Osage Audio, for an excellent chance to hear awesome components in such a rarified setting! I won't soon forget the sounds and the fine hospitality I enjoyed!
Keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! Until next time!