Overture’s First Open House in Two Years
Eerik Dickerson drove through the muck and mire of a very rainy Saturday putting up with I95 traffic up to Wilmington for the first open house Overture has held in two years. The drive was not that terrible. We made it there in under 90 minutes from my house in Baltimore which went by very quickly because of the lively conversation covering all subjects from Audio (since I am just back from Axpona) to politics (well, you know).
I am sure the weather held back the crowd and it’s a shame because this was one of the best open houses that Overture has held for two reasons. The highlighted manufacturers were ones I can find no fault with. Acora Acoustics seems to be coming on strong these days with its amazing speakers. I first noticed it at CAF. Then in Florida, it was one of the best sounding rooms with Dr Vinyl (Jose) manning the analog side. Then recently at Axpona. The other featured manufacturer was the venerable Audio Research which has been supplying super electronics since 1970. Audio Research also seems to be making a big push in marketing because they were all over in many rooms at Florida and Axpona.
The second reason for the high marks for the open house was the lunch Overture provided. This was much more than your typical pizza or sub lunch. This was a gourmet buffet with bacon-wrapped scallops, steak-on-a-stick skewers, spring rolls, tomato canapes and some of the best pulled pork and chicken sliders I have ever had. You missed a great lunch.
In the number two large room was the Acora SRB 2-way stand mount powered by the Audio Research Reference 160 S Stereo power amp. Every time I have heard these speakers, I am just astonished by the big sound from these little boxes. They are made from granite and weigh almost sixty pounds each. With an average efficiency of around 86 dB, they need some power to plumb the lower notes.
In the main listening room, Acora’s chief designer and CEO, Valerio Cora, was on hand to spin LPs and answer our questions. We were listening to the Acora SRC-1 floorstander. This is also a two-way with a larger mid-woofer and bigger volume granite cabinet giving a deeper bass and more overall richer sound. The SRC-1’s were powered by a pair of Audio Research Reference 160M monoblocks. Again, the sound was magnificent. Overture goes to significant effort to treat their listening rooms with state-of-the-art room treatments. They certainly know how to set up a room for music reproduction.
In one of the smaller listening rooms, we had Trent Suggs, President and Director of North American Sales, showing of one of A-R’s newest and most affordable products the integrated I/50. This is a way cool product and can be configured as an all-in-one box. There are slots inside for both a phono preamp and a DAC board. This is a push-pull design using the 6550 family of tubes. It comes with a metal remote. There is a pair of Lexitubes (patent-pending, like nixietubes), used as a digital display of volume level. This unit is handcrafted in Minnesota.
I had a quick chat with Chris Murphy, our host, to discuss all things in the audio industry. First, I have heard from many people in the industry that the past two years have been incredibly good for business. Audiophiles being shut in by the pandemic have upgraded their systems at a feverish rate. I asked about supply chain issues and Chris said that most people are aware of the issues and they are accepting of the 6 months wait on some products. Then, I asked about the most recent issue of inflation. Again, Chris has not seen that it has affected sales that much. Manufacturers are doing their best to deal with these real-world issues and absorbing as much as the costs increases as they can. The biggest problem now is the costs of shipping which in the past year have exploded. Overture used to provide free shipping on their producs but no longer can.
After another quick go around the store and I realized what a great dealer Overture is. It’s a beautiful store with great listening rooms, top-of-the-line products and some of the best home theater demonstrations I have seen. We are lucky to have this dealer just up the road from us.