Acoustic Preference Gracioso 2 speaker

When it comes to the true art, instant gratification and value, there are really not so much choices in the present audio market. As we grow and get to known ourselves better, see our budget, time and life span more vividly, suddenly our appreciation and perception of quality and real value starting to shape into completely new form of understanding. In my voyage through the audio universe of amplifiers, speakers, cables, front end's and music i'd seen and hear quite some of them. There were always few products that kept me balanced within my norms of quality and of course my budget Some of them left me hankering for audition. Gradually our knowledge about audio and music reproduction evolve into something captivating and cherished. We want the best for our money and demand quality in all aspects. On minor and major scale.

Speakers represent not only important, but for some most important component in audio system. If they cannot convey the music from source to the listener without fatigue then how good are they really. Ears are our own speakers and our counter part aspire for the best mutual relationship.
Meet the Acoustic Preference from Europe, Slovenia. This is a small country and some folks even call it the a neo Swiss. With only 2 millions residents and beautiful country side that can offer Alps, Sea, crystal clear rivers and fresh air in only four hour drive across the state. This is a place with certain special historical aura. You wont believe it but Stradivari used Slovenian woods for his masterpieces. One could say that this place adulate with a life of all four seasons packed in a captivating small package.

Acoustic Preference is a small team of audio and music enthusiasts owned by only two people; Maran Tancer and Davorin Žnuderl. I had a pleasure to get know them in person and got an in depth look into their philosophy, working attitude and their attention to detail. If you follow what is happening in high-end industry you'll know that the days of bluff and quick business are over. Even the affordable audio is becoming better and finally worthy of the given price. CEO Marjan and main designer Davorin, with the help of family relatives established a recognized and highly respected innovative company. Acoustic Preference represent more than two decades of investment, research and pure audio enthusiasm. They spend vast hours and ton of money to get where they are today. These is a rare, but a classical business model that can produce worthy and respected products. Acoustic Preference speaker line hides nothing. It shows careful selected materials, fine tuning and esthetics's that rival best of traditional Italian woodcraft. Only a true passion and love for music can drive an artisan to perfect the object of his passion. Seeing all the prototypes, blue prints and sketches of Gracioso 2 made me wiggle about.

Marjan and Davorin are remarkable guys. It was pleasure knowing them and see the pure passion, dedication and knowledge that they expertly incorporate into their products. They walked me through the history of their projects and company. Man, these guys literary spend thousands of hours and from what I saw tons of founds to get them to the quality of finish and sound they wanted. They went through the long and frustrated path to find right local craftsman's. The end result is a tuneful design that esthetically resonate with surroundings via Gracioso unique and majestic natural design.

In Marjan Tancer's headquarters you'll find not only vast collection of vinyl and cd's, but always nice collection of their own Bravura line amplifiers, speakers, phono premaps and high-end amplifiers, cd's, turntables, speakers from companies like Accuphase, Mark Levinson, Meridian, Transrotor, Acoustic Sound lab etc. His collection of music both on vinyl and cd's almost made me envious :). It shows than man know and care about what he do and love. Music!

Gracioso 2 is a contemporary floor-stander speaker with a true classical genes. Shaped in an oval, lute kind of way mesmerize you the moment you see it. With it's all wooden enclosure and natural paraffin finish Graciso evokes a certain, but instant conclusion. This is an instrument! And that some! Let me tell you that transporting and setting this speaker is not a one man job. It's heavy and a from solid wood. 88 hand selected and carefully naturally dried peaces of walnut are composed into finished product. On the side slightly cut curves ports Gracioso into one of the kind classical and detailed look.

Gracioso 2 carries Morel top of the line tweeter and two (mid and bass range) custom designed drivers. It took some time and different variations of mid drivers to ensure the natural and controlled bass, but result is more than satisfying. You might have your reserves regarding such a small driver providing enough bass, but I can assure you that Graciso put out more than enough energy in lower registers. For some, there is even too much of it. Figure that out :).
Handling the speaker grill might be not only tedious, but also dangerous job. Grid is normally fixed with plastic spikes, that could easily broke or at worst case damage cone of the driver. But hey, Gracioso's grill mounting is a breeze to use. I haven't seen this anywhere else. AP should patent this wit solution. Both speaker and grill use small circle magnets that instantly lock plastic-textile grill to speaker cabinet. What an elegant and clever solution. Everyone should use this, period!

Alarm Will Sound playing Aphex twin album is a one of my references when it comes to testing lower spectrum. This contemporary ensemble brings all the fun back to classical music. Their acoustic reproduction of electronic wizard Richard D. James is outstanding both in performance and audio wise. Gracioso performed bass notes steady, controlled and focused. Not only with outrageous dynamic attacks but harmonically right and shaped as they should be. This only proved right further whit checking the the overlapping frequency range of guitar notes with my own recordings of classical acoustical guitar. Sometimes reviewers forget one of the foremost and bold goals of high-end audio gear; reproductions of live natural music.

Gracioso performed competently, with enough strength to reveal true nature of guitar plucks, notes and resonance. This is not a woofer, but skillfully tuned cabinet with enough of healthy basss to keep you happy even with the lowest notes of bass guitar or organ. With the absence of straight corners inside of Gracioso cabinet, they remarkably avoided self resonating in the speaker and need for heavy damping that can sometimes act weird with reproduction of sound.
Michel Franks is one of my favorite artist. His Ph.D. in song writing would mean nothing to me if his music wasn't my recognized escapade. I know his albums by hearth and Sleeping Gypsy is one of his best bossa-nova outlets. The last song on the album Down in Brazil was recorded in Rio De Janeiro with some of the best jazz musicians. First few notes will draw you into hard to describe, but lucid atmosphere of Brazil inner life in a poetic warm-full way. This is no audiophile recording (who cares when you love music), but all analog record with everything done right. I can use this disc on any system with instant feedback about the sound of it.

Years of listening hours and strong impression that one get during listening helps you staying focused. Why? We all know that certain state of mind can affect our judgments and it's hard to stay clear about your conclusion if affected by the storms of feelings. High spectrum will quickly become harsh in tired, angry emotional state and even sound-stage, space around instruments, perception of space will be affected by it. You can either avoid situations when you're under psycho-acoustical situation or train your self with strong contemplating with the music you know well. I'm not going into philosophy and psychology, but simply need to address this strongly, since even some of the most recognizable names in audio industry often overlook or simply forget about it. This is where art of reviewing becomes not just a egocentric showoff with few demo-audiophile cd's, but a true science.

Talking science; Acoustic Preference will not be your's fool's errand. Gracioso 2.0 convey the spirit of Franks as it should. Jazz guitar, soft vocal, percussion and hi-hats will help you convalesce the cold of the deepest winter and warm your heart up instantly. Instruments have their space and natural attack and flow is evident in three dimensional stage.

These days premium product demands a premium service and attitude. From wooden shipping box to solid wood walnut cabinet; Acoustic Preference will caress you in style. If you're about to invest into new set of floor-standers do yourself a favor and contact the closest distributor.

Highly recommended!

Matej Isak
Mono & Stereo 2009