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Speakers

Just 29 inches tall, the Davone Ray-S speaker is a force to be reckoned with

Beautifully crafted in Denmark, the Davone Ray-S, speakers' sound looms large.

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The Davone Ray-S speakers. Davone

Most of my favorite floor-standing high-end speakers are big and tall, but the Davone Ray-S sits low to the floor -- it's a mere 29 inches high mounted on its steel stand. The Ray-S is a thoroughly modern, truly elegant design.

This wide stance beauty is handcrafted in Denmark; it's a three-way design with an 8-inch woofer, 4-inch midrange and 1-inch tweeter residing in a 16-layer beechwood cabinet. The speaker's rear end is covered in genuine cowhide leather, and there's a large bass port and a high-quality speaker wire connector on the rear baffle. The speaker and stand together weigh 59.5 pounds, and it's a 4-ohm-impedance design.

The Ray-S is a significant upgrade over the original but otherwise identical Davone Ray, which was a two-way design. I've heard that one many times, and the Ray-S is a much better sounding speaker.

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Line Magnetic 216IA tube integrated amplifier Line Magnetic

Listening to Yo La Tango's "Summer Sun" album at the In Living Stereo store in New York City, the Ray-S lit up the listening room. There's a lot of ghostly ambient spaces on this recording, and a satisfying assortment of dense textures coursing through a simmering set of tunes. The Ray-S speakers put me in the room with the band -- I was there.

With jazz organist Don Patterson's funkiest LPs, bass went deep, and there was nothing sloppy about it. The Ray-S isn't that big, but it still goes low. This music is all about toe-tapping grooves, rhythm and energy; the Ray-S didn't hold anything back.

I finished with some hard-rocking Johnny Winter guitar workouts. I turned the volume up to take in the full majesty of this Texas blues legend's music. As any good speaker should, it just sounded better and better the louder I played the music. That said, the listening room at the store was New York City apartment-size, which tends to be pretty cozy. I'm sure the Ray-S will sound fine in moderately large rooms, but with some sacrifice to its maximum volume potential. The Ray-S is an ideal small-apartment speaker for well-heeled audiophiles.

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Rega RP6 turntable Rega

The rest of the system consisted of a Rega RP6 turntable ($1,495) with a Dynavector 20xiiL cartridge ($950), and a Line Magnetic 216IA tube integrated amplifier ($1,950), which is a lot less expensive than I thought.

The Davone Ray-S speaker runs $8,600 per pair, and it's not their most-expensive speaker. Davone prices start with the $2,095-per-pair Mojos -- those are terrific little speakers! They're omnidirectional, so they project sound forward and out to the sides. I've heard the Mojos both at home and at In Living Stereo, and they're highly recommended.