Introduction of Locrian Audio by founder Basile Theodoropoulos
We established Locrian Audio to present another view of the high end audio, where we allow space for experimentation, comparisons in a controlled environment without the pressure of sales people. We would love to listen with you your favorite music in our systems (you can also bring your own components) and get the pleasure of a new listening experience.
My first exposure to proper music reproduction was in my teenage years where I would spend hours listening to Dynaco, Threshold, Dahlquist, Magnepan and Nakamichi equipment at the Lyric Hi-Fi branch in Athens. It was located next to my high school, thus after class I was allowed to listen to one record side per visit. It was inspiring and the first real experience in quality music reproduction. I was hooked for life! The memories are still bringing me a smile when I think about it and have tried ever since to replicate such experiences with friends, colleagues or acquaintances curious to hear their favorite music on my set-up. It never mattered if my system was better or worse than my guest’s, what mattered was to share the experience and learn about new artists and sub-genres.
University Studies in NYC
University studies took me to New York City, where I became a frequent visitor at Lyric Hi-Fi in NYC at Lexington Avenue. Mr Mike Kay was very hospitable and allowed me the privilege to listen pretty much to any system, provided there was no paying customer present requiring an audition. My first job as a student afforded me to buy an entry level Yamaha receiver and Bose 301 speakers. The game changer came with my university scholarship, which allowed me to buy a Thorens turntable, a Counterpoint preamplifier, Bryston amplifier and Infinity speakers. The Radio Shack cables were soon replaced by Monster Cable, which made a big difference and allowed the system to bloom and become holographic. My Queens apartment became the meeting place for all my friends on the weekends through the college years. The neighbors were very tolerant but thought we were weird, especially following loud auditions of progressive rock bands, like King Crimson. They also had earned the right to make song requests, which I made sure were fulfilled.
Hobby & business
Fast forward through the years and a successful corporate career in 3 continents with Chase, IBM, Dell, HSBC and KPMG, I decided to close my professional life by turning my hobby into a profession. Not so much to sustain my living, but mainly to allow similarly-minded audiophiles to have a place to experience our distilled knowledge in the high end space and hopefully, introduce the next generation to the joy of owning and enjoying a great audio system. This was further encouraged by my grown up children and their friends, many of them in large corporates, doctors, investors, entrepreneurs, and some of them being accomplished musicians as well. They all love to visit and listen to music with me. Occasionally, someone will pickup a guitar and jam along.
Our goal at Locrian Audio
We all know that high end is an expensive hobby. We also know that often we have spent significant sums in the wrong components or entire systems. This is what I am trying to prevent, to the degree I can. I would like to offer music lovers the ability to experience a diverse array of equipment without needing to make the investment. My goal is to have my potential customers make informed decisions and experience for themselves the differences in various components, the effect on the reproduction of the recorded material and optimize for their listening space. High end is not a prohibitive hobby, provided you are well informed. Not everyone will like my selection of equipment and sound signature, however, even in that case, I will be happy because I have achieved a key objective: they established what they do not like. For me, this is a step in the right direction. The ability to maintain a place for audiophiles to experience music, through a variety of equipment and design interpretations, is even more important now that the “brick and mortar” dealerships are declining in numbers and many forced to become “trading companies” in order to have a viable business. The issues are further amplified as many audiophiles are forced to buy components from internet providers without being able to listen to them, despite the potential option to return the unit with no charge. The lack of A/B comparisons and impact of component changes, maintains the element of doubt which leads to risky “upgrades.” For example, what is the effect of different cartridges on the same system? the effect of a different DAC or transport? The impact of high quality cables and their materials? Integrated amplifiers versus separates? starting systems, end-game systems, and so forth.
I hope Locrian Audio and our partners, German Physiks, EMM Labs and Ypsilon Electronics, can make the difference.
What’s behind the Locrian name?
The Locrian name for Locrian Audio, Locrian Records and The Locrian Group, are all named after the Locrian scale. Sandwiched between the popular Ionian and Aeolian scales, Locrian is like a necessary evil that is avoided by composers because beautiful music on Locrian scale is not intuitive or easily created on impulse. The composer must put thought, passion and skill to create impactful music on the Locrian scale. To prove the point, I would like to reference Adam Neely’s challenge in the popular YouTube video below, enlisting Paul Davids, Ben Levin, Nahre Sol and Samurai Guitarist to explore the creative possibilities of the Locrian scale. The result is outstanding as we experience the diverse compositions of these five young artists and the magic of Locrian.
We feel this transcends to setting up great high end audio systems. It requires lots of experimentation, deep knowledge of music material across genres, exposure to the live events, being open to new experiences, and many times, significant investment. However, what we have come to realize is that if it is done right the first time, it is a lot more cost effective rather than consecutive upgrades of equipment.
Thus, like the Locrian scale, beautiful music is possible, but it requires planning, commitment, passion and creativity.
Introducing Our Partners
We have selected to collaborate with a few core brands that we are thoroughly familiar with and had the opportunity over the years to experience their products and quality level. These brands have been with us for many years and we remain loyal but not because we are friends but due to the lasting enjoyment their work has given us and their relentless pursuit of excellence. Specifically, we are the US distributor for German Physiks and dealers for EMM Labs and Ypsilon Electronics.
I listened the German Physiks Borderland during its first iteration with the titanium DDD. I was very impressed and the sound remained with me for long time. Fifteen years later I bought a pair of Borderlands with the first version with carbon fibre DDD. It has been my main speaker for over 10 years now. Their products have won numerous awards around the world and have established a dedicated following. In addition, I have owned the Unicorn, which, IMHO, is the best single driver loudspeaker on the market today, especially for jazz, blues and small orchestras. They rock as well. At our studio, we have the most popular German Physiks products, including the PQS 302, which is an excellent proxy of what the PQS 402 and the Loreley can do, products designed for significantly larger spaces. Furthermore, we have the Emperor electronics with the Stereo amplifier being part of our reference system.
EMM Labs / Meitner needs no introduction. Their digital product offerings have remained on top of the audiophile lists since the introduction of the CDs and the digital audio. I was fortunate to have a DAC designed by Ed Meitner for years, which still holds its own. At the studio, we have the EMM Labs/Meitner top of the line DAC, the DA2V2, the MA3 DAC, which has a build-in streamer and a volume control, functioning as a passive digital source preamplifier on a minimalist digital system and the NS1 streamer.
Ypsilon Electronics was a brand that I had read about but did not have the chance to experience their work as I was assigned to a part of the world that high end audio is not widely available. I called Dimitris Baklavas, chief designer of Ypsilon, to see if I can buy a Phaethon integrated amplifier for Dubai, where I was living at the time, and subsequently move it to the US for use in my living room, which I did. Since then, I had the opportunity to meet with Dimitris every time I visited my home in Athens, as the Ypsilon facility is only 15 miles away. I got to meet the entire team, a well coordinated group of professionals with obvious affinity for detail and perfection. I was also fortunate to experience some prototypes of the forthcoming Ypsilon products. Over the last 7 years, I acquired an entire system from Ypsilon for my home overseas, which will be part of the reference system at the Locrian Audio system. At the studio we have the Ypsilon Phono, several SUTs, the preamplifier, DAC, a pair of custom tube mono blocks (not for sale) and the Hyperion mono amplifiers.
Our reference system
Turntables: Dohmann Helix Two with Ikeda tonearm; Thales TTT Compact II and Simplicity II tonearm; Simon Yorke Designs S9.
Cartridges: Multiple from Lyra, EMT, Ortofon, Ikeda, Shelter, Transfiguration, Van der Hull, Grado, etc.
Phono: Ypsilon Electronics VPS 100 with multiple SUTs.
Digital: Ypsilon DAC 100; EMM Labs DA2 and NS1 Streamer; EMM Labs/Meitner MA3 integrated DAC and streamer with volume control for minimal systems.
Amplification: Ypsilon PST 100 Mk 2 preamplifier; Ypsilon Phaethon integrated amplifier; Ypsilon Hyperion monoblocks; German Physiks Emperor Stereo amplifier.
Speakers: German Physiks – PQS 302, Borderland Mk IV, HRS-130, Unicorn Mk II and PQS-100 Plus, to simulate performance according to listening space, customer equipment, use (e.g. music or music and cinema) and music genre preferences. Yamaha NS-5000, as monitors, when needed.
Additional equipment for experience purposes: Vitus Audio and Threshold amplifiers; Octave, FM Acoustics and LTA preamplifiers; Harbeth, B&W, Wilson Benesch and Yamaha speakers; FM Acoustics phono.