Monday, June 20, 2011

Visit from Bob and Stacy Clarke of Profundo

This past Saturday, Colleen Cardas and I met with Bob and Stacy Clarke of Profundo, the US distributors for such wonderful audio lines as VivA, Transfiguration, Heed, Silent Source and of course Trenner & Friedl. Bob was visiting some of his dealers in Dallas, including my friend Terry Combs of Sound Mind Audio up in Dallas, while Stacy had sone business here in Austin. Both were very curious to check out the Austin area, and despite the triple-digit temps they took quite a shine to the place.

Bob is a particularly interesting man--he teaches at Berkeley, for instance--and we've been talking about sitting down and discussing turntables for a few weeks now. We took them to Black's BBQ in Lockhart (because the Clarkes deserve the very best, and Black's is it) and it wasn't long before Bob and I started talking about audio.

Profundo doesn't carry a line of turntables right now, but Bob does distribute the outstanding Transfiguration cartridges. I've been very interested in the Axia, which received a very favorable review from Michael Fremer in a recent issue of Stereophile. While it retails for only $1950, Bob feels the Axia competes with everything under $4-$5K. Bob is very high on Transfiguration and points out that cartridge technology has truly advanced in the last four to five years, and many cartridges brands have been relying upon the success of older designs for years. Transfiguration, along with many of the great Japanese brands, keep pushing cartridge design further and further toward perfection.

I mentioned my fondness for the Rega P9, which seems to be growing over the last year or so as I lament the complexity of today's super-tweaked turntables. Bob had his own recommendation at that price point: the Basis 2001. "Just put a Vector tonearm on it, set it up once and it will last forever," Bob said. "There's just something about the life it brings to the music."

I do have some experience with Basis turntables. They're really the first acrylic-based design which sounded musical and natural to my ears. Plexiglas 'tables can often sound smooth, glossed over and a little analytical to me; I prefer 'tables made of woods and metals. But the Basis seem to circumvent these sonic characteristics thanks to a superb suspension and solid engineering. I heard a Basis turntable not too long ago at Dan Muzquiz' house in San Diego--the sound was big, warm and live.

The Clarkes were gone too quickly...I still wanted to talk about so many things with them. I also enjoyed how attuned Stacy was to the high-end audio business and shared Bob's enthusiasm about their products. Hopefully Austin will have made a great impression on them and they'll become a part of My Evil Texas Audio Empire! You can read more about Profundo product lines at

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