The AS-61s’ sound impressed me immediately. With good source material their top end was neutral—neither rounded off nor overcooked. Sibilants were clearly defined but unexaggerated (or at least as natural as close-miked vocalists can be). Lightly brushed cymbals, delicate finger sounds on guitars, the sheen of stringed instruments, and a singer’s preparatory breath intake at the beginning of a vocal track were all beautifully captured. The imaging was solid, and the sense of depth (when present in the recording) was satisfying.
The Adantes excelled on voices, both male and female, pop, and classical. Leo Kottke’s album My Father’s Face has long been one of my favorite reference discs for how clearly it shows off Kottke’s crisp guitar playing and distinctive voice. The latter isn’t his strong suit, but I’d be surprised to ever hear it sound better than it did on the AS-61s. The balance there, and with other vocalists including Nils Lofgren, Holly Cole, The King’s Singers, Sinne Eeg (if you like great jazz vocals, check out this Danish star’s recordings), Jose Carreras, and Leontyne Price, was superb