RMAF 2015

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Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 09, 2015
Speaking of friends, Germany's Voxativ was using Vincent Brient's totaldac to convert bits to magic. My review of the totaldac d1-tube-mk2 DAC ($10,000) will be showing up on AudioStream shortly much to my chagrin since that means I'll have to send it back. Just as we were becoming such.great.friends. Haruumph!
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 09, 2015
A room full of friends. I have a pre-production pair of the DeVore X speakers ($15,890/pair) in-barn, John (of DeVore) and I are friends, and the Line Magnetic LM-502CA DAC ($1,795 pictured at the bottom of the rack) is distributed in the US by my friend Jonathan Halpern of Tone Imports. Using the Spec RSA-M3EX Integrated amp ($9,500) to drive the Xs with data being sent from a Mac to the LM-502CA, I thought the system sounded just like music. Like real, honest to goodness, sit back, relax, and lose yourself in it music.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 09, 2015
The BorderPatrol USB DAC ($995 + $595 for separate Tube PSU) seems to be saying a DAC does not have to be a complicated thing. OK, it is saying a DAC does not have to be a complicated thing.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 09, 2015
We first saw the Merging Technologies NADAC ($10,000 stereo, $11,500 multichannel-8) back at CES 2015 and the buzz that was buzzing then has only gotten louder. Merging Technologies had to hold a rock, paper, scissors death match at RMAF 2015 to keep hi-fi writers from offing each other to get the first review sample (kidding). The most obvious technological NADAC stand-out has to be its RJ45 Ethernet input (RAVENNA/AES67) which promises transmission accuracy and, well, great sound.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 09, 2015
Bakoon Products have been quietly doing their own thing in Japan for the past 30 years. Their simple system at RMAF 2015 was comprised on the DAC-21 SATRI D/A Converter ($3,500) and AMP-51 SATRI current-mode Amplifier ($12,495) driving a pair of Wilson Audio Sasha 2 speakers ($29,500). The Bakoon DAC and Amp were connected via SATRI-LINK, i.e. current-mode signal transfer, about which the company states:
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 09, 2015
I entered the CAS Audio room mainly because I was intrigued by the OPTIMISTA muse 2-way green ceramic speakers ($13,000/pair) sporting a RAAL ribbon tweeter. There was also a laptop sitting center stage so there had to be DAC, too.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 08, 2015
Neal Van Berg of Sound Science has been busy building his forthcoming flagship server, the Music Vault Epiphany (around $10k). As you can see, Eric has pulled out all of the steam punk stops with Epiphany but those looks are mostly functional. That Metropolis-looking tower is all heatsink, baby, to cool the Intel Core I7 Processor. There will be 32GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD storage as well as all of the sonically advantageous goodies Neal has garnered from building his Music Vault servers.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 08, 2015
the DirectStream DAC sits in between the BHK Signature Preamplifier and the PerfectWave Memory Player transport

The PS Audio DirectStream DAC ($5,999) never ends. With each firmware upgrade (I think "upgrade" is appropriate in this case more so than "revision"), designer Ted Smith improves the damn DAC. For free. That makes my two-revision-old review, um, irrelevant (click the link to find out what the DirectStream does). Of course from an owner's perspective this is a beautiful thing. From PS Audio's view, I'd imagine it's kinda like the DAC that keeps on giving.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 08, 2015
the Veritas' skeleton is milled from a block of aluminum

I have never, in my entire life, correctly typed Resonessence. I actually dread trying because I know I should know how many s's and n's there are by now but I don't. Thank you Google. The new Resonessence Labs Veritas DAC ($2,850) sits comfortably between the company's Concero DAC ($850 see review) and Invicta ($4,995 see review). If you read those reviews, as well as Steve Plaskin's review of the Mirus DAC, you'll see that we think Resonessence (I just cut and paste once I have it down) Labs makes some fine DACs. From what I heard at RMAF, the Veritas adds another to that category.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 08, 2015
That about says it all, no? The Questyle T2 Transmitter ($999 pictured above) accepts up to 24-bit/192kHz data via coax S/PDIF, Toslink, and asynchronous USB inputs. Then T2 then sends the digital data via WiFi, "transmitting uncompressed 24bit/22M audio signal in the 5.2GHz/5.8GHz frequency band" according to the company, to the Questyle receiving amp/DAC, in this case the 200W R200 Wireless Mono Amplifiers ($999/ea.).
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 08, 2015
I'm not going to get into the interesting details behind the Vinnie Rossi LIO ultracapacitor-powered Integrated Amplifier (starts at $2,495) since Sterophile's Herb Reichert has done so in a full review. The LIO is a modular design and one available plug-in is a PCM/DSD DAC (+$895 and offers up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD128 support) based on a pair of AKM AK4399 D/A chips per channel.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 08, 2015
I think it's safe to say that Well Rounded Sound's Jerry Cmehil appreciates industrial design and music. Why else would he be in the hi-fi business? I try to make it a point to stop into the Well Rounded Sound room at shows because Jerry typically plays good music that sounds good. His WRS EXP SE speakers (4,999/pair w/stands) were running off the Hegel H80 integrated amp/DAC ($2,000) and this simple system was putting out some lovely sounds.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 08, 2015
In my opinion, Audioengine has the give me good sound at a great price and skip the crap thing down. Their new HD6 active speakers ($750/pair) carry on this fine tradition. Interlude: I've told this story way too many times so I'l tell it again. Many years ago, we bought our daughters each a pair of the Audioengine A2s. I was working on a review and I wanted to use the A2s so I asked Nicole if I could borrow hers. She said no. Jessica said no too. The reason? They use 'em.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 08, 2015
Rob Robinson of Channel D was showing off the company's newly minted Pure Music 3 by playing some vinly rips (ripped using Channel D's Pure Vinyl) of outrageously great music, loud. I mean, really, really fun music at realistic levels. Here's my top 3:
Mark Lanoogna "Pretty Colors"
Zeppelin's "Hearbreaker" from the original "hot mix" pressing done by Bob Ludwig (yeow!)
"Vamos" from The Pixies Surfer Rosa (my notes read, "Killed it!")
Of course there was more music played but I didn't write it down. Rob also played "Electric Ladyland" which he got from my USB stick. This is a rip of the Japanese import CD with the original UK album cover art and it happens to sound simply fantastic. There was also a mystery afoot....
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 08, 2015
People either love the Auralic Aries Mini or they really, really want to. I want to review it which will happen...shortly. In order to drive home a major raison d'être for the Mini's existence, Auralic is including one full year of Tidal Hi-Fi with every Mini sold for US customers (the rest of the world is already hip to Hi-Fi). This new deal brings the Mini's price up (or down depending on how you look at it) to $549. Since one year of Tidal Hi-Fi will normally run you $239.88, the Mini's original price announced in Munich of $399 would make the combo $638.88. You can say you're getting the Mini for $309.12 or feel free to be thrilled about getting a year of Tidal Hi-Fi for $150.

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