Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019: Innuos and Auralic

After the welcome media day bonanza, it was time to get down to business in some listening demos. Along with several large meeting rooms, the sleeping-stye tower housed multiple floors of hi-fi waiting with eager transducers. It was among these halls that I crossed paths with another revealing A/B from the UK-based music server maker Innous.

The subject of today’s scrutiny was not actually another music server debut however. As a step up for the popular Zenith Mk3 server ($2,600 USD), Innous was announcing a bit of signal polish in the form of a USB reclocker called the Phoenix ($3,150 USD). Intended to push sound quality levels even further, the inclusion of the Phoenix (B) did in fact add some crisp focus and smoother, organic delivery to the Zenith (A) during the initial A/B comparisons in the room.

Glancing up at the rack, it was beyond the control of my curiosity to not ask for yet another option with the resting reference Statement server (C) that I had been very impressed with at other showings. While perhaps not the direction the demonstration was intended for, the resulting equation did make it clear that A+B did not equal C. Comforting news for those have already purchased the flagship at $13,000 USD. While resolution delivery improved along the upward path, in this YG Acoustics-fronted demo the staging appeared to deepen at A+B, then widen at C for a satisfying sonic illusion as things moved forward.

Fresh off its debut at Munich, Auralic’s newest ESS 9038Q2M-equipped DAC/Streamer Altair G1 ($2,500 USD) was on static display alongside a collection of the company’s many digital products in the meeting-area section of their 11th floor suite.

Piping hot in the listening room was the Epicon 8 from Dali ($20,000 USD) fronted by Auralic’s flagship G2 series, Aries, Vega and Leo GX. The Ayre VX-R20 and KX-R20 provided power control with Cardas Clear Beyond managing the cable department. The full set really soared with some classical tracks parading around in the mix. The rich tonality from the strings felt palatable, sweet and almost emotional to the somewhat crowded room that had gathered to listen. As the selection turned to a solo cello, vibrations pulled from a deep source that held sonic currency in spades.

There was a striking balance to all things, which is something I really appreciate from a well-configured digital source. It was a turn in the road that really set the mood for day two. The hotel and its occupants appeared quite content on the surface, and sonic irregularities in general appeared with ever decreasing frequency as the day wore on and rooms got dialled-in. Warm tones in the systems matched the tones of the lodge-themed surroundings, which ultimately matched the subtle head nods and foot taps of approval from attendees.

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest