LATEST ADDITIONS

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 19, 2011
Tempo Distribution's room was manned by, among others, John Quick and John knows me well enough to know what music will get me to smile. The Doors "Riders On The Storm" washed over me in waves feeling as good as getting caught in a rain storm amid summer heat.

The system responsible for my mini-vacation was fronted by a Macbook Pro into the dCS Debussy USB DAC ($11,499), dCS Puccini U-Clock with 24/192 USB Interface ($5,499), the Musical Fidelity M6 500i 500wpc dual-mono integrated amp ($6,999) driving the Verity Audio Lenore loudspeakers ($16,000).

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 19, 2011
I swear someone told me there was a music server in this room. OK I lied. Someone told me there was a Western Electric 757A System: 728B Woofer, 713C driver, KS-12027 Horn (all circa 1947), a Charlie King modified Stellavox deck and a King/Cello tape preamp, Frank Schroeder (the guy and the turntable he designed for Artemis Labs), Joe Roberts of Sound Practices fame, JC Morrison designed Silbatone electronics and, and, and...

And great sounding music and a pleasant reminder (or a hard slap in the face wake-up call depending on where you stand) that hi-fi has a beautiful and long history and progress is anything but linear. With the exception of Computer Audio, of course.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 19, 2011
The Ayre room was all Ayre with the exception of the Vienna Acoustics Kiss loudspeakers ($15,000/pair). A track from Nick Drake's Pink Moon was playing when I walked in, the sliding door was open letting in cool fresh air and I could have sat down on the floor and had a picnic if only I didn't have that phobia about hotel room carpets. The system responsible for providing those cool and relaxing sounds consisted of a Mac mini running Pure Music, connected to the Ayre QB-9 USB DAC ($2,750), KX-R line stage preamplifier ($18,500), VX-R stereo amplifier ($14,950), L-5xe AC power filter/distributor ($1,500) and all Ayre cabling.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 19, 2011
Gordon Rankin's Wavelength Audio room was at once relaxing and invigorating providing "clean, clear, dynamic and controlled" music delivered by Benny Walker, Janis Ian and Mark Knopfler. The system while I sat, listened and enjoyed included the Cosecant HS 24(32)/192+Denominator USB DAC ($4,000), Royal Preamplifier 71A Directly Heated Triode linestage ($7,500), Corona mono blocks ($6,000/pair) and the Vaughn Loudspeakers Triode ($9,995). All cables by AudioQuest. Gordon was controlling the music stored on his Promise Pegasus R4 Hard drive array connected via Thunderbolt to an Apple MacBook Air i7/4G/120SSD with an iPad.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 19, 2011
Did you hear a buzz in the Wyred 4 Sound room? It seemed to me that there was a palpable level of excitement surrounding the Wyred 4 Sound products and you nearly felt this uplifting wave in their room. The system at play consisted of the STP-SE preamp ($1,999), Music Server (1,999), DAC-2 ($1,499), SX-500 250W monoblocks ($899/each) and the Clearwave Symphonia 72R loudspeaker (starting at $7,200) which are new and new to me. The 72R employ a RAAL OEM pure ribbon tweeter and dual 7" Accuton woofers and in this system everything was sounding open, resolute and engaging. Actually is sounded like more but I had other business to attend to.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 19, 2011
Emerald Physics was showing a complete system for $4,995 (+ freight) comprised of the Emerald Physics CS3 open baffle speakers, REL T1 powered subwoofer, the new Wyred 4 Sound M-INT (mini integrated amp/DAC), and a Marantz CD-5004 CD Player used as transport. For my way of thinking, I'd skip the CDs and add a turntable for a future-ready system.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 19, 2011
I first reviewed a Red Wine Audio battery-powered amplifier back in May 2005 which was just a few months after owner and designer Vinnie Rossi quit his day job to focus on Red Wine Audio (est. February 2005). It's great to see that since then the line has expanded to include a number of amps, headphone amps, preamps, DACs and battery power supplies but what ties them all together is LiFePO4 (LFP) battery power. Red Wine Audio is also the North American Distributor for the German-made WLM Loudspeakers.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 19, 2011
The Benchmark room on the 10th floor also featured the retro-looking loudspeakers and amplifiers from Studio Electric. The Studio Electric Monitor ($2,550/pair) and Studio Electric EA4 Dual Mono Hybrid Amplifier employs a tube input (NOS E88CC) and MOSFET power out (projected cost $8,000).

The Benchmark DAC1 Pre ($1,595) handled the front end and was playing 16/44 songs from Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin and it sounded like music you'd like to spend more time listening to. The Benchmark DAC1 PRE offers six inputs - one analog, one USB, and four S/PDIF (one optical, and three coaxial digital) and four outputs - stereo XLR balanced, RCA unbalanced, and two headphone jacks driven by Benchmark's HPA2'99 0-ohm headphone amplifier.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 19, 2011
I have to admit that Behold was news to me. Based in Bayern, Germany Behold is, I think its safe to say, a highly engineered line of electronics and loudspeakers. We were treated to the new Behold Tanara Loudspeaker ($55,000/package includes the Gentle G192 integrated amp and active crossover) being fed its music from a Memory Player 64 ($9,890). A track from Tom Wait's earthy Alice played and I noted it sounding "effortless".
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 18, 2011
The Laufer Teknik room featured the scape-age looking German Physiks Unlimited MKII omnidirectional loudspeakers ($14,950/pair) and I'm not knocking their looks whatsoever just saying that almost every omni speaker I've seen looks sci-fi which makes me wonder if omnidirectional sound is sci-fi simply in and of itself. The Unlimited MKII's were driven by the equally distinct looking and named Abis Shungetsu Model P-1120 Mono Block Power Amplifiers (about $30,000/pair). Providing front-end duties was the The Memory Player 64 Full Version with the Teflon Bypass Option ($9,890 + $1,250 for Teflon Bypass Option).

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