RMAF 2012

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Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 14, 2012
Antelope Audio attacks the state of the art with its new Rubicon Atomic AD/DA Preamp (target price $40,000):
World's first 384 kHz converter, phono stage preamp and headphone amplifier with an integrated atomic clock.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
Antelope Audio was running some A/B Tests in Room 465:
PTE and Antelope Audio will be conducting a real time listening test between state of the art Analog and a state of the art digital copy—can you hear the difference?.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 17, 2012
(from left) David Chesky, Andreas Koch, Gordon Rankin, Rob Robinson, Mark Waldrep, Steve Silberman, and me. Photo Credit: John Atkinson

On opening day of RMAF 2012, I moderated a seminar titled, "Ask The Experts: Your Computer Audio Questions Answered. Michael Lavorgna, Editor of AudioStream.com Assembles a Panel of Computer Audio Experts to answer your questions about file-based playback." The panel consisted of David Chesky, Chesky Records/HDtracks.com; Andreas Koch, Playback Designs; Gordon Rankin, Wavelength Audio; Rob Robinson, Channel D; Steve Silberman, AudioQuest; Mark Waldrep, AIX Records/iTrax.com. As you can see, we had a great panel with a diverse skill set and background and what you can't see is the place was pretty much filled to capacity. The crew at RMAF captures every seminar on video so I'll be sure to post a link to ours when it's ready.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 14, 2012
Ayre Acoustics wins flat out, hands down, slam dunk, by a country mile AudioStream's Coolest Room Award. In fact the Ayre room was so cool, I didn't even know Audiostream had a Coolest Room Award until I saw it. Decked out in the best of mod design right down to the orange ashtrays and martini server setup, the guys at Ayre created a room to dream and enjoy music within. Bra-freaking-vo! We need more real life in hi-fi, imo of course, and it was a real treat to hang out in the Ayre room and listen to Neil Young. I felt like a teenager again until that pain in my lower back started to act up...
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
B.M.C. was showing their line of components including the BDCD1.1 Belt Drive CD Player/Transport, BMC DAC1 DAC/Preamp ($4,700) and BMC AMP M1 monoblock amplifiers ($7,900/pair) while using the Antipodes Music Server ($2,300 2TB, $2,500 4TB) with a SOtM mBPS-d2s Intelligent Battery Power Supply ($400). The Antipodes Music Server includes a drive for ripping your CDs, comes in black or silver, and offers USB output to your DAC of choice.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
Bel Canto was hiding their new Asynchronous USB Link Converters the mLink ($375), uLink ($675), and REFLink ($1,495) and I say hiding because they're small, sit near your computer and take your computer's USB output (up to 24/192) and convert it into S/PDIF or LightLink ST Fiber the latter capable of running over 100 meters.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
Benchmark Media Systems introduced their new DAC2 HGC ($1,995) that, according to Benchmark, "outperforms the [well-received] Benchmark DAC1 in every respect." Sporting a total of 5 digital inputs, 2 analog inputs, 3 analog outputs, the DAC2 HGC can function as a DAC/Preamp/Headphone amp and perhaps most exciting of all it supports native DSD playback using DoP 1.0.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
Boulder was featuring its 1021 Disc Player ($24,000) and the 150W/ch 865 Integrated Amplifier ($12,500) driving a pair of Vienna Acoustics Baby Grand Symphony Edition speakers ($4,500/pair). The 1021 Disc Player is more than a disc player as it includes an Ethernet connection for network/Internet-based playback and it supports file formats including FLAC, WAV, MP3, ALAC, OGG, AIFF up to 32-bit/192kHz. There's an AES3 output and 2 pairs of Balanced outputs that are adaptable to Unbalanced outputs and a front panel touch screen display.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
That's Channel D's Rob Robinson getting ready to spin and rip some vinyl with his Pure Vinyl ($279) software. Rob treated us to a number of great-sounding vinyl rips and he also explained how he feels playing back vinyl digitally including handling RIAA in the digital domain is like getting the best of both worlds. I have Channel D's Pure Vinyl in-house for review so I'll be reporting on spinning virtual vinyl soon.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 15, 2012
Hey! I know you. The Vivaldi stack from dCS that recently had its debut in NYC at EARSNOVA was put to very good use in the dCS/VTL/Wilson/Transparent room. My recollection of the EARSNOVA systems' sound told me that it and this system sounded very different. And they should sound different seeing as we're talking about different associated equipment in a different room playing different music (not to mention the different me). Which raises the very real point that we're hearing all of these things when we listen to hi-fi even though our interest may only be in one piece of the puzzle.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
When I need a mid-day recharge I stop into the DeVore Fidelity room where I can visit with its proprietor John DeVore, his super-genial dealers from Eugene Hi-Fi, and Mike Smith room assistant extraordinaire. But the reason for the DeVore rechargability-factor is I know I will not hear any soft-string versions of classic rock tunes, no close-mic'd jazz trios rocking out to "Hey Joe", and no even closer-mic'd breathy waifs over double bass entendres. What I know I will hear is some good old and new-fashioned music (and yea it was on vinyl but don't tell anyone).
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
The Dynaudio XEO 3 ($2,300 per pair with transmitter and remote) and floor-standing Xeo 5 ($4,500 per pair with transmitter and remote) are powered wireless speakers that come with the XEO transmitter which includes an optical Toslink digital input, USB input, a stereo mini jack input, and a pair of RCA inputs. So you can connect your computer to the transmitter and send 16/48kHz data to the XEO speaker which keeps everything in the digital domain right up to the speakers output so there's no D/A conversion happening until the loudspeakers output hits air.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
Empirical Audio was showing their Overdrive SE DAC/Pre ($5,999) that features BNC S/PDIF, Async USB, and I2S inputs (24/192 for all inputs) and RCA and XLR outputs and you can drive an amp directly with its internal volume control. That said, an Arte Forma Pearl preamplifier ($1,800) was in use along with their 805 SE Monoblock Amplifiers ($4,000/pair) driving a pair of Vapor Audio Aurora speakers ($2,995/pair stands included).
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 14, 2012
highend-electronics, inc. was showing their MusicServer I ($995 includes monitor and all software licenses) that packs in 600GB of storage, 400GB of which is for your music files. The MusicServer I is based on a 64-bit Windows 7 platform and you can add external drives to up your storage capacity. The MusicServer I was sitting on top of a Synergistic Research Tranquility Base that our own Steve Plaskin recently reviewed and on top of the MusicServer I sat a vibration control device from Italy's Gregitek.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 12, 2012
The i-Fi Micro line from Avatar Acoustics is brand spankin' new and comes to you courtesy of "trickle-down technology licensed from AMR and aimed primarily at the future, Computer Audio generation." Hey! That's us and we're here! While the i-Fi line was on silent display the iDAC ($299) tempted with its asynchronous USB input that can handle up to 24/192kHz source material, headphone amp, and analog volume control. You can add the optional iUSB Power Plant ($199) that offers "super regulated power with Isoearth and Isopower technology providing two USB outputs, one for power and another for audio/power."

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