RMAF 2015

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Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 07, 2015
The diminutive Apogee Duet DAC ($649) sat between a MacBook and the Red Dragon Audio 250W (8Ω) S500 Class-D Stereo Amplifier ($1,999) powering the intriguing 93dB Spatial Hologram M4 open baffle speakers ($1,295/pair). I mention all of this up front because I thought this was a nice, simple system that I wish I had more time to listen to.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 08, 2015
that slot on the right side lets you peak through to the tubes

Digital Audio Review's John Darko said, and please don't quote me quoting him since I may have the exact wording wrong, the Aqua Hi-Fi La Scala MKII D/A Converter ($5,600) was, "lovely". La Scala is designed and handmade in Milan, Italy, a lovely place filled with lovely people. La Scala is a non-oversampling multibit R2R discrete ladder DAC (4x Burr-Brown PCM-1704K) and a pair of a ECC81(12AT7) vacuum tubes share the analog output stage with some Mosfets. La Scala supports PCM resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz via asynchronous USB, 2x coax S/PDIF (RCA and BNC), AES/EBU, and "AQlink Pro" an I2S serial bus port for connecting to the Aqua La Diva CD transport.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 07, 2015
I've been very impressed with everything I've heard from Astel&Kern especially their beautifully made and wonderful sounding AK240 (see review). That is, until now.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 10, 2015
Peter Madnick, who sports the best head of white hair in the business, has brought back his Audio Alchemy line of gear. You may recall seeing Peter's name associated with Constellation Audio where he also works his engineering prowess but Audio Alchemy, and their price/performance ratio, always held a warm spot in my audiophile heart. Based on what I heard at RMAF 2015, well, in Whoville they say - that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day.
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
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.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 10, 2015
I've known John-Paul Lizars, Aurender's Director of Sales & Marketing, for years. I always look forward to seeing him at shows because we talk about music.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 07, 2015
I first heard the stunning 3-way, self-powered, DSP corrected, horn-loaded Avantgarde Zero 1 ($21,950/pair) way back in 2013 in Munich (see report) where they easily filled a very large room, "I found this room's sound to be among the most compelling and physically vibrant at the show." The Zero 1s are not only internally amped (50W Class A solid-state amps for the tweeter and midrange and 400W Class D for the woofer), but they also include a preamp and 24-bit/192kHz capable DAC (3x Burr-Brown DACs) in the Master speaker. The Slave connects to the Master wirelessly via a 2.4 GHz ISM/SRD link and the Zero 1s can also accept incoming data via Apple's AirPlay.
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 10, 2015
I always enjoy stopping in the Benchmark room because they play real music. At play was the company's DAC2 HGC ($1,995 see review), AHB2 Power Amplifier ($2,995), and their SMS1 Loudspeakers ($2,450), making for a complete Benchmark system.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 08, 2015
The Serious Stereo room (see Herb Reichert's coverage on Stereophile) was using the elusive (at least in terms of an AudioStream review) highly praised Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC Series 2 ($4,995)/Alpha USB ($1,895) combo with some Serious down-home sound enhancement devices.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 10, 2015
Here's a live portrait of the new Bluesound family (details found here) from RMAF 2015. We all know that Bluesound's parents include NAD and PSB who shared their knowledge and experience to make Bluesound the better, hi-res choice for whole-home audio.
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 06, 2015
Bricasti Design has come out with the Gold Edition ($15,000) of their highly regarded M1 DAC (see Steve Plaskin's review). The search for gold was initiated by some customers in Japan and beyond the Kind Midas touch, the Gold Edition adds larger footers to support the weight of all that bling (kidding) and includes some internal tweaks that add to the unit's cost. These improvements may work their way into a non-gold version.

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