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Just In from CAF (Part I): Audio Note UK DAC and Cabling, Acapella Audio Arts Music Server, Integrated Amplifier, Loudspeakers, and Cabling, HRS Equipment Rack

By | November 7th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Veteran Palo Alto, California distributor Audio Federation presented a system that included large horn-loaded speakers and Audio Note UK gear, two of my favorite things.

Staged by Cornelia and Michael Davis, the beautiful-looking Audio Federation assemblage consisted of the Acapella Audio One music server ($6875), Audio Note UK DAC Five Signature ($98,355), Acapella LaMusika integrated amplifier ($110,000), new 93″ tall, 450lb Acapella Audio Arts Campanile 2 loudspeakers ($66,500/pair) with an updated spherical horn midrange (95dB at 8 ohms), and Acapella and Audio Note UK cabling.… Read the full article

Ohm Acoustics F loudspeaker

By | November 7th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

We have still not received a pair of these for formal testing, which may be a good thing in view of our feelings these days about “updatings.” (Our feelings about such are clarified in this issue’s “As We See It.”)

We auditioned Ohm Fs in three audio stores, and came away with five reactions. In one store, the two speakers we heard sounded similar to one another, but not terribly impressive. Stereo imaging was extraordinarily good, which has been the case with every truly omnidirectional speaker system we have heard, but the middle range of the Ohm Fs was rather markedly colored, with a vowel-like “eh” quality, and the low end struck us as being overly heavy and way out of proportion to the high end, although it did at least sound fairly smooth.… Read the full article

Overture Room: Technics’ SL-1000RE-S turntable, Van Den Hul Master Signature Cartridge and Grail SB Phono Preamp, Magico M2 Loudspeakers, Esoteric Grandioso C1 Preamplifier and Grandioso M1 Amplifiers, Shunyata Cables, HRS Racks, Artnovation Room Tuning

By | November 6th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Overture Room: Technics’ SL-1000RE-S turntable, Van Den Hul Master Signature Cartridge and Grail SB Phono Preamp, Magico M2 Loudspeakers, Esoteric Grandioso C1 Preamplifier and Grandioso M1 Amplifiers, Shunyata Cables, HRS Racks, Artnovation Room Tuning |

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EMIA Re-Visioned Quad ESL 57 Loudspeakers, Garrard 301 Turntable, Schroeder and Schick Tonearms, Made-from-Scratch EMIA Phono Cartridge, and Everything Else

By | November 6th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Look at the photo. What you see is a re-imagining of the original Quad ESL 57s by Dave Slagle of EMIA (Experience Music Intact Audio). The only thing that remains from the original Quads are the PVC stator parts rebuilt to original standards by Wayne Picquet of Quads Unlimited in Longwood, Florida. The cabinets are made from solid 12/4 tiger maple with walnut accents and built by Andy Armstrong. These reinvented Quads are bi-amped using two push-pull 300B tube amps, which are mounted in the loudspeaker’s base and connected to the Quad panels through Slagle-wound step-up transformers.… Read the full article

ModWright Ambrose Ai325 Integrated Amplifier, PH9.0 Phono Pre, and modified Pioneer CD Player, Fern & Roby Tredegar Turntable (Schroeder Tonearm, Soundsmith Cartridge) and Raven Loudspeakers, Stereolab/Black Cat Cabling

By | November 6th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

I been watching the development of ModWright Instruments’ Daniel Wright since he started, many years ago, as a modifier of Sony and Oppo CD players. Dan is emerging as a manufacturer of some of the most refined-sounding and distinctive-looking tube amplifiers and pre-amplifiers on the high-end scene. As a reviewer, I’ve been waiting to see a ModWright product that just jumped out of the deck and said, “Herb! Review me.”

I just spotted it. It’s Dan’s latest creation, the beautiful Ambrose Ai325 Tube Integrated ($9995 intro price).… Read the full article

The American Sound Rooms: Wadax Electronics, Avantgarde Loudspeakers, Transparent Cabling

By | November 6th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

American Sound distribution presented three rooms featuring Avantgarde horn loudspeakers, and, in the two rooms I visited, Wadax digital products. This was the U.S. debut of Wadax’s much-talked-about flagship, the Atlantis, the company’s all-out assault on the state of the digital art. If looks are any measure, the Atlantis was designed to compete with brands like dCS and Esoteric. The design of their casework is distinctive.

The Atlantis consists of three components that may be purchased separately: a Transport ($45,000), DAC ($69,000), and server $20,000.… Read the full article

Cube Audio Mini Nenuphar Loudspeakers, EMIA Audio Electronics, TW Acoustic Raven GT Turntable with Schroeder Reference SQ and Schick Tonearms and Soundsmith Sussurro and Ortofon SPU Royal N Cartridges

By | November 6th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Jon Ver Halen’s Refined Audio room was the opposite of the Audio Company’s VAC/Von Schweikert room. It was small, had one grim light, gray carpet, gray walls, no banners, and two little black directly-heated triode amps with two tubes driving single-driver full-range (Cube) speakers in small, plain boxes. No Hollywood glitz socialite glamor, but the sound was rich, highly detailed, and pure. Here’s why:

The $10,900/pair Cube Audio “Mini Nenuphar” speakers use only one paper-cone, full-range driver with no crossover.… Read the full article

Legacy Audio Studio HD Loudspeakers, Rogue Audio Sphinx v3 amplifier, NAD C658 network player/preamp/DAC

By | November 6th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

It pleases me beyond words when modestly priced audio components overperform immodestly.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, dealer Now Listen Here (‘A Tenacious Sound Store’) put on a spectacularly immodest, mind-expanding demo, using only humble components. Picture a big atrium room with a pair of $1795/pair Legacy Audio Studio HD loudspeakers driven by the new Rogue Audio Sphinx v3 (tube/class-D) integrated amplifier ($1595)—this in turn driven by the NAD C 658 BluOS™ network player/preamp/DAC—which, I feel certain, played a big roll in making this little rig sound refined, big, powerful, extroverted.… Read the full article

Joseph Audio Loudspeakers, Unison Research DAC and Amplification, Balanced Audio Technology Phono Stage, Feickert Turntable, Schick Tonearm, My Sonic Lab Cartridge

By | November 6th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

On the last day of the show, loudspeaker designer Jeff Joseph showed no signs of slowing down. Remote in hand, he bounced around his room like the proverbial battery bunny, welcoming attendees, switching his rig between analog and digital playback, and generally smiling his way through it all.

Jeff’s rig included a Feickert Firebird turntable ($12,995), Thomas Schick Tonearm ($2290), My Sonic Lab Signature Gold Cartridge ($8995), Balanced Audio Technology VK-P12SE phono stage ($9995), Unison Research CD Due DAC ($4995) and Unico 150 Integrated ($6495), and his Joseph Audio Perspective2 Graphene Loudspeakers ($14,995/pair).… Read the full article

MC Audiotech Forty-10 Loudspeakers, VPI HW-40 Turntable, Luminous Audio Arion Phono Preamp, Pass Labs XP22 preamp, Wolf Audio Alpha 3 Music Server, PS Audio DirectStream DAC, Parasound A23 Amplifier, Symposium Foundation Rack

By | November 5th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Two friends whose taste and hearing I respect—and who visited every room at this show—told me they thought the $35K/pair MC Audiotech Forty-10 loudspeakers made the best sound at CAF. No question, these almost five-feet tall decorator-friendly midcentury-modernᡃlooking beauties sounded even better they look, and they look very nice.

At first, I thought they sounded like electrostatics, or maybe a planar-magnetic. Even after listening at some length and talking to the designer, I did not yet understand that the Forty-10 did not use electrostatic drivers.… Read the full article