2013 ROCKY MOUNTAIN AUDIOFEST
View from our room at the Marriott
Since it was 88 degrees when we left Florida, it was nice to see snow on the mountains.
Frank Van Alstine was proud of his new FET Valve Tube Preamplifier
Retail $1899 and for silver finish add $200. Has a phono input option for $249.
Sounded clean and crisp through his amps and Salk speakers.
These are the Exotica's we mentioned earlier that sell for $6,000/pr when available.
He wouldn't tell us a lot about it since it experimental, but we think that's an Alnico driver.
The speaker is designed for extraordinary sound quality and hi sensitivity. He offered to send us a pair for review.
This is Klaus Bungee of Odyssey Audio. He's crazy. He actually made me retake his picture because his ponytail wasn't showing.
We reviewed a complete system, including cables, that sold for less than $5,000. Won our Best Value of the Year Award.
He was featuring his new phono preamp for $1,250.
Here's the inside.
He also mentioned he had a complete system now for $6,700 even better than the previous one we reviewed.
Candela pre amp $1500
Kismet Beryllium reference loudspeakers $3,900 pair
Khartago Monos $1800 pair ($3,600)
Complete system $6,700
Studio Electric has teamed up with Benchmark to offer speakers, amp & DAC for $7,000.
Believe it or not, this is in an integrated amp.
It's the Oxygene by Roksan, touch-sensitive, Bluetooth-equipped integrated amp for $7000. Up to 150 wpc.
The art part is that you can choose fro about a dozen definite paintings by Jay Paul Apodaca.
This is the Saskia Turntable, unique in that it uses and idler arm drive system.
It featured a Frank Schroeder reference SQ arm at $8000 and Miyajima Kansui cartridge $3800.
Here's another "experimental" speaker from Vaughn. That's an Ionosphere plasma tweeter mounted on top
of the cabinet with a side-mounted power woofer with a passive radiator. $15,000. The sound, driven by Wavelength monos was sweet.
Merrill Audio presented their new Veritas monoblock amps based on Hypex Ncore NC 1200
tech with 400 watts each.
Each is encased in a 66 pound solid billet aircraft grade aluminum chassis design for isolation of components and to minimize microphonic vibrations.
Cardas wiring and posts are used and are truly fully balanced. Even the power chords are cryo treated 10 AWG.
Stillpoints Ulramini risers are used underneath.
Really nice at $12,000/pr.
This is the Alexia Turntable by Helius. It's beautiful.
How much to do you think it costs?
The main bearing is tipped with a 6mm diameter ruby, selected for its wear resistance and polish quality.
The Alexia uses an external power supply to keep stray fields from conducting into the signal.
The power pack can be hidden discretely behind the system to minimize the visual impact of its presence.
According to Helius:
"A turntable platter should run with a constant radial velocity, the basic engineering requirement being that it does so at 33 1/3 rpm and 45 rpm.
However, there are two predominant factors that influence this, one being any external movement of the suspension that changes the tension of the belt, the other being changes in the level of perceived friction within the groove as the stylus encounters ever-changing amplitudes and frequencies due to dynamics within the music.
With the Alexia, the former problem is eliminated by the suspension design, and by mounting the motor directly onto the floating subchassis, the latter problem is dealt with by the inclusion of an optically encoded drive that references itself against the actual speed of the platter.
The electronics check and adjust the speed 270 times every second.
Within reason, a human hand can be run over the surface of the record while its playing and the speed will still remain locked. This means our platter does not have to carry a substantial mass to maintain an accurate speed, allowing us to incorporate a design of suspension unique to the industry."
I actually did that. touched the side of the rotating platter with a record playing. There was a brief change in pitch, but with my finger still there, she resumed perfect speed and playback. I was amazed.
I was even more amazed when I was told the price: $5,000.
Here's a close competitor; the George Warren turntable at $4,850, sans arm & cart of course.
The tonearm was by Moerch DP* at $4,995 and the cartridge was the Hyperion by Soundsmith - $7,500, more than the table! It sounded far beyond its price point through the system below.
Those speakers are by Tyler Acoustics, monsters at $11,500/pr.
The integrated is by Rogue Audio, the Pharoah at $3,495.
I got to talk to Rogue Product Manager Nick Fitzsimmons. Smart guy.
Rogue makes high value tube amplifiers. We love high value/high performance stereo gear.
Sounds like a good match. He agreed. Look for upcoming Rogue Audio reviews.
End of Part 5
OK. So you've seen more pictures
and read more detailed descriptions than any other show report, right?
But we're not done yet!