Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2010 Show Report

Part 9

 

Rogue; Another established tube amp company making their first appearance in Denver.

On demo were Rogue’s M-180 monoblocks ($5495/pair), Athena line preamp ($4995), and Ares phono preamp ($1995).

 

 

 

AMARRA

 

Dr. John Richardson: I managed to spend time in both the Amarra and Channel D rooms. These are the “big two” developers of Mac-friendly playback software. You might think that i-Tunes is good enough for audiophile quality playback; I did too until I started looking into these options. All one needs to be convinced is the type of demo that the good folks representing Amarra put on. Here, just listen to this cut first with iTunes, and then with Amarra, you would have to be nearly deaf not to hear the differences! With Amarra, soundstages grew, both in terms of width and depth, and a tonal richness that was lacking before (especially with vocals) became audibly obvious. This was like changing out a poorly engineered audio component for a much better one. I was sold…

 

Amarra makes several versions at several price points from $79 to $1,200. As the price rises, so does the resolution and features.

Amarra Vinyl ($695)
Amarra VINYL, which now competes with Pure Vinyl, draws on the functionality of soundBlade and the ease of use of PreMaster CD and FixIt to provide a complete, vinyl to tracks workflow. It combines stereo recording, up to 192 kHz, with four full bands of Sonic EQ , and a select set of easy to use tools from the award winning NoNOISE II restoration suite. We believe Vinyl can be added at no cost to current Amarra owners. At least it should be...

 

Hats new in Amarra 2.1

• RAM-based Cache Playback
• Expanded Full 4-band Sonic EQ With 14 Filter Types
• Additional Psychoacoustic Dither Options Included
• Drag & Drop Playlist Creation From iTunes and Finder
• Seamless Playlist Docking

Amarra 2.1 in PlayLIst mode.

Whats new in Amarra MINI 2.1 ::

• RAM-cached for disk-free operation
• Amarra EQ for adjusting timbre
• Native support for FLAC, ALAC and
most compressed formats
• Seamless Playlist Docking

PURE VINYL


I also really enjoyed my time with Rob Robinson, the founder of Channel D. Rob’s software (called Pure Vinyl) is especially designed for transcribing vinyl and employs a digital RIAA correction (as well as a bundle of other equalization curves for vinyl playback). The software also sports a playback module, Pure Music, which I use in my home system. Like Amarra, it offers playback that is much improved over iTunes. I also attended on Saturday morning a seminar by Mr. Robinson on how to transcribe vinyl using his products; I found this very useful and interesting, as did a lot of other people. There was standing room only. I should know, as I stood at the back of the auditorium.
Rob Robinson is also a scientist. He is credited with designing and building (in 1987) the first scanning tunneling microscope (STM) at Bell Communications Research (formerly part of AT&T Bell Labs). It turns out that he and I have many of the same research interests and know several of the same people in the field. It’s a small world out there…

 

 

LSA was playing their Monitor 1 Statement speakers, driven by the LSA Standard hybrid Integrated amp.

I have just the opposite at home, the LSA Statement Integrated and the Monitor 1 standard, both of which I have reviewed here,

and both were given Maximum Mojo award.

While I am very familiar with the sound of LSA, I have to say I was shocked at the quantity and quality of bass

these little standmounts (2,600/pr) produced - and I don't shock easily. Beyond that, the quality and soundstage the least expensive

LSA Standard integrated produced (we also reviewed that) was more than a little surprising. I wonder if Brian Warford and John Tucker

have done a little added work since I reviewed it almost 4 years ago. At 150 wpc of tube + solid state goodness, this is still

the integrated to beat in this $5,000 price range. And I begged Brian to send me these Statement Monitors. We'll see.

 

 

 

PSAUDIO was showing their Perfect Wave Transport/DAC system (we did the world's first review of them, too) with the new

Bridge ($499) which turns the DAC into a music server which can be controlled from your iPhone or iPad, or the front panel. The bridge is simply a card that plugs into the back of the DAC.

Features
Connect the PWD to the network
32 bit capable
192kHz music
500mHz processor
Built in Digital Lens
256mB DDR RAM memory for the lens
Play high-resolution audio over the network
Display cover art
Manage your music library over the network
Play internet radio
Plugs into the back of the PerfectWave DAC

 

A brand new accessory from a company called "Q-Tips" made it's debut at the show.

Supposedly, if you insert one into your ear and manipulate it gently, your hearing is greatly improved!

No price was available, but we estimate the cost, based on other accessories we saw at the show,

to be approximately $1,000. There was no indication whether they are digital or analog or whether

they can be accessed via WiFi, Ipod or Ipad....we did not request a review.

 

I almost passed this room by. When I spotted Jim Thompson, I had to give him a good-natured hard time.

I told him I liked his speakers, but he'd never given us a review. I told him how crushed I was and he made me feel inadequate.

All the guys from Eggleston were laughing, as was I. Jim gave me a hard time right back.

Finally, he said, "James, we're debuting an all new speaker at CES. We're calling it the Rosa Signature and it will most likely sell for

 

Alan Yun of Silverline was showing his new Sonatina MK IV ($5,995/pr). Not only do they LOOK

like more expensive models, they sound that way as well.

These are in the mail to us now.

Specifications
Design (Bass Reflex): 3 way full range
One 1" silk soft dome tweeter
One 3.5" treated pulp paper cone mid range with rubber surround
One 7" long throw treated pulp paper cone woofer with double magnets
Frequency Response: 25 - 28,000 Hz
Sensitivity: 91 dB (+/- 3 dB, 2.83V)
Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms
Crossover Frequency: 1500/3500 Hz
Recommended Power: 10 - 500 watts RMS
Dimension (H x W x D): 40" x 10" x 14"
Net weight: 55lbs (25 kgs)
Shipping Dimension (H x W x D): 43" x 14" x 17"
Shipping Weight: 65 lbs.(30kgs)/ Each
Speaker Connections: Bi-wire
Price: $5,995/pair
Finishes: Rose Cherry Veneer

 

 

 

Grant Fidelity is one of our favorite importers. They import everything from speaker, amps

and turntables to cables, racks and accessories. Ian Grant makes sure everything is made to his specs

and Rachel provides excellent customer service. We have reviewed several Grant pieces and have always found them to have a very high price/value ratio.

You never have to worry about buying something off of Ebay or Audiogon that you might get stuck with. We have also never had a problem with any Grant products.

Oh yeah, they also do some of the best tubes at any price at very reasonable prices.

 

For example, this integrated amp is made by Schuguang who also makes some of the best tubes available.

Talk about synergy when the company that makes the tubes makes the tube amps. Those black bottle Treasure tubes you see

are some of the best around. I've compared them to things like Western Electrics and found them better.

This amp is 50 wpc of KT88's and goes for a piffling $1,600.

They also had a new tube DAC for all of $229. They had a whole system with DAC, amp and tower speakers for $3,000.

 

Hugh Nguyen of Angel City Audio was showing primarily Onix products and those from Melody.

We have reviewed several Onix products and found them to be first class. We saw several Onix products in use by other manufactures as part of their systems.

Melody, designed in Australia and made in their own factory in China,makes some of the most gorgeous looking amps in the world

 I wish photos could capture their gleaming, solid construction. They make a big line of amps, most in the 2 to three grand range.

This is a monoblock whose tube protectors just were visual knockouts.

 

Again visually stunning in silver and polished wood, the new AN211 integrated sounded incredible.

Fedex tells us it should arrive at our offices for review on Act. 28th for a world's first review.

 

No way...there's more?!

Go to part 10

 

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