Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2012

Part 5


Former Stereomojo staffer makes it big. Ryan Scott has started his own speaker company

called Vapor Audio (very strange name, but he didn't consult us) and judging by what we've heard ourselves

as well as the comments of others in and out of the

audio industry, he really has something here.

He tells us he's selling all he can make, but he'd like us to review a pair.

Since he's no longer associated with us, that seems kosher to us.

He knows we'll be just as honest and objective as with any other product.

These are the Joule Black loudspeakers at $8995/pair with stands. Note the exotic wood finish.

You can have them done jut about any way you want - very custom. And at this price?

We can honestly say that these compete with speakers that are MUCH more expensive.

Standard Features
Custom RAAL 70-20XR Amorphous Core
Custom AudioTech 6″ midrange with zero diffraction surround
Custom AudioTech 9″ woofer with Extended Bass Shelf tuning
Phenolic multi layer baffle
Stacked Ply cabinet construction with constrained layer top
Crossover Features:
Jensen 12ga wax/paper Foil Inductors
Clarity MR Capacitors
All point-to-point hand soldered with Cardas Silver Solder
Dueland Resistors
Crossover in separate vibration isolated chamber
Connectivity and Wiring:
WBT 0703 Binding Posts
Wired internally Silver/Gold on tweeter, Kimber 4TC on midrange and woofer


These are the Cirrus Black loudspeakers at $3995/pair pushed by BMC M2 monoblock amps at 8 grand each, and a BMC CD player. We'd like to find out more about the Antipodes Music Server ($2500) he was using, too.

Last year at the show, two Stereomojo staffers including publisher Darby attended an after hours

private preview of the Cirrus in the Empirical Audio room

that was using a pair of $25,000 YG floorstanders at the end of the Empirical digital front end.

There were about 15 people who listened first to the YG's using the Stereomojo Ultimate Evaluation Disk

as source material. Then the Cirrus were substituted, everything else being the same.

What the little Cirrus's did to the YG's is what happens to cigars

and the rear tires of Corvettes when they are floored from a standing start.

We didn't hear anyone who favored the YG's. Oh well...

These are the ARCUS White model at $5,895.

Drivers Used RAAL 70-20XR Tweeter
6″ custom Audio Technology 15H SDKAM Midrange
9″ custom Audio Technology 23I SDKA Woofer
Cabinet Tuning Bottom Ported, 29hz tuning frequency, Extended Bass Shelf
Freq Response 30 – 38,500hz +/-3db, 35 – 26,000 hz +/- 1.5db
Nominal Impedance 8 ohms
Sensitivity 90 db
Recommended Power 15-150 watts via Tube Amp
30-250 watts via Solid State Amp
Weight and Dimensions 105 Pounds (with stands)
44″ Height x 16″ Deep x 14.5″ Max Width
9.5″ Baffle Width
Crossover Details User selectable 1st order or 2nd order on Midrange, 1st order on tweeter, 2nd order on woofer. Crossover points of 275hz, 2600hz



Emerald introduced 11 new products at the show!

1) CS2P open baffle controlled dispersion loudspeaker. From $2990.00 a pair
Single amp design for users who want hi performance and do not want to bi-amp.

The CS2P uses their new EP tweeter & new external upgradable crossover

as well as a beautiful new design. They come standard in dual stage automotive pure black or gray gloss at $2990.00 a pair.
A gorgeous Tri-coat Black Shadow Pearl or Tri-coat Gray is a $1200.00 option.
CS2P is upgradable w/DSP equalization and eventually to full biamplification w/the DSP2.4.

System One is their $4,990.00 complete system with CS2P speakers, Emerald 100.2 amp, Emerald Physics DSP2.4 EQ/crossover and Peachtree Audio Nova Preamp/DAC
Retail is $6,540.00

Yummy! One of the top values at the show!

2) Their first three monitor speakers:
MS3, Isobaric design w/dual 7” woofers & triple chamber tweeter, $3000/pair $3600 w/xover b) MS2, Two way design w/6.5” woofer & triple chamber tweeter, $2000/pr $2600 w/xover
MS1, Two way design with 4.5” woofer & dual Neo fabric dome tweeter, $1200/pair

2-Stage Black Gloss is standard. Optional Tri-coat hi-gloss finishes available at additional cost.

3) Four power amplifiers:
a) EP100.2SE 125 watt/ch digital amplifier, Special Edition version of the 100.2 $2,200.00 b) EP100.2 100 watt/channel digital amplifier with analog power supply $1600.00
c) EP60.2SE Special Edition version of the 60.2 with internal parts upgrades $1250.00
d) EP60.2 60 watt/channel digital amplifier with analog power supply $900.00

4) Two USB DAC’s for computer audio:
a) DAC1 is a 24 bit/ 96k USB streamer with ESS Sabre DAC $199.00
b) DAC2 is a 24 bit/192k Asynchronous USB with ESS Sabre DAC $299.00

5) DSP2.4, their first digital Crossover/Equalizer $850.00





This table is THE BEAT by Kodo, reviewed here as the first in the world

late last year. We loved it. Apparently so does Frank Schroder who debuted

his new Tangentially Tracking Tonearm for $8,999, they think. it was billed as Frank's first LINEAR tracking arm, though it technically isn't.

Here's what Frank says about it:

First of all, it does what all linear tracking tonearms try to achieve, namely holding the stylus assembly, not just the cartridge, in a position that equals that of the cutting stylus at all times/radii as it traces a record.

You'll notice that the headshell doesn't feature an offset angle, indispensable for conventional pivoted arms to minimize tracing error related distortions. Here, the cartridge suspension will not be loaded asymmetrically as (when properly set up) there is no skating force for which to compensate, nor even an asymmetry in the mass distribution of the main arm.

The total displacement of the foot point is less than one third of the required equivalent for a conventional linear tracking tonearm. The forces required to move the entire arm are considerably smaller due to the proportionally greater leverage and the use of the finest bearing available. This accounts for a total bearing friction in the horizontal plane that is lower than 3.5mg.

The bearings for the vertical movement are zero friction/zero stiction designs, combining the virtues of an airbearing with the rigidity of a preloaded ball bearing.

All relevant parameters are adjustable, including VTA/SRA. I opted for a simple, yet mechanically sound shaft/collar arrangement. A preloaded set screw allows for changes without the risk of the arm "dropping". VTF is fine tunable via a small knurled weight screw behind the main counterweight. Azimuth can be adjusted within a range of +/- 3°

The effective mass falls into the medium to high category. Depending upon your choice of cartridge mounting plate(a proven concept taken over from previous Schröder tonearm designs), it ranges from 14 to 21gr.

The effective length of the main arm is 250mm, the pivot to spindle mounting distance 275mm due to the additional pivoting bar. Obviously, the overhang is Zero.

The armwands are handmade of either Snakewood or Grenadill, both treated extensively
(a time and labor intensive process) to assure total immunity from changes in humidity or temperature.

The headshell is fabricated from a proprietary material that combines stiffness, low mass and high internal damping.

The cryogenically treated, high purity copper wiring runs uninterrupted from the cartridge clips to the RCAs Bullet plugs(XLRs available upon request).

What does all of this mean in terms of sound quality?

The new arm, which shall be labelled Schröder LT, for "linear tracking"(even though it isn't in the strictest sense of the word) omits many a flaw of existing arms, pivoted or linear tracking, by keeping all forces exerted on the cantilever assembly(other than those generated by the groove) to an unprecedented minimum. This results in a greater dynamic range, an extremely clean rendition of complex signals, rock solid images in space, neither blown up nor reduced to mere dots, but three-dimensional as captured by the recording engineer. Like all of my previous designs I value truthfulness of timbre very highly, so expect a total absence of "grain" or resonances that may add "excitement" but will ultimately lead to listening fatigue.



Perhaps one of the biggest "WOW!" rooms at the show.

Those two monstrous sized turntables are the Traingle Arts Reference at $16,500 (below)

and the Signature at $12,500. They LOOK much more expensive.


This is the NAT Magma single-ended mono amp for a measly $44,990/pr.

Singled ended at 160 watts per amp????


The NAT Transmitter, another SE mono blcok for "only" $19,990/pr this time.

"Only" 120 watts, too.


Eventus Audio Nebula speakers at $65,000/pr.

Response is 22 - 45,000 with a 91 db sensitivity.




It's probably getting boring, but we were the first to review any LSA product.

We've reviewed all their amps and most of their speakers.

The LSA Statmente hybrid integrated is one of Darby's reference amps.

This is the new version, upgraded by Big John Tucker of Exemplar Audio for $14,000.


It was driving the LSA1 Statement Monitor ($2,800/pr).

Very vivid, lively and detialed with a huge soundstage.

Mr. Tucker is sending one of his modified Oppo players that he says makes the

standard $1,000 Oppo sound "broken". We shall see.

 LSA banner displays their Maximum Mojo Award.



This is the MBL "Reference Line Combination D" system.  For only $260,000 you get a CD transport, a DAC, preamp, a pair of monoblocks and a pair of 101E MkII Radialstrahler loudspeakers. 

They were playing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" at about 110 db.

Idiots. We couldn't wait to get OUT of this room.


We're not done yet!

Go to Part 6