RMAF 2011 Part 6
Man whatta room! This was our fav place to just hang out, which we did twice after hours. After listening and evaluating all day, you'd think the last thing we'd want to do is endure more, but here it was Shangri-La. First, Bill Baker and Joe Jurzek of Purity are true audiophiles and a lovers of music and just the kind of guys you like to hang out with. Bill is not your typical pushy salesman type, he lets his Purity products, especially the preamps, do the talking for him. They were debuting the Purity Audio Design Ultra GT+preamp (pure silver autoformers - $29,995) and "Harmony" Mono and Stereo Balanced Buffers ($2,595/$3,495) with the Eera Tentation CD Player and M2Tech Young DAC providing the digital sources.
All that was driving Von Scheweikert's new VR-44 semi-active (bass) speakers at $20,000. All those are world first sighting and hearing. The VR-44 replaces the venerable and popular VR-4. Albert has gone to a single cabinet instead of the "box-on-box" of the 4. Why? He has rediscovered that having a single baffle for all of the drive units to launch from provides a more uniform dispersion pattern that is also more coherent than using two dissimilar baffles or boxes. There are all new drivers that behave as a single "point source" and were designed as a "system set," not as individual units. This game plan enabled Albert to create a truly neutral sounding, coherent sound field, since they don't have any driver discontinuities to compensate for. The woofers are driven by built-in solid state amps.
Albert is also making a passive version that will retail from $17,000 in standard automotive paint finishes with optional paint finishes available at extra cost. They are 90 db sensitive at 4 Ohms. Both VR-44 Passive and Aktive models utilize two-8.8" OEM composite-coned custom-built woofers by SEAS of Norway in a modified quasi-transmission line cabinet design, with a 6" composite cone full range speaker used as a midrange from Scan Design, and complemented by the Scan Design 1" Wide Surround dual ring tweeter at the top. At the rear, you will see twin pairs of WBT NextGen binding posts for bi-wiring and the Morel midrange-tweeter horn driver, driven by VS's Ambience Retrieval System circuit and level control. The built-in amps are 300 W per side.
All these guys need to scramble because they had all kinds of problems with various amps. Top that with the total loss of Purity's loss shop in the recent big hurricane/flood. Amazing that they made the show at all. But we're glad they did because this was easily one of the best sounding systems in Denver. Amazing soundstage with exquisite detail, giving no sense of listening toamps and speakers at all. Big and bold, especially at the bottom end with no sense of strain (and we cranked them for a minute or two) or compression. Wide open, baby. Yet these was a lot of finesse, too. Beastly and beautiful at the same time with extreme clarity and transparency, obvious even under show conditions.
This was definitely one of the best sounds at the show, regardless of price. We heard the world's best bassist, Dean Peer who was performing Saturday night, dropped by the room, played his CD "Airborne" and declared it sounded as good as it did in the studio.
Bill and Joe at Purity have been promising to send us one of their less expensive preamps like those pictured above ($30,000 is way to choice for us). We cannot wait of that. We didn't get a chance to ask Albert about reviewing the new VR-44, but we did the world's first review of his astonishing bargain VR-30's, so just maybe...
THE MEMORY PLAYER
We wish all products like groceries and cars improved as much and went down in cost like this digital pioneer. This product could cause tidal waves back in 2005 because of its ground breaking approach to digital playback. It was the first real music server, the granddaddy of the plethora of music servers that seem to be proliferate every day. It was the first to use hard disk instead of the physical CD as a source. It was also the first to use the process of rereading the CD until it was a bit perfect match before committing it to hard drive and playing it from there. It was expensive – $10,000 – seven years ago. It was slow and the graphical user interface was complex, clunky and just plain a pain in the butt to use. All that has changed.
It's much faster, especially the “read until right” which now features unlimited re-reading to precisely capture dropped music bits without the use of gender crossing error correction. It also features 64 bit audio playback avoiding signal splitting that can cause jitter in conventional 16 are 24-bit sample periods and what they call Direct to DAC which they say bypasses unwanted output circuitry to eliminate artificial digital coloration. They also use a software and jitter reduction suite called IDEAS or Impulse Discharge Of Events In A Temporal Space. This process previously had to be applied manually before each play, but now it's fully automatic and is set to maintain atomic clock jitter levels at all times.
The GUI is vastly improved since you no longer need to copy and paste music from the library to the memory as before, you just scroll to find your music and click.
All that improvement in the price has gone down to $7900. Noteworthy since the price of everything else in the esoteric high end seems to be skyrocketing.
Speaking of a plethora of music servers, Olive was showing their 04 HD model featuring a 4.3 inch high-resolution touchscreen display in color that will show you multiple screens of information as well as album art. It uses the Burr Brown PCM 1792A which can be used as an outboard DAC with 24-bit/192 kHz for any digital music source. It supports simultaneous streaming of high-quality audio to multiple rooms. Internal hard drive is a big 2 TB that will hold about 6000 CDs in original quality. There is no fan for quiet operation.
You can connected wirelessly to your network, stream multiroom music and listen to Internet radio. Hook it up to your TV and you can navigate on the big screen, or you can control it with a free iPhone app.
On the back is one RCA for analog output, two SP DIF digital outs, one optical and one coax. One digital input is SP DIF coax.
It supports bit rates up to 24-bit (despite its claim of 32-bit) and will play Flac, MP3 and WAV files. AAC files that only 128 kb. UGH.
There is also gigabit Ethernet, HDMI at 480P and a USB. The remote control is included but there's no mention of an iPhone or pad app. You can buy the 04HD for $2499.
The 06 HD model that sells for $5000 adds a huge 10.1 inch color touchscreen and a solid aluminum shell said to reduce resonance with better fee to do the same. In addition there is a fully balanced differential back with two Burr Brown chips instead of one. It will up sample to 24-bit/384 kHz and an improved analog filter. It also adds a headphone output with its own chip and amplifier. There is an iPad app for this one.
Olive said that they'd be happy to send us the $2500 model for review. We'll be happy to get it for you.
TOWNSEND ROCK 7
Not that new, but cool looking anyway.
This is a pre-production model of their Gibbon 88 set to replace their present Super 8.
The cabinet is made from bamboo, ala the Vaughn Cabernet we reviewed in 2009 and turned out to be our Speaker of the Year. The new Gibbon woofer is said to be improved and the 7" midrange-woofer has a 50% larger magnet system and double the linear travel compared to the old one.
Sounded pretty good.
$5000 per pair
Nothing real new here, either, but we discussed our upcoming, first ever review of the Sonatina IV, (the one he's leaning on) with Alan Yun the designer.
We also relistened to them there with different amps, different room, different everything, using our same tracks, to see if we heard the same characteristics we heard at home.
We did and he confirmed that he heard what we were hearing. We work very hard to be as accurate, unbiased and thorough as possible
Look for our review soon.
Martin-Logan Montis debuted at $9995 with a new 24-bit DSP engine and 200W Class D power.
We still think the Sanders 10c hybrid electrostat which we reviewed in 2009 - it was a world's first review and our Product of the Year - is way out front quality AND pricewise in the planar field. At $13k it includes a digital crossover, adjustable in real time from your seat, with a Sanders Mag-Tech amp into the deal. We're glad to see that over two years later, other publications have discovered what we did.
Sanders new introduction at RMAF 2011 was the new preamplifier. In Roger’s previous product line the line stage cost $4000 and the phone stage cost $4000. He has combined the two together and the new price is just $4000. Yes, you read that correctly; what use to cost $8000 total is now combined and improved and is now only $4000. Talk about adding customer value in tough economic times.
Martin Logan also showed a new 2-way box speaker called the Motion LX16that uses 3/4-inch thick MDF cabinets. The drivers are held in place by a solid, black-anodized brushed aluminum baffle. A 1" "folded motion" tweeter and 5.25" and aluminum cone woofer are
blended with a topology crossover network featuring polypropylene and low-DF electrolytic capacitors, custom wound inductors, and thermal and current protection. The Motion LX Series also features recessed custom 5-way binding posts.
$800/pr with exotic Black Cherry finish. Yummy.
Bogdan Petrescu (Bogdan) and Adrian Wu (Densen)
Bogdan was sharing the room with Densen and was showing his 350 lb Petra
speaker with a freq. response of 28 to 100,000 Hz. The sensitivity rating is an efficient 90 dB.
DENSEN B-275 Preamplifier
Densen, a Danish company, was playing their new $11,000 top of the line preamplifier; the B-275. The B-275 was used internally at Densen as reference for several years. They decided if it was THAT good, why not make it commercially available.
The powersupply of the B-275 is placed in a cabinet named 2NRG. The 2NRG contains no less than 3 custom made transformers, each with 2 separate windings. Each audio channel of the B-275 Superleggera has its own transformer and no less than 200.000uF and rectifying by the use of ultrafast and precise diodes. The third transformer supplies the microprocessor, display, input selectors and the advance relay driven volume attenuator. All in all the 2NRG has no less than 510.000uF in the form of 51 custom made capacitors.
The B-275 uses Densen's unique non feedback single ended Class A topology and features their advanced microprocessor controlled attenuator. Most often used digital volume controls typically contain over 500 components in a compact microchip, with all the complications this means to the tiny vulnerable audio signals. On top of that, digital volume controls typically have poor performance at low signal levels, where they will have high distortion and time related distortions, resulting in listening fatigue and lack of transparency and details. Densen has never used digital volume controls, opting instead for an advanced ultra precise attenuator. This attenuator is implemented with the use of Vishay 0,1% laser trimmed metal film resistors and is calibrated by the user by an interface with the amplifiers microprocessor. This means that the microprocessor that also takes care of the B-275s display, remote, input selector, also takes care of the calibration of the attenuator to the listening level desired by the listener.
The parts, they say, are the best possible, resistors being Vishay metalfilm, the transistors being ultrafast and precise types, while the capacitors are conventional leaded capacitors but are Densen custom made film capacitors for the critical parts of the circuit.
DENSEN B 350 Mono Blocks
Power output in 8 ohms: 125
Power output in 4 ohms: 240W
Power supply size: 750VA
Storage capacity: 110.000uF
THD + Noise @ rated output: Less than 0.1%
In this room was also the Swiss-made Orpheus Privilege SACD Player.
The company's motto: "Elegance of detail must be reflective of performance." Uh huh. At $40,000 there should be a lot of both. Our motto; "Reviews of the Affordable High-End". So we will not be reviewing this player. But since it was there....
The case has been produced from a unique, homogeneous 100 kg cast aluminium block. The front panel comprises an LCD display, six buttons, one LED indicator and a CD slot. The interior architecture has been completely redesigned to ensure optimal sound reproduction by bringing the distance between different parts to a minimum. The SACD Player is equipped with an Esoteric CD/SACD UMK-5 mechanism. All electronics are synchronized with their ultra low jitter master clock module, which monitors the PLL circuits in order to synchronize both the CD mechanism and the remaining electronic components that function at different frequencies. The design prevents signal interpolation as well as data loss.
The SACD Player comes with a USB input enabling it to be used as a soundcard on PC and MAC. The design allows for it to evolve with new technologies. It also has a second USB port the function of which is dedicated to updating the firmware.
1 x USB (24bits@96kHz)
Digital outputs :
2 x S/PDIF (BNC, RCA), AES/EBU and TOSLINK (CD and SACD)
High definition mode OFF: 16Bits/48kHz
High definition mode ON : 24Bits/96kHz or 24Bits/192kHz
Analog outputs : Balanced and Unbalanced
Full SACD conversion in stereo
Digital to analog conversion by 2 x AD1955 in monophonic mode “24Bit/384 khz”
Powerlock™ sub pico-second lock master clock “Orpheus PC2”
DSD/PCM converter module “Orphee CV3”
Weight 22 Kg
Disc compatibility: CD, CD-R, CD-RW, SACD
Those who have heard this claim it's the best disk player in the world. It oughtta be at around $40,000.
And no, we will not ask to review it. We prefer to review things that our readers might actually buy.
We, of course, were actually more interested in those intriguing
tube monoblocks with the handsome wood chassis. Turns out they are by
Vantage Audio Group and made in the USA.
Output of 70 watts each for only $3,995/pair.
We should have a pair soon for review.
We were very impressed by this high-value company.
They had some Show Specials that made their value quotient even higher:
Vacuum Tube Type: 6N1 x 4 EL34 x 4
Output Power: 2 x 35w
S/N: 90 dB
Input Selector: AUX, CD
Frequency Response: 15Hz~25kHz
This will be making its way to us for review soon, too.
Everyone is always looking for inexpensive LP storage. Here it is.
Stackable and made in the USA from solid oak. Holds about 85 LPs.
$59 bucks for the frame
$$9 for a top rack
$39 for the base
Metal dividers, $5 for 2
Call 973-808-4188 for info or orders.
Tell 'em Stereomojo sent you and ask for our discount.
You want get it
'cause there is no such thing, but it doesn't hurt to ask...
Does this look familiar? Can you say Klipsch La Scala?
It's the Volti Audio Vittora, hand made in Benton, Maine.
Sensitivity is a whopping 104 dB so you could drive this with a flea fart.
Seriously....2 wpc will drive you out of a room.
Pretty impressive, Stereomojo guys...
..but this has to be the last page, right?
Nope...take me to part 7!
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