The systems that most attracted me at RMAF this year were those based around highly efficient speakers driven by electronics with very short, simple circuit paths, almost always single-ended triodes driven by choke coupled tube power supplies. I was also quite taken with a number of turntables, particularly Steve Dobbins’ “The Beat”. This is not to say that systems embodying other approaches did not in some instances have much to offer or that all tube-based systems were producing really good sound. In thinking back on the rooms that impressed me, I was led to ask whether there was some common thread that linked the rooms that I found most appealing.
While the systems varied in extension at the frequency extremes, and how loud they could play as well as in other particulars, they all had in common that they were able to communicate the emotion of the music being played. Said in another way, they got my foot tapping or made me stop taking notes and just listen. Hereafter follow comments/pictures of a number of the rooms which I visited. While I tried to visit as many rooms as possible, I missed many and heard others at inopportune times. Rather than talking about every room which I visited, I have instead chosen a number which for one reason or another appealed to me.
Aaudio Imports (Importer)
Aaudio Imports was again showing in the Larkspur Suite with a system comprised of Einstein electronics (The Source Balanced Tube CD player, The Tube Mk II Tube preamp, The Final Cut MK 60 mono OTL amps), Acapella (Violoncello II speakers, Fondato Silenzio isolation bases, Reference LaMusika speaker cables), Weizhi PRS-6 Pure Power Distributor and Stage III power cords (Vortex Prime, Minotaur and Zyklops). This was similar to the system used last year. The sound was sweet/natural with excellent string tone. Depth, stage and focus were exceptional. One of my test CD’s is Ruth Ann Swenson’s Positively Golden. Cut two, “Lucia de Lammermore”, contains some mezzo fortes that are very difficult for most systems to reproduce without break-up. On this system, the sound was magical. There was nothing that I threw at this system that sounded anything but superb. This was one of the two or three rooms to which I kept returning during the show.
This was another room sponsored by Aaudio Imports. Equipment consisted of electronics provided by Ypsilon, including their state-of-the-art VPS100 Valve Phono Stage, PST 100 Mk2 preamp, CDT 100 Transport and DAC 100, and their latest hybrid monoblock valve power amps the Aelius, connected with Stage III cables and power cords. This show provided the U.S. debut of two product lines: 1) the Lansche No. 5 speakers which utilize a corona tweeter and 2) the production version of the Bergman Sleipner Reference Turntable and Tonearm. Like most of the smaller rooms at RMAF, room related anomalies required a great deal of effort to overcome. I can say with great certainty that the Ypsilon Aelius monoblocks are something very special, ditto for their phono stage. I was also quite taken with the Bergmann turntable whose design is reminiscent in some ways of the Rockport. Bergmann had mounted a Lyra Titan I which I use at home and the sound was excellent, fast, detailed and dynamic with good tonal balance. The turntable has a vacuum hold-down for records and the ability to adjust VTA in a repeatable manner while playing records.
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