Today marks the halfway point for the show. I headed back to the Venetian Hotel. My first stop was Rogue Audio. Rogue is a US based tube electronics company that has always built great sounding gear at super competitive prices. But best of all very reliable. They were showing their new RP-1 preamp ($1695) that is replacing the Metis Magnum. Some of the upgrades are a new phono stage that accommodates both MM and MC cartridges, plus capacitive loading, which is quite a nice feature not seen very often these days.
They also introduced the Apollo Dark Mono-block amps ($14,995/pair). They are upgraded versions of the Apollo amp that came out some years ago as a manageable version of the Zeus split in two. Using the Apollo platform as the basis, they enlarged and improved the power supply and made numerous circuit and component upgrades that significantly improve the transparency and dynamics of an already excellent amplifier.
They were driving a pair of Eggleston Works Camilla Special Edition speakers. I listened to Greg Brown’s “The Poet Game” which displayed incredible low end detail. I need to comment the bass took on a character most audiophiles would associate with a big solid-state amp, not a big tube amp. There was a sense of body that had a “real” quality to it. The rest of the sound is smooth, open and very listenable.
My visit to McIntosh was overwhelming. Mac is introducing a lot of new products. On the more affordable side they introduced their new RS100’s which are wireless speakers that allows you to easily add streaming music to any room you want. Just connect it to your Wi-Fi network and then stream from your mobile device. Auxiliary input available for non-streaming use.
Also the MXA70 features a compact yet fully functional 50 watt stereo amplifier and a pair of luxurious, high gloss 2-way speakers that achieve an unusually rich and full sized level of performance for their size.
On the high end, they were showing their new C1100 two-piece preamp. Its two-chassis design results in absolute isolation of a preamplifier’s two main functions – control and sound – providing you with the purest sound reproduction possible.
Everything is of course made in Binghamton New York and of excellent quality. But that is what McIntosh is known for.
They were connected to a pair of their MC-601 mono blocks driving a pair of Vienna Acoustics Venire Signature tower speakers ($5500/pr). Regrettably the room was packed and I didn’t get an opportunity to listen. They handed me a flash drive full of information and I opted to head on out to the next room.
Auralic is based in Bejing China and is one of the two companies offering MQA ultra high resolution streaming through Tital. Their Aries Mini is a wireless streamer that offers an on- board 4Gig hard drive starting at $795. It has the ability to stream hig-res music wireless in virtually all formats and sampling rates including the latest Quad-Rate DSD and DXD. It uses an ESS Sabre DAC.
Auralic also offers an assortment of separates including a headphone amp, DSD digital processor, a fully balanced line stage pre-amp and 400W mono block amps. All the gear is very stylish and seems well built. I am looking forward to listening to it under controlled conditions. They were using the Dynaudio XED6 speakers which have on board amps. The Mini was hooked up directly to wireless straight out of the Aries Mini. This was hands down the most unusual set up at the show, and demonstrated what could be accomplished in a true wireless system.
Muddy Waters “My Home is in the Delta” was remarkably smooth and musical especially for a all digital system. Steely Dan’s “Gaucho” continued to maintain a remarkably musical sound stage. Additionally I felt the symbols had nice shimmer with a very non-digital character.
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