Publisher Profile

2008 RMAF Coverage 14

Red Rock Audio/Artemis Lab/Wadia/Feastrex/Lyngdorf/Robyatt/Audio

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This portion of Dagogo’s 2008 RMAF Coverage by Constantine Soo

Red Rock Audio

A little more than a year after the company’s introduction of an updated Renaissance Svetlana SV-572 directly-heated triode push-pull monoblock amplifier, Red Rock Audio unveiled its prototype preamplifier and loudspeaker at the show. I reviewed the Renaissance monoblocks recently, and found it to be exceptional in its very extended, stable spectral disposition among tube amplifications, and most conducive in the reproduction of the intrinsic characteristics of an enormous range of instruments. The company’s unveiling of a new preamplifier (LS-1) and a pair of ribbon/horn loudspeaker system (The Synergy) at the show demonstrates the drive and talents of the team, and gave us a glimpse into the sonic ideals of the principals, Al Stiefel and Gordon Maughan.

In a large room with three rows of chairs more than 10 feet away from the speaker, a Wadia 781i SACD/CD player queued up my demo CD and the Red Rock system produced a piano presentation that was liquid and magnificently rich in tonal shadings. The new Red Rock Synergy speakers was beautifully apt in recreating dynamic swings of playing, too.

From the 30-minute or so of auditioning I had at the Exhibit, I found the drivers integration breathtaking. The application of a ribbon tweeter was as revelatory as it as mesmerizing, and was perfect in matching the propagation characteristic of the the midrange horn, while the latter was resplendent with a level of control and dynamics as to be of reference caliber.

As for the bass driver, weighing in at 200lb each with the cabinet, its visual impact, construction quality and craftsman-ship was furniture-grade. Al and Gordon are to be congratulated on their accomplishments in creating the Renaissance monoblock and the Synergy ribbon/horn loudspeaker system.

Al and Gordon have provided the specs of the speakers in the following:

Sensitivity: 97dB @1 watt/1 meter from 40~20kHz (100dB@2.83V +/- 3dB)
Useable Frequency Response: 30~40kHz
Calculated anechoic chamber bass response: 10dB@30Hz
Impedance: 4Ω (24Ω at cabinet tuning of 23Hz, 30Ω at fs of 15-inch woofer @50Hz, 6 to 3Ω from 100~20kHz with impedance bump of 15Ω at 600Hz due to crossover
Bass: 15-inch woofer
Midrange: Tractrix horn using an 8-inch magnetic planer driver compression loaded into horn throat
High-frequency: 2-inch ribbon driver loaded in rectangular waveguide
Bass to mid crossover: 600Hz
Mid to HF crossover: 11kHz
Note: Bass cabinet is a ported reflex tuned at 23Hz using two 4-inch diameter ports. Multiple baffle support plates used to rigidly couple cabinet walls. All internal wiring is proprietary silver or copper waveguide paths (not wire).

▼Red Rock Synergy loudspeaker
Red Rock Renaissance monoblock▼

▼Artemis Labs turntable, Schroeder tonearm


▼Mr. Haruhiko “Hal” Teramoto, designer and builder of the Feastrex drivers, taking CD and volume level requests.

Feastrex of Japan offers fixed magnet Alnico drivers from $2,900 a pair, and field coil drivers from $4,990 a pair, all designed by Mr. Haruhiko “Hal” Teramoto.

The eye-catcher of the Lotus Group USA Exhibit of Feastrex drivers was the custom urushi-coated cabinets made by Makoto Tanaka. Mr. Tanaka was an award-winning member of the Nihon Kogeikai (Museum of Japanese Traditional Art Crafts), and he studied woodworking under Mr. Kiyotsugu Nakagawa, an official national living treasure as decreed by the Japanese Government.

Mr. Tanaka turned out to be an avid audiophile, having created numerous cabinets in his lifetime. The fact that Feastrex asked him to custom-make one for its field coil drivers only compelled the master craftsman to create the most fabulous design with the most elaborate procedures the master himself could muster. The end result, succinctly, was a cabinet of twenty hand-applied traditional urushi lacquer coating on the exterior of the structure, plus multiple coating on the interior, and a high-end furniture- and heirloom-grade artwork that would withstand “centuries of use”. The loudspeaker system was thus named the Feastrex Makoto, in honor of its creator.

The demo Makoto cabinets carried a price of $19,000 the pair, and all future pairs would cost $22,500.

The Feastrex drivers that the Makoto cabinets were created for were the D5e Type III ($39,000/pair) and the D9e Type III ($31,500/pair) field coil drivers, and both were in active use during the show. I got to hear the D5e Type III when I arrived, with Feastrex’s own 811SE stereo amplifier, sourced from a Studer A725 CD player as modified by Mr. Teramoto himself.

From my notes: “Playing large-scale orchestral pieces under show conditions, the Feastrex Makoto exhibited an intricate soundstage more three-dimensional than it was expansive, while individual instruments in the orchestra was no less vivid in timbral uniqueness than a few much larger systems. Surprising output from a single driver, rendering human vocal with pristine tonal definition. Female vocal was particularly moving in both its lightness and substance, indicating an unusual level of spectral totality: The purest driver technology for the purest form of instrument. In this regard, the Feastrex in the 20-layered, urushi cabinet has no peers. Exceptional micro-dynamics in complex New Age track, extremely expeditious in dynamic tracking, outstanding ability to recreate complex individual instrument activities. Actually, very apt in reproducing the diverse instrumentation of a New Age band.”

A Dagogo Review is in the works, and I’ll investigate the most proverbial perplexity of all: The Feastrex Makoto’s dynamic and frequency extension capabilities.

Dagogo readers would be familiar with our reviews of single-driver speakers, such as the Lowther America Alerion, MaxxHorn Immersion, the MaxxHorn Lumination, the Tereonic Integrum JL and the Teresonic Ingenium Silver. Review of particular noteworthiness in this context is the MaxxHorn Lumination review by Phillip Holmes, a loudspeaker that employs a Feastrex D5 Monster Alnico driver. For readers with insatiable appetite for details on the Feastrex technology, please read Phillip Holmes’ take on the MaxxHorn Lumination.

▼Studer A725 CD player modified with improved power supply, clock, op-amp by Hal Teramoto.

▼Feastrex 811SE amplifier prototype

Lyngdorf – A personal encounter

▲Lyngdorf DP-1 Dipole Main Speaker, 1-inch dome tweeter, 6.5-inch woofer/midrange driver, crossover at 2.2kHz, 300~22kHz, 89dB/4Ω, 46lb. MSRP $3,000 each. A pair of BW-1 BassDirect subwoofer on the floor, 10-inch woofer, sealed enclosure, 25~800Hz, 90dB/4Ω, 39lb, MSRP $1,700 each.

Lyngdorf’s RoomPerfect™ system works, and the room was at once taken out of the sonic picture. Neal Van Berg, the Colorado dealer of Lyngdorf, demonstrated the difference in sound during the activation and deactivation of the Lyngdorf RP-1 (see Dagogo Review).

The incessant issue of potential tonal transparency loss from the use of the Lyngdorf design has been raised ever since the Lyngdorf products came onto the hi-fi scene, and I am of the opinion that, 1) if I can make my room look less clustered and repulsive to my wife, hence making her a happier Mrs. Soo, and 2) the addition of one device can make this lifelong ideal come to pass, and 3)the sound of my system will be rid of the inherent acoustics of my room, I will embrace it wholeheartedly, even when I have to sacrifice a very low-level of resolution. Then again, that loss of resolution has to be very miniscule. Once again: the Lyngdorf method worked in the Exhibit.

▼The Soundscience 1kG Music Vault II, created by Neal Van Berg.

Robyatt Audio

Robin Wyatt of Robyatt Audio of Basking Ridge, New Jersey demonstrated a pair of The Ridge loudspeaker ($3,500/pair; $2,000 standard ash or walnut stain), the design of which was based on the 47 Lab Essence ($5,000/pair) loudspeaker. Hand-made, Sicilian amplification of a 211-based Tektron Italia ($9,850, see description below) SET drove the speakers. Digital was via the 47 Lab Flatfish ($6,000 with 4799 Power Dumpty power supply, Review link ), an Altmann Attraction DAC with JISCO filter running on a 12-volt battery.

Playing my CD, the presentation was soft and delicate but with an extremely well-constructed focal plane, albeit on a soundstage that would never spread beyond the speakers. Robyn also proudly showed mono records that he bought from library for $1, because “no body wanted it”. Among his very cherished LPs also were rarities from the early Soviet era, when recordings were made with vintage tube electronics and early-generation methods.

One of the most uniquely tasteful and musically rewarding presentations at the show.

▼47 Laboratory 4713 Flatfish CD transport (no longer offered with built-in DAC)

▼Garrard 301 stock. Thomas Schick 12-inch tonearm, RS Labs headshell, Woodsong Audio custom plinth. Phono cartridge 1st public appearance in the U.S.: Miyajima Labs Shilabe patented cross coil stereo African Blackwood cartridge, MSRP $2,800. Miyajima Labs Premium Mono patented cross coil rosewood cartridge, MSRP $980.

▼Tektron Italia TK211 integrated: 20Wpc, GE211 output tubes, WE310A input tubes, Nixie input selector tube. DACT stereo attenuator, all solid-silver RCA speaker terminals. MSRP $9,850.

▼Altmann Attraction DAC with JISCO filter; 12-volt battery at the center. 47 Lab Power Dumpty on the right. Fun fun fun!

◄The Ridge. Jordon 5-inch full-range driver in crossover-less design. Baltic Ply 3/4-inch front baffle MDF side and back. 6-inch litz copper wire from driver to gold-plated speaker posts. Mirror image ported. Three spikes stands for mass loading and speaker stand for placement right against the wall in small rooms. MSRP $2,000/pair for standard finish ash or walnut stain, black back and sides; $100 extra for color change, $3,500 total for custom veneers as displayed at the show.

(Top shelf) Tektron Italia TK211 at the center; custom-made small-chassis integrated to the left and right: NOS GEC KT-77▲
8Wpc DACT dual mono attenuators, silver RCA speaker terminals. MSRP $3,550.
(Under the Gerrard 301) Tektron Italia TK ECLL800 integrated with ECLL800 dual-pentode output tubes, 8Wpc, 3 inputs, gold-plated speaker terminals. MSRP $1,500.

This portion of Dagogo’s 2008 RMAF Coverage
by Constantine Soo

Continue to 2008 RMAF Coverage XV

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