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2008 RMAF Coverage 15

AudioSpace/GINI/Grant Fidelity/Audio by Van Alstine/Salk Sound

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

AudioSpace/GINI (text only)

Alfred Lew of GINI and AudioSpace fame was always the welcoming face at every show, and his Exhibit this year yielded noteworthy dividends. The demonstration system was consisted of the AudioSpace CDP-320 ($880), DAC-1US ($2,990), Reference 3.1 300B ($3,990) integrated tube amplifier and a pair of Von Schweikert Unifield 3 ($15,000/pair) loudspeakers.

Taking the relatively intrusive room acoustics into consideration, the sound of the AudioSpace system was very acceptable and the asking price of the system made it extremely appealing. Here was a system of sub-$8,000 coupled to a $15k Von Schweikert, and the system produced coherent spectral integration, surprisingly good dimensionality of soundstage and most appreciable of all, a glowingly warm midrange. Imagine the system’s potential in a well-balanced sound room.

Von Schweikert Unifield 3: Ribbon super tweeter, 5-inch forged aluminum-frame exotic cone midrange, 7-inch magnesium cone subwoofer in highly damped transmission line, 32~40kHz, 88dB/8Ω, bi-wired, 40″ H x 10″ W x 14″ D, 190lb each.

AudioSpace Reference 3.1 300B: Class-A triode push-pull with MM phonostage, 21Wpc, 4/8/16Ω taps, 20~30kHz, less than 56kΩ input impedance with RCA DIRECT IN, 47kΩ MM PHONO IN, 4 x 300B, 2 x 6SN7, 4 x 12AX7, 16″ W x 19″ D x 9″ H, 65lb.

Grant Fidelity

Grant Fidelity of Canada showcased the RITA integrated tube amplifier that Dagogoan Richard Austen reviewed recently in a system context. Unbeknownst to me was the visual appeal of the RITA, when one can glance through the patented meter design into the glowing tubes beyond. I was informed that a lady audiophile of the Houston Audiophile Society actually bought one on the spot the day before. Such is the WAF of the RITA.

Via their tube DVD player, the only one of such kind in existence that I know of, and as transduced by the newly released RBS-1 monitors, the music was delicate in texturing and mellow in tonality. Budget tube at its best.

▼Grant Fidelity RITA; MSRP $5,299.

▼RBS-1, MSRP $2,000/pair

▼MRCA-1 & MXLR-1 silver interconnects

Audio by Van Alstine electronics / Salk Sound loudspeakers

▼Frank Van Alstine

The Audio by Van Alstine and Salk Sound Exhibit featured Salk Veracity HT3 speakers ($5,600/pair) as driven by Frank Van Alstine’s complete fleet of DAC, preamp and power amp, all conceptualized with attached, non-glamorous power cords. Yet, the sound did not disappoint.

If I were to spend $10,000 on a DAC, I, in my audiophile mentality and expectations, would want the freedom of being able to couple the electronics with power cables that I prefer. Still, there was unmistakable tonal integrity, albeit at a level lower than the best I’ve heard, which signified the logic in the Van Alstine rationality.

Is a pair of speakers considered to be more truthful to the source when deep bottom-end would manifest itself very discreetly when called for? If so, then the Salk Veracity HT-3, at $5,600 the pair, would probably be one of the best buys in the loudspeaker category. “Julsang” from the LIM K2HD disc Cantate Domino got to showcase its deep pipe organ prowess through the Salk, as driven by the Van Alstine Ultra 550 hybrid amplifier ($2,399). Not the highest achiever in reproducing micro-dynamics, the AVA/Salk system did draw me in musically.

◄(left speaker) Salk Song Tower QWT, MSRP $2,000/pair:
Midrange-Tweeter-Midrange (MTM) design,
LCY pure ribbon tweeter, two Seas CA15RLY woofer,
transmission line cabinet, 38~40kHz.

(right speaker) Veracity HT3, MSRP $5,600/pair:
G2 pure ribbon tweeter, Seas Excel W18EX midrange,
custom 10-inch high-performance woofer,
29~25kHz, flat to within 1.5dB from 34~25kHz.

▼(top)AVA Insight EC preamplifier, MSRP $1,049

▼Transcendence Eight 8 SL Vacuum Tube preamp, MSRP $1,299

▼(top to bottom) Insight SL control amplifier, MSRP $899; Insight DAC, MSRP $999.

▼Ultra 550 hybrid power amp

Audio Unlimited / Hansen / dCS / BAT

▲Hansen Emperor loudspeakers and BAT electronics

Audio Unlimited has always maintained a presence at shows, and this time Geoff Poor and his business associates set up four rooms: two large ones on the Mezzanine Level and two in the Tower rooms. Most attendees would not miss the largest Maroon Peak room that featured the premiere of many high-profiled products, including that of the Focal Grande Utopia EM Loudspeakers, as flanked by the likes of the new Clearaudio Statement Table, the new Clearaudio Goldfinger V2 cartridge, the new Aesthetix IO Eclipse phono preamp, Boulder 2008 phono preamp, Boulder 1021 CD player, Boulder 2010 preamp, Boulder 2050 monoblocks, new TARA Omega Gold and Zero Gold cables and the new Running Springs Audio Dmitri conditioner. I just couldn’t get in, and I walked by more than 3 times during the show.

The room I got in was the other Mezzanine room, the Blanca Peak, featuring a pair of the Hansen Emperor loudspeakers, as driven by a bridged pair of the BAT VK-600M SE power amplifiers ($13,000 each), with the dCS Scarlatti Digital System and a BAT REX Reference Linestage ($20,000). The analog front-end featured the Clearaudio Maximum Solution table with Helius Arm and Benz LP cartridge, a BAT VK-P10SE phono preamp ($6,995) in the Super Pak option ($2,500). Cabling was via the TARA Omega and 0.8 series; power conditioning was by the Running Springs Audio Dmitri.

In playing my JVC XRCD Ondekoza track, the system produced one of the most extended spectral presentation at the show with first-class dynamic transients; micro- and macro-dynamics were meticulously well-balanced, although I did think the Hansen clearly demonstrated that it needed a much bigger room to flex its muscles. On the other hand, in playing the soprano track from my CD, the system behaved almost like a delicate single-driver and never once resorted to rampant, willful displays of raw muscles. The level of finesse of this presentation was remarkable, and this was one of the very few multi-driver loudspeaker system Exhibits that I would love to own.

▼(left, top to bottom) dCS Scarlatti CD/SACD transport ($32,999), Scarlatti SCK System Master Clock ($10,999), Scarlatti SDC Stereo DAC ($23,999), Scarlatti SUP Upsampler/DAC ($12,999)

(right, top to bottom) Clearaudio Maximum Solution turntable, BAT REX preamp, BAT VK-600M SE monoblocks▲

▼Hansen Prince

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

Continue to 2008 RMAF Coverage XVI

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