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RMAF 2013 – Ella Lives Pt. 3

Ciao Gentle Reader,

In Parts One & Two of my RMAF 2013 report, I discussed activities at CanJam, always fun, and some of the suites that caught my fancy. This last installment continues with coverage of individual rooms that I enjoyed, starting with April Music…

As usual, Mr. Lee had some lovely sounds, emanating from a new collection of entry level gear…

Mr. Samuel Sukwoo Lee & his new critter

Mr. Samuel Sukwoo Lee & his new critter

Debuting in September, the stello HP100 MKII is a $1300 Class A, solid state headphone + preamp that replaces the original 100. As with all of April Music’s gear, it’s built like a tank and includes a 48k-capable USB input, seemingly to fill out the spec sheet. The companion S100 MKII, at $1200, is a stereo, 50W into 8Ω power amp.

The MKII stellos

The MKII stellos

I failed to mention, in Part 1, a new item that was sitting mournfully at CanJam by its lonesome. It was the new Luxman, the DA-06 on static display. With Olde Skool styling, the engineers claimed it to be the “first DSD compatible digital analog converter, ”…er, from Luxman maybe? Able to handle 2x DSD, plus 1x DXD even on its USB input, this puppy also has balanced AES in and balanced analog out. At $6k, it better, but I’m sure it has that signature unctuous Luxman sound.

The Luxman DA-06

The Luxman DA-06

Always interesting, Meitner/EMM Labs had a crazy spendy setup that managed to telegraph solid imaging and detail in a less than ideal environment. Speaking of non–ideal, sorry about the pic. It was cave–like in the Evergreen Room.

The Meitner Design/EMM Labs suite

The Meitner Design/EMM Labs suite

Since we’ve swung away from affordable to unobtainium, let’s continue in that vein…MSB had an excellent sounding pile o’ gear…Vince has a pair of gi–normous speakers, dunno what they were.

MSB at RMAF 20133

MSB at RMAF 20133

The black units are MSB UMT Plus, $5995, which can feed clock to MSB or 3rd party DACs, and will accept an optional external MSB Signature Transport Dual Power Base. The silver units are the new $6995 MSB Analog DAC, first seen last year. Along with the DAC is an optional MSB Analog Power Base. Considering it’s MSB quality, that’s a major chunk of change, but worth it if you got it!

Also in the slim and sexy category, a definite trend, is the new Intuition 01 Power DAC. As the name implies, Wadia’s latest is a DAC and a power amp in one very schwingy package. Taking over the Big Dog spot from their 151, the Intuition 01 delivers 350 W into 4 Ω, ample power for most any speaker, and the DAC manages 1x DXD and DSD via USB. Full featured, exceptional industrial design and, a very pleasing sound from the demo system…

The Intuition 01 Power DAC

Wadia’s Intuition 01 Power DAC

Intuition 01, up close & personal

The Intuition 01, up close & personal

Also in the lifestyle/high style category is the now well known Devialet all–in–one. The folks at Audio Plus were playing the relatively new 170, the $9500 middle child in the mirror finish universe of Devialet components. Like the Intuition o1, the 170 is an audio nexus for your listening space. [In the pic below, the unit is that slim chrome slab sitting vertically on the stand. Its only feature breaking up that specular finish is the small round porthole that acts as readout and status indicator.]

The Devialet 170

The Devialet 170

Its 170 Watts into 6 Ω was feeding the new $3.3k Focal Aria 926 floorstanders with flax–reënforced drivers. The sound was classic Focal, which I favor over many other flavors.

Focal’s Aria 926

Focal’s Aria 926

The D&M folks were showing the new, $2500 Marantz SA-14S1 SACD player with a front USB spigot, discrete circuitry, beefy PSU and dig. audio in from use as a DAC.

The Marantz SA-14S1 SACD Player/DAC

The Marantz SA-14S1 SACD Player/DAC

A brand that I’ve heard of but have never listened to, Genesis Advanced Technologies, was demo’ing their Genesis 7.2f. A three way, 5 driver floorstander, it threw a very dynamic presentation driven by Burmeister electronics and Genesis’ own wiring.

Mr. Gary Koh & the 7 Series

Mr. Gary Koh & the 7 Series

While we’re on the subject of speakers, my buddy Jim Salk was demming a cost–no–object, two way stand mounted critter with his usual lovely cabinetry and characteristic affordability. Sound was very promising for a prototype, may be able to get him to bring them to town for an ASM meeting.

Among other interesting tidbits at the show was another outstanding room care of Denver’s PranaFidelity. I wrote a bit about Steven Norber and his speakers last year. This year, he had improved versions of his speakers mated to new (proto?) Class D amps based, if I remember correctly, on Bruno Putzeys’ amp modules. “I didn’t want to like them (the Class D amps),” he said, but he found he was despite himself. I liked ’em as well. Great sound as usual…

Speaking of Bruno (again), his bandmate Elco Grimm had his LS1 speakers on show. First time I’ve gotten to hear them and I thought they would be perfect for mastering classical and other acoustic material; no embellishment to the audio. Another pro name to appear at Rocky Mountain was Daniela Manger and her bending wave MSMs1 active loudspeakers. They too were refined, uncolored and a bit lean…no tubby rock signature here, folks!

You may (or may not) be wondering what’s with the title of this series…Every audio trade show has a song or artist that seems to dominate the demos. This time, it was Ella; old Ella, young Ella, Ella on vinyl and digital Ella…Ella was haunting my every step. OK, not quite but, it was very refreshing to step into local kidz PS Audio’s room, where they were rockin’ some Daf Punk. A very low stuffiness quotient!  They had their new, very affordable, 192k-capable NewWave DAC, with balanced internals & output. The unit has passive analog filters, another escape from the ordinary.

Well, that’s all for this year’s Musical Mayhem in the Mile High City. Until next time, thanks for dropping by!

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