Ken Swauger runs a Baltimore-based company called TapePath (www.tapepath.com) that specializes in restoring classic open-reel tape recorders, especially ReVox A77s. Ken is shown here in the vestibule to the Polk room, holding a baggie with all the parts from an A77 that he replaces and upgrades. I still have an A77 in storageperhaps I'll send it to Ken to have it brought back from the dead!
I had not heard the 300W Technical Brain monoblocks ($90,000/pair) before, but driving the TAD CR1 speakers that I very positively reviewed last January ($40,600/pair with stands), they produced a sound from the Reference Recordings Nojima performance of Liszt's Mephisto Waltz that offered superb scale yet with equally superb microdynamics. The amplifier is said to run in class-A up to 120W and has "no resistors in the signal path"! Source was the Ratoc D/A converter (currently only available in Japan) fed data by a MacBook Air, preamp was also Technical Brain ($57,000) and cables were all TB designer Kurosawa-san's own. The system was powered by the Audience aR12-TS power conditioner.
I wasn't familiar with Montreal-based Tenor Audio's amplifiers when I entered their room at FSI. But the sound of the new 350M hybrid monoblocks—tube front end, MOSFET output, 350W power, CDN$90,000/pair—with Avalon Eidolon speakers, an upsampling CD player from Audio Aero, all connected with Kubala-Sosna cables, was impressive. The sound of the JVC XRCD reissue of André Previn's Scheherazade was rich and expansive, but a little recessed. It was explained to me, however, that the speakers were still breaking in. Apparently a static discharge the previous day had caused a DC pulse to be sent to the Kharma speakers Tenor had first used in their room, destroying the midrange units. Ouch!
One of my last stops at THE Show at the Flamingo was the Teresonic room, where Mike Zivkovic demmed his 6'-tall single-driver Ingenium Silver Edition speaker using his own single-ended 2A3 tube amplifier. According to Mike, the amp uses interstage and output transformers from Lundahl and "there is not a capacitor in the circuit."
Roy Gregory, that is, editor of HiFi+ magazine from the UK, who had chosen and set-up the system I was using for my high-resolution demonstrations. And my thanks also to Roy's wife Louise, who was signing up attendees for my dems at the Show's front desk.
The eighth Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, held October 1416 at the Denver Tech Center Marriott, with Analogue Productions' Pink Floyd presentation at the Hyatt a couple of blocks down the road, was the largest yet, with an estimated 180 brands on show. We haven't yet seen the official attendance figures, though I wouldn't be surprised if they were a little down from last year, the corridors being more comfortable. But Show organizer Marjorie Baumert, seen here obviously having fun despite the pressure, is to be congratulated for making the RMAF a fun place to spend a weekend and a superb venue to see, but more importantly, to hear the best of what high-end audio has to offer music lovers. Thank you, Marjoriewe will see you in 2012.
Stephen Mejias reported a couple of days ago on the excellent sound being made in the room featuring DeVore Fidelity's Gibbon Nine speakers, driven by a Leben integrated amplifier. I was equally impressed when I auditioned a Curtis Mayfield live album in this all-analog room, played on the Clearaudio Champion Wood turntable fitted with a Clearaudio Unify arm with a carbon-fiber armtube and an EMT JSD5 MC phono vcartidge.
Since 1992, Stereophile has named a select few audio components its "Products of the Year." In doing so, we recognize those components that have proved capable of giving musical pleasure beyond the formal review period.