The challenge is biblical in character, if not in scope: A half year after railing, in these pages, against our industry's overabundance of products that cost more than $20,000, fate has given me such a thing to review.
Lars Kristensen of Denmark’s Raidho Acoustics, who has yet to overcome his shyness, presented the Raidho/Rowland system with all of the good cheer and powers of persuasion for which he is known and admired in our industry.
In a perfect world, I would own the following: one good turntable (footnote 1), one good tonearm, one good pickup head, one good step-up transformer, one good integrated amplifier, and two good loudspeakers. And some decent cables. That's all, except maybe a home and a dog and some records and some books and one good guitar.
The Leben RS-30EQ phono preamplifier ($2695) incorporates a pair of common dual-triode tubes (12AT7) for phono gain, but breaks with tradition by using a CR-type equalization circuit rather than the more common negative-feedback type. Total gain is specified as 23.5dB, which is sufficient for moving-magnet pickups; an external transformer is recommended for use with moving-coil types. A silicon full-wave rectifier supplies heater voltage, while the rail is supplied by a 6X5GT rectifier tube.
The phono-transformer speciality company Bob's Devices (see "Listening" columns passim) was also represented by Ultra Systems. Of the three models seen here, one had already been treated with the above-mentioned WA Quantum Chips.
Far be it from me to surrender these column inches to the whims of a manufacturer.
That said, there's ample reason to break with tradition and offer the thoughts of an obscure English company called LFD, whose products may already have tripped your surveillance wires. In their "Charter to Product Commitment and Traditional Values"which can be read in its entirety on Frohmusik's website and is signed by Bews and Hawksford (see below)the people of LFD suggest, in so many words, that they will not manufacture goods outside of their native England; that their design work is guided by listening as much as by engineering theory; that they believe some component parts sound better than others of identical numeric value, depending on their specific role in an audio circuit; that their philosophy of circuit design is decidedly minimalist; and that they advocate the enjoyment of music on vinyl LP. That the principals of LFD have thus far avoided being burned alive as heretics is a source of wonder.
My first attempt to enter the room at the NY Audio & AV Show where Liberty Trading was selling vinyl and CDs proved fruitless: There were simply too many people lined up to buy records (which included a number of recent Mobile Fidelity LP titles). Nabil Akhrass, seen here behind the counter, would surely question my use of the words too many.
Furniture designer Robert Lighton used the New York Audio and AV show to debut his first audio product, the RL10 loudspeaker ($20,000/pair), offering a solid wood enclosure (even the rear-firing reflex port is turned from solid wood), 1” fabric-dome tweeter, 10” paper-cone woofer, and a sensitivity rating of 95dB. Selections from Lighton’s impressive collection of jazz LPsone Roland Kirk number in particularsounded tactile and convincing through his speakers and an 8Wpc Audio Note Meishu Silver Signature integrated amp with phono section ($18,850), Audio Note AN S8 phono transformer ($10,800), and Audio Note TT3.5 Reference three-motor turntable ($39,600), the latter using a Sogon-wired Audio Note tonearm ($13,156) and Yamamoto Y-03s cartridge ($1200).
Perhaps I don't spend enough time at my local Apple storewhich is, after all, only 70 minutes awaybut I confess that I'd never heard the word thunderbolt in a high-tech context before RMAF 20212. Now, having attended the computer-audio seminar moderated by my friend Michael Lavorgnaof sister site AudioStream.comI know that Thunderbolt is now the preferred interface for connecting a music-storage drive (or NAS) to a current iMac or MacBook. Seen here are panelists Rob Robinson (Channel D), Mark Waldrep (AIX and iTrax), Steve Silberman (AudioQuest), and Michael Lavorgna (left to right).
Here’s a closer look at the Line Magnetic 218 integrated amplifier, which uses one single-ended 845 triode per side for approximately 22Wpc. At SSI the LM amp drove DeVore O/93 loudspeakers using Auditorium 23 loudspeaker cable ($980 for a 2.5m pair): the same great, green stuff I’ve used at home for the past 8 years.