Given Dan D'Agostino's products recent awardsStereophile Joint Amplification Component of the 2013 for the original Momentum monoblock amplifier, and CES 2014 Innovations Design and Engineering awards for the Momentum preampit's no wonder everyone was buzzing around the new Momentum integrated amplifier ($45,000). Manufactured inyou're going to love thisCarefree, AZ, the Momentum integrated is a no-compromise design that includes the same preamp and stereo boards used in the Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems' separates
Is it any surprise Audio Consulting and Scaena, otherwise known as Switzerland meets South Florida, sounded excellent? From Audio Consulting, who were making their first show appearance since 2008, and is now sold direct from Nashville, we experienced numerous products. The first, the Audio Consulting MIPA (Mains Independent Power Amplifier) Silver Rock Toroidal amplifier, is available in stereo 30W ($45,000), mono 120W, and 30W/120W switchable ($52,000) configurations. A battery-driven, solid-state class-A switching amplifier, it has customizable inputs and outputs and is housed in a wood chassis.
Darren Censullo's Avatar Acoustics did itself proud with a system that, on one of John Atkinson's recordings of male vocal ensemble Cantus, delivered totally natural and clear sound with beautiful layering and air, and natural timbres to boot. And as much as Shelby Lynne's "Little Lovin'" is getting less and less lovin' from me each time I discover multiple rooms playing it at showsaren't there any other good tracks on her very well-recorded album?Lynne's bass accompaniment was very profound, and the heart-warming beauty of the sound most impressive.
Quasi-secreted in the front half of his father Dan’s room, Bret D’Agostino showed off the rethought aesthetics, better class-A power, and additional refinement of his new BSC 5 series. Available now are the M5 monoblocks ($28,500/pair), which replace the 100M monoblocks; S5 class-A stereo amplifier ($15,000); and optional amplifier Base 5 ($1600). Coming in March is the L5 line stage preamplifier ($14,500). Bret is responsible for the entire design, inside and out, which pushes the envelope of his original design topology. There was no way to audition the products, but I can only assume that they improve upon the sound of their predecessors, some which I enthused about last year at T.H.E. Show.
If that title got your attention, so may loudspeaker manufacturer Westlake Audio's novel use of the bed that every other exhibit in the Venetian's sleeping rooms had dispensed with in one fashion or another. Instead, Westlake Audio used it as a fashion statement, of sorts.
The case and front panel nomenclature are not in final form, but if VAC's forthcoming two-piece Master Signature preamplifier ($26,500 as linestage, $40,000 with additional phono stage)ignore what the prototype unit's front panels saydue in early March, sounds anywhere near as good as the VAC equipment I heard at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, it will be worth waiting for.
Audio Research's new SP20 tube stereo preamplifier ($9000) combines a full-function linestage and phono stage, and includes a hi-resolution tube-driven headphone output, touchscreen control, remote control, and both balanced and single-ended inputs and outputs. The front panel echoes the Minnesotan company's fabled SP3 preamps from the 1970s. Listening to the company's first preamp in 20 years to include both a linestage and phonostage via Sonus faber Olympica III loudspeakers, I heard both the classic Audio Research midrange and a fast response that served bebop extremely well. Bob Reina is working on an SP20 review for Stereophile.
Swiss company Manufacture Le Son was one of many that attended CES in hopes of securing US distribution. In tow was their LS002 Le Son (approx. $35,000), a dual-mono class-B stereo amplifier that outputs a bit more than 100Wpc into 8 ohms, and 180Wpc into 4.
Tri-Art Audio of Canada displayed its complete mid-level Bam Bam system, whose cost was under $35,000. Built to a very strict price point, the electronics, all stuffed with sheep's woolwhy didn't they name it the Bah Bah system?included the new Bam Bam passive preamplifier ($1295), which is housed in a solid wood cabinet and allows for passive bi-amping and tri-amping without an electronic crossover; Bam Bam 75Wpc class-D balanced amplifier #75-S ($1995); and Bam Bam 24V battery power supply ($900).