The earth's ecology may be upside down, but Kevin Deal of Upscale Audio displayed PrimaLuna's new DiaLogue Premium integrated amplifier ($3299) that way for a positive reason. "It has a laundry list of the best parts," he declared, handing me a sheet that touts oxygen-free continuous-crystal copper, silver-plated, Teflon-dielectric point-to-point wiring; Takman audiophile grade resistors, and SRC tinfoil capacitors in critical signal paths; and an Alps potentiometer. The DiaLogue Premium is claimed to have such a good auto-biasing mechanism that you can mix and match 6L6GC/KT66, EL-34/KT77, 6550/KT88, and KT120 power tubes in any combination or permutation you so choose, and a bad tube indicator in case your sonic Devil's Brew won't cut it on the particular day that you hope to impress your mother-in-law. "Call it 40Wpc," said Kevin, "but it's not underpowered; it's huge power." There's only one way to find out what that means.
Lew Johnson of Conrad-Johnson announced a new stereo amplifier, which he considers priced in "the sweet spot for sound per dollar." The CP125sa ($8250 in base version, $10,000 upgraded) outputs "roughly" 125Wpc, and uses the same circuit as the top-of-the-line ART, albeit with less expensive parts in all but the most critical places.
Will the Deity ($5900/8 ft pair), DH Labs' new top-of-the-line speaker cable, deliver the heavenly sounds its name implies? Only those who listen will know for sure. Not yet listed on the Florida-based company's website, the US-made cable contains twelve 20-awg solid-core silver conductors, each in a tape-wrapped Teflon-foam dielectric. There are also two 14-awg silver coated OFHC copper conductors running down the center of the cable. Overall, the Deity is an impressively attractive and substantial 9-awg cable.
Given that the folks at Pass Labs have never made a big deal about cabling, it's significant that they've given a major thumbs up to Silent Source Audio cables. Calling them "the best cables you've never heard," they use these hand-built-in-Texas cables to voice their products.
Not yet released is Ayre’s 175Wpc VX-5 amplifier (price TBD, in the $8000 "neighborhood"), which uses the same circuit as in the AX-5, but with a larger power supply and higher voltage rails. The VX-5 was demmed with Vivid G2Giya speakers and the K-5xeMP preamplifier that John Atkinson reviewed in June 2011.
In one of the 14 rooms at CES using Kubala-Sosna cabling, Joe Kubala showed me one of his three forthcoming Distribution Instrument boxes ($TBD). Variously named Quartet, Sextet, or Octet for the number of outlets, this high-end power distribution system is, in Joe's words, "the most neutral way we know to distribute power to our cables." The case is Corian, and each outlet boasts a direct path back to the 20 amp IEC connector. Expect an official unveiling at AXPONA Chicago in early March, which Stereophile will cover room-to-room.
Many, many moons ago, in the days when Stereophile was a small digest rather than a full-sized magazine and lively website, I owned an Aragon 4004 dual-monoblock amplifier. Oh how I wish I had never sold my 4004, with circuitry designed by Dan d'Agostino, and instead mated it with a front end, speakers, and cabling that could have revealed all that it had to offer.
You, thankfully, have an opportunity to find out just how good the circuitry is. The just-introduced Aragon 8008, a software-upgradable, 200Wpc dual monoblock amplifier ($4999) with dual, symmetrical power supply and ethernet-based control and status monitoring, is now produced by Indy Audio Labs, who bought the brand from Klipsch in 2009.
Vincent's new SV-800 integrated amplifier ($4999.95) outputs 100Wpc into 8 ohms, the first 50 of which are class-A. A tube hybrid design, it uses four 12AX7s, four 12AV7s, and six output transistors. Most of its inputs are RCA, but there is one pair of XLRs.
Magico's MRack ($30,000$50,000, depending upon configuration) absorbs and dissipates energy with the same constrained-layer damping mechanism employed in the Magico QPod equipment supports that Michael Fremer raved about in his June 2012 "Analog Corner" column, and that I use under my transport and DAC. Constructed of 500 lbs of aluminum, copper, and damping compound, the MRack is a byproduct of the R&D Magico put it into their Q series of loudspeakers. "Think of the MRack as a giant QPod," says Magico's Alon Wolf.
MIT has a lot of new goodies on its plate. With hopes that I got everything right in my notes, the Oracle MA-X SHD (super high definition) interconnects ($19,999/1m pair) include 125 "poles of articulation"the most MIT offers in an interconnect. Their familiar and substantial boxes include an "articulation control" knob, adopted from hearing-aid technology. A complement to the company's SHD speaker cables (which have up to 145 poles of articulation), the cables are designed so that the box sits on either the floor or equipment rack, thereby relieving strain from the cable itself and the components to which it is connected.