Amidst the glorious sound of Scaena loudspeakers and Veloce's battery-powered electronics (among other goodies) ran Rick Schultz's new High Fidelity cables. Alan Eichenbaum of Scaena reports that when the Schultz sent him some samples, he gave them a try and thought they were "quite good." I'll say. Only available with RCA terminations, Eichenbaum used them as interconnects and speaker cable in his demo, mating them with Nordost Odin power cables. If you judge cables by the company they keep, High Fidelity's are surely upper class. Although Schultz was not present, I later discovered that his Texas-made cables are distributed in the US by Brian Ackerman of Aaudio Imports pictured above.
English manufacturer Chord Electronics is known for its sophisticated CD players, which use sophisticated DACs. Indeed there was a huge picture denoting Chord's latest-generation DAC, the QBD 76, at the center of the back wall. As my beat was amplifiers, Chord's designer, John Franks (pictured above), spent the next 30 minutes walking me through the design of Chord's latest amplifier, the SPM 1200 Mk.II ($14,000), a solid-state, 350Wpc stereo mode. The amplifier sits at the bottom of the short stack of audio equipment John is leaning on. He explained that the amplifier has a high-frequency, 2kW, switch-mode power supply, and uses an output stage based on dual-die, lateral-structure MOSFETs with a soft turn/on-turn/off characteristic. This allowed John to use a sliding class-AB design.
Once US distribution is secured, Bladelius' Thomas Rosander (left) and Michael Bladelius (right) are set to hit the market running with the new Ymer Mk.II power amplifier ($12,000). This handsome baby delivers 300Wpc, and is said to maintain class-A operation for the first 45 watts. "It has a fuller, richer, more musical sound than its predecessor, and better control on the bottom," Bladelius told me. Don't we all wish we had better control of our bottom ends, especially as we age?
I'm so glad that Venture of Belgium and Singapore has a new line of cabling, because it gave me an excuse to hear Reference Recordings' "Pie Jesu" from the Rutter Requiem as I've never heard it before. I was blown away by the huge dynamics, room fixture-shaking bass, mind-boggling clarity of the massed voices, and sheer beauty of the sound. Gorgeous.
At a show in which far too many of the rooms on my beatrooms showing new amps or preamps in the $2500$15,000 range, new cables, or new power products or accessoriessounded hard, harsh, and hi-fi, VTL's new S-200 Stereo Signature amplifier ($10,000) and TL6.5 Series II Signature line preamplifier ($13,000) stood out for their welcoming warmth, relaxed flow, and unfailing musicality. The S-200 is a fully balanced stereo amp with a class-A/B output stage that is said to remain in class-A up to 70 watts. In development for close to six years, it arrives equipped with VTL's familiar auto-biasing and fault sensor.
The Kimber Select line is sporting three new USB cables, whose prices are yet TBD: copper (approx. $500), hybrid (approx. $1000), and full silver (approx. $1500). Shipment is projected for late January. The cables, built entirely in Utah, feature a braided design, unique proprietary shielding, and a distinct ebony head shell chosen for its inert properties. Presumably, thoughts of the lovely sounds soon to be delivered by these new cables were enough to leave Kimber's photo-shy Nate Mansfeld smiling.
Bret d'Agostino's Bully Sound Company has introduced the BSC 60s power amplifier ($7950), a pure class-A design that promises 60Wpc into 8 ohms, with output doubling down to 1 ohm. Neal Van Berg of Colorado's Sound Science claims that it gets deeper bass out of his Harbeths than any other amplifier he's used. One novel feature of the design is its internal heatsinks, which add to its handsome looks.
Torus Power of Toronto has introduced two new power conditioners. The In-Wall Mount Power Conditioner (price TBD upon release in March), held by Matthew Roher, Business Development Manager, is an entry-level product that includes surge suppression, noise filtration. The black AVR2 ($4995), shows to Roher's right, offers an additional level of IP control to the company's AVR series, maintains a stable 120V, and includes an automatic shut-off designed to handle quick voltage changes.
Audioquest has filled out its series of ethernet cables. In the photo, the company's Shane Buettner holds the top of the line Diamond ($1095/1.5 meter) ethernet cable, which features 100% PSS (pure silver) and Audioquest's DBS dielectric bio-system, whose battery pack puts a DC bias on the cable's insulation. Also new is the cable right beneath it, the Vodka ($249/1.5 meter), composed of silver-plated copper. The cable's extremely solid connectors are a major step above the plastic terminations found on stock ethernet cables.
The Margules electronics and loudspeakers brand, long established in Mexico, is poised to make a big splash in the US. Picked up by Tempo High Fidelity, the same folks who distribute dCS, Verity, and Musical Fidelity, Margules will open ears once people hear their U280SC tube amplifier ($3900). Shown with the company's principal/designer, Julian Margules, the U280SC is a 23-year old design that now uses new transformers and semiconductors. A full class-A design that is claimed to be nearly as efficient as class-A/Byou can touch the tubesthe amp puts out 80Wpc in ultralinear mode (or 160W if two are strapped for mono) and 40Wpc in triode mode. The amp is so versatile that you can even have one channel output ultralinear, and the other triode. No bias adjustment is necessary.