In the Audio Note UK room, managing director Peter Qvortrup demonstrated the company’s new Jinro Shochu power amplifier ($32,250). This is essentially a Jinro integrated amp (see Stereophile’s April 2011 issue) without the volume control and with a single pair of true balanced inputs. During my visit the combination of Jinro Shochu and Audio Note AN-E Lexus Signature loudspeakers ($19,000/pair) sounded natural, engaging, and just plain musical on selections by those two great exponents of British music, Vaughan Williams and Led Zeppelin.
Well Rounded Sound, a US company that specializes in high quality desktop loudspeakers, exhibited a number of eye-catching models, including their new Corgi ($799/pair), which is scheduled to begin production in July.
The Viola electronics on display included their four-chassis, dual-mono Solo preamplifier ($45,000) and Bravo II stereo amp ($59,000). The latter is supplied in two chassis, and provides 700Wpc channel into 4 ohms: the nominal impedance of the TAD CR1s. DAC was the highly regarded Bricasti M1.
The TAD CR1 (for Compact Reference) loudspeaker ($37,000/pair) was demonstrated with Viola amplification and a digital front end comprising the Weiss Man301 server ($9000) and Weiss Medea+ D-to-A converter ($19,000). The CR1, which has been on the market for a little over three years, has a rated sensitivity of 86dB and uses the same type of CST coincident driver as featured in the company's flagship Reference One loudspeaker. The TAD had satisfying bass extension for such a relatively small enclosure, but the system was being played way too loud for my comfort, so I can't offer a more nuanced appraisal. JA, however, was very impressed when he reviewed the CR1 last January.
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).
Here's the Vinyl Cleaner ($3895), a new type of LP washing machine made in Germany by Audio Desk Systeme Glass (they make a popular CD edge-trimmer you've no doubt seen) and distributed in the US by Ultra Systems. Described by Robert Stein as "the only way you can really clean the bottom of a record groove," the Vinyl Cleaner uses ultrasonic waves to separate dirt and vinyl from one another, and dries the disc with a fan instead of a vacuum (the latter induces static, according to the designer). Watch for Michael Fremer's review in an upcoming episode of "Analog Corner."
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.
Robert Stein of Ultra Systems (and of the innovative retail outlet The Cable Company) introduced an accessory called the WA Quantum Chip. Available in different sizes, ranging in price from $7.50 to $65 each, the German-made WA Chip is a removable sticker that contains an impregnated film, which is reportedly subjected to a special treatment. Sized for everything from fuses to cell phones to speakers, WA Chips are claimed to increase component efficiency and current flow, for audibly enhanced performance.
The record player used in the Robyatt suite was the Anatase (price available upon request) from Oswalds Mill Audio: an original Lenco motor unit updated with a custom-made bearing and idler wheel assembly, and wedded to a massive slate plinth. The primary arm was the excellent Thomas Schick Tonearm ($1675), used with various Miyajima cartridges.