Now this is an interesting one. Using the same Dan D'Agostino Momentum monoblocks ($65,000/pair) as in the Wilson Alexia/dCS suite in the Mirage, albeit with the new case work; the same dCS Rossini player ($28,499) and Rossini Clock ($7499) as in that room, and whose sound I know quite well because I've spent considerable time with the player in my own listening room; an even higher Opus level of Transparent Cabling than in the Wilson/dCS suite; and the not too shabby Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems Momentum preamplifier ($32,000), EgglestonWorks' Ivy Signature SE Reference Series loudspeakers ($155,250/pair) made an entirely different impression.
I've been variously enamored and critical of the sound of Acapella loudspeakers and electronics on previous occasions, but here, in a space I would have considered too narrow to be optimal, the German-handmade Acapella Cellini ($55,000/pair) sounded excellent. Never before shown at a US show, the Cellini stands out due to its hyper-spherical midrange horn. (The Acapella Violin, for example, has a spherical horn.) It also has Acappella's TW1 ion tweeter, and claims an overall frequency range of 28Hz40kHz , and a sensitivity of approx. 91dB/W/m.
Shipping in the second quarter of 2016, Meitner's extremely powerful MTRX2 1kW monoblock amplifiers (price around $80,000/pair), which output 600W into 8 ohms and 1000W into 4 ohms, may be the weaker siblings of their flagship MTRX predecessors, but they have their own proprietary topology to make them feel their equal.
The picture shows the inside of Nagra's new HD Amp, whose 6 output devices are specified as driving 270W into 8 ohms, 1kW into 2 ohms. The HD Amp was on passive display, but Nagra's all-Nagra component chain, feeding Wilson Audio Sabrina loudspeakers, made quite a favorable impression.
GamuT designer Benno Baun Meldgaard, whose 41 years give the lie to those who suggest that the High End is populated solely by old fart engineers, joined Audio Skies distributor Michael Vamos (left in photo) for the press launch of GamuT's new "no-compromise" loudspeaker, the Zodiac ($139,000/pair). Featuring a cabinet composed of 27 layers of wood of different thicknesses, a new tweeter and companion drivers, and phase alignment between the crucial frequencies of 200 Hz15 kHz, the Zodiac comes with a massive spiked stand adjustable according to listening distance. It is designed to have the agility and speed of a stand-mount. Only 12 pairs will be built a year, which to my way of thinking makes the point-to-point wired speaker an instant collector's item, and each pair will be fine-tuned at the buyer's home by Meldgaard.
Roger Gibboni of Rogers High Fidelity unveiled the Rogers 34S-1 integrated amplifier ($19,900, top on rack in photo). A dual-mono class-A amplifier with eight EL-34 power tubes, this baby, set to ship in March, has a unique, dedicated iOS platform (visible on Gibboni's iPad) which allows for complete functionality including bad tube indicators. Apple and Android smartphone operation via Bluetooth is included, and auto-bias circuitry and a lifetime warranty are other pluses. On a scale of 1 to 10, this product's cool factor is very, very high.
The tube warmth of the aluminum-chassis, leather-clad Absolare Passion integrated amplifier ($24,750), a hybrid SET design with a tube preamplifier section and solid-state dual mono amplifier section that aims for a "tube sound," was a touch of heaven amidst a limbo of grayness. How lovely, after encountering a number of gray-tinged presentations in other rooms, to again hear lots of enjoyable, warm color.
If my title lacks poetry, my notes are worse: they inexplicably lack any record of the sound in this room! With apologies to all, what I can tell you is that the Soulution 755 phono preamplifier ($72,000) is now available. Complete with an analog, passive volume/balance control that uses low-noise, metal-foil resistors, the 755 can be connected to an amplifier without need of a separate line stage.
"Our goal is to build a reference monitor, rather than to produce the new flavor of the day," Westlake Audio's Glenn R. Phoenix told Stereophile. "Rather than boosting the bass or using multiple tweeters, we strive for reference neutrality." Hence the LC8.1 speaker system, which includes two top modules ($8000/pair) and two Lc8.1sw subwoofers with polypropylene drivers ($12,699/pair).
Audio Note Japan, the company whose expensive gear was designed by the late Hiroyasu Kondo, is poised to replace its M Series with the new G Series in the 2nd or 3rd quarter of 2016. Among the new products playing was the forthcoming flagship preamplifier, the G-1000 ($100,000 approx.). With the former 37-step attenuator replaced by a quieter 57-step attenuator, bigger and better proprietary silver capacitors, and an expanded power supply, the preamp reportedly retains the same tonal character as its predecessor.