Bending Wave, WADAX, and Riviera Labs

All man hands were on deck for the US debut of the Italian-made Riviera Labs AFM 100 monoblock power amplifiers, brought to the show by Riviera Labs President of Sales and Marketing Silvio Delfino and Tone Imports' Jonathan Halpern. Also in attendance was Wadax SA's Brandon Lauer and Bending Wave/Göbel Loudspeakers distributor Elliot Goldman.

This massive-sounding, sweetly clean setup included Goldman's Stereophile-featured Göbel Divin Marquis loudspeakers ($90,000/pair), and a Madrid-manufactured WADAX digital front-end including the Atlantis Reference Server ($68,800), Atlantis Reference DAC ($166,420), and Optical System Akasa ($20,400). Amplification was comprised of the Riviera APL-01 SE Preamplifier ($46,995) and the Riviera AFM 100 SE monoblocks ($82,800/pair).

Nordost handled powerline conditioning in their QBase Reference Power Distribution ($18,000), QNet Network Switch ($3199), QSource Linear Power Supply ($2799), QCore 1 Ground Unit ($3000), and QB8 power strip ($2299). Göbel wires connected the system: Lacorde Statement power cord ($9900), speaker cables ($27,999/pair), balanced interconnects ($7900/1.2M pair), and Ethernet cable ($5900/1.2M). Core Audio racks and amplifier stands held the entire kit and kaboodle aloft.

This setup, which contrasted the Darth Vader visual appeal of the Göbel/WADAX products against the subtle lines of the Riviera Labs amplifiers, produced music of colossal scale, composure, and serenity. Frankly, the Göbels never sounded this good at past shows; I credit the difference to the handsome Riviera Labs amplifiers.

Playing Christian Jormin Trio’s See the Unseen, the WADAX/Riviera/Göbels conflagration created a larger-than-life soundstage wrought with delicate details and cavernous depth. From an engrossing drum solo intro (rife with flapping bass drum heads and ripe, wood-pitched sounds) to a full-frontal piano trio onslaught, I was rent asunder by this over-the-top—financially and musically—assemblage.