Color for Days: Wilson Chronosonic XVX, D'Agostino Relentless Epic, Stromtank, Nordost, and More

Gone are the days of blacks and grays. Thanks in large part to the new face of Wilson Audio, color reigned supreme in Audio Reference Munich's impressive Atrium spread.

It's not that you can't buy a Wilson speaker in traditional Brooks Brothers meets Provo garb. But for those who wish to brighten up the show, Wilson presented its Chronosonic XVX with one of its four new "Season" color highlights (below). Rather than asking the price, I greatly enjoyed what I saw and focused on the music, which in this case was a Schedrin encore, performed by pianist Simon Trpceski and recorded just a few days earlier by Wilson's Peter McGrath, shown in the heading photograph.

Making the music possible were D'Agostino's new Relentless Epic monoblock amplifiers ($349,000/pair) and Epic 800 Mono Amplifiers ($194,500/pair). The former upgrades the original Relentless, which appeared four years ago. The latter, which combines new circuit sections and components into a smaller-than-Relentless Epic chassis, joined forces with the three-chassis Relentless preamplifier, the XVX, Nordost Odin 2 cabling, and unheard-by-me Momentum phono preamplifier and VPI turntable to produce stellar sound. All electronics took full advantage of the stable battery power supplied by a Stromtank High Power S-5000 (below), which distributed power via Nordost Odin 2 cabling. For a review of the smaller Stromtank S-1000, see the forthcoming August issue. As you will read, the Stromtank was anything but an afterthought.

In a lengthy press release that offers far more detail than what follows, D'Agostino wrote, "The Relentless 800 Epic employ an all-new, fully complementary topology based around a precision input stage that maintains an essentially perfect balance between the positive and negative components of the signal. Any distortion artifacts that appear on one half of the signal will also appear on the other half, and thus cancel each other. Gain circuits operate in the current domain, assuring the amplifiers' performance does not fluctuate regardless of the speaker demand... New input stage devices deliver a 300% increase in current as compared to the previous devices."

D'Agostino claims extended low and high frequency performance, reduced distortion at both frequency extremes, and an open-loop linearity approach that obviates the need for global negative feedback. A nearly 50% increase in operating bias translates into more class-A sound and consistent temperatures that avoid extremes. (I suppose that means that you'll have to fry your eggs elsewhere.) "Additional regulation circuitry prevents any AC power anomalies from upsetting the amplifiers' input circuitry."

The Relentless Epic contains 112 matching high-output transistors, while the smaller Epic 800 contains 84. The Epic 800 has a power supply with a nearly-4kVA transformer and 400,000µF capacitance.

Every existing Relentless amplifier can be upgraded to Relentless Epic level for $49,500/pair. The Relentless Epic 800 will begin shipping in Q4 in standard silver or black finish. According to D'Agostino's Bill McKiegan (above), "We upgraded the original Relentless to Relentless Epic because the smaller ones sounded so good."

One enticing tidbit omitted from the press release: The new 800 Epic, which has not yet begun to ship, will be available with an optional, Roon-certified DAC module. Additional information is slow in coming from multiple companied because a lot of people who attended Munich High End and dined/communed without masks have come down with COVID. This writer stuck to his usual platypus face alter ego identity, only ate outdoors, and returned home COVID-free. As mentioned in the introduction to our AXPONA 2022 coverage, I enjoy being a duck-billed platypus. Platypi, as I'm wont to call them, are a protected species. I'll take all the protection I can get.