Gorgeous Strings from VAC

Although the Valve Amplification Company (VAC) system at CES 2016 was virtually identical to the one I blogged at RMAF last October, save for the shrouded TV or mirror, there was a world of difference in the sound. VAC's Kevin Hayes attributed the improvement to a change in tubes in the VAC Phi 170 IQ master preamplifiers ($9900). While the tubes at the earlier show were Russian Gold Lion KT-88, here they were Chinese Shuguang KT-88SC. The sound on the Mahler 9 SACD I played at CES was very, very beautiful.