Jana Starts Her Day 3 Coverage

"Ampsandsound is a startup with big promise!"—a text message like this from Herb Reichert and I knew what I had to do.

Curtains were drawn, revealing just a small slab of pale blue sky at the front of the room, where the occasional airplane would pass by. The first system we listened to comprised an Oppo Sonica DAC ($800; Modwright tube output $2500) for volume control feeding, an ampsandsound Stereo 15 amplifier ($2800), and a pair of ampsandsound Hudson speakers ($30,000/pair in rosewood veneer). The source was a Mac mini running Sonic Studio's Amarra Luxe app ($99), which supports native DSD/DoP, MQA, and Tidal integration. In the warm comfort of Amarra Luxe's room correction and Bob Dylan's "Simple Twist of Fate", the sonically picturesque Hudson speakers seemed to whisper in my ear with their 15" direct-radiating, ported woofers: "this is what hi-fi shows should be about."

The second system we listened to featured a VPI Prime Signature turntable ($6000) with an Ortofon 2M Bronze cartridge ($450), and the following by ampsandsound: phono stage ($600), Kenzie Encore preamplifier ($2500), Casablanca amplifiers ($4000/pair), and Royal speakers ($16,000/pair). On Lorde's "Tennis Court," the Tractrix horn-loaded Royals smoothly reproduced round, extended synths, and finely detailed percussions.

In the High End by OZ room: a Vitus Audio Reference CD transport MP-T 201 Mk.II ($21,600), an Aavik Acoustics C-300 preamplifier ($42,000), an Aavik Acoustics P-300 stereo amplifier ($48,000), and Raidho Acoustics D-1.1 speakers in Ferrari Fiorano red with diamond adjustable feet stands ($37,000/pair), with Ansuz Acoustics cabling throughout.

The exhibitor played "A Case of You" sung by Diana Krall, and Danse Macabre played by the Minnesota Orchestra. The overall system was pleasing in an even, liquid, audiophile way, with a slight shimmer up top. As I was leaving, I couldn't help but think: beautiful sound, but why Diana Krall and not Joni Mitchell?

It was my first time hearing anything by the less-than-two-year-old company Voss Audio, who first officially premiered at the 2015 California Audio Show. At this past weekend's LA Audio Show, Voss premiered their new VKO series, including the VKO Ultimate/One reference amplifier ($59,900), the VKO Ultra reference linestage preamplifier ($49,900), and the VKO Ultra reference phono-stage preamplifier ($39,900), paired with Acoustic Zen Crescendo II loudspeakers ($22,000/pair). Music played off of a Goldmund Studio turntable (no longer in production) with a Shreve/Rabco tonearm and a Denon DL-103M cartridge. Shown in the photo are John Dormandy (president of Voss Audio, left) and David Shreve, who does mods on Rabco tonearms (right).

We listened to "Homeward Bound" and "Scarborough Fair" off Simon & Garfunkel's LP The Concert in Central Park, and it was my first time truly enjoying the sound of an audience's applause. I thought to myself: "is this what it means to be an audiophile?" With its rich colors and enormous soundstage, Voss Audio has left me feeling impressed.

LKV Research debuted the Verito 1, their latest integrated amplifier ($2700 with MM/MC phono; $2200 without), made by hand in New Hampshire. For those familiar with LKV, the Verito 1's phono stage descends from the Veros One, and the gain circuitry is "virtually identical" to the Line One preamplifier. The preamp section employs class-A differential amplifiers, and the power amp section delivers 180+ watts into 8/4/2 ohm loads. With features like these, the Verito 1 uniquely positions itself as an (relatively) affordable, versatile component ideal for audiophiles who wish to periodically upgrade and adjust their system.

The Verito 1 was joined by a VPI Prime turntable ($3999), an Ortofon Quintet Black S cartridge ($999), Joseph Audio Perspective speakers ($12,995/pair) and an Audience aR6 power conditioner ($4500), atop Pangea Vulcan equipment stands. While listening to Sonny Rollins' "I'm an Old Cowhand" off Way Out West, I was most impressed by how accurate the timbre of each instrument was reproduced.

It is worth noting that Verito is pronounced like "veh-rih-toe"; not like "burrito" with a "v".

Shelley's Stereo, a Los Angeles based hi-fi shop (or "electronics store", in Google's words), exhibited a system including a QNAP TS-251+ NAS ($795), a Linn Sneaky Music DS digital media player ($2750), a Rogue Audio RP-7 preamplifier ($4995), a pair of Rogue Audio M-180 tube monoblock amplifiers ($5995/pair), and a pair of Paradigm Persona F5 speakers ($17,000/pair), all connected by Transparent cables. Through a medley of audiophile-worthy tracks, the F5s stunned me with their cleanliness and agility.