Multiple Premieres at PAF from JMF Audio and Ideon Audio

There were multiple world and North American premieres in the large room shared by JMF Audio and Ideon Audio. The exhibit was set up by the two companies' North American distributor, Michael Vamos's Audio Skies, in cooperation with Michael Farnsworth's dealership, Farnsworth Audio, of Draper, UT.

Three of the premieres were in use when I visited during a sparsely attended Saturday morning press conference: the JMF Audio HQS 7001 mono amplifiers ($77,000/pair—review forthcoming), JMF's new PRS 1.5 dual-mono preamplifier ($36,000) with upgraded power supply and transformer, and the Ideon Audio Absolute Signature V re-clocker ($22,000). On display but not active during our demo were the Ideon Audio EOS DAC ($9500) and JMF Audio PHS 7.2 dual-mono phono stage ($25,000).

One of the luminaries on hand was Benno Baun Meldgaard, whose GamuT Zodiac speakers ($175,000/pair) were in use in the room. Meldgaard's other achievements include fabled speakers for Raidho, Gryphon, and (soon) his own company, Baun. More on that in a separate blog.

"JMF Audio only produces reference products," Vamos said. "They are not trying to hit price points. All cables in the system except the USB cable from Shunyata are from JMF. JMF also makes the PCD 102 Power line filter ($19,000) that we're using. JMF Audio employs very thick boards that are gold-plated on both sides, hand-soldered, and use proprietary aerospace-grade components capable of high-speed transmission."

All JMF products are upgradable. Since their component boxes are sealed, the company performs all upgrades.

Ideon Audio, in turn, focuses solely digital products. Founded in 2014, the company specializes in upgradable modular components. They've developed over 4000 lines of code for their DAC chip. According to Vamos, the DAC employs a one-step gain stage without capacitors in the output stage and includes 17 separate ultralinear power supplies.

This was one of the only rooms where exhibitors had the wherewithal to explain that they tried everything they could to control bass in the almost square 30 ×' 34-foot space but failed to do so completely. Hence the bit of bass boom on a 16/44.1 file of Nils Lundgren's "Fragile." Beyond that, the sound was extremely solid and grounded with a most pleasing midrange. Drums had no splash and piano was solid, without brightness.

The system also did a magnificent job of capturing the weight of mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato's voice but overemphasized its midrange core lower in the range at the expense of its shining overtones. Nonetheless, on "Moon Over Bourbon Street" from Sting on Tour, the system's grounded and solid midrange won me over. A 24/96 file of Satchmo's frequently encountered "St. James Infirmary" impressed greatly for a top that never grew overly edgy. I expect the sound would have been wetter and the midrange less predominant without the room's heavy black draping, but Lord only knows what additional room-generated anomalies and distractions might have surfaced as a result.

Also in the system: Ideon Audio Absolute Epsilon DAC ($47,000) and Absolute stream server ($20,000), along with an HRS EXR-Doublewide 3V rack and M3x2 amp stand. Vamos claims that the server "plays the audio kernel of an audio file without any buffering or processing."