India's Rethm loudspeakers, California's Ampsandsound, and China's Auralic combined forces to make unique sounds at CAF 2022.

Rethm's Jacob George (left) and Ampsandsound's Justin Weber (right)

Stereophile, I'd not heard Jacob George's Rethm Maarga speakers. But I have heard, drooled over, and yearned to review Justin Weber's Ampsandsound amplifiers (Jim Austin, are you reading this?!) after covering them at the last NY headphone show. Justin brought his new Black Pearl 300B stereo power amplifier ($16,000) and The Preamp ($1850, both available from dealers only).

"The Black Pearl is a CAF debut," Weber told me over email. "It's a 300B dual-mono power amp. 8Wpc channel into 4/8 ohms, WE 300Bs, dual 5U4 rectifiers, and a single 5751 input. XLR and RCA. Black Pearl is all built on turrets, like it was in the 1950s. No feedback, 100% custom transformers. 10 transformers in the amp. It's really dual-mono."

The Preamp features include 12dB of gain; an MM phono stage with 54dB of gain; three inputs, two line-level with RCAs, MM on RCAs; two 2 outputs via RCAs. "The Preamp is smallish in form factor meant to integrate onto a desktop setup with ease. Dimensions are 8" wide × 6" deep × 3" tall."

Also in service, Auralic's Altair Digital Audio Streamer G2.1 ($5699), a Core Power Equi=Core 1800Mk2 line conditioner ($1800), and copious Cardas Audio products from their Clear Beyond series.

As Art Dudley noted in his 2020 review—"Hi-fi is like cake. Most people enjoy listening to music, and most people like cake"—the Maarga consists of a "single horn-loaded full-range driver and a pair of powered, isobaric-loaded woofers. Drive units consist of an 8" twin-cone driver with 25mm-diameter voice coil and high-compliance surround; two 6" × 9" paper-cone woofers. Frequency range is 28Hz–20kHz, sensitivity: 98dB/W/m at nominal 8 ohms impedance."

And while I'm quoting Art, here's some of what he wrote: "The Rethm Maargas are musically light on their feet, offer good—and easily adjustable—bass extension, and look like nothing else on the market. For the low-power amp devotee who wants something out of the ordinary for a less-than-painful price, the Maargas very much deserve an audition."

Art was playing vinyl, not streaming. Hearing the CAF Rethm/Ampsandsound/Auralic system doing the latter, playing music heavy on ambience and small percussion, I heard copious gobs of air, lush highs, a deeply resonant midrange, and respectable layering. Music had a burnished quality that made it easy to forget I was working. I didn't hear the system playing rock, but Miles Davis' Relaxin' was all air and texture, sunlight streaking, and senses touched.

jond's picture

I thought that room sounded excellent and if that amp really is $1800 and not $18K it's an outright steal!

FredisDead's picture

$16,000. Strange typo/mistake. The value to performance ratio is not high on first blush and I say this as the owner of a Nautilus. But these amps are built to last three or four lifetimes and they do sound, well I hate to channel Elaine from Seinfeld, but "magnificent".

Nicholalala's picture

My Maargas were purchased the old fashioned way, listening to them with my amp (Swissonor VSOP) against a number of other contenders. I really liked the sound. Rhethm’s recent stand mounts also sounded fantastic in Chicago last spring at Axpona. I’m not sure why they don’t get more press. Perhaps it’s my love of horns and full range drivers that is not a wide spread choice. Take a listen if you have not.

jond's picture

Is the price for the ampsandsound Black Pearl according to their website.

Anton's picture

I almost complemented them on the price.

Oh, well, what's a decimal place between friends?