From Rock to Space: Wayne Carter Audio, Margules Audio I-240 & ACRH-3 amplifiers, Magenta & SA-2 loudspeakers

When Wayne Carter told me that his company, San Diego-based Wayne Carter Audio, designed audio systems for rock stars and also distributed Margules Audio tube products, I knew I had to pair one room with the other. The potential contrast between Carter's "vintage mastering system from 30 years ago"—assembled partly for fun and partly as a tool to help customers understand what was and is possible—and Margules's diminutive gear was too delicious to resist.

"The Lazarus H-1A and Lazarus 200/200s were the electronics of choice back in their time," Carter told me. So (at least for some in 1995), were the bi-amped Waveform Mach 13 loudspeakers (footnote 1), here shown below in front of one of the system's two JBL Atmos 13" woofers from 2018. The Nikko Alpha 1 amplifier and Vandersteen crossover date from the 1970s. "I pretty much buy all the rare stuff," said Carter of a system that sounded like the best straight ahead take-no-prisoners and don't you dare show your feminine side 'cause we ain't got no sissies here rockin' hi-fi from back in the day.

The soft-lit Margules system was another story entirely. Of every room I visited on Day 1 of T.H.E. Show, it was Margules's made-in-Mexico assemblage that won First Prize for depth, layering, and seduction. A visit to this room was like indulging in a lovely warm bath of sound under the moonlight. A Red Book recording by Aaron Neville, streamed from Tidal via Bluetooth, sounded so much better than I thought it should have sounded that I was in awe. I loved what I heard. As did several other people in the room, who sat entranced.

Don't go to to try to figure out what the equipment was, because both the integrated amps on display are brand new. As best I can figure out—I may mess this up but you can't say I didn't try to get it right—there were two different lines on display. The entry-level "Blue Set," which goes for $6000 when purchased as a whole, consists of the ACRH-3 integrated amplifier and Magenta monitors. The larger "White Set," which costs $10,000 when its components are purchased together, includes the I-240 tube integrated amplifier and SA-2 tower speakers. Everything is by Margules.

Julian Margules told me that he was streaming via Bluetooth because his server was caught up in Customs and wouldn't arrive until Saturday. I hope to return to this room and add additional commentary, because if it sounded so good in handicapped fashion, I can only imagine what it will or may sound like at its best.

Footnote 1: Stereophile didn't review the Waveform Mach 13 but did the later Mach 17.—Editor

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Alas, the server, which is (or rather was) a prototype, arrived severely damaged and could not be used.