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Newport 2011: Evolution Acoustics, Playback Designs & darTZeel

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24bit 384khz, double DSD 6.1mhz via USB? Yep, Playback Designs has it.

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| Permalink | Amplifiers $20k and up , Components , Disc players $10k and up , Hard Drive Servers , Writer: Danny Kaey | Posted by Danny Kaey on Jun 10 '11

Vegas07 Biggest Boat Anchors: Ypsilon

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The biggest amps at the show and definitely some of the biggest in the world, Ypsilon Electronic's SET 100 amps aren't your garden variety solid state monsters. The Ypsilons put out only 120 watts of hybrid power with tubes in the input stage and mosfets for the juice. Like the name SET-100 implies, the amps are completely single ended. When you go for single ended in solid state, the amps gotta be huge.

Ypsilon is out of Greece and is looking for an American distributor to pick up the brand. And like anything milled out of solid blocks of aluminum, prices aren't cheap. In Euros: 53k for the SET-100 amps, 30k for the PST-100 preamp, 20k for the DAC-100 and 15K for the CDT-100. More pics next page...

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| Permalink | Amplifiers $20k and up , Disc players $10k and up , Pre-Amps $20k and up | Posted by Josh Ray on Jan 12 '07

HE2006: Joseph Audio and Soundsmith

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Joseph audio put on a much loved room with Soundsmith, makers of wildly bizarre components crafted out of wood. It's one thing to slap on wooden face plates or cheeks, but Soundsmith gets out the whittling kit and carves grooves, pits and lettering into solid blocks of wood and then packs the contraptions full of LEDs that blink and pulse with the music. Price for the Soundsmith 350 watt stereo amp will be around $22,000 and the preamp around $15,000 when they are officially released. Speakers playing were the Joseph audio $2299 RM7XL bookshelves.

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| Permalink | Amplifiers $20k and up , Pre-Amps $8k to 20k , Shows and Expos , Speakers $2k-5k | Posted by Josh Ray on Jun 20 '06

HE2006: Eben and VTL

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Who said black is slimming? These guys are giants. European Eben X-5 speakers joined forces with American VTL $45k Siegfried amps to take over the largest room at the show. The speakers cost a cool $100,000 and use carbon fiber shells, ribbon tweeters, ceramic midranges and the ubiquitous tower-of-power design. Sadly, every time I was in this room they were playing soft orchestral music that was neither familiar or exciting. If you're going to play classical in a room the size of a basketball court with speakers as big as Shaq, might was well make it Gladiator or Carmina Burana. Next time, I'll demand they cut loose.

Below are the little Eben X-3 speakers with Bel Canto equipment that I assume never saw any play. Hidden away in the corner, this is the system I really would have liked to hear.

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Permalink | | Posted to Amplifiers $20k and up | Shows and Expos | Speakers $20k and up

HE2006: AAA-Audio and Dynaudio

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AAA-Audio rocked a top room with Dynaudio speakers and AAA's imported amps. Those big monoblocks are the $25k XLH M-2000 amps, 600 watts of tube-sounding solid state. Read Rick Gardner's adventure with the insane XLH system. About as fun as an audio review can get.

In front, you have the Dussun V8i "Hyper class-A" integrated amp, cracked open for your viewing pleasure. On the rack in the middle, the very cool-looking Original Leonardo CD player does digital duty. This room has gotten some big love from other publications like Stereophile and one VIP who I swore not to reveal said that out of the two Dynaudio rooms, this one was the best.

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Permalink | | Posted to Amplifiers $20k and up | Shows and Expos

HE2006: Von Gaylord

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Formerly Legend Audio Design? They actually changed their name to Von Gaylord? Why didn't they consult me before this name change? I would have put them straight. But, whatever, this room was crazy.

Those amps are the much talked about liquid-cooled $59,000 Uni Sea Urchins. Best amp name EVER. Can I forgive VG for their naming foibles? Maybe. In any case, the Urchin's triode tubes put out 200 watts and waves of heat through the liquid for a very cool effect. And don't ask if you can put fish inside. I asked and so did every other person who went into the room. The answer is yes, you can. They just won't like it.

The speakers look like the original and famous (to some) Wilson WATTS and use what appears to be the same tweeter though, of course, it isn't. The finish is awesome and they can do any color imaginable. And they cost $4000.

This room put out the biggest freakin' sound. Just wall to wall with depth and space and so much coloration, it was like sitting in an extra-large box of crayolas. It was bizarre and weird and awesome.

These guys were near the 4th floor elevator and always left the door to their room open. Every time I went up to the 4th floor I heard this god-damn Hawaiian ukulele music filling the halls. It was fun the first, oh, dozen times, but after that, it just ridiculous. And then it became insane. And then it was laughable. Forever I will associate Von Gaylord with tiki torches and hula dancing.

Read the rest of the article for more pictures.

(update: content adjusted)

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Permalink | | Posted to Amplifiers $20k and up | Shows and Expos | Speakers $2k-5k

Outlaw RR2150 Review

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Another Monday, another update from Stereophile. Taking a look at certifiable budget gear, Stereophile gives the $599 Outlaw RR2150 receiver some love:

With its front-mounted minijack and rear USB port, it makes a great intro to hi-fi for a younger generation weaned on iPods and MP3s.

Appealing to the younger generation is always good. The RR2150 goes with retro fab styling and packs in as many goodies as possible including 100 watts, tuner, USB, phono and more. Purchase direct from Outlaw's site.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Chord SPM 14000 Ultimate monoblock amplifiers win a "best of the best of the best" verdict for great sound and insane amounts of eye candy. Price? $75,000. Yeah, not for the younger generation.

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Permalink | | Posted to Amplifiers $20k and up | Integrated Amp under $1k

Vegas - Swedish Statement

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Vegas was truly a show for extremes. We covered the $400-450k Swedish Statement before here and here, but it was fun to finally see this system in the flesh. Once again, the room was packed and listening was hard but the roar from CES halls was, "you've got to hear what the Swedes have been up to!" A lot of people came to the show saying, "Swedish Statement? Whateva" but left saying, "damn, I wish I bought Google stock."

The Swedish Statement's most prominent feature is, of course, the speakers. Marten's $250k Coltrane Supremes sport 1" diamond tweeters and 2" diamond midranges - the only one in the world - as well as a whole slew of ceramic drivers from the insane minds at Accuton. Cabinets are made out of carbon fiber and wood. The big towers are subwoofers with 9" drivers, 2000 watts of juice and active crossovers with digital room correction taking over below 100Hz for perfectly smooth bass. Total range is 15-100k Hz and 93dB into 4 ohms.

The rest of the system includes components by Bladelius, turntable by Nordic Concept, cables by Jorma Design, rack by Woo and power conditioning by Power Wing out of Arizona, the Sweden of the South West. I believe this was the most expensive room in Vegas but don't hold me on that.

Interestingly, every company chose to set up their rooms differently. The Signals Super-Fi room was identical to the Swedish Statement room but they placed their systems on different walls. Don't know why but, really, they both needed rooms four times the size to rip properly. THE Show at St. Tropez caused all kinds of fun with hot tubs in the bedrooms. One room - can't remember which - had the entire tub filled with exotic micro-brews on ice. Combine that with about half of the other rooms handing out drinks, it was a miracle someone didn't puke on some ridiculously expensive piece of equipment...that I know of.

Permalink | | Posted to Amplifiers $20k and up | Pre-Amps $20k and up | Shows and Expos | Speakers $20k and up | Turntables

Vegas - AAA Audio and Tetra

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AAA Audio, importers of Chinese brands XLH, Original and Dussun, paired with Tetra for a killer demo. Above, Tetra's 306 loudspeaker garnered all kinds of strange looks and comments like: "the sound is coming from THAT?" And on and on. Yeah, it was really spooky how this little nubbin of a speaker produced so much music. Mated with a stable of reasonably priced Dussun equipment (pictures next page), this was definitely a fun room. No price on the Tetras or even if they'll see the light of day, for that matter, which would be a shame, considering how well they'd blend into my mid-century bach-pad.

On the next page is XLH's Hulkish Reference 1812 speakers at $50k next to smaller Tetras 405s. $25k XLH monoblocks provided 600 watts of juice while the $3k Original CD player did duty up top. Sadly, I didn't get a picture of the Original remote. A silver hockey puck with a triangle of little buttons, it was definitely a remote for starting conversations (if there is such a thing).

I was told the giant XLH speakers as well as a number of other AAA products are in line for reviews. So keep an eye out for the goods from AAA Audio in the 'zines and, with the retail end tightening up, look for their gear in your local shop.

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Permalink | | Posted to Amplifiers $1k to 3k | Amplifiers $20k and up | Speakers $20k and up | Speakers $2k-5k

EAR 912 Preamplifier and VTL S-400 Amp Reviews

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Big week for Stereophile and hyper-expensive tube gear by companies with acronym names. First up they published Art Dudly's rave review of the EAR 912 tube preamplifier. Priced at $9995, he finds all kinds of new sounds in his records he never heard before. Of course, preamps aren't nearly as sexy as power amps so they also stuck up VTL's new (relatively) S-400 stereo amplifier.

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We've covered buckets of micro-powered tube equipment but very few monster power tube designs. VTL blew up the scene a few years back with their massive Wotan monoblocks pumping out an unbelievable 1250 watts of tube magic. Of course, not all tubes are made equal, that's why the tiny power tubes have such a huge following these days.

In any case, VTL's S-400 is packed with tubes for 400 stereo watts with a price of $20k. Not cheap but, of course, Stereophile's Brian Damkroger raves the S-400 is the most neutral amp he's ever heard in his life and the new benchmark in tube design. Of course, VTL also makes the monoblock version of these amps called the Siegfried with double the power and double the price.

Permalink | | Posted to Amplifiers $20k and up | Pre-Amps $8k to 20k

Wavac's Monster Tube Amps

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Wavac has been blowing up the review channels the last few months and, judging from the responses, for good reason. For those that don't know, SET (Single End Triode) is the filet mignon of the tube amplification but only makes 10 watts of power or less, too little for most speakers. Enter Wavac, a Japanese company known for their obscenely powerful SET amps. Here's Positive Feeback glowing about the 150/watt monoblock HE-833 amplifier (pictured):

"Once more Wavac triumphs, and a new "King of SET" reigns in my experience: the Wavac HE-833 v1.3."

For $69k/pair, they should be good. Amazingly, this is only the middle of their price range, with products ranging from $7000 to $350k. Go to the next page for a number of reviews and a picture of the biggest damn tube you've ever seen in your life.

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Permalink | | Posted to Amplifiers $10k to 20k | Amplifiers $20k and up | Amplifiers $6k to 10k

Simaudio Moon Rock Power Amplifier

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Brian Damkroger of Stereophile covers the insanely expensive Simaudio Moon Rock mono power amplifier and, at $37k a pair, the Moon Rock amp is in rarified territory of the world's best. Most mega expensive solid-state amps out there provide huge wattage and the Moon Rock doesn't disappoint -- 1000 watts a side. What does Stereophile think?

"The Moon Rock costs a lot more than I can afford. But even at $37,000/pair, it's really superb, and may even be "really good for the money." That wasn't the manufacturer's goal, however, and for you and me it's not the point. Simaudio set out to build an amplifier as good as any out there, and they've done it. If you're shopping in the stratosphere and choosing among the very best available, you need to audition the Simaudio Moon Rock."

If you really are shopping this category, check out the review for comparisons to other players like Levinson and what "sonic qualities" an amp in this price has.

Simaudio Moon Rock Power Amplifier [Stereophile]
Simaudio Home

Permalink | | Posted to Amplifiers $20k and up

Krell Evolution Series

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We'll finish up the week with a review from this side of insanity - the Krell Evolution series. The review is from the Robb Report and, unfortunately, is a terrible review as reviews go, but it's worth noting that these polished diamonds from Krell smash their past reputation for hard, in-your-face sound (though, their lesser products retain that reputation):

"I would not dream of bogging down this review with such technobabble, but I will sum up by declaring that the Evolutions’ miraculous amalgam of science and art can resuscitate the soul of recorded music and make it live again."

Okay...yeah, well, other reviewers have said the Evolution One preamplifier and Evolution Two power amps combined with Krell's LAT1000 speakers provide some of the best sound ever heard. Yeah, $50k for the preamp and $40k for the power amps should sound pretty great. The power amp is a monoblock design (shown) with outboard power supply cranking out 450 watts. The preamp, interestingly, is a monoblock design with outboard power as well. I imagine one remote controls both units, though using both left and right hands to turn both knobs at the same time could be worlds of fun.

Krell Evolution Series Review [Robb Report]
Krell Home

Permalink | | Posted to Amplifiers $20k and up | Pre-Amps $20k and up

Cary CAD-1610-SE Review

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Stereophile just posted a review of the Cary CAD-1610-SEs...from 2000. Yeah, a little late, but what the hell, check out what they have to say:

"If you do buy them, however, you'll be rewarded with God's own sound."

God's own sound??? Uh huh....The Cary amps pump out 50 watts, cost $40,000 a pair and weigh 130 pounds a piece if you want to emulate the big man upstairs.

Cary CAD-1610-SE [Stereophile]
Cary Home

Permalink | | Posted to Amplifiers $20k and up | Tube Amplifiers

News: Goldmund Telos 600 Amplifier

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Here's an interesting amp from a swiss company I've never heard of.

"The Telos 600 mono power amplifier ($22,900 each) delivers 600 watts via Goldmund's JOB 5 amplification circuit. In addition to the traditional analog inputs, the Telos 600 will also accept digital S/PDIF input and provides S/PDIF output. The Telos 600 is said to have an ultra-wide bandwidth (DC-3Mhz) and feature extremely low time distortion and "very accurate transient reconstruction." The Telos 600 achieves its very high power from ten separate high-speed transformers and 40 specially designed ultra-low-impedance capacitors and newly designed MOSFETs. The Telos 600's "revolutionary" protection circuit uses no output relay and exhibits an incredibly short 10-nanosecond response time."

Huh, so is it just me, or does that make no sense whatsoever? Why would there be digital inputs into an analog amp? Is there a DAC inside?

Anyway, priced at $23k EACH (including the rap-superstar discount), the Goldmunds are the current reference amps for their whole extensive lineup of equipment. While they make an incredible-looking CD-player, their loudspeakers are just...ugh, go and witness the pain for yourself.

Goldmund Audio [Via Sound Stage]

Permalink | | Posted to Amplifiers $20k and up