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RMAF 2012 – Day One highlights

  • First stop.  New DeVore Orangutan 93…93db. $8k-ish.  Sumptuously seductive.  John DeVore is spinning some Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy.  Lovely.

    Further information:  DeVore Fidelity

    NAD M50 Music Player ($2500) and NAD M52 Music Vault ($2000) for CD ripping and playback.

    …but Paul Barton’s new powered desktop speakers. PSB Alpha PS1. $300.  Fruity.  They ship in a handy re-usable box for easier portability.

    Further information:  NAD Electronics / PSB Speakers

    Chris Sommovigo of Black Cat is finally moving beyond his terminator supply issues and is launching his Neo-Morpheus cables.  Tubular copper!  Interconnects $195, spkr cable $355 (3m pair).


    Further information:  Black Cat Cables

    The guys from DEQX are from the land down under so it’d be rude of me not to check them out.  They corrected my mis-assumption that their boxes performed ‘room-correction’.  In fact it’s ‘group delay correction’, luxury DSP. The all-new DEQX Mate is $4500. Way cool.

    Further information:  DEQX

    I finally get to hear a pair of Neat Iota ($1150/pr). Bob Surgeoner has flown in from the UK to assist with the dealer demo; who’s pushing them with some serious Zanden electronics.  The Iota sit on their side. Ribbon tweeter, exceptional resolution.  These underline why I love standmounts.

    Further information:  Neat Acoustics

    I know I know, it ain’t digital but the awesome VPI Traveler turntable ($1300) is hooked up to a budget Cayin integrated.  VPI score points for keeping it real with a budget ‘table and for partnering it with a real-world-priced amplifier.

    Further information:  VPI Industries

    The finest-sounding room of the day was that of South Korea’s April Music.  Fronted by the Eximus DP1 running balanced out into their new integrated, the Stello Ai700 ($6500).  This new model is essentially two of the shoebox Eximus S1 amplifiers distilled into one unit but fuelled by a bigger, badder power supply.  It runs in Class D and pushes a hefty 500wpc.  The Stello Ai700 will begin shipping after the show.

    Further Information:  April Music

    April Music were using a Macbook with Amarra as transport and Sonic Studio’s own room was across the hallway.  Here, the guys give another convincingly demo why their software is one of the top OS X playback choices.  Using the same playback engine as the more expensive versions, Amarra Hifi is $49.  Cool.

    Further information:  Sonic Studio

    Remember the Burson Audio Conductor?  Here’s the matching half-width power amplifier.  The Timekeeper – making its debut at RMAF – 75wpc, bridgeable, $2200.  Exciting.

    Further Information:  Burson Audio

    The CEntrance Hifi-M8 ($699) is showing in prototype form.  Shaping up nicely.  I’m told it will begin shipping in 6-8 weeks.

    Further Information:  CEntrance

    Pure Class A tube headphone amplifier and 32/192 DAC?  That’s the Woo Audio Wa7.  Introductory price of $800.  Drives HifiMan cans just nicely.

    Further Information: Woo Audio

    Also pushing the HifiMan is the Mytek 192-DSD DAC that debuted here last year.  Bowie’s “Five Years”.  Sooooo detailed.

    Further Information:  Mytek Digital

    As usual, Emotiva have a rack of killer bargains on display.  It’s been a long time coming but the XDA-2 DAC will finally begin shipping around Christmas.  $399.  24/192 on every input and a resistor ladder volume control.  Look carefully at the left-hand side of the front panel: there’s a headphone output.

    Further Information:  Emotiva Audio

    Roy Hall’s doing his own budget standmounts now.  The Music Hall Marimba will sell for $349 and they sound superb.  “Fucking amazing” and “Designed by a genius” is how Hall describes them. I’d expect nothing less.

    Further Information:  Music Hall Audio

    Sonus Faber are launching a range of more aggressively-priced speakers, the Venere.  Made in China to keep costs low, the 1.5 ($1200/pr standmount still looks beautiful.

    Further Information:  Sonus Faber

    The new, improved MMG (still $599) from Magnepan might look like the old model but who cares?  The sound is stunning.  Possibly the biggest bargain in budget hi-fi.  On display also is the Magnepan bass panel (that looks like a table!) So, $1394 for the speakers and the bass panel.  If you have an amplifier that’s up to the task, you’d be hard-pushed to find better sound for the money.  Well done Wendell.

    Further Information:  Magnepan Inc.

    And that’s a wrap on Friday in Denver.


    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

    CEntrance launch HiFi-M8 portable DAC / headphone amplifier

    RMAF 2012 – Day Two highlights