When I stop by the Wyred4Sound room, EJ Sarmento had that familiar cheeky grin going on. He looked like he was on the cusp of launching something new…soon, but not this weekend. On show was the new Mini-Pre ($1099) pushing into two of the same half-width mAmps ($899 each). Right-hand man Clint Hartmann tells me the Paradigm Signature S8 speakers ($8999/pr) were chosen for their instant familiarity to passers by who might not yet be up on the W4S vibe – their loss. The sound was taut, propulsive and canyon W I D E.
The uDAC has been upgraded to HD status ($499) so that it now sports a headphone socket. Designed around the ESS Sabre 9023, this is the same digital stage that’s found in the mINT. The latter will be coming my way soon, along with the uLINK ($299) USB-S/SPDIF convertor. Modern hi-fi that’s exciting. This room is fun too.
People have been saying great things about the Meitner MA1 for some time now. In a static hallway stand, Meitner are launching their MA2 DAC and transport combo box. Build quality is way out of town. A great choice for the high-ender still spinning silver discs.
Further information: Meitner
A shout out to Mike Morrow. He sells a heap of his Morrow Audio cables into Australia. Probably because his pricing is sensible and he offers a 60-day return on all new stock. Good on these guys for bringing big smiles all the way from Kentucky.
Music choices were a bone of contention for this reviewer at the Newport Show this year. Things are much better at RMAF.
Further information: Morrow Audio
When taking time out, I took my vinyl purchases to the VPi room and dropped them onto the Traveler turntable. Hosts Mat and Steven didn’t baulk at the gnarly Radiohead choice (“2 + 2 = 5”). Alyssa Vassilkova from Estelon even dropped by to hear “Punch Up At A Wedding” (my favourite cut from Hail To The Thief) and as soon as a coupla other fellas demanded more, we had a Radiohead listening session on our hands. A fun hour, thanks to the unerring enthusiasm of Weisfeld Jnr.
Another great hangout for a chillout was the Ayre Acoustics room. Tough to pay attention to what was on display (a new integrated I think) with such impressive 70s lounge decor. Here, people lingered for good reason.
Jeff Dorgay ran his non-audiophile hospitality TONEAudio room with charismatic aplomb. If you didn’t stop by Dorgay would just fire up Judas Priest or Iron Maiden and sit back. Ha! On the bench were a Nakamichi receiver and tape deck, Sony multi-CD player, Rega DAC, Meridian Sooloos and VPi Traveler turntable. On the floor were a pair of vintage JBLs. In the corner, a lava lamp. The room correction from the Macintosh MEN220 ($4500) was quite something. Disable it and vocals became chesty and the bottom end lost focus. Punch the MEN220 in again and Bill Callahan’s smokey tones snapped into place just above his eery guitar. “America – you are so grand and gold, golden“.
Further information: TONEAudio
Zu Audio are off the chain with new models at the moment. Zu Union ($2500) and Zu Union cube ($600 each) both strike at the core of my personal audio interests. There’s also a new Soul a-comin’ that sports the same coaxial driver.
It bears repeating: Sean Casey spins great music in his room. Always. Calexico, Silver Jews, Sufjan Stevens, The Flaming Lips. Frankly, if you’ve never heard of those bands, Zu loudspeakers might not be for you. Go buy some Ushers or Sonus Fabers instead.
After hours on Saturday things got loose down in the Peachtree Audio room: their Grand Integrated tearing the Denver Marriot a new one by way of Zu’s Definition MKIVs. With more room for the speakers to breathe, SPLs were off the dial and yet nothing lost focus or composure. Seriously impressive.
Further information: Zu Audio