In the days leading up to RMAF no press release announcing new products was forthcoming from new Director of Marketing Tony Holt so, revisiting existing products aside, I expected my time in the Wyred4Sound room to be super-brief.
Since Antipodes Audio and AURALiC began re-writing what’s possible from digital sources, I find myself looking at existing music servers/streamers with fresh eyes.
One such server is Wyred4Sound’s MS-2 (US$2499). It runs a heavily customised headless version of Linux with Logitech Media Server and Music Player Daemon handling library and playback duties. A slim 2TB notebook drive is used for storage from which the OS generates the digital audio stream, buffers it into RAM – here 2GB – only to clock it out again. Outputs include USB, optical, coaxial and I2S.
The rather anonymous black box sat underneath the MS-2 is EJ Sarmento’s prototype linear power supply. If it goes into production it will be sold as a $299 option to replace the stock SMPS unit. To the right, the DAC2 DSD-SE (US$2599).
So far, so 2013.
As we progress further downstream something unexpected comes into view. What in tarnation are those two black boxes sat in the middle of the rack? Expectations, prepare to bend to the spirit of revivalism.
You might know EJ Sarmento as strictly a Class D amplifier guy but in 2012 he purchased Spread Spectrum Technologies (SST) in order to diversify with Class A/B topologies.
At the 2014 RMAF Sarmento could be found launching two new products under the SST brand, the first since 2002. The Thoebe 2 pre-amplifier will sell for US$3000 in stock form but US$4000 when fully tricked out with DAC and phono boards.
The Emerald Physics EP-2.7 loudspeakers (US$8999) were bi-amped. A Wyred4Sound ST1000MKII handled the low end whilst the second newcomer, a 200 wpc Son Of Ampzilla (US$3000), took care of everything above the waist.
Handed the keys to the kingdom – the iPad that controls the MS-2 music server – I dig for familiar tunes and come up trumps. David Byrne’s “Dirty Old Town” exposes the abundance of ambient information and ‘air’ whilst Boards Of Canada’s “Music is Math” shows just how firmly this horse can kick. Both are reproduced with tremendous holography. Marvellous.
It’s not all sunshine and roses though. The Doors “L.A. Woman” doesn’t fare quite as well, coming off a little flaccid. After the first verse Sarmento goes quiet. Should I say something or should he? At the conclusion of the second chorus he finally breaks the deadlock: “The better the system the worse bad shit sounds!” he opines. Damn straight it does.