33 Two-Channel Audio Discoveries from RMAF 2015

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33 Two-Channel Audio Discoveries from RMAF 2015

VTL

VTL teamed with dCS and Wilson Audio to offer a suave and sophisticated demonstration that highlighted the firm’s TP-6.5 signature phono stage with MC step-up ($12,000), TL-6.5 Series II signature linestage preamplifier ($15,000), and MB-185 Series III signature valve-type monoblock power amplifiers ($17,500).

Interestingly, both the VTL and dCS components in the demo system represented offerings ‘one click down’ from their respective manufacturer’s top-of-the-range products, but you really wouldn’t have guessed this from the system’s sound (well, unless you had the top-of-the-range models on hand for direct comparison). Even so, my thought was that these ‘one step down’ models might represent true sweet spots in their manufacturer’s product lines, offering near-mountaintop performance at an expensive but significantly lower-than-mountaintop price.

Historically, Luke Manley of VTL has a gift for configuring demo systems using Wilson loudspeakers (in this instance, Wilson’s comparatively affordable Sabrina floorstanders, priced at $15,900/pair), that deliver a well-balanced, revealing and sophisticate sound and this year’s dCS/VTL/Wilson system proved no exception. Nordost Odin 2 cabling no doubt helped in this venture.

Wilson Audio

Wilson Audio teamed with VTL (Vacuum Tube Logic) and dCS in a demo system highlighting one of Wilson’s least expensive loudspeakers: the three-way, $15,900/pair Sabrinas. The Sabrinas have been out long enough at this stage that they perhaps no longer qualify as being truly ‘new’ products, but I must say that every time I hear them I walk away thinking that they might well be one of Wilson’s most musically communicative and seductive offerings, as the dCS/VTL/Wilson system once again demonstrated.

Wyred4Sound

Wyred4Sound was showing a very exciting prototype of its new 250Wpc Statement amp ($4,000) and its new Intimo headphone amplifier/DAC, which will be offered in both single-ended ($999) and balanced-output ($1,500) formats. 

YG Acoustics

Having spent the past year and a half in promoting their Carmel 2 and Hailey 1.2 loudspeakers, the firm felt it was time to direct attention to YG's flagship speaker: the Sonja. Sonja's are offered in two forms: the two-module/channel Sonja 1.2 and the considerably larger three-module/channel Sonja 1.3 ($106,800). Both models were featured in three different rooms: GTT Audio's YG/Audionet room (featuring Sonja 1.3s), Jeff Rowland Design Group's Rowland/YG room (featuring Sonja 1.2s), and PS Audio's PS Audio/YG room (based on Sonja 1.3s). 

I was only able to visit two of the three rooms (the Rowland room and the PS Audio room). In both those setting the speakers ably served the purpose of showing (most of) the potential of the new flagship electronics components used to drive them. However, based on prior listening experiences with the Sonjas, I felt that even though these demonstrations of YG's top-of-the-range loudspeaker showed substantial performance potential, they still had even more to give.

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