Baker's Dozen: High-End Products You Shouldn't Miss

The 13 best products from RMAF 2015 you will be using in 2016

Baker's Dozen: High-End Products You Shouldn't Miss

Vaughn Loudspeakers “DuKane” Tweeter

Vaughan Loudspeakrs 'DuKane' tweeter

What you see here looks suspiciously like an Ionofane tweeter from the mid-60’s, based in turn on the DuKane Ionovac design from the US. The giveaway lies in that big horn flare and the nomenclature: the DuKane was a plasma tweeter, using a modulated plasma discharge in place of a conventional diaphragm – the original zero-mass design. The problem was the by-product of this process – poisonous ozone. That’s where the horn comes in, keeping the plasma corona small enough to maintain ozone levels within acceptable limits. But what makes this picture remarkable is that this is no historical curio, disinterred for the show: this is an all-new, ground-up build based on the original Dukane design but employing modern materials and techniques to improve consistency and reliability. Coming in at $8,990 a pair, the Vaughn tweeter isn’t cheap, but it is startlingly impressive to listen too.

Avantgarde Zero One XD Loudspeaker

Avantgarde’s innovative source-plus system, the horn hybrid Zero One has been around for over a year now, but as is the way with such groundbreaking products, it has been evolving throughout that time. In its latest XD guise, the master speaker not only communicates wirelessly with its slave, it accepts both digital and analogue inputs, making this a genuine, ready to play, two-box set up, combining spherical horn loaded, Class A driven mid and treble units, with a DSP tunable, Class D driven bass driver to create a system that offers quality AND quantity, in a discrete and thoroughly modern cabinet. The Zero One is certainly ready for prime time: the real question is whether prime time has realized it’s ready for the Zero One?

Dan D’Agostino Classic Stereo Amplifier

Dan D'Agostino Audio Classic Stereo amplifier

If you are one of those who remembers the stir created by those first D’Agostino designed Krell amplifiers when they first appeared, then you’ll doubtless experience a warm, nostalgic glow at the sight of the Master Power Stereo Classic amplifier from Dan D”Agostino Master Audio Systems. Thankfully, the product is a lot less fussy than the names, the substantial, block-like chassis offering 300 watts into 8 Ohms (a power output that doubles all the way down to 1,200 watts into 2 Ohms) and a pair of traditional carrying handles that, with the amp weighing in at almost 50kg, are more than mere decoration. For such a heavy amp, coming with such a heavy reputation, the UK price-tag is a surprisingly modest £11,500.

Linear Tube Audio ZOTL Amplifiers

Linear Tube Audio ZOTL amplifier

David Berning’s innovative output-transformer-less tube amps enjoy a cult following in both the US and the UK, owners appreciating them for their light-weight, robust power output (at least as far as OTLs go) and legendary resolution and transparency. What they don’t appreciate is just how hard it can be to get hold of them and, to a lesser extent, the quirky styling of the pre-amp. Both things may be about to change with Washington DC-based dealer Urban Hi-Fi licensing three Berning penned designs and offering them under the Linear Tube audio moniker. The MicroZOTL 2.0 is a compact, two-input headphone amplifier/pre-amp that lists at $1,100. That can be paired with one of two power amps, the ZOTL 40 delivering 45 watts from two pairs of EL34 output tubes and costing $5,800, or the ZOTL 10, that uses the same attractive external casework as the 40, but teams EL84 tubes with a simplified power supply to produce 10 watts per channel at a price of $2,400.