Friday mornings at Rocky Mountain tend to be the quietest as I begin my rounds, but I hit pay dirt right out of the chute. Norwegian electronics maker Hegel made quite a strong first impression with the powerful, seductively styled and reasonably priced H200 integrated amp ($4000). Outputting what sounded like a very conservative 200Wpc an dual-mono power supply, it was effortlessly driving the Dali Helicon 400s, one of the my favorite medium sized (a medium priced) floorstanders of the last few years. The source player was the equally svelte Hegel CDP2A, a Redbook-only player that uses true balanced multi-level 24-bit/192kHz DAC with synchronous upsampling ($2650). Newly available is the HD 10, Hegel’s USB/SPDIF outboard DAC at $1200. Given the current flow of the market, downloads, and interest in server-style technology, this will likely be a popular item for many.
Hegel HD10 USB DAC (below)
Later on I headed over to the Avatar Acoustics room where I found the newly shipping AMR Premier Class AM-777 hybrid integrated amp ($3995). Known as a pre-main amplifier, it’s two stage OptiGain circuit uses an SET valve stage upfront and a pure power buffer stage using bipolar technology to amplfy the circuit. Output is 60Wpc but it can be bridged for monoblock use to output 120W. It also incorporates an increasingly popular USB DAC. Although Avatar also distributes Rethm loudspeakers, the AMR in this instance was driving a fine newcomer to the loudspeaker market, the Axis Voicebox S. Designed and built in Australia its designer Brad Serhan demonstrated just how well a small but well designed bass reflex compact could perform. Using a 50mm true ribbon tweeter and a 5.5-inch mid bass, the Voicebox S bore an uncanny resemblance to a mini-Quad in terms of its speed, transparency and cohernace. And with what appears to be solid bass response into the 50 cycle range this compact barely more than a foot tall might turn out to be one of the real “finds” of this years Rocky Mountain. thus far the price is still to be determined but look for it in the $3k/pr range. Much more to come, stay tuned.
With Axis VoiceBox designer Brad Serhan