The room of The Lotus Group, featuring the new Granada loudspeaker, bewitched me with its complete sense of ease and “un-hi-fi” sound. Other great sounds included the revolutionary Vandersteen Model 7, the Focal Grande Utopia and Maestro Utopia in the Audio Unlimited room, the Electrocompaniet Nordic Tone loudspeaker, the Wilson Sasha, Joseph Audio Pearl II driven by Bel Canto electronics and front-end, and the YG Acoustics Anat Reference in the GTT room driven by Soulution electronics.
Frank Van Alstine has been making super-affordable high-performance gear for decades, but he might have outdone himself with the UltraValve, a 30Wpc stereo all-tube amplifier for just $1695.
Most Significant Product Introduction
Although not its official introduction, the Wilson Sasha was new to me at RMAF, and I thought it represented a major leap in performance for Wilson.
Greatest Technological Breakthrough
The Behold Gentle G192 “integrated amplifier” redefines the category with its combination of innovative technologies, upgradable architecture, DSP room correction, ability to drive bi-amped speakers with its four amplifier channels and integral active crossover, PCM-to-PWM conversion, and a host of other advanced features.
Best Demo Music
Garth Leerer of Musical Surroundings put on a master class in show demonstration with his exquisite flow of CDs and LPs in the Audio Unlimited room. The Clearaudio turntable, MBL amplification, Runing Springs Audio power conditioning, Tara cable, and Focal Grande Utopia loudspeakers sounded fabulous, and Garth’s tasteful musical selections kept me glued to the listening seat.
Most Important Trend
The return of the DAC. After the proliferation of DACs in the early 1990s, the category languished. Now with new digital sources such as music servers, the world needs high-quality outboard DACs again—prepare for an avalanche.