In my favorite “I told you so” exhibit, Pioneer (see pic below) gave attendees a clinic in budget audio synergy with the Elite N-50 media player/DAC ($699), Elite A-20 50Wpc integrated amplifier $299) and TAD maestro Andrew Jones’ designed SP-BS22 loudspeakers.($129/pr) which I reviewed last year. That’s right, 129 bucks, NOT a misprint. For the small room or den this system had the midband tonal balance that many systems priced multiples higher only dream about.
Fresh off its debut in Munich, Rowland’s 525 stereo amp, a Class D design, outputs a hefty 250 Wpc into 8 ohms 500Wpc into 4 Ohms. In the Lawrence Audio room, it was driving the Lawrence Cello floorstander with the Air Motion Tweeter through Nordost cabling. For this setup, Rowland was running a pair of 525’s in bridged mode, each outputting a whopping 950W into 8 ohms an amazing figure from the pint sized chassis. Pricing is $4500 each with the customary Rowland fit and finish, which is to say, simply, unreservedly gorgeous.
I can’t recall the last show that industry legend McIntosh failed to send a fresh-out-of-the-oven product. This time is was a receiver, the MAC6700200Wpc, $6500. (see above pic) No scrimping on features it has AM/FM tuner with HD Radio tech, and tons of presets. The preamp section contains 11 inputs including three digital with decoding up 32-bit/192kHz resolution. Also two dedicated phono sections, MM and MC, a theater bypass. It’s 200Wpc and utilizes Mac Autoformer tech plus its new High Drive headphone amplifier said to be optimized for gain and output to handle virtually any headphone.
Newport afforded me my first extended listen to MBL’s Corona C-15 monoblocks $25k/pr. The C-15 represents designer Jurgen Reis’ take on Class D power but like I discovered last year with other models in the Corona line, these designs are simply not freighted with darker, leaner signature of early Class D, thanks at least in part to Reis’s load independent, Linear Analog Switching Amplifier Design (LASA). During Peter Gabriel’s “Mercy Street” they effortlessly powered the mbl 111 F Radialstrahlers ($42k), and like waving a wand out poured the omni-magic sonics MBL is renowned for.
The YG Acoustic Kipod II Signature (see above pic) sounded particularly good at this show but I’m figuring some of the credit is due the Veloce Audio battery powered electronics, specifically the LS-1 linestage ($18k) and Saetta Tube/Solid State Hybrid Mono Amps $18,000/pr. With the Stahl Tek Ariaa DAC playing back Reference HRx files and cabling courtesy of Purist Audio Corvus the sound was smooth, controlled, effortlessly dynamic and balanced and lacked the sparkling edge that I sometimes noted in earlier YG. Also highly favorable was my impression of the YG Sonya driven by Tenor gear in another strong exhibit.