In a change of pace for VTL, the well regarded tube amp company from Chino, California was featuring its TL-7.5 Series III Ref and MB-450 Series III Sig amps driving the sumptuous Sonus faber Amati Futura $36k rather than the Wilson and TAD speakers they’ve so often partnered in the past. More than ably assisted by a dCS Vivaldi digital source and Grand Prix Audio Monaco table with Triplanar arm and Lyra Skala cart with Cardas Clear and Clear Beyond (is there such a thing as beyond clear?) the sound was in some ways classic Sonus, with its hint of darker shadings and romance– yet in other ways there was the glint of finer resolution and inner detail and an energetic tingle of micro dynamics that more accurately characterizes where these companies are at in 2013.
My unofficial award for most handsome new amp has got to be the T+A Elektroakustik PA 3000 HV integrated amp (see pic above) at $16,000. HV stands for high voltage, and describes solid state devices that are running at a much higher voltage than conventional designs (over 4 times that of a conventional transistor amp) Thus a more tube like sound character is achieved but there is incredible power. The integrated features Dual mono class AB amp with highly extended Class A range–up to 40W pure class A. Discrete components are used exclusively throughout. Even the volume control uses hermetically sealed gold contact relays. The chassis is a massive aluminum case with no magnetic materials and internal sections are fully shielded from each other. A companion multi-source music player MP 3000 HV is $12,500 (both now shipping). It features a Quad concept DAC with 4 converters per channel with high voltage stage. Separate analog and digital power supplies in MP 3000 HV (2 separate power cables) This duo was easily driving the Dynaudio Evidence Platinum towers ($85k) in a huge, high-ceilinged conference room. An insurmountable challenge for many systems but this one struck some fine notes.
In cable news Synergistic Research premièred it’s Galileo LE wires and power cords. Descended from the custom-made Galileo string cable system that JV reviewed a few years ago, these wires are more practical and available in common lengths for the typical user. Less expensive than the original but still costly SR’s President Ted Denney tirelessly demoed the properties of its Active Shielding and Acoustic Art technology in a conference room equipped with VAC electronics and the majestic Magico Q7. A huge, nearly unmanageable room sonically, Denney’s cable demo went a long way towards unlocking the spatial detail and image presentation from a broad selection of recordings.