AXPONA 2017: Digital Audio and Amplification (Part One)


Synergistic Research and Scott Walker Audio brought a host of high end gear to show off their room treatments and other sonic legerdemain. Constellation amps fed by A Berkeley Audio Design Reference DAC were complimented by the Synergistic Research Galileo UEF Cables, Room treatments and PowerCell 12 UEF SE all feeding a pair of Magico S5 mkII speakers. The demo was impressive!

The smaller Paragon Sight and Sound room featured Nick Doshi previewing his new Tube stereo amp featuring a quad of KT150’s for 75wpc into 8 ohms ($15,995). It is expected to be released in September. His Monoblocks were driving a pair of Wilson Audio Yvette’s ($25,500).  The systems digital front end was the dCS Rossini DAC ($23,999) and Clock ($7,499). Transparent Reference speaker cables were also used ($8,745). Nick and Paragon were doing their best to contain some difficult room boom. Despite this I enjoyed the demo and the synergy between components.

The big Paragon room features Wilson’s…The Man, David Wilson and a pair of his son Daryl’s latest creation, the Alexx ($106,000 per pair) While this was displayed last year I had not seen them driven by a QUARTET of D’Agostino momentum monoblocks running 1600 watts at 4 Ohms! Steampunk at full power! The mighty dCS Vivaldi stack ($120,000) drove the digital front end. As expected the sound was full and powerful. For a total system price nearing $400,000 it was as impressive as you would expect.

CH Precision is another high performance Swiss audio company that is beginning to gain a US following. This room featured their I1 Universal Integrated Amplifier (100 wpc into 8 Ohms) factory fitted with a Digital in board, 2 RCA and 1 XLR inputs and an XLR stereo pre-amp output. ($38,000 as configured) the unit has multiple configuration options via a variety of input boards. Their D1 SACD player/DAC ($38,000) was fronting the system that was feeding a pair of Magico S1 mk II ($16,800) speakers. The sound was excellent with full bass and clean clear highs.

Aurender was featuring their new A10 Music server/DAC ($5500) Powering the system was the GamuT Audio DI 150 LE Integrated amplifier with 180 wpc into 8 Ohms ($12,990). Speakers were the highly-regarded stand mount Gamut RS3i’s ($20,990). This is a simple and fantastic sounding system. The A10 has both a high performing DAC as well as a music server that is like their N100 server. It is a serving/streaming one stop shop that takes full advantage of their iPad app for music control. I went back a couple of times to listen in here!

The Vinnie Rossi LIO is a modular triumph in sound and quality. Here is the tricked-out model which includes the Direct Heated Triode front end. Sporting the Phono Pre, DAC and 25wpc amplifier modules this version of the LIO comes in at $11,675. Paired with the 40th anniversary model Harbeth Super HL5Plus at $7495 and Triode Wire Labs cables the sound was truly three dimensional.

I am stretching things with this room as it is really an analogue room and the amp is not new but The Music Direct room had terrific sound courtesy of the Focal Sopra No.3’s ($19,999). Fueled by the Balanced Audio Technology VK-655SE ($16,495) and the Marantz SA-10 SACD player ($6,999) the room really delivered. I suppose the AudioQuest cables, Shunyata power devices and Spiral Groove Revolution TT ($24,000) and Koetsu Blue Lace Onyx Platinum cartridge ($14,995) may have been useful too. Good work by Jonathan Derda and the Music Direct team.

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