AXPONA 2017: Digital Audio and Amplification (Part One)


Brian Zolner was demonstrating the new M12 Source Controller ($15,995) and M5 Network Player ($2000) feeding their M28 Monoblocks ($15,000 each). Speakers were the Tidal Piano Diacera’s. The soon to be released M5 can be used by any system to add streaming capabilities. Also on display was their new M15 stereo amp ($18,000) bringing most of the M28’s punch and finesse to a single box stereo solution. Oyaide Cables and Stillpoints isolation gear completed the strong presentation. The sound was precise and musical.

The Kubala Sosna Research room featured Mola Mola’s marvelous Class-D amps and the wonderful YG Acoustics Carmel 2 speakers ($24,300) connected with the Kubala Sosna Research new flagship Realization cables. Another simple room with great sound from an easy high performance system.

The Auralic room featured the recently reviewed Class-D Integrated amp/DAC/Streamer Polaris (£3,499 issue 145) fronting the YG Acoustics Carmel 2’s. The Polaris may be a more affordable device however, as pointed out in the review it is fully capable of driving high performance speakers with aplomb. The soundstage was large and precise. A fun room to be sure!

Wyred 4 Sound, a California based solid state affordable audio form was showcasing their 10th anniversary SX-1000R Class-D monoblocks 625wpc into 8 Ohms ($1,799 each) and their DAC-2v2SE DSD DAC ($4499) feeding the terrific Acoustic Zen Crescendo’s ($22,000). The Crescendo’s are known to be a clean and accurate speaker. The Wyred 4 Sound amps have been gaining recognition for their high performance regardless of amp class. This was, for me, one of the best sounding rooms at the show. With Tony Holt from Wyred 4 Sound and Robert Lee of Acoustic Zen both available to answer questions it I witnessed both responding to the inevitable “Class-D can’t be that good” comments. Hearing was believing!

The Audiophile Direct room featured Wells Audio’s terrific Majestic Reference Integrated amp ($14,000 150wpc at 8 Ohms) and Benchmark DAC2 DX ($1,995) with Music Vault Diamond music server ($4,995 w 16 gb RAM & 500 gb SS hard drive) fronting the excellent Aurum Cantus V3M 2 way stand mount speakers with pure aluminium tweeters ($2,000) all connected with a variety of Dana Cables. Another simple yet outstanding sounding room The Music Vault was a nice find serving up the files for this digital based system.

Who likes a bargain? Who likes one that also sounds terrific. That is the big deal in the ELAC/Audio Alchemy room. Since combining forces last year the synergy between Andrew Jones and Peter Madnick is on a roll. ELAC’s terrific Discovery Music Server ($1099) comes with Roon installed. Paired with the Audio Alchemy DPA-1M Mono’s ($1995), PS-5 Premium power supply ($595), DMP-1 Digital Music Player ($1795) ELAC Adante AS-61 stand mount speakers ($2500pr) AudioQuest cables and Shunyata Denali D6000T Power conditioner ($4995) and power cables the system was affordable, attractive and reasonably compact. I am anxious to see where they go from here!

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