AXPONA 2017: Digital Audio and Amplification (Part Two)


Any time Pass labs has a new amp it is news. Their new XA25 stereo amp puts out 25wpc and comes in at a more affordable price point ($4,900). Pass Labs amps have a history of producing power beyond their rated specs. The goal of the XA25 is to allow people to buy a Pass Labs amp at a more affordable price point. The design goal was to never compromise on the quality Pass is renowned for. The display was static so I hope to listen to it soon.

George Vatchnazde the Proprietor of Kyomi Audio always has a fun and terrific sounding room. The big Vivid Audio Giya G1 Series II speakers ($68,000) have a unique shape and a wonderful sound. Driving them were the big Jadis JA200 MK II Tube Mono amps ($33,900 pr) Digital audio was handled by the imposing MBL 1621 CD Transport ($28,000). TechDas Air Force, Graham Elite, Koetsu and Ortofon handled analogue. Cables were all from Stealth and stands from Artesania. This was a high-performance room and another top sounding room for me at Axpona!

Vladimir Lamm can build amps. That’s what I have heard. His Model M 1.2 Reference Mono’s run 110 watts in Class A! ($27,590 pr) The 1.2’s and the LP 2.1 Pre-amp ($8890) were driving the Gershman Grande Avant Garde G2 speakers ($12,999) Digital was supplied by the Oracle Paris CD 250 player ($3320). Oracle Tables and a Corinth Reference cartridge were also on hand. All cabling was via Nordost Valhalla. This was my second time listening to the Gershman speakers each time driven by Lamm electronics. It is now a regular stop for me. The sound was full and inviting. This straight forward system was another top room for me.

The Callia DAC/Headphone amp from Prism Sound (£1,795) was reviewed by Hi-Fi+ last fall and it was my first time hear it in the US. Paired with an active pair of ATC speakers via its XLR outputs. Given Prism’s 30+ years of Cambridge based pro audio history it was no shock to hear the clear mixing board honesty coming through the ATC’s. Mark Evans explained that the Callia was first shown in July of 2016 in the UK with 2017 CES as its American debut. Given its flexibility as a Pre-Amp/DAC/Headphone amplifier it can be the digital hub everyone could find some room for in our homes.

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