Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - Part Two

Our last look at Denver from the traditional audio side

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Crystal Cable has been showing prototypes of its Cube System for some time, but it’s now in its ready to roll form. The 200W $16,995 system in a box that draws heavily from sister brand Siltech’s unique SAGA amplifier system. It’s a perfect partner for the company’s Arabesque Minissimo loudspeakers and Dreamline Plus cables, also shown at the show. In many respects, this is the ideal small-but-perfectly-formed audio system.

MartinLogan was playing its new additional lines in its Masterpiece series. The company had set up the $14,999/pr Expression ESL 13A floorstanding hybrid electrostatic loudspeaker using the optional Anthem Room Correction system, which makes a lot of sense in the home, and an awful lot of sense in a hotel room! The Expression ESL 13 A, the second of four models in the new range (not including the mighty Neolith), sounded great as a result.

French brand Métronome Technologie requires a little bit of explaining now. Both are subsets of the same company, but the Métronome name is now reserved for its standard sized digital devices, while the name Kalista appears on the top end three-footed reference models from the company. So the old top-end DAC – the Métronome Kalista – has been replaced by the new Kalista, an elegant tripod arrangement with two separate DACs and two different output stages to suit the needs of the digital signal it receives. A matching touch-screen Kalista CD transport was shown at Warsaw apparently. The Métronome Music Center 1 music server was also on hand.

Yes, RMAF is a high-end show, but not all things on show are that high-end. Take NAD for example. The brand’s new C 368 Hybrid Digital DAC amplifier from its classic series is a full streaming design (and even includes a phono stage) in very much the NAD tradition minted with the legendary 3020 amplifier of more than 30 years ago. With a pair of PSB Imagine XB loudspeakers, this $899 system in a box sounded extremely easy on the ear.

The new $799 Oppo Sonica DAC/headphone amp is designed to be the company’s core desktop product, but also fits well into a decent audio system. Combining an ability to play virtually every file format (apart from MQA), stream from a network, computer, USB stick or connected drive as well as traditional digital audio sources. Sonica is built around the new top ESS ES9038PRO Sabre DAC.

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