Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2017 – The Big Systems that Impressed, Part 2

Daedalus Audio, WyWires, ModWright

The Daedalus Audio, WyWires, ModWright room was both beautiful to look at and to listen to. Starting with the beautiful backdrop of the Rocky Mountains and the debut of striking Daedalus’s new full-range Zeus speakers. They were 74” tall, 98dB sensitive, and both aurally and visually bold and beautiful. The Zeus speakers’ price is not set yet, but it will probably be a little over $30,000 per pair. When I asked where the subwoofer crossed over, I was told there wasn’t one. Instead, the driver tower is stacked on a passive air chamber whose purpose is to producer better bass, not more. I can tell you, to me it worked very well.

The electronics were from ModWright Instruments. The power amp was an Ambrose A30 30W class-A tube monoblocks at $16,000 per pair. They were also using the new Ambrose One class-A, balanced, reference tube preamp along with an external dual-mono power supply for a total of $12,000 for the preamp. The phono stage was the ModWright PH 150 tube phono stage at $7,900.The digital source was a tube-modified Oppo UPD-205 player/DAC that cost $2,500 for the tube modification and $1,299 for the Oppo UPD-205.

Everything was plugged into the WyWires/Daedalus Power Broker AC distributor that cost $2,495. When I reviewed the earlier version, I was very impressed with this power distributor.  All the cabling was by WyWires.

The sound was big, warm, lovely, and beautifully alive. Vocals and instruments were right there in the room with us. This system deserves some serious listing time.

GamuT Audio

For the last few years, the GamuT Audio room has been one of my favorites regardless of which of their speakers they were playing. At this show, they were using the GamuT Zodiac speakers at $149,000 a pair powered by a pair of their M250i mono amps that cost $25,990 a pair, and their D3i dual-mono preamplifier at $8,390. The phono, R2R board for D3i preamplifier adds another $1,990. The cables were their Reference Bi-wire speaker cables, 3m for $6,190 and Reference interconnects with RCA or XLR for  $2,990 for each meter. Reference power cables were 1m for $2,990, a Pear Audio Blue Kid Thomas/Cornet 2 turntable/tonearm ($7,995) with an external power supply ($1,995), and an Ortofon Cadenza Black MC cartridge ($2,729).

Well, this show was no different from other shows for me, there is just something inherently musical about GamuT speakers and electronic as a system, and this was one of my favorites. They are able to achieve an amazingly natural sound, or at least about natural a sound as you can get in a hotel room. They may not have the WOW factor of some big systems, but I could listen all day and never tire of this sound.

NAGRA-Audio Technology Switzerland

I’ve seen several NAGRA systems at shows over the years, but nothing prepared me for just the look of this system. It took three racks and two amp stands to display all of this NAGRA equipment plus the Kronos Turntable. I didn’t even know NAGRA of Switzerland made so many products. The display was lit by overhead lights that drew your eyes to the equipment.

Over the two days that I went by, I heard great sounding music from the $30,995 NAGRA HD DAC, from the $40,000 Kronos turntable, and from NAGRA’s professional T-Audio reel-to-reel deck. By the way, all of this gear was playing over a pair of $57,900 Wilson Audio Alexia 2 loudspeakers.

As good as the digital sounded, you simply have to experienced analog at this level of performance both on the turntable and the reel-to-reel. The Kronus turntable with the new $8,000 NAGRA VPS phono stage delivered sound that was simply sublime, and the reel-to-reel upped it another step.

Sorry, I did not get a list of every piece of gear on display, but I heard that the rest of the system consisted of  the $59,500 NAGRA HD Preamp and $86,000 HD amp. The cables were from Kubala-Sansa.

Voxativ

Despite the way too busy and distracting background, these speakers from Voxativ are some of my favorites. From the first time I heard a Voxativ driver in one of their earliest cabinets at an RMAF years ago, I have loved the sound. Now with the addition of the woofers, the speaker is completely full ranged and gives up nothing in transparency, delicacy or power.

Voxativ’s room featured the Voxativ 9.87 speaker at $44,900, a Voxativ T-211 SET integrated amplifier at $19,900, with Voxativ Ampeggio speaker cables at $4,500 and Ampeggio interconnects for $2,800. This was the best I had ever heard these speakers sound, which is really saying something!

The 9.87 speaker is two parts; the top half being the Voxativ second-generation “Pi monitor” with a Voxativ wooden cone AC-4D full-range driver, and the bottom half being a “Pi-Bass” which is an active dipole bass module with a built-in class-AB amplifier. This is a speaker that is capable of both great dynamics and micro-dynamics. I simply could listen to music on these speakers for hours and hours.

Von Schweikert / Audionet

Von Schweikert teamed up with Audionet for a very intriguing sounding system. There was a beautiful musical tone in this combination. For the source, they used a Kronos Pro turntable at $38,000, Kronos SCPS-1 power supply at $13,500, Andre Theriault Black Beauty tonearm at $8,500 mounted with a ZYX Audio Ultimate 4D cartridge at $4,400, with an Audionet PAM G2 with EPX phono stage for $20,000.

The line stage was an Audionet PRE G2 line for $23,350 matched up with a pair of Audionet MAX monoblocks for $30,500 for the pair. The speakers were Von Schweikert Audio VR-55 Aktive loudspeakers at $60,000 per pair, and a Von Schweikert Shockwave V12 subwoofer at $11,500 was used for active room correction. All of the cables were by MasterBuilt Audio.

“What do you want to hear? Classical?” Hmm. “Not classical.” Everyone around me seemed to nod in agreement. I love classical, but I wanted to hear something else right then. An LP of Dean Martin singing “I’m Confessin’ (That I Love You)” came on. It was luxurious, luscious, rich, and tender—I loved every moment of it. I like the sound of this system in some ways better than any Von Schweikert system I have heard at a show. It wasn’t as big and spacious as the huge system at LA, but it was incredibly involving and emotionally moving.

Tidal Audio

Tidal Audio was showing the company’s Akira speaker at $215,000 for the pair. This speaker sounded wonderfully musical with Tidal Audio’s Presencio reference preamplifier at $77,600 and the new Ferios monoblock amplifiers at $67,900 a pair. For a source, they had their new Camira DAC with built-in volume control for $28,500.

Also in this system was the new Antipodes DX Gen 3 music server for anywhere from $7,750 to $17,200, depending on internal storage capacity. For vinyl, they were using the wonderful TW-Acustic Raven Anniversary turntable for $22,000 with the Raven 10.5 tonearm for $5,500 mounted with a Transfiguration Proteus MC cartridge for $6,000.

This was one of the systems that would definitely be in the running for best in the show if you were looking for a really open and revealing system. Without a doubt some of the very best sound at RMAF this year.

Previous: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2017 – The Big Systems that Impressed, Part 1
Next: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2017 – Standout Systems that Turned Hotel Rooms into Listening Rooms, Part 1

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