Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2011 • Best of Show

The combination of Wavelength Audio electronics and Vaughn speakers displayed the same kind of magical immediacy at the RMAF this year as the two companies' products did last year. The spaciousness of and true insight into each recording were remarkable, especially on the Jennifer Warnes and Chris Isaak cuts we heard, both of which were rips from CD.

The Vaughn Triode speakers ($9995/pair) use a 6" ribbon tweeter along with an 8" "wide-range" driver and 12" powered subwoofer. The speakers' 99dB sensitivity helped the Wavelength Cardinal monoblocks ($8500) achieve plenty of dynamic headroom along with luscious midrange delicacy.

The digital front-end included a Wavelength Cosecant HS DAC with Denominator 32-bit module ($4000) and fully tricked-out MacBook i7, which was controlled via remote mouse and keyboard. Wavelength's Royal direct-heated-triode preamp ($7500) was also in use. All cables were from AudioQuest.

As with all of Gordon Rankin's demo systems, the combination of old-school tubes and the latest in computer-audio hardware created a feast for the eyes -- and even more for the ears.

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