Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2013 Best of Show
The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest has proved the combination of Wavelength Audio and Vaughn Loudspeakers to be both synergistic and musically significant -- we've named past systems Best of Show with regularity. However, even with that success in mind, we were not ready for the combination this time around: Vaughn speakers and Wavelength electronics playing high-rez digital files with a MacBook as source, AudioQuest cables connecting it all.
The 8 watts of the limited-edition, all-silver, 300B-based Wavelength Napoleon mono amplifiers ($30,000/pair) drove Vaughn Triode Plasma speakers ($15,000/pair), with their astonishing plasma tweeters. The preamp was the analog, digital and networked Wavelength Europa ($7500), with digital-to-analog conversion handled by the Wavelength Crimson + Denominator DAC ($9000). Interconnects were AudioQuest Sky ($2900/meter pair) and speaker cables were AudioQuest Redwood ($8800/eight-foot pair), with an AudioQuest Diamond USB cable ($699/meter-and-a-half length) connecting the MacBook Pro Retina 15 with 4-terabyte library and the Wavelength DAC.
This was a system that sounded immediately right, especially the treble region, the combination of the Wavelength tubes and the Vaughn plasma tweeter revealing all in a pure and extended way. The midrange was just as adept, sounding utterly coherent and whole, probably because the Vaughn speakers' Fostex drivers covered a very wide frequency range. The bass of the Vaughn speakers is self-powered, so the 300Bs were left to do what they do best: produce midrange splendor.
Even in very good setups, high-rez digital files are normally easy to recognize as, well, digital. Here, the airy naturalness was so overwhelming that digital transcended itself, sounding like a hybrid of the easy resolution of analog and the resounding dynamics and linear bass of digital.
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