Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2014 Best of Show
Magnepan is no newcomer to multichannel demos. Wendell Diller, the company's marketing manager, has promoted the three-channel stereo concept at various audio shows and in the company's own listening room. But DAC maker exaSound took the concept a bit further, packing five Magnepan 1.7s ($1995/pair) into one of the smaller upper-floor rooms and producing a very impressive and utterly convincing demo. The source was a MacBook and the amplifier was a five-channel Bryston 9B SST2 ($8095).
The DAC in use, either the exaSound 222 stereo DAC (left, $3500) or the e28 multichannel DAC ($3650), both of which can handle DSD in addition to high-resolution PCM -- de rigeur for a USB DAC these days -- . . .
. . .handled volume control via remote or the connected laptop, each channel being independently adjustable. Cables were nothing special -- "down to earth," as they were described to us.
Sonically, this system presented a truly immersive, three-dimensional soundstage, no matter where you sat in the room. The tonality was pure Magnepan, with a fundamental rightness and transparency, especially through the midrange. But what was most impressive about this system was its simplicity. Gone are the days of surround-sound processors, DVD players and multiple amps -- a home-theater system masquerading as a music system. This system was all music all the time, financially accessible and sane, even with five panel speakers spread throughout the room.
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