Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2014 • Best of Show

With the proliferation of audio shows, at least here in the US, comes the need for attendees -- consumers and press alike -- to set priorities and decide just which shows to visit. What should those priorities be? Well, in a very real sense, the top one should be the sound you are likely to hear, and that's just where the system that Wavelength Audio and Vaughn Loudspeakers put together at the RMAF. For the second straight year these two companies assembled a system of such reality and refinement that it truly was a viable reason to come to Denver in October.

Once again, a Vaughn speaker with a DuKane Ionosphere plasma tweeter was at the business of a full system of Wavelength electronics, with a MacBook Pro Retina 15 with a 4-terabyte library of music, much of it in high-res format, as the source.

Electronics were a Wavelength Crimson + Q1 DAC ($9000) or Cosecant + Denominator DAC ($4000) connected to the MacBook with an AudioQuest Diamond USB cable ($699/meter-and-a-half length). The preamp was the Wavelength Europa, an analog and digital unit with network support ($7500), with amplifiers also from Wavelength: the new limited-edition all-silver Napoleon Ag Silver ($35,000/pair) or Corona V2 VT52 Silver ($20,000/pair) monoblocks. These were connected via AudioQuest Redwood speaker cables ($8800/eight-foot pair) to the Vaughn Plasma speakers ($18,000/pair) with powered bass section. Interconnects were AudioQuest Sky ($2900/meter pair).

There were so many features of the sound here, including analog-like ease and flow, along with an unforced sense of über resolution that never lent itself to overt warmth or softness. This system could get down and dirty when the music demanded it, but in the end it was a different quality -- the immediate sense of wonder it elicited, at least for us -- that made it special. We simply wanted to hear cut after cut here, even in a building bursting with fine audio equipment.

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