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RMAF 2011: Doshi, Wilson, SME, Koetsu, Transparent

Made in the USA Doshi Audio was a surprise for me. One, I’d never heard of them before wandering into their demo room after getting a very specific recommendation from a friend. Two, once there, I was truly surprised!

I was lucky enough to sneak in when another show goer had talked Nick Doshi into putting a tape onto his Technics RS-1506 Reel-to-Reel Player. While I was immediately sworn to silence as to the title, cut and source of the supposed copy of a master copy, I’m still quite tempted to rat them out. Why? Because the sound of this tape, played on the Technics through Doshi Audio’s $10k NAB Stage for that reel-to-reel player, was unreal. Crazy. Over the top. And one of those audiophile moments that just totally make a show like RMAF not only worthwhile, but completely unforgettable.

Doshi Audio Jhor monoblock amplifiers, retailing for $18,995 a pair, is a push-pull EL34 pentode good for 90wpc. The Sowter output transformer is spec’d for over 200wpc (can you say ‘overbuilt’?), which means that the amps are unlikely to be pushed anywhere near their capacity — which means nothing but beautiful, extended sound, which is exactly what I heard coming out of the $27,900 Wilson Audio’s Sasha W/P loudspeakers.

Transparent Cables used throughout.

Technics RS-1506 reel-to-reel transport with Doshi Audio NAB stage.

The other analog system: $14k SME Limited Model 20/3 turntable with $5.3k SME Limited Series V Tonearm and $8.8k Koetsu Onyx Platinum MC cartridge.

Digital duties: $14k Wadia Digital S7i CD Player with $600 Wadia 171 iTransport iPod dock.

Doshi Alaap V2.1 Preamplifier is a singled-ended (output) pre with both (1) balanced and (2) single-ended inputs. Volume, interestingly, is not driven by a potentiometer or a switched resistor network. From the literature:

The phono and line inputs are then switched into the primary of a 31 position transformer volume control manufactured by Sowter (UK) for Doshi audio. The advantages of using a transformer volume control are isolation between stages, consistent loading into the line section, and noise immunity. The Secondary of the transformer is connected to a 31 position Shallco rotary switch.

Gain for the unit is 12dB with an additional 20db for the integral phono stage. While I didn’t actually get a chance to hear the Doshi drive the SME, I can’t help but wonder if there’s a giant mismatch on gain. 20dB? For a .3mV cartridge? I’m thinking that I’ve completely missed something here.

Nick Doshi, grooving. And with good reason — this room had some great sound. Doshi, we’ve got our eye on you.

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