AXPONA 2012: YG, Veloce, dCS, Krell, Kubala-Sosna

You had to be there to really understand what the YG folks accomplished at AXPONA. I’m still a little dumbfounded, actually. The pictures you’re seeing are of a pair of $120k YG Anat III Signature speakers shoehorned into a hotel room. And not a big hotel room, either. I felt like I was one of the clowns trying to jam into a VW Beetle.

These speakers are huge. Imposing. And I mean like Colossus from the X-Men. A friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) recently had a pair of his YG speakers topple over and I can only imagine that it was divine intervention that allowed him to save his house and family from being pulled down into the center of the earth after it. And here they were. Right. Over. Top. Of. Me.

The sound from these speakers is quite impressive. You’d think that they’d have blown out the room, and they probably could have, but the setup team had done a remarkable job of pulling everything back so that it fit. Quite comfortably.

Unlike me. This was a crouching-room only room for a good part of the show. Popular wouldn’t quite begin to describe it. While I honestly think these speakers would probably do best with at least 15 feet between them and the listener, they were quite listenable here.

Cabling all came from the much praised and superlative-laden Kubala-Sosna lineup, while the power came from a pair of honkin’ huge Krells, actually, a pair of $18k Evo 402e stereo amps. I guess they were run as bridged? Whatever. Gobs of power with staggering ease and fist-to-the-face dynamics? The YG/Krell combo had us covered.

I also ran into Veloce’s Mark Conti while I was attempting get a listen in the YG room and he happily pointed at their newly redesigned $18k Veloce Audio LS-1 preamp.

According to the literature Mark stuffed into my greedy, eager hands, his linestage got quite an upgrade — something like 50 new bits are new to this box as compared to the one they were selling only a year ago. Probably the biggest change? Lithium! Much like their also-battery-powered colleagues in New England, Red Wine Audio, Veloce decided to move from SLAB (sealed lead-acid batteries) to something with a bit more power (and heftier delivery), like lithium.

6H30 “super tubes” now do the gain stages in the LS-1, driven off of a dual-mono purely battery-powered design. It looks fantastic. The tubes sticking straight out of the face of the chassis do have me a bit worried, though, that I (or someone else that’s equally dim-witted) might grab one when groping about for the volume control, but they do make it silly-simple to roll them. I bet ventilation is also rather trivial with them sticking out this way — no need for a ton of open-air ventilation in an otherwise jammed audio rack. Definitely a preamp to use your remote with, I’m betting.

The digital front end was all dCS, the gorgeously over-the-top $80k Scarlatti system, with DAC, clock, upsampler and SACD spinner all in their own tidy chassis.

I wish that I could say that this system isn’t worth it. And if you’re being reasonable, and real-world, well, it’s probably not. To you. But if you’ve got Mitt Romney money — hell, if I had Mitt Romney money — I’d be all over this. This is the umpteenth time I’ve had the pleasure to hear tunes courtesy of this uber-rack of gear (which was, here, rather unceremoniously scattered all over a bureau top) and each time I come away with the delicacy, drive, and sheer beauty of the music that it surrounds itself with. I can’t think of a better front end, and yes, that includes the $150k Caliburn turntable from Continuum Labs. The Scarlatti stack smokes everything.

Okay, so $300k+ worth of audio gear is certainly on the very, very far reaches of aspirational for the majority of us, which is why it’s so much fun to rub see it all at shows like this while dreaming my little Lotto Fairy dream. Oh yes, they would be mine, oh yes indeedy, my own … my precious ….