RMAF12: Coming home to eFicion and Plinius

If you’ll pardon the promotion, but every time I find a demo room with either Plinius or eFicion, I kinda feel like a judge who refuses to recuse himself when hearing a case he himself is involved in. As you probably know, I love both of these brands. I have reviewed the top-of-the-line eFicion loudspeakers rather recently and I’ve owned the top-of-the-line Plinius separates for several years now. The pairing is rather special — which it should be, since this is precisely how eFicion designer Peigen Jiang intended it when he voiced his speakers with Plinius gear.

Shown at RMAF was a pair of rather distinctive-looking F250 loudspeakers, featuring the AMT tweeter PJ has quite the affinity for, paired with some top-shelf carbon-molded drivers. The price for this model is $10k, and while the shape is unconventional, the sound is sweet, fast and has some good punch.

The electronics all came from Plinius of New Zealand, and sported about as much aluminum as is legal to have in one chassis at a time. A pair of SA-103 ($10,150 each) provided 125wpc of Class A-biased power in chassis casework that features some of the most aggressive heat sinks you can find on today’s amplifiers — literally half the width of the case is heat-sink! Ahem. An M8 preamplifier ($5,150) provided all the control work. The “real story” here, however, is the source.

The Tiki is Plinius’ all-new “Network Audio Player”. Shown here in anodized black, it’s impressive to look at, but I’m gonna have to confess that I just don’t get it. First, it’s $4,775 — a lot for a DAC with only one input. And when that input happens to be Ethernet, and not S/PDIF or USB (or Firewire), I’m at a loss. Given that it’s also limited to 24bit/96kHz files, I’m now shaking my head. Perhaps this makes sense on the other end of the world, but the lack of USB and 24/192 bit support does mean a rather narrow target market. Perhaps future models will give the consumer some more options.

[Editor’s Note] Looks like I spoke too soon — some part of the future is already here with the Plinius Toko. I don’t have pricing on this unit, but from the website, the Toko is a Tiki that adds a slot-loaded CD transport as an “input”. Still no USB, still no 24/192 support.

A note about that last bit. As far as I can tell, the Tiki and Toko are both limited to 24/96, though there does seem to be some confusion on this point. The website does list 24/192 support for both FLAC and LPCM; however, as you can see from the product brochures, the product is described as not supporting it. Perhaps a software upgrade can (or will) unlock the higher resolutions.

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