Continuing my explorations into all the little corners in Things Audio, I contacted Vinnie about a demo unit that would work well with a variety of headphones, including my ludicrously difficult AKG K-701 headphones I bought because Stereophile recommended them and they were the cheapest on that list. Ahem. Anyway, those headphones have been hanging around for a long, long time, and I've never really been thrilled with the way they've sounded -- so, I figured, what the hey. Some of my more excitable colleagues have been so enthusiastic about head-fi, I figured perhaps it was time to hang up a few more preconceptions and just dive in. At this rate, you might be worried about me not having any preconceptions and biases left, but never fear, that pool seems to have no bottom! Moving on.
After seeing Red Wine Audio's Vinnie Rossi at the New York A/V show this past spring, I got a chance to actually touch and taste the joint project that Audez'e, Red Wine Audio, ALO have put together with their $5k Audez'e Edition Red Wine offering. I was captivated by what I heard there and so I went to Vinnie to see what might be "out there" for those of us with that same champagne-taste but more of a beer-budget.
What showed up was the Red Wine Audio Corvina.
Unlike the Isabellina in the Audez’e Edition, the Corvina is just a head-amp. No DAC. No line-outs. Same LFP battery-powered operation for a total, off-the-grid (read: “silent”) operation. My little Corvina actually shipped to me with an extra special option (that I believe you can now special-order), a pair of head-phone jacks: one single-ended … and one balanced!
Next up, all I needed was a kick-ass set of cans. Naturally, Vinnie suggested I look no further than the Audez’e LCD-2 headphones he was pairing his amps with, so that was a quick and painless decision. A quick call into Alex Rosson of Audez’e, and “part 2” of what was fast becoming a reference headphone rig, was now on the way. Did you know these things arrive in a mini-Pelican case? I used mine as a stand-in for Captain America’s shield. No, it’s not made of vibranium, but I found it quite effective in smashing space scum nonetheless.
Last piece? Upgraded wire. ALO Audio has some terrifically cool wiring upgrades for most of the majors. I got a Reference 8 Salty/Pepper with a 1/4″ plug and a Reference 8 Silver/Gold with an XLR connector, just to cover the bases.
I’m all set — except for a source! Let the games begin ….