CAF 2013: The Voice That Is presents TIDAL Audio, Audio Power Labs

It’s nice to see my TIDAL Audio’s Contriva Diacera SE loudspeakers ($64,190 with polished veneer) whenever possible! So nice of Doug White of The Voice That Is to bring them down for us to drool on. His extra-special pair were the first ever made (Serial #001 and #002, respectively), and they’ve got this extra-special, super-duper, ultra-fancy, the-won’t-do-it-anymore-because-it-was-too-much-of-a-PITA finish. I think TIDAL designer Jörn Janczak told Doug that if he ever sold them, “bad things would happen”. Not that he will — this is the nicest finish I’ve ever seen, anywhere, on anything. It’s astounding. 

Shown here with an Aurender S-10 source, fed into a Bricasti M-1 DAC ($8495) and from thence into an SMc Audio VRE-1c preamplifier ($19,950). The “baby” Audio Power Labs 50TNT amplifiers ($47,500/pair), with their enormous 572B output, tubes put 50 watts into the big TIDALs. Plenty, especially for this absurdly small room. Hopefully, next year we can get these guys some breathing room. Lovely, delicate sound when the room allowed it ….

Purist Audio Design cables used throughout ($14,720 for the set), including a mix of Aqueous Aureus and Corvus interconnects, Corvus XLR and power cords. Aquilla digital AC power cords were on the sources and a Purist 25th Anniversary AES/EBU.


  1. There’s a bit of SMc Audio history that requires a little clarification: The particular preamp in use at CAF was (is) the latest version of the VRE-1C. To be clear, this unit does not have the silver Lundhal transformers in it, but does have the latest super high quality copper wound transformers. As Steve was working with the silver wound input transformers we were thinking that we would make a Silver Edition, differentiated from the production unit only by the input transformers. Some Silver Edition faceplates were procured. He was also working with a series of other improvements including using a Dueland cast silver capacitor for the power supply and pure silver umbilicals for both the signal and service supplies. It was later decided that these improvements taken together, including the silver wound input transformers, were significant enough to warrant a Signature edition, which is now available. As we were out of the VRE-1C faceplates and needed to get this unit to the show on time, the Silver Edition faceplate was used. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused, but would also say that if you liked the sound of the VRE-1C at CAF, there is another level of performance available in the Signature Edition.

    Joe Cohen
    The Lotus Group

  2. I notice the SMC VRE-1c preamplifier is the Silver Edition. I just took delivery of one, with the Lundahl silver transformers and I would not be surprised if credit to the sound is also a result of it. In my personal opinion, it’s the best I’ve heard, but I wonder how it compares with Tidal’s own amps in this system.

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