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RMAF 2013: Underwood Hifi presents Emerald Physics

CT6A1302 Walter Liederman of Underwood HiFi and Emerald Physics was showing off a couple of systems at RMAF this year, but Brian Hunter and I treed him in the Emerald Physics room whereupon I proceeded to embarrass myself by videoing the encounter. I think maybe I ought to stick to photos. Anyway, Walter was showing off a complete audiophile system -- soup to nuts -- that retails for $8,995. That's everything (except cables). And let me forestall any questions about how the sound "at this price" is some sort of compromise or trade-off by saying that this was a very convincing case for not breaking the bank on your next new system. No, $9k isn't chump change and quite frankly it's wearying to have to repeat that bit over and over, but out of respect, I will: it's not nothing. But let me re-state and re-emphasize what I've already said -- this $9k system will redefine what you thought was possible, regardless of the money you spend. 

Yes, you can spend more. Perhaps you should — if you want vinyl playback, you’ll have to (and I will straightforwardly say that it’s too much fun to pass up, so don’t). But a full-range system, including amps and speakers and pre and whatnot and including a pair of subs and a tube-based source, it’s unheard of. And one that can be tailored to your room? To customize the delivery so that you get as-flat-as-possible down-to-the-low-20Hz performance? Yeah, good luck with that. And then … to actually have it sound good? Ha! Pardon me while I inadvertently gargle my coffee before spraying it all over my keyboard. I mean, come on. You’re getting a little cheeky, there pal.

Here’s what Walt was showing:

  • One pair Emerald Physics CS3 MK2 Open Baffle, Controlled Dispersion loudspeakers with Emerald DSP2.4 digital electronic equalizer/crossover. Retail $3500.00 (standard finish is matte black) (Shown in optional black diamond pearl metallic)
  • Two REL T9 Powered subwoofers electronically biamplified thru the Emerald DSP2.4 digital electronic crossover included with the CS3 MK2 loudspeakers. Retail $1200.00 each, $2400.00/pr
  • One Emerald Physics EP100.2SE Special Edition power amplifier. The amp features hi end parts, upgraded cosmetics and high current and is the upgraded version of the $1600.00 EP100.2 amp. Retail $2200.00
  • One DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 Dual Core used as the system preamplifier and room correction. Retail $1200.00
  • One Jolida Fusion DAC/Transport 6 tube dual monaural CD player and DAC with USB, coaxial and optical digital inputs. It is used as both a DAC for out Mac Mini and a transport for CD’s in the system. Retail $2300.00

You’re going to have to hear this. No amount of my explaining how good it sounded, or how it compared to this or that system is ever going to convince you (or, rather, it really ought not to). Quite frankly, this is why these local audio shows are so important — getting another pain-free way to demo this kind of system is simply not going to happen. And once you’ve heard it, you can then begin pestering Walter with all your questions and try and figure out how to get it into your house. Because you’re going to want to.

Downsides? I think the aesthetic is going to be polarizing. Some folks will never cotton to the driver-in-a-plinth look, regardless of the fact that the finish was an immaculate auto-grade paint job. But that’s about it. If you don’t like it, talk to Walter about their other options — like wood. But that’s just the tip of the audiophile iceberg. There’s a ton of biases out there about room correction or Class-D amplification. All I have to say is that there is more noise than knowledge on the forums where these biases live and breathe. Again, you’re gonna have to hear it before you’ll believe me why this room was an easy contender for Best in Show.

There’s a ton more details in the video, so feel free to hit that.

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About Scot Hull (979 Articles)

Founder, Editor and Publisher at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional Magazine.

2 Comments on RMAF 2013: Underwood Hifi presents Emerald Physics

  1. Actually… it’s everything all the reviews say it is! I’ve got the CS 2.3’s driven by a much more expensive set up (which I now do not need)… and… the sound is as life-like as you’re ever going to hear from any system, no matter the price. I’ve got “a bunch” of great electronics and speakers, which I’ve accumulated over the past year to try and find something that has truly life-like sound at a bargain price… and… the CS 2.3’s have made them all obsolete – should have started there, when I first talked with Walter about them a year ago – would have saved a bunch of money. But… then… I suppose I would have had to have heard them all, anyway, to believe it.

  2. I kept looking at the center of the 12″ mid bass cone, wrongly thinking the dust cap was paper. “Where’s the tweeter?” Now, after seeing Walter explain it’s a coaxial driver, and re-looking, the dust cap is apparently the ubiquitous gauze…kind of a combination dust cap/tweeter grill…sweet! This is one show system I truly wish I had auditioned. Wish I could hear the amp at home.

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