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RMAF 2013: Snake River Audio, Sonist, BorderPatrol, Baetis, Berkeley

KEF R Series

DSC_3629 I had to smile upon seeing the Sonist Audio Randy Bankert Memorial Edition speakers: these special edition Concerto 4's ($5,895) are stained in tobacco brown in honor of their namesake's famed love of cigars. BorderPatrol's P21 integrated push-pull amp ($9,750) provided the power. The magic boxes providing music  were Baetis Audio's Revolution server ($3,000) and the Berkeley Alpha DAC series 2 ($4,995). All cabling was by Snake River Audio, of course, showcasing their Signature Series Cottonmouth cables: 1m interconnects ($1,495), 2m power cables ($1,695), and 3m bi-wire speaker cables ($2,595). Also in use was SRA's Boomslang non-coaxial at $595 for 1.37m.

Jonny Wilson displayed two plaster pedestals in his room: one with a bust of Beethoven, one with figurines of the Fab Four. The unspoken message is that no matter who your musical idols are, this system can handle ’em. I believe it. Sean Hayes’ “Powerful Stuff” sounded rich, lively, and unfussy. The combination of Sonist and BorderPatrol is very pleasant; the outcome tends to be warm without sounding muddy, too lush, or too romantic. There was occasionally something a bit harsh and digital in the upper treble, which might be chalked up to the DAC, or might simply indicate a betrayal by the hotel’s power. The system’s ability to stomp came out on Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Snake Farm,” which was declared the unofficial Snake River theme song. “Snake Farm — it just sounds nasty,” sings Mr. Hubbard in his Texas drawl, but there was little here that could be called nasty, except in the best way possible.










Angelie and Jonny Wilson

KEF R Series