Newport 2014: Wyred4Sound and the Son of Ampzilla, a SoCal rampage

Rick Cullen and EJ Saramento of Wyred4Sound have a side business. Several, actually, but the one I’m thinking of here has to do with amplifier legend James Bongiorno, perhaps best known for his work with the Spread Spectrum Technologies brand and the Ampzilla line, specifically.

That is, W4S is currently making them.

In fact, they’ve been making them for quite some time. James died last year, but his illness was protracted and in the gap, Ampzilla products were produced by the W4S team. Didn’t know that? Me neither. But I sure am glad that those chevron’ed amps are still hitting the street — they’re one of my all-time favs. I’m still drooling with the idea of getting my mitts on a set.

Shown here at Newport was the latest to emerge from SST, a prototype of the Thoebe preamplifier, which is schedule to retail for $2,999 when it becomes available in the next month or two. The pre features a remote, tone controls and a MM/MC phono stage. An optional DAC, derived from the Wyred4Sound line, will also be an option. The circuitry and design are said to be derived from the top-of-the-line Ambrosia preamp.

The amplifier used in the demo was a more familiar, but still new, ST1000 Mk2 stereo amplifier. This $1,999 amp cranks up to 725 watts into 4Ω, and was here used to power the bass section on the Emerald Physics EP2.7 open baffle, controlled-dispersion, loudspeakers. More on those in a moment. The upper-half of the bi-amping was handled by a prototype of the Son of Ampzilla Mk2, with 200 watts into 8Ω. More details on both of these units will be available shortly.

A $1,999 Wyred4Sound Server 1 provided the front end for the $2,549 DAC-2DSD Special Edition converter, which now carries Femto clocking.

As for the speakers, those black monoliths are the latest flagship from Emerald Physics. The EP2.7 is a 4-driver, 3-way, speaker that uses an external DSP and crossover to generate a smooth in-room response, and feature their top-of-the-line tweeter/mid drivers pairing. Retail on these speakers, which includes the DSP and crossover, start at $8,995. Performance is said to be ± 1.5dB from 20Hz-20kHz. Since they’re bi-amped, you’re going to need two amps to light them up — keep in mind that the bass section is 4Ω and the upper is 8Ω. Sensitivity is 97dB, but I wouldn’t be reaching for my SET amps. Think “power” and be rewarded.

The sound in this room was a little bass-heavy (as in, “let’s flex the drywall!”), which always kind of fun, but the top-end may well have been the sweetest that I’ve yet heard from an EP loudspeaker.

Altogether, this was yet another set of surprises from the Emerald Physics and the W4S team. Bonus points that SST is still in play, too. Best audio news I heard that weekend!

T.H.E. Show at Newport 2014 Show Sponsor