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Newport 2014: Cavalli Audio, all glass and gold

CT6A6974 hiresnewportlogoforwebSometimes, you just hit the nail so squarely, you can just feel it disappear cleanly into the wood. It's a satisfying feeling, isn't it? Whack! This is pretty much the feeling I got the first time I sat down with a Cavalli Audio Liquid Gold headphone amplifier ($3,950). This thing is beautifully turned out, very understated, and has not one hint of thermionic goodness anywhere to be seen, felt, or heard. Nonetheless, I'm finding it to be the most musical, most capable and most powerful headphone amp I've had the pleasure of using. Once I've managed to pry Michael Mercer away from his many side projects, we'll be taking an extensive look at this amp. Anyone interested in a taste had only to sit down with the gregarious Frank Iacone, who manned the table for Alex Cavalli, strap on a pair of Abyss AB-1266, and hit the launch button. Bombs away! Man, the bass on this pairing is just unbelievable

The other amp on display here was the Liquid Glass ($2,950), Alex’s answer to tube-a-holics. A solid-state/tube hybrid design, the Glass has quite a bit on offer for the tube roller. From Chris Marten’s review on Hi-Fi+:

Moreover, the tube section is extremely versatile, providing pairs of both octal (that is, eight-pin) and nonal (that is, nine-pin) valve sockets, with separate user selectable controls for setting valve heater and plate voltages. For my tests I tried sets of 6SN7, 6GU7, 12AU7, CV181, 8416, and 6922 valves, but there are many more types of valves the Liquid Glass can support (see Technical Specifications, below, for a complete list). As a general rule, if a desired valve type fits the Cavalli’s valve sockets (and, Dr. Cavalli advises, “conforms to either 6SN7 or 12AU7 pin-out arrangements…”), then the valve can be made to work in the Liquid Glass. The point is that users can choose from amongst hundreds of types and brands of valves, each offering their own distinctive take on the sonic truth.

That’s awesome. No. Seriously. That’s awesome.

A series of headphones were in heavy rotation, including Sennheiser HD800 and Audeze LCD3 for some open-back references, and for the closed-backs, some Alpha Dogs from MrSpeakers and even an EnigmA.

All told, this was Summit-Fi for headphones, laid out on a table in sunny SoCal. Doesn’t get any better than this … ahhhh ….

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About Scot Hull (975 Articles)
Founder, Editor and Publisher at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional Magazine.