I spent a year taking classes in French pastry, so you’ll pardon me as my head whips around every time someone says “Cake”. It’s a problem. Stepping into the Cake Audio room here at Newport, however, I did have the unpleasant suspicion that I had just been shoveled into an oven.
I suppose I could start with blaming the BAT VK655SE amp squatting in the middle of the room. I mean, it is Balanced Audio Technology here, but the 600 watts this amp produces wasn’t from tubes. In fact, the only thing in the room with vacuum tubes was the new Brinkmann Edison Phono stage ($12,990).
I’m guessing here, but perhaps the A/C in this room was a tad loud and had received the axe for it’s troubles.
Even with the instant-on crotch-pot cookery, the sound coming from the “small” Rockport Atria loudspeakers ($21,500/pair) was clearly some of the best to be had at Newport this year. Bass was strong and just bordered on overwhelming during my stint, but managed to dance masterfully along the line of well … um … balanced. Great attack, tons of dynamics, and if the room had been somewhere shy of sweltering, I’d have set up shop. Truly excellent sound.
On the rack was a pair of Brinkmann turntables, including the big Balance. Configured here with a 12.1″ tonearm and a RöNt Vacuum tube power supply (ha ha — more heaters!), this $35,500 vinyl spinner is a stunner. It’s little brother, the mag-lev Bardo, sat idly next to it — this is the one I’ve been keeping my eye on for the last year or so.
A BAT Rex 1 preamplifier ($20k) and an Esoteric K-01 DAC/Transport ($19,500) filled out the rack. All cabling came courtesy of Nordost.