CAS 2014 finally gave me a chance to talk a bit with the man in white lab coat, Bob Sattin of Bob’s Devices. Bob usually has a table in the big room at these events, but those rooms are usually noisy, steaming hot, packed tight with audiophiles, and filled with that unique fragrance of audiophiles packed tightly into a steaming hot room. Which is all to say that Bob usually isn’t in the mood to talk by the time I get there.
This show was a little different, with a well-cooled trading room and enough lulls in the foot traffic that I actually — you won’t believe this, kids! — caught Bob sitting down.
Other than talking about his own, well-regarded step up transformers, we also got to talking about his interests, his projects, and some of the new devices that have caught his interest enough to represent them.
Other than the obvious VPI turntables, Bob’s been pretty excited about Phoenix Engineering‘s RoadRunner digital tachometer ($239). Stick a magnet to the bottom of your platter, shove one of its sensors into the gap between your platter and your plinth, and this little jobbie will give you a live speed readout to the third decimal place.
Bob was demoing one on his customized Classic 4, and he wasn’t happy about it. “See how that wobbles between 45.001 and 44.999? That just makes me completely insane. I want that locked on to 45. Don’t buy one of these if you’re anal. You’ll hate yourself.” Bob is a perfectionist.
Other than talking, we did audition a couple of cartridges running through Bob’s SUTs. Two LKV Research Phono 2-SB preamps were in use, and I listened through the one connected to headphones and Bob’s homebuilt Elekit TU-8200DX integrated amp (“I probably spent more on parts than the kit. You know how it is. The bag of parts shows up and you think, ‘I have better than that lying around'”). Even on the show floor, the flesh-and-blood drive of a decent SUT was obvious compared to the LKV’s own high-gain setting.