RMAF 2014: VAC versus the Real Thing


By John Stancavage

Logo - Blue VectorValve Amplification Company was spinning one great LP after another at RMAF 2014, when suddenly an attractive blond woman on the first row jumped out of her seat.

“Where did you get that?” she asked, as the VAC rep placed a record onto the stand next to the right-channel Focal Utopia EM speaker.

“Someone brought it by and thought we’d like it,” was the answer.

“That’s me!” the blond woman said. “It’s not supposed to be out until Nov. 4.”

“It” was an early pressing of “Potions,” a set of 1950s jazz standards. The blond woman was Lyn Stanley, whose photo graced the cover.

“Put on, ‘Teach Me Tonight,’ ” she said.

The track was cued up on a Clearaudio Master Innovation turntable ($28,000), which was using a Universal 12-inch tonearm ($6,500) and an Ortofon MC Anna cartridge ($8,925).

As the music started — a nice arrangement, showcasing a small combo — Stanley stepped toward the center of the room and began singing along.

She stopped for a second and glanced at the VAC electronics and $195,000 a pair speakers. “Pretty close, don’t you think?”

The 10 or so of us that were lucky enough to witness this live versus Memorex moment couldn’t manage a reply. We were too busy ratcheting our jaws back off the floor.

It was a classic moment of synchronicity — the type the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest somehow manages to create year after year. That’s one reason this show keeps attracting the biggest crowds on the high-end circuit.

VAC president Kevin Hayes was all smiles at the event. And, why not? He had one of the prized mezzanine rooms at the Marriott Tech Center, and was making a great sound there — even when the material lacked its original singer standing up 10 feet away.

Hayes was showing the Statement Line Preamplifier ($66,000), the Statement Phono Preamplifier ($70,000) and the Statement 450 iQ Power Amplifier ($116,000/pair).

Racks and isolation bases were by Harmonic Resolution Systems, and totaled about $10,700. There also was Anaconda cable and Hydra series power conditioning from Shunyata Research that ran about $65,000.

On hand to handle silver discs was a mix of Esoteric gear, including the P-02 transport ($23,990), D-02 D/A converter ($23,990) and G-01 master clock ($22,900).

Stanley had VAC play another track, “Cry Me a River.” This time, she stayed seated and just enjoyed the lush sound of the system. The rest of us did the same.