If there was a vote for “nicest guy at the audio show”, I’m pretty sure Vinnie Rossi would win and be completely embarrassed by anyone even ever talking about it in public. The guy is always smiling. And with his newest self-named venture, Vinnie has a lot to smile about.
His latest product, called LIO, is a revolutionary built-to-order, fully modular, integrated amplifier solution. And by “integrated”, I’m doing it a bit of a disservice — I mean, “everything, including the kitchen sink”. There’s an amplifier, sure. And a preamp. But also an optional headphone out, phono stage, and/or a DAC. Like I said — you pick what you want, and Vinnie builds it. Need more, or something else, later? Order a new module, slap it in, and BAM. Want the latest doohickey? Order the upgrade, slap it in, and BAM. You’re getting the picture, I hope. It’s pay-as-you-play!
The latest widget Vinnie was showing here at the Capital Audiofest was the new autoformer volume control + tube stage. This was two separate and mutually-exclusive modules — now, it’s available as a single module. I’m a big fan of the AVC; given how I listen (not at ear-bleeding levels), I find the Emia-sourced AVC to be most natural when you’ve got the knob turned to “normal levels”. Not sure on pricing or availability yet — stay tuned there.
Vinnie also mentioned that there will be a new power-amp “platform” (my words) shown at RMAF that will have significantly more power to dump into loudspeakers (the current integrated MOSFET modules are rated up to no more than 25wpc) in a similarly-sized case. The idea being you load one chassis up with preamp stuff and another you load up with amp stuff, and Bob’s your Uncle. That should be neat.
I did ask Vinnie about the latest Stereophile review. Herb Reichert is unapologetically a fan of the sound; John Atkinson was a bit concerned about the output measurements. As for me, I suspect that the proof is in the pudding and that careful speaker-matching will be well-rewarded. Vinnie just grinned — he’d far rather a “good review” than a “good measurement”. Either way, I suspect that the new amplifier modules (which may approach 100 watts per channel) will go a long way to answering JA’s concerns.
I will offer that the sound I heard in the room at CAF, which was co-sponsored by Fidelis AV, was seductive and altogether engrossing. The new Super HL5+ from Harbeth is an extraordinary loudspeaker, and the new cones and updated design make this little guy one of my favorite Fantasy Island acquisitions. Also on the rack was an Acoustic Signature Manfred Mk2 turntable, playing directly into the LIO.
Having wandered entirely the other direction when it comes to “simplicity”, the straightforwardness of the room (other than the completely tucked-away-from-sight Harmonizers from Steinmusic), was a visual breath of fresh air. Look at how compact that footprint is! Hear how expansive that sound stage is! It’s enough to make me want to start tossing gear out onto AudiogoN just so I can start over. But if you’re not starting over, and looking at ways to improve what you’ve got, and detail+tone is your sonic cup-of-tea, I think this room would have been a fabulous place to tie up your boat.