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CAF 2015: LKV Research, with Joseph Audio and VPI

LKV-2126

Bill Hutchins, the Chief Designer of LKV Research, was showing off a lovely system anchored by his flagship products — the Line One linestage ($3,500) and the Veros One phono pre ($6,500).

Bill told me that the current Veros One (a dramatic step up from his first, the $3,000 2SB) has been “tweaked” — and it now carries half the noise floor of the pre-updated unit. Half. Bill winked at me when he said that — he seems proud of that number. I would be too. That unit also carries an SNR of (at least) 60dB for the MC section. The Veros One can support both XLR and RCA inputs and out, with gain ranging from 34dB to 62dB (+6dB for XLR). From the website:

  • Fully differential, class A, zero feedback amplifier circuits implemented entirely with discrete components.
  • Low noise jfets that are hand matched to very tight tolerances (less than +/- 0. I mA Idss) and are biased into their most linear operating regions.
  • Cascode gain circuitry and stiff current source biasing that create a stable environment which allow the jfets to amplify accurately.

The Veros One also includes two user selectable equalization networks:

  • An RIAA network that achieves an accuracy of +/- 0.1 dB by virtue of 0.1% metal film resistors and 1% tolerance polypropylene capacitors.
  • A contour network that allows the user to select a slightly warmer, more tube-like sound.

Similarly, the Line One has seen a few tweaks too, in topology and parts. This linestage carries two XLR inputs and four RCA inputs, as well as two XLR and two RCA outputs. An ELMA stepped attenuator is used for the volume control. Like most of Bill’s designs, the Line One is also fully differential, class A, with zero feedback gain blocks implemented with low-noise JFETs.

A VPI Prime turntable ($3,800, including tonearm), mounted with a Lyra Kleos cartridge, sat atop the audio rack. An old Conrad-Johnson Premier Eleven stereo amplifier squatted on the floor, and a mix of Kimber Kable and Cardas Audio cables wiring everything together.

Out in front were a pair of Joseph Audio Prism stand-mount loudspeakers. At $3,699/pair, these are now the cheapest way into Joseph’s current lineup (they’re not on the website yet) and feature the same crossover approach that so wowed me with the Pulsars (and the Pearl 2 and again with the Perspective) several years ago. To me, the Joseph Audio signature is “coherent”, with no obvious shift between drivers, with great tone and detail retrieval. But it’s the bass that shocks. Where the heck does that come from? I’ve seen the Prism out and about for about a year now, and it’s come a long way — in fact, it’s coming to an audio dealer near you as I believe the design is finally ready and done.

Shown here, the sound of the room was distinctly not hi-fi. The sound was warm, inviting, and every bit of what you want at the end of your day. Okay, every bit of what wanted.

Impeccable, my dear. Impeccable.

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