Rogue Audio is a company I’ve always been fascinated with, and just like their fellow American cohort – VPI – they also seem to share a simple goal: build outstanding audio gear that entry-level newbies can afford, get addicted to, and then over time move up their respective lines for better, and better sound.
I’ve heard the Rogue Sphinx ($1,395 USD), a 100 w/pc (into 8 Ohms) Class-D integrated amplifier with a tubed line stage. It’s a hybrid design that I found to be very enjoyable to listen to, and while not the last word in superb, natural tone to my jaded ear, considering its price, faulting it is a bit foolish on my part as I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest it as a starter audiophile integrated amplifier to build a system around.
Moving up the Rogue Audio line, everything just gets better, and better, but the Sphinx definitely whets the appetite for more. By the time you’re up in their top-tier pre-amplifiers, and mono blocks, you start to drool a bit.
Holm Audio had paired an impressive suite of Rogue Audio pre-amplifiers – RP-5 ($3,495 USD), and RP-1 ($1,695 USD) – integrated amplifiers – Cronus Magnum II ($2,495 USD), Pharaoh ($3,495 USD), and the stereo power amplifier ST 100 ($3,495 USD), along with the bad-boy KT-120 powered M-180 mono blocks ($5,995 USD/pair) being fed the black plastic discs by the tried-and-true VPI Scout ($2,200 USD), and always enjoyable Ortofon 2M Black moving-magnet cartridge ($755 USD). A variety of Nordost interconnects, cabling, and mains cords tied everything together, which included a pair of Tannoy Revolution XT8Fs ($2,599 USD/pair) and XT6Fs ($1,899/pair).
The sound was deep, and powerful, with a real driving force to dynamic swings in the music. It had authority, and nuance with excellent imaging capabilities, and non-fatiguing highs. With VPi as well, what you hear from a Scout you’re only going to get gobs more of as you ascend their product line. There is a familial sonic signature to VPi – be it the Scout or Avenger Reference (which I’ve heard a number of times now, and, well, a bit of drool on the keyboard, sorry) – that is all about black backgrounds, deep, tight bass presentation, lively mids, and exceptional pitch control thanks to their expertise in bearing and motor technology which culminates in their Synchronous Drive System (SDS) for turntable motor control. In short, Holm Audio put together a set-up that sounded far better than a system at this price point had any right to.