The unassuming, and slightly rumpled dude in the corner of a Colleen Cardas Imports room at Newport Beach looked aloof, smart, and slightly bored as he scrolled through the screen on his smartphone. I immediately pegged him as Ian Robinson, founder, and electronics engineer behind REDGUM Audio out of Melbourne, Australia. I sat down for a spell, and took in the simple, no-frills set up placed on a covered table against the long wall across from me. It looked, well… unassuming. I mean, the amp being used, and the other on display had these groovy heatsink/cooling fins on their bottom reminiscent of a shark’s dorsal wake in water, but other than that, no glamorous polished chrome fascia, no rose gold accents, no thick aluminum slabs masquerading as necessary rather than superfluous. This had the look of no-nonsense kit that perhaps was focused more on circuit design, and the quality of the parts internally, and in the signal path, and less so in external flash. Interesting.
But while my eyes were quickly taking stock, and forming the aforementioned opinion, my ears started telling my brain to “chill out, and relax… this spot is comfy, stay a while. What’s your rush?”
And that’s just what I did. Getting deeper, and deeper into the groove that, while my eyes were closed was telling my ears this was a much more expensive system than what was actually in front of me. Listening to a mix of 16/44 files through the REDGUM RGCD5ENR DAC/Transport off a small laptop was another exercise in satisfaction from digital for these analog ears. RMAF, AXPONA, and now T.H.E. Show, the last three major events I’ve been to this year all had several systems in place that held sway over me longer than normal because they were digital front ends. This was another example of digital done right, and the REDGUM RGi35ENR (65 Watts) integrated amp had real speed on transients, and a vice-like grip on the bottom end, and lower mids without crushing vocal, or instrument delicacies in the midrange, and upper registers, the total opposite in fact. There was plenty of air, detail, and sparkle being wrested from the Axis Voicebox S bookshelves pulling duty, which acquitted themselves very well, and did a smashing job of that favorite standmounted speaker trait of mine: vanishing.
If you’re looking for something simple, without a bunch of flash, but with all the boxes ticked for the things that really matter in musical reproduction, you owe it to yourself to arrange a demo.
- Axis VoiceBox S loudspeakers ($2,500 USD/pair)
- REDGUM Audio RGi35ENR integrated amplifier ($2,500 USD ~ $4,500 USD depending on spec)
- REDGUM Audio RGCD5ENR DAC/Transport ($3,500 USD)
- REDGUM Hi-Damping Factor loudspeaker cable and Audio Pipeline OFC interconnects.