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Capital Audiofest 2016: DSA amplifies their approach

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DSA stands for Dynamic Sounds Associates, but they might as well call themselves Dat is Super Awesome. Hmm. Okay. Welp, that’s probably why I never got anywhere as a marketing professional. Oh well. Never mind.

At CAF this year, DSA brought some big a$$ amplifiers to the Adams room. Nicknamed the “Amp I”, the new monoblocks are expected to retail at $25k/pair, and each one is about the size of my college fridge. Each amp is good for 125wpc of solid-state Class-A power delivery. Eight Hitachi power MOSFETs, arranged in a push-pull configuration and a bias current of 4 amps, drive the design. The chassis also includes silent-running fans to keep the big beasts cool. First customer delivery is expected in Q4 of this year.

That’s the new. But it’s not the only ….

Starting at the speakers — we saw a pair of $12k/pair SP100R2 speakers from Spendor on their deceptively simple stands. The big three-ways in their BBC cabinet were warm and full, with a very natural timbre.

Luminous Audio Mega Power Lynx power cords, with Synchestra Signature and Synchestra Silver Reference wires connected the bits.

DSA was also showing their “Pre I” ($16,500) preamplifier, as well as their legendary Phono II ($13,500) phono preamplifier.

A epically massive Kanso Audio Furniture 5-space asymmetrical rack, called Harmoni ($10,804 as configured), was front and center. The Kanso Heavy Duty amp stands ($3,500/pair) sat under the new amplifiers. Kanso is the king of the “over built” — I have yet to find more “tech” built into any rack, anywhere.

Retailer Tweek Geek had some interesting Bybee Power Purifiers (based on Jack Bybee’s secret-sauce technology), and they also brought Stillpoints Aperture Acoustic room treatments (prices start at $450) arranged artfully throughout the room. A Stein Music Harmonizer Room Treatment system was also in use (starting $2,995). Funny name, serious audio — I saw Michael Garner, the site’s owner, wandering around CAF — I caught his distinctive hair and glasses ducking in and out of the room. “Tweek Geek” still rules as the best site-name in today’s high-end. Talk about “targeted marketing”!

And then there was the turntable.

award-sighting-smThe VPI Avenger comes in a few variations — but this was the full monty. The Magnetic Drive, with three (!) 12″ 3-D printed tonearms, retails for $30k. Cartridges are extra — here, DSA’s David Sckolnik was using a trio from Ortofon, including the Anna ($9,000), an A95 ($6,500) and a mono Cadenza ($1,280). This was overkill in the best possible way. Maybe it was just me, or maybe it was just late-in-the-day, but this ‘table looked suspiciously like the Samurai Sushi Chef, just ready to slice-and-dice it’s way through any vinyl selection thrown at it.

David loves to jam at the show, and usually has a big selection of audiophile standards to hand. My stay saw Duke Ellington’s Blues in Orbit hit the ‘table, and “Three J’s Blues” was like lightning on a empty field. “Electrifying” was scrawled across my notes. I think I spent the whole time trying to figure out how best to capture it — photos, Facebookery, notes — but I couldn’t do it. I was so pumped up, I was hopping around in my seat. Any time music makes me dance is a good thing. Well. Sort of. Me dancing is not really for general public consumption.

It’s hard to know what was doing what in this room — which is precisely as it should be. The sound was great — dynamic, punchy and immediate. Quite a combo — and one of the highlights of the show.

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