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RMAF 2016: Wave of amplification from Austin Acoustics

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More tube amps than even I could shake a stick at…

I walked into the Austin Acoustic room, and just kept silently mouthing “what the f*ck?” for about a minute as I shuffled around the room awkwardly, my mind trying to compute the wall of amplifiers, and the massive loudspeakers that seemed to be connected to all of them. The system was visually stunning with more exposed copper than I may have ever seen.

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So many valves, so little time

The speakers being played in the room were the SP-3R ($348,000 USD/pair) which are a gorgeous bespoke three-way, and must weigh around 300 lbs each. The amount of wiring going behind the beautiful solid-wood amp stand was staggering, but at this price point I doubt you’re worried about the cost of cabling. A vintage Accuphsae pre-amplifier was in place at the front of this sonic alter acting as an active crossover for the system.

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Tweeter and midrange driver.

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Rocky Mountain Audio Festival coverage brought to you by Noble Audio: https://nobleaudio.com/en

OK, I’m going to go through the amps now, so pay attention please. The LS-436A pre-amplifier ($12,000 USD) was fronting all the grunting valves in charge of each, and every driver array in the set-up. The two sets of M-205D amplifiers ($24,000 USD/pair) flanking the big GM70 tube amps, were each handling the tweeter, and mid-range drivers, with the M-GM70 amplifiers ($64,000 USD/pair) taking care of the massive bass units.

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Come, sit by the fire and warm yourself.

The heat coming off this system would warm a mid-sized home in winter, which is good, because if you’re dropping coin like this, you’ll probably have to remortgage the house, so you can save money on frivolities like a furnace, or baseboard heaters. Just have these babies arranged in your living room, and you’ll be lazing around in a speedo in no time while listening.

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Guess the valve type!

All this rambling brings us to the sound… which I have to say was not as rich, or lush as I expected. Even with a rather liberal amount of in-room acoustic panels set up, there was a stridency, and edge to what I was hearing. I’m not sure if the room was simply completely overloading or what, but I feel like the crew from Austin Acoustic wouldn’t have brought this gear all the way to Denver if the sonics weren’t bang on, so perhaps something else was at play. Whatever the reason, I feel like this is a system worth my time to hear again, and hopefully the issues the kit seemed to suffer in the Mile-High City won’t be present next time.

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Difficult to take your eyes off of.

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About Rafe Arnott (317 Articles)

Editor and Creative Director for Part-Time Audiophile & The Occasional Magazine.

6 Comments on RMAF 2016: Wave of amplification from Austin Acoustics

  1. Looks like the cables are silver. Guaranteed to ruin the sound, like in an Audio Note Japan room I heard three years ago. What a shame.
    Use copper cables from one of the better companies, great sounding oil capacitors in the signal path, and something like Duelund, Clarity Cap for the speakers. The sound will be beautiful. Top it off with some power cords from Triode Wire Labs or Shunyata and the system will sound close to what it costs.

    • It’s funny you say that, because I think that the Audio Note silver cables are actually — and particularly — outstanding.

  2. What is a misfortune is that the folks putting on the demo didn’t realize that the system didn’t sound very good. Maybe they should have gotten a much larger room, remove some of the acoustic panels or do a silent demo. It is a beautiful system, but a not so good review can be death to many a product. For almost 1/2 million, it should give one an orgasm.

  3. Herb Reichert had the same impression.. And Herb used to import the same Tango iron over 20 years ago, and more of a DHT nut than most mainstream reviewers.. I suspect it’s either the speakers aren’t yet optimized, or the settings on the vintage Accuphase active crossover are not right..

    http://www.stereophile.com/content/rmaf-2016-saturday-part-2-herb#O7aXSHyaCzE9fT8p.97

  4. That is way to complicated but maybe it needs a hugh room to be demoed effectively.

  5. JOHN M READ // October 15, 2016 at 6:32 AM //

    That’s a very costly disappointment…on so many levels.

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