RMAF 2016: Wave of amplification from Austin Acoustics

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.

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.

Tweeter and midrange driver.
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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.

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.

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.

Difficult to take your eyes off of.