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AXPONA 2017: Vinnie Rossi keeps ’em smiling

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Vinnie Rossi DHT linestage

Every time I enter Vinnie Rossi’s suite at a show he is smiling. AXPONA was no different.

It doesn’t matter who he is talking to, what music is playing over the system, or how crowded the room is, his infectious grin is in plain view, and regardless of how hectic the day is I find that you can’t help but smile too when you see him.

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Harbeth Super HL5 Plus

He’s one of the most affable men I know in an industry of affable men. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s a proud new father (again), or that business is growing thanks to his ingenious LIO series of integrated amplifiers. I’ve written about Rossi, and his LIO modular amplifiers previously, and I’m doing it again because it always blows me away that he has stuffed so much technology, and obvious passion for designing circuit paths into one living-room friendly, and simple-looking box.

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One-box solution.

I say passion for his work because there are few single-box designs whose electrons can leap between their silicon-based creation to our carbon-based lifeforms, and forge an emotional connection through music reproduction – this type of communication can most usually be found in the multi-box variety of systems: think monoblocs, preamp, separate DAC/transport, phono stage, etc.  This is a sonically outstanding amplifier: lively, engaging, constantly daring you not to respond to its sensory provocation.

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Acoustic Signature WOW XXl turntable with LIO: Living-room friendly.

The system Rossi was showing in Chicago consisted of a pair of the highly esteemed, transparent, and musical Harbeth Super HL5 Plus 40th Anniversay Edition loudspeakers ($7,495 USD, $10,200 CAN), his LIO Super Integrated, and a laptop computer as a digital source. An Acoustic Signature WOW XXL turntable ($3,495 USD, $4,795 CAN) with Acoustic Signature TA-700 tonearm ($1,295 USD, $1,780 CAN), and their own Signature Black Cartridge ($850 USD, $1,160 CAN) was handling the analog front end. Cabling throughout the system has handled by Triode Wire Labs which was showing their Digital American power cord ($499 USD, $685 CAN), the Seven Plus power cord ($549 USD, $750 CAN), the Ten Plus power cord ($399 USD, $550 CAN), their American Speaker Cables (Cardas terminated, starting at $699 USD/$950 CAN per set) and their Discrete USB cable ($329 USD, $450 CAN) which was juicing the LIO from Rossi’s laptop.

The LIO was configured with a Directly Heated Triode (DHT) line stage section with a Class-A, OTL (Output Transformer-Less) zero feedback pre-amp, a fully customizable MOSFET integrated amplifier pulling power duties to the tune of 25W of high-current Class A/B into eight Ohms. Included in this same chassis he had also squeezed in a Class-A, zero-feedback JFET phono stage with MC step-up transformers, and DSD/PCM 32-bit/384 DAC. How much for all this? How does $11, 675 USD ($16,000 CAN) sound? At this price point I cannot recommend the LIO highly enough, considering the state-of-the-art analog, and digital circuit designs, the fact that it also features Rossi’s patent-pending Pure DC-4-EVR Ultracapacitor Technology power supply so you won’t ever need to upgrade your power cables (and allows for a staggeringly low noise floor) it is a true bargain in high fidelity.

–Rafe Arnott

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About Rafe Arnott (306 Articles)
Editor and Creative Director for Part-Time Audiophile & The Occasional Magazine.