AXPONA 2017: Well Pleased with Rethm and Aqua HiFi

Mark Sossa of Well Pleased A/V was, once again, show off his penchant for nifty-yet-affordable gear here at AXPONA. Mark is one of those guys with a reputation for exploration: all the brands he carries are just off the beaten path. Gems, all. But most are probably not “household names”.

Take Rethm. Rethm makes some interesting “Lowther-esque” loudspeakers that you will probably never have heard of — because no one writes about these Made-in-India marvels (well, no one other than 6moons). And that’s a shame because they’re pretty nifty. At $3900/pair, the Bhaava speakers are hybrids — metal/wood | single-driver + powered sub. The hand-off between low-end and “everything else” is user-adjustable, and has quite a bit of flexibility. I was quite taken by the sound of jazz and light ensembles, for example — the in-room tuning was clearly biased that way — but electronica, however, seemed a little unfair. YMMV.

Other delectable goodies in this room include the Innuos Zenith music server ($3400), which has not only convinced Mark of its inherent worth and goodness, it’s pretty much turned him into a soapbox carrying evangelist. I’ve wandered down several (dozen) blind and dead-end alleys in search of sonic joy out of a “mere server”, but this one has me intrigued. More on that front, soon.

A more familiar bit was the award-winning Aqua HiFi La Scala MKII Optologic DAC ($7000). The “Optologic” part has to do with the way the signal is not affected — there are optical couplers linking the analog and digital portions to prevent all manner of noise-and-nasty from making the jump to your ears. And did I mention the DAC uses tubes? Heh heh. Read more about it over at DAR.

A new-to-me brand, LinnenberG, provided their Maestro preamplifier ($1200) and Allegro monoblock power amplifiers. Fully-balanced architectures and robust industrial design, all come wrapped in a tidy footprint. The amps are good for 55wpc into 8Ω and cost $5400/pair.

As usual for Mark, Anticables provided all the wiring.

Sound in here was engaging and unexpected — one of the highlights of the show.

AXPONA coverage generously provided by NOBLE AUDIO.