LA Audio Show 2017: Wyred 4 Sound, KEF offer attainable sonic bliss


In the retail trade, products by Michael Kors and Kate Spade are considered “affordable luxury.” They offer a taste of opulence, but with prices significantly below Chanel or Neiman Marcus.

High-end audio has its more accessible brands as well. One that has been on the rise in recent years is Atascadero, Calif.-based Wyred 4 Sound.

laas9Wyred has been introducing well-built, attractively priced gear at a blistering pace. At last fall’s Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, for example, it displayed three new components – a pair of sleek mono blocks, a power supply and a streamer (then a prototype).

Fast-forward almost eight months and Wyred was at it again during the Los Angeles Audio Show, rolling out its new MS next-generation music server ($2,000 to $3,000 USD, depending on options) and its 10th anniversary DAC-2v2SE ($4,499 USD).


The MS server looked to offer a high degree of sophistication and features for its price point. It allows drag-and-drop file management, is Roon ready and is AirPlay- and DLNA-enabled.

Users can stream radio and music from included apps such as Squeezebox, Spotify and Tidal.

The MS server has an Intel Core i7 processor, eight to 16 GB of RAM, and an internal SSD hard drive. In addition, there’s a slot drive for ripping CDs.

The DAC-2v2SE is a limited-edition product. It boasts an ESS Sabre 9038PRO chip, a redesigned circuit board and hand-matched Vishay Z-Foil resistors. There are coaxial, Toslink, AES/EBU and I2S inputs, as well as a galvanically isolated, asynchronous USB input.

KEF Reference 1

Wyred was demoing the new components in a system that also included its SX-1000R monoblocks ($1,799 USD each), Recovery USB reclocker ($199 USD), PS-1 modular linear power supply (starting at $399 USD) and a pair of KEF Reference 1 loudspeakers ($7,999 USD, plus $1,499 for stands).

Wire was the company’s own C2 XLR cables ($299 USD for a one-meter pair), P1 power cords (from $169 USD) and USB Premium ($199 USD for 1one meter).

My audition using the title track of Steely Dan’s Gaucho revealed the system to have a very smooth, balanced presentation.

Walter Becker’s bass sounded well-controlled, tuneful and surprisingly deep considering the size of the KEF speakers. The Reference 1, in fact, did a good job merging the cohesiveness of a point-source speaker with the frequency response (45Hz to 35kHz for the KEFs) of a floor-stander. This likely was due to the 5-inch aluminum Uni-Q driver – a midrange with an embedded tweeter – which blended seamlessly with a 6.5-inch aluminum woofer.

laas-2017-triode-banner7Highs on the Wyred/KEF rig also were polished, with no splash or edginess, and Donald Fagen’s vocals were focused and well-separated from the background singers.

All in all, it was an impressive performance for a system in the neighborhood of $20K USD. Whether that can be considered “affordable luxury” will depend on each audiophile’s personal definition. But in a hobby where “high end” often means just that, Wyred’s price tags probably won’t have you fainting.