RMAF 2017: Mile-high in Denver with PS Audio, Fern & Roby, Nagra, Tidal, Zu, DeVore Fidelity, and Tone Imports

PS Audio P20
Paul McGowan of PS Audio was grinning ear-to-ear as he started telling me about the company’s brand new P20 PureStream Power Plant Friday morning at RMAF inside the Denver Marriott Tech Centre.

Paul McGowan of PS Audio, (centre).
We first reported on the new Power Plant in September when PS made their initial announcement, but this was the first chance to see the P20 up close, and personal. First off, it’s massive, dwarfing the previous flagship P10 Power Plant by a significant margin, and outpacing the P10 in every department. McGowan described new technical advancements in the circuit design that have significantly reduced distortion, and doubled the amount of power storage capability. The all-PS Audio system (DirectStream DAC, and Memory Player, BHK Signature Preamplifer, 300 Mono Blocs, and cabling) was fronted by Focal Sopra No.3 loudspeakers, and REL  Acoustics 212/SE subwoofers. Massive amounts of deep, controlled bass, startling dynamics, and tonal sophistication were the hallmarks of what I heard from this system.

The new P20 dwarfs the P10-style chassis (BHK 300) next to it.
Big system, big sound.

RMAF 2017 coverage proudly brought to you by Noble Audio.
Christopher Hildebrand shows off the new Maverick phono preamp.
Christopher Hildebrand of Fern & Roby was showing off both his gorgeous Montrose turntables in two guises, and his completely upgraded, and redesigned Maverick phono stage. Hildbrand is showing with Linear Tube Audio of ZOTL fame. This new Maverick now features a fully-balanced input, the ability to choose a wide variety of MC , and MM loading options, a magnetic-lid enclosure, and complete fitted-integration into the chassis of the Montrose turntable. Look for a review in the future of both the Montrose, and the Maverick.

New Nagra HD preamplifier, and dedicated power supply.
Wilson and Nagra – together again.

Nagra of Switzerland was representing their fabled take on high fidelity with a full Nagra system fronted by their new HD Preamplifier, a Kronos Pro turntable, and Wilson Audio Alexia loudspeakers. The new pre  – which debuted in Munich earlier this year – features the faster, and more accurate Modulometer, instead the of traditional VU meter, and a matching-chassis separate power supply.

Tidal monobloc.
Doug White of The Voice That Is brought what I like to call his “Rolling Thunder” setup which is comprised almost completely of Tidal Audio from the preamps, and DAC, to cables, and speakers with only a TW Acustic turntable, and Antipodes digital server not being made by uber-bespoke luxury German manufacturer.

The “Rolling Thunder” full Tidal system

Spending some time with White in his room before the show started I had a great opportunity to hear what the system is capable of as he warmed it up with some killer blues tracks – if you can get to his room in Denver this weekend, you won’t be hearing any usual audiophile fare. This is a must-hear room if you’re at RMAF.

The wheels of steel spinning in the Zu room.
Zu Druids.

Zu Audio once again was showing with Peachtree, and was spinning some killer tunes on a two of four turntables that they brought to Denver to highlight their latest Druid loudspeakers. Zu’s room always flexes the walls with a huge sound that highlights the speed, accuracy, warmth, and efficiency of Sean Casey’s designs. Designs that never seem to sacrifice the music in pursuit of specifications, but rather bend (or break) traditions in service to it. Always a lively space, Zu’s room this year is again an oasis of non-audiophile LPs being played, and is always on my go-to room list for chilling out.

John DeVore (left) Mike Smith, and Jonathan Halpern listen to the SPEC ‘table.
Taking in the SPEC GMP-8000.

Tone Imports, and DeVore Fidelity were back together with another carefully-curated system for Denver this year featuring the new Gibbon Super Nine loudspeaker from DeVore, Sugden pre-amplification, and power amplifiers, as well as a totaldac digital server, and a massive  SPEC GMP-8000 turntable. This is always a standout room for tone, timbre, dynamics, and music selection at RMAF, and I usually spend most of my spare time kicking back, and listening in wonder to the sound in this room.

Check back often for continuing coverage from Denver, and download our new quarterly PDF magazine – The Occasional – that launched yesterday HERE.

About Rafe Arnott 389 Articles
Editor of InnerFidelity and AudioStream