I spent an all-too-short, yet completely delightful, time visiting with my friend Gordon Rankin of Wavelength Audio. You probably know Gordon, but you probably don’t even know that you’re familiar with his work. He’s the guy behind the Dragonfly DAC from Audioquest, and has had his work featured by Ayre and Pono (remember Pono?) and more.
But before all that was Wavelength Audio.
I feel like I need to recall for you that Wavelength is an audio company in its own right, and Gordon still makes some spectacular tube-based audio electronics, including some of the world’s first and still best UBS DACS, amplifiers and preamps.
At RMAF, Gordon was showing off a whole set of new gear.
Wavelength Audio new product announcements
Secant 32/384 PCM, DSD64/128 USB DAC using the ESS ES9038 DAC chip. Directly heated triode design with external tube rectified power supply and transformer coupled outputs. Full LED display of samples rates and other info. Optically isolated at the I2S level, with the use of the Microchip PIC32MZ processor. Available 4th quarter (msrp $5000).
Secant New HS Modular USB DAC is where it all started 14 years ago as our first USB DAC. 32/384 PCM, DSD64/128, software upgradable over USB. ESS ES9038 DAC with I/V and Directly Heated 6418 tube for gain and 5842 tube rectifier for full tube design. The external power supply and tube rectifier is connected by an umbilical cord. A new Cardas wire wound output transformer design provides excellent output and drive. LED indicators for all types of interfaces will provide the user with accurate settings.
Europa v2 modular Analog and Digital preamplifier with a single analog input and the following possible digital inputs: USB HS (32/384 PCM DSD64/128), Toslink (24/192), Ethernet and WIFI. The all tube design incorporates directly heated triodes and tube rectifier. Basic module is USB HS & Toslink, networked module includes everything. From $7500.
Europa v2 is the vision for the future as both a digital and analog product. The analog section provides an input. The digital section is on a module that can be updated. The standard configuration includes a optically isolated I2S HS-USB 32/384 and Toslink 24/96. In the future expect a full blown high speed USB module, with Toslink 24/192 and Ethernet. Europa is controlled remotely by a BTLE module and software.
Crimson HS Modular USB DAC is the flag ship DAC for Wavelength Audio. The battery powered versatile dac module gives the Crimson an endless upgrade path for its users. Available in both Balanced (6H30) or Single Ended (71A) the Crimson delivers in dynamics like no other. Available with optional volume control.
Brick N2 is a new version of the NOS (filterless) Brick that made it so famous. The N2 provides sample rates up to 96Khz and is optically isolated. The IV converter is made up of Shinko Tantulum resistors and the digital section is all new with dual low jitter oscillators and 12AU7A/ECC82 reactor follower output.
At RMAF this year, Gordon was sharing once again with Vaughn Loudspeakers — you know, the ones with lots of drivers and plasma tweeters (FIRE! FIRE!). Sound this year was easy, relaxed, and romantic. Those tweeters are just crazy — and may well be the best-sounding top-end I’ve heard at this show or any other.
To be fair, I was kinda all-agog at the guitar and guitar amplifier — me want, and I don’t even play guitar. But my wife does … hmm.
USB DACS: Crimson + Q1 FPGA DoP/PCM DAC module ($9000 msrp) or Cosecant + Quotient FPGA DoP/PCM DAC module ($4000 msrp) connected using the Curious USB cable.
Preamplifier: AudioQuest Sky analog cables from the Crimson output to the Sine v6 directly heated triode line preamplifier, fully tube regulated. Showing with all silver transformers ($7500 msrp).
Amplifiers: From the output of the Sine we use the AudioQuest Sky interconnects to the new limited edition all silver Napoleon Ag Silver $35,000 pair (or Corona V2 VT52 Silver $20,000 pair amplifiers. These are connected via the AudioQuest Redwood speaker cables.
Speakers: The Plasma Signature use the historic Dukane Plasma tweeters with a Fostex Dipole midrange and powered subwoofers rolling in under 60Hz. $20,000 pair. Extra subwoofer $3000.