Capital Audiofest 2017: Burwell & Sons, Rogers High Fidelity pull the hat trick

The Story

Three times this year I’ve been compelled to linger in hotel room exhibits orchestrated by Burwell & Sons and Rogers High Fidelity. The first time being Axpona where I was drawn in by the classic look of the Burwell horns, but ended up staying way too long for what seemed like an endless supply of great sound no matter the source material. The second time being RMAF where I was drawn to their 65V-1 Class A 25 watt tube integrated that retails for a supremely affordable $4,000 USD. This being my third visit, I found myself ultimately charmed by the 100 watts of pure Class A power derived from the eight EL-34 tubes graced upon the Rogers 34S-1 integrated. Never mind the fact that both integrateds are feature full with iPad App Control (which includes VU meters on the unit and app), auto biasing, and blue LCD displays. These are classic designs, but not without the most intelligent and intuitive designed tech in the industry. Watching my friend David Blumenstein dive into the app for a session as DJ of the room, it’s ease of use became apparent, it’s entirely instinctual.

When it comes to phonostages, most can seem rather boring to the uninitiated. That is not the case here. Rogers PA-1A Class A dual mono tube architecture and chassis design strum all the right notes to have me (and show attendees) swooning over it. In particular it’s glossy red finish (also available in black crinkle) drew attention to itself among the room’s other components. “Hey, look at me.” 

The Sound

“Abundance” and “Dad was right.” were the leading scribbles from my show notes.

It’s true what they say, nothing exceeds like excess. Just a month earlier at RMAF, I was shocked at how well the 25 watt Rogers 65V-1 integrated faithfully brought forth all the power one needed to convey energy in the music. Now here I am eating some of my own words, though not all. This 100 watt effort is more than we need, but I’ll be damned if we’re not using the bulk of it. The volumes we achieve here are unreal, and to do it with such composure and stubbornness of character is of genuine reward. When you need to rock out the neighborhood, look no further and accept no substitutes.

Brothers Johnson’s “Strawberry Letter 23” to me is the superior version of this Shuggie Otis hit, and I know it well. It’s a distant layering and dynamics are filled out in a way I’ve never experienced. The detail of bass is something I intend to write home about once I leave the show.

Various tracks from Tom Scott & The LA Express expose Tom’s saxophone to be worthy of more credit for tone than I had previously thought. For that, I apologize. Much of the same could be said for Joe Sample’s keyboard strokes, but it’s not like he’s responsible for it’s tone, but alas I’m reminded of how much I enjoy funky keys. This demo by Burwell and Rogers alone, will have me on the hunt for Crusaders albums when I get home.

The System

Rogers High Fidelity 34S-1 Integrated Amplifier ($20,000 USD)

Rogers High Fidelity 65V-1 Integrated Amplifier ($4,000 USD)

Rogers High Fidelity PA-1A Phono Stage ($7,200 USD)

Burwell & Sons Mother of Burl Loudspeaker Array ($87,500 USD)

VPI Industries Avenger with 3D Printed Arm ($15,000 USD)

Ortofon Anna MC Phono Cartridge ($9,000 USD)

Transparent Ultra Cables Throughout
USC10 ($3,900 USD)
UPH2 (x2 at $3,600 ea USD)
USE2 ($1,800 USD)

Oppo Sonica DAC ($800 USD)

Box Furniture Rack + Amp Stands ($3,000 USD)