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AXPONA 2018: Wolf Audio Systems ends the hunt for better media control

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Sadurni Acoustics, BAT, Stillpoints, Wolf Audio Systems, Audience Cables

Big horns, big sound, and a superb digital playback source that had many clamoring for their wallets. The long-term future of digital playback may be upon us with Wolf Audio Systems newest two box, do-it-all digital source.

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The Story

Joe Parvey of Wolf Audio Systems was having a very busy weekend at AXPONA 2018. His debut of the Red Wolf 2 was popular enough, but also Joe was coming to the rescue for other exhibitors at the show, but more on that later.

What Joe and Wolf Audio Systems were debuting was their newest linear-powered system, The Red Wolf 2 media server.  When Joe started researching digital audio systems already on the market, he found that some systems ticked several of the feature check-boxes, but not all of them. The Red Wolf 2 will have a life of continuous research – always working to refine and improve the areas of computer-based audio that were not up to snuff for the discriminating audiophile ear. Joe spent the last 18 months working to improve every aspect of the digital chain in their Red Wolf and Alpha 2 platforms, resulting in the Red Wolf 2.

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AXPONA 2018 Coverage brought to you by Zesto Audio

A machine destined for Hi(gher)-Res, it does not neglect the existing CD collectors out there. The Red Wolf 2 utilizes a TEAC transport as an important upgrade, increasing the quality of CD rips and reducing the noise in the system to the point where they were playing audio in the AXPONA exhibit room while simultaneously ripping CDs. That is something you will likely never see anyone else do at an audio show. Internally, they’ve stepped up their game in that they use Audience sourced copper to connect the Wolf Server to its linear power supply, and also to move power around within the supply itself. Reduced noise floors – the power supply itself has been upgraded – tighter caps, and a robust toroidal transformer that further reduces ripple and allows them to dial-in each system according to its own sonic characteristics. The laundry list goes on from there. Wolf is also working with PTFE (Teflon), utilizing it between the chassis and the circuitry to further isolate and protect the signal path.

Taking advantage of the rapidly evolving computer landscape, the Red Wolf 2 uses a 12-Core processor, allowing for six cores to be allocated specifically for the audio applications, and leaving operating system processes confined and away from the music. They are also carefully matching RAM to the motherboard and processor, and adjusting timings as needed for the best sonic effect. Joe says that having that kind of power in a system gives a lot of legroom, ensuring the system is going to stay relevant in both speed and power for years.  In the quest to create the best sounding system they could, Joe discovered an accidental but welcomed byproduct of the research – excellent video capability.

The Red Wolf 2 is also a full blown HDMI 2.0, 4K/60p video system. Anyone currently wringing their hands over the dwindling Oppo inventory take note, because it might be a Wolf Audio System that you seek instead.

Joe told me after the show that a new SPDIF section will ship in the next few months. the result of personal consultations with audiophile manufacturing legends to bring AES-EBU, BNC, TOSLINK and RCA to the Wolf system. USB-wise, they are also working on their own proprietary USB card, creating custom silicon that doesn’t look like anything else currently on the market – expect that to be making some news later this year.

Here are some words directly from Joe Parvey on the Axpona launch of the Red Wolf 2

 

The Sound

As much as the sound of the system matters, to which it did sound fantastic, a continued standout for me was the system interface speed. I wasn’t fully allowed to dive in and play, but from watching either Joe or Lenny from Audience navigate their way around the catalog of music, it became clear that what we have here is something truly special in regards to buying music, storing it, and listening to it – all without ever having to leave the room.

Listening to music while CDs are being ripped to the server is a first for me, and I admit, I didn’t hear anything from the large horns to clue me in that the server was pulling double duty. Things remained intact, no smearing, and from as dark a background as horns will allow.

As for Joe Parvey saving the day for some at AXPONA 2018, I’ll just let this explain.

As if the party atmosphere couldn’t avoid becoming more deliberate, a visit from guitar legend Dean Zelinksy stunned the room, along with Dean taking a seat for himself to be stunned by the system on display.

The System Players

1 Comment on AXPONA 2018: Wolf Audio Systems ends the hunt for better media control

  1. Eric, I’m glad you are so impressed by the systems ability to rip and play at the same time. Every Music Vault has been doing that for the past 10 years.
    In the days when reviewers used to take CDs with them at the shows and ask to play a cut or two, they were surprised when after playing their two or three cuts, I would return their CD and the Music from the CD kept on playing from Ram even though I hadn’t ripped the cd.
    http://Www.musicvaultcat.com

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