Latest News

RMAF 2018: Vinnie Rossi, Triode Wire Labs, Harbeth; More than the sum of its parts

KEF R Series

ES000418

Vinnie Rossi was showing off his latest and greatest L2 Signature Preamplifiers and L2 Monoblocks, which could handle a slew Harbeth speakers (big and small) extraordinarily well. At Rocky Mountain Audio Fest the Harbeth 40.2 Anniversary speakers flat-out rocked the show when tethered — via Triode Wire Labs cable — to Vinnie’s new mono-block powerhouses. Without any doubt, a must see (and hear) exhibit at the show.

ES000398

The Story

The other popular room with Vinnie Rossi electronics at the show. Or was the other room, the other room? Either way, you can read about “the other room” HERE. This time the new Vinnie Rossi electronics were paired with a monstrously good set of 40th Anniversary Edition Harbeth 40.2 Monitors. Starting at the top, the new L2 Signature Pre-amplifier (starting at $14,999 USD) which is Class-A “ultra-wide bandwidth” directly heated triode (DHT) pre-amplifier, which means the DHT design allows the end-user to expand well into exotic tube rolling. The L2 preamplifier is compatible with 2A3, 45, 300B, PX4, 101D, 205D, SV811 and other 4-pin HDT families of tubes. More features include dual-mono power supply with Belleson super regulators, a discrete 64-step ladder volume control using Pickering England silent relays, and finally as options go — a DAC module at $3,495 USD that does 32-bit / 768khz, DSD up to DSD512, using dual AK4977EQ converters, a (of course discrete) Class-A output stage, buffer and re-clocking, and a Phonostage module also at $3,495 USD. Powering the behemoth Harbeth monitors were a pair of the (also new) L2 Signature Mono-block Amplifiers at ($14,995 USD) true class-A/AB Mosfet in topology, outputting 75 watts into 8-ohms, and 140 watts into 4-ohms, they are also 2-ohm stable if needed. Speaking of power, try 100,000uF of low ESR power supply rail capacitance and each with a custom-wound 500VA power transformer. Each housed in a half-inch thick aluminum chassis, with WBT and Neutrik connectors.

The Harbeth Monitor 40.2’s ($17,990 pr USD) also feature WBT-Nextgen binding posts, along with custom Harbeth internal cabling, and Harbeth branded British-made audio specific poly capacitors. Available veneer finishes include Walnut, Silver Eucalyptus (my favourite), and Olive Wood. I can’t rave enough about how gorgeous the Silver Eucalyptus veneer is on Harbeths. I previously heard (and visually inspected) the 40th Anniversary Edition Monitor 30.2’s ($6,890 pr USD) at Axpona back in the spring, and I’ll be damned if there isn’t a sexier looking pair of classic style monitors on the market. If I am wrong, please, light me up in the comment section.

The unsung hero of many shows is the cabling. I get it, no one walks by a room at an audio show and says to themselves, “Oh look! Cables!” However, when you get home, you know you’ll be online doing research on the cables that might take your system to that next level. I know cables can be a divisive and controversial topic between those who can hear the differences and the deaf. But I’ll spare us diving into that seemingly endless (and pointless) war.

Triode Wire Labs meticulously and proudly produces a hand-made product right here in the USA, and that should make you happy. Not just from patriotic or political reasons, but from an anthropological standpoint. How many things are made in the USA today? And how long was that window of American production actually open? Not long, maybe from WWII till the early ‘80s? Either way you slice it, that window is closing quickly. So, if you like rarities — buy American too.

Starting at the top, Triode Wire Labs’ “Discrete” USB cable ($299 ea USD), “Spirit II” RCA interconnects ($399 pr USD) were throughout the system. Special about the “Spirit II” is it’s use of Ohno Continuous Cast 7N copper. From the amplifiers, a sturdy set of “American Speaker Cables” (starting at $699 pr USD) were connected to the Harbeths, and standing strong behind the music were a gaggle of TWL power cables. The “Seven Plus” (starting at $549 USD) power cable was used on each mono-block, a single “Digital American” (starting at $499 USD) power cable was used specifically for the L2 preamplifier. Finally a “Ten Plus” (starting at $399 USD) was used to connect the Acoustic Signature to a funky and cute little power strip-box that I did not inquire about, but am curious. This offering of interconnects, and power cables is not TWL’s most esoteric offering, however here they were being paired with what I consider state of the art electronics. Considering the buzz about this room, and likely glowing media reports that follow, how many will take into account that this best-of-show sounding room was wired-in with Triode Wire Labs more affordable gear? Not many. Sad isn’t it.

The Sound

I’m not used to this level of focus, and up-front scale dominating my personal space, but I am familiar with the Harbeth sound. In every way, this felt more like a recording studio than it did a hotel room or mimicked home environment. Insight was available by the boatload. Bass attack, fast, but not bloated or overly thumpy. Mid-range, what I consider to be signature Harbeth, but turned upward and wider that I know from my previously smaller Harbeth experiences. Treble was where, for me, things shined. The insight came from imaging that hung afloat in the middle of the room like an apparition. Ironically, just in time for the upcoming Halloween holiday, and yet also a little bit scary.

During my time in the room, we didn’t go into the digital realm, and to be honest, I don’t feel cheated.

ES000419

The System

Vinnie Rossi

L2 Signature Preamplifier – $14,995 USD (with L2 DAC and Phonostage – $21,985 USD)

L2 DAC (module) – $3,495 USD

L2 Phonostage (module) – $3,495 USD

L2 Signature Mono-block Amplifiers – $14,995 pr USD

Harbeth

Monitor 40.2 40th Anniversary Edition – $17,990 pr USD

Triode Wire Labs

Seven Plus Power Cable – starting at $549 USD

Digital American Power Cable – starting at $499 USD

Ten Plus Power Cable – starting at $399 USD

American Speaker Cable w/Cardas CAB Bananas – starting at $699 pr USD

Spirit II interconnects – starting at $399 pr USD

Discrete USB Cable (90 ohm) – starting at $299 USD

2 Comments on RMAF 2018: Vinnie Rossi, Triode Wire Labs, Harbeth; More than the sum of its parts

  1. Marvin Bartfardner // October 24, 2018 at 5:01 PM //

    I started adding all of that up and I got tired and quit. I do think it’s marvelous that one has that much money to spend on audio gear and I don’t begrudge them for being so blessed. I just hope they actually take time to listen to music, which is why we have music systems, not have music to listen to the system.

  2. charles rollo // October 24, 2018 at 11:13 AM //

    Nice review

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. RMAF 2018: Vinnie Rossi, Triode Wire Labs, Harbeth; Più della somma delle sue parti – Hi-Fi News Italia

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: