RMAF 2018: Eggleston Works, Brinkmann, AudioQuest

It seems like every time I run into Anthony Chiarella, good sound is present. Brinkmann Audio turntables at the HiFiBuys event in Atlanta?  Good sound. EgglestonWorks speakers with a full Brinkmann stack in Denver?  Good sound.  No, scratch that.  Great sound.

I’ve known that Brinkmann can make great turntables.  Then a year ago I heard the Nyquist DAC.  Oh yeah, that’s very nice.  House sound of Brinkmann?  Analog.  Smooth. Resolving.  Oh yeah, the good sound that’s not “too hi-fi”.  I’ve never seen Mr. Fatigue sitting in a Brinkmann demo room.

Now Anthony had two cards up his sleeve.  The first was the $39,900 Eggleston Viginti.  Damn these sounded good.  I heard rock. I heard classical.  I heard a well designed speaker.  It better be.  $40K is a lot of cash for a speaker.  But they were coherent and refined.  Smooth from bass to treble.  The soundstage was superb.  But oh what bass!  Two 10″ carbon woofers with a slot porting system.  Carbon midrange drivers add to the smoothness and a beryllium tweeter provided airy highs in the room.  It was very musical.

Usually at this level of sound, a well constructed cabinet is found. The Viginti is solid at 255 pounds per speaker!  Why does it weigh so much?  Folks familiar with the Andra will recall it had slate.  Slate can be susceptible to damage, hence the move to aluminum and carbon fiber.  But in talking to Anthony Chiarella, the real reason emerged: double-wall construction. Wall thickness is a whopping 1.3-2 inches with multiple layers of medium-density fiberboard and high-density fiberboard bonded together.  Multiple laters are utilized to tune out any resonances.  No wonder the bass sounded so refined.  The cabinet also uses compound loading for the bass enclosure.  On the head of the structure, there are two layers of wood with both carbon fiber and aluminum.

Also contributing to the weight are huge crossovers and drivers with enormous magnet structures.  In fact, the diameter of the back of the driver is almost the same as diameter of the cone.  They also have incredible power handling with 90db efficiency from 20hz to 40khz flat.  There is lots of bracing with separate enclosures for each of the mid drivers.  Each mid driver actually has its own transmission line enclosure with a port exiting on the back of the loudspeaker.  This also helps free volume for a huge woofer enclosure.

The second card up Anthony’s sleeve was the Eggleston Works Emma EVO speakers at $5,500 a pair.  While not obviously of the authority of the Vigintis, these were still quite impressive.  Eggleston developed proprietary drivers for its Artisan Series which the Emmas are part of.  The front is a CNC-machined aluminum baffle.  Driver complement is a 1″ dome for highs and dual 6″ midrange cones.  Very efficient at 91db with a 4 ohm impedance. It has a nice tapered shape at the top on a slender cabinet. The Emma weighs 60 pounds each.

Emma EVO is built in much the same way as the Viginti so it looks to be a bargain in this respect.  The towers use the same extravagant finish process and they have Morel drivers designed specifically for the speaker.  Cardas OFC binding posts are included as are handmade inductors like the upper end of the line.  And you get similar double-wall cabinet construction.  In any event they sounded great in the room.  The EVO is the latest version but it’s a complete redesign which now includes:

  1. The same compound loading technology from the Viginti.
  2. A newer cabinet that is 2″ taller and 2″ deeper.  Anthony mentioned that if you look inside, you see it’s a totally different design.

The supporting Brinkmann gear is top notch of course so that certainly was helping.  Here’s the full list:

  • Nyquist MkII Streaming DAC at $17,990.
  • Marconi MkII Preamplifier at $13,990
  • Mono Amplifiers at $19,990 per pair

Supporting foundation was superb as well with Niagara 5000 line conditioner at $3,999 and an assortment of AudioQuest cables: Wind interconnects from $2,499 to $3,999 for XLR depending on length, 1.5 meter RCA Wind interconnects for $2,499.NRG Thunder power cables from $794 to $849, 1.5 meter Diamond USB for $699, 3 meter Vodka Ethernet cable at $579, and K2 single biwire speaker cables 10 feet long at $24,800.  All the gear was on a solid HRS RXR rack at $3,245.

I was not aware of the backstory on the Brinkmann electronics.  Helmut has been making electronics for over 40 years and the Edison phono stage and Marconi preamp have been in production for a decade.  However, the Mark II was shown the first time in U.S. at RMAF 2018. Circuit-wise the MkII is identical to the original but Helmut re-tuned the circuit board.  The Marconi II is a hybrid unit where the output and phase splitter section use vacuum tubes but in a heat sink so they run cool.  The tubes are NOS Telefunken from 60s that have an impressive 20-year lifespan.  Helmut uses tubes because when you amplify voltage with transistors, there is a time lag between input and output.  However, tubes have no time lag.  If you are using phase splitter with transistors, there is the time lag.  Parts quality is extremely high with even the faceplates having engraved and lacquer-filled lettering.  Impressive.

The Nyquist Mk.II has a nice “liquid sound where you don’t hear any grain” according to Anthony.  As Anthony says, “bass to highs: all cut from same cloth.”  Well my ears heard the same thing.  But perhaps the coolest feature is a path for easy upgrades.  Nyquist has an aluminum vault with digital circuitry.  Need to upgrade?  The factory sends a new card for $1,100 total cost.  Customer just has to remove four screws and put in the new module.  The Nyquist then automatically loads the new software.  Voila!  The MkII is more airy on top than the MkI.

The Mono amplifiers are designed to be ultra-quiet and excel with normal speaker loads.  However, they are not to be used with nominal impedance dipping below 3 ohms.  Transformers are mounted on springs because Helmut is fanatical about removing any noise.  The Monos use Sanken output transistors in a diamond pattern for low noise as well.  The Monos have as short a signal path as possible.  So that helps create the immediacy at sound that I heard. Top panel is a beautiful smoked glass which is a very cool visual feature.   Decent power at 150 watts intp 8 ohms and 250 watts into 4 ohms.

All of this contributed to one of the better rooms at RMAF. It was a very, very good showing for both Eggleston and Brinkmann.

About Lee Scoggins 118 Articles
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Lee got interested in audio listening to his Dad’s system in the late 70s and he started making cassettes from LPs. By the early 80s he got swept up in the CD wave that was launching which led to a love of discs from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs. Later while working on Wall Street in the 90s, Lee started working on blues, jazz and classical sessions for Chesky Records and learned record engineering by apprenticeship. Lee was involved in the first high resolution recordings which eventually became the DVD-Audio format. Lee now does recordings of small orchestras and string quartets in the Atlanta area. Lee's current system consists of Audio Research Reference electronics and Wilson Audio speakers.