When I entered the Refined Audio room at AXPONA 2022, I was greeted by Cube Audio’s Nenuphar BASiS, a distinctive looking black speaker with a yellow driver ($26,900/pair). The sound of this intriguing system had a truly nice, smooth tone–not a surprise since the amplification consisted of Pass Labs’ finest, including the XP-27 phono pre that Marc Phillips reviewed ($12,075), and something Nelson Pass calls “The Beast of 1,000 JFETs.”
Refined Audio is a high-end audio dealer that focuses mainly on Cube Audio, Pass Labs and First Watt. Since Cube Audio specializes in high-efficiency full-range drivers (from NEO), the simple low-powered designs from First Watt seem to be a match made in heaven. But what’s with The Beast?
Well, The Beast is one of two actual amplifiers created by Pass, and it puts out 20 watts per channel using only JFETs. While this seems like a very esoteric pairing of speakers and amplifiers, it didn’t sound that esoteric. It sounded quite special in the Refined Audio room, considering it’s the pure result of the tinkering of Mr. Pass. (Make sure to check out the QR code to read up on his knock off from the Roger Corman film, The Beast with One Million Eyes.)
Other electronics in the Refined Audio room included the Lampizator Pacific DAC ($24,000), in all its tubey glory, while vinyl duties were handled by TW Acustic Raven ($12,000), Schroeder SQ reference ($8,500) and Schick 12” ($2,000) tonearms, and either the EMT JSD Lime ($5,500) or the Koetsu Rosewood Signature ($5,495) carts. Cabling was by Silversmith, power filtering by Jena Labs Sapling II ($8,000).
If you would like to hear even more coverage from AXPONA 2022, check out our recap report and highlights from our audiophile-oriented show The Occasional Podcast. You can stream the show direct from the embed below, or from your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, Android, Google, Deezer, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more.