Graig Neville and Jameson Mourafetis visit EMBER Audio + Design | HUBCON 2022

Ember Audio

Editor’s Note: Before we dive into Hubcon 2022 coverage, let’s take care of the elephant in the room—what the hell is Hubcon? Hubcon is a gathering of Part-Time Audiophile writers and editors. During our planning of this strategic-social event several exotic locations were discussed: those included Toronto, Hawaii, and Cartagena. Alas, we decided on something closer to home for our initial outing—the state of North Carolina. Home to both Dave McNair and Eric Franklin Shook, and within reach of Grover Neville, Graig Neville, and Jameson Mourafetis. In short, Hubcon is where love and audiophilia meet and shake hands.

EMBER Audio + Design

If you’ve been reading the (web)pages of Part-Time Audiophile since the summer of 2016 when I first reported on the local hi-fi happenings at EMBER Audio + Design, where I covered their then monthly Public Vinyl Demo (read here). Then you should be familiar with Christopher Livengood, the proprietor of Ember Audio, and his longstanding friendship with Dave McNair, Grover Neville, and myself.

Words and Photos by Eric Franklin Shook

Christopher Livengood’s high-end dealer space has played the backdrop and source of inspiration for several of our hi-fi adventures. Seeming sometimes like a second home, and always a mandatory stopping point whenever passing within the city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

On this day, we bring two more of our friends and fellow PTA writers into the fold, Graig Neville, and Jameson Mourafetis. Hubcon 2022 is about friendship and love as much as it is about audiophilia, so why not expand the circles even more by merging the two.

Ember Audio

Sitting with the Dynaudio Heritage Special

I don’t think any of us were really aware of what we were in for with the still new Dynaudio Heritage Special loudspeaker.

By the looks of it, you’d think you’d have an idea of what you were getting based on past (and some recent) experiences with Dynaudio, but you’d be wrong. For one, it’s a larger monitor than you might expect, it plays deeper and with more crisp authority than you are likely prepared for, and also is voiced in a way that is outwardly different than any other monitor in the price range that I’ve come across.

Resolving. Great imaging. Harbeth like midrange. Crispy bass. And even more, one of the few bookshelf monitors that makes my short list of speakers I could see living out my days with.

It should be noted that these are a limited production product, at only 2,500 pairs worldwide. That said, I wouldn’t be afraid to still inquire about auditioning them at your nearest Dynaudio dealer.

Ember Audio

The Main Room, Ember Audio + Design

We recently spent some time with the Wilson Sasha DAW and Vinnie Rossi BRAMA Integrated, and recounted that first experience here.

For shits and giggles, we decided to put some retro-modern JBL L100 speakers on the Vinnie Rossi BRAMA Integrated, just to be the first ones in history to do so, and also to see how the pairing played the room.

To be honest, it wasn’t bad at all. The massive (and unnecessary) supply of power that a 350 wpc integrated amplifier can deliver did wonders with the woofers of the L100 without giving up an ounce of control.

Both walked away from the scuffle with better impressions than expected, though I doubt we’ll likely see that pairing out in the real world. But you never know.

A Shipment from LAB 12

Our own Marc Phillips recently reviewed the LAB 12 Integre4 tube integrated amplifier (review here) and LAB 12 Melto2 Phono Preamplifier (review here), leaving the rest of us at Part-Time Audiophile with the urge to audition those high-performance and high-value products for ourselves.

Lo and behold, they showed up unannounced to us, at Ember Audio just at the right time.

With strong reputations preceding them, we watched and waited patiently as Christopher Livengood and Langston Styles of Ember Audio maneuvered to carefully install the new pieces of kit into the system.

Ember Audio

Ember Audio

Once things were wired in, warmed up, and feeling right, we gave the little tube integrated from Greece the center stage with Wilson Audio at the flanks.

Color us impressed. As the Integre4 from LAB 12 only states a power output of 65 wpc, we never felt the power engine of this integrated was running out of steam.

You know what they say, everyone’s 65 wpc isn’t the same.