The 2023 Florida Audio Expo was the destination where I, your humble narrator, got to finally hear some of the brands and products that have had the other PTA writers swooning over the last year. One was obviously the Acora Acoustics VRC-1 monoliths, and the other was the fine tube amplifier designs from Justin Weber of Ampsandsound. In this room I was exposed to both Ampsandsound and Acora in one fell swoop–Justin’s incredible Casablanca REV 2 monoblocks ($16,000/pr USD) made incredible music with the latest version of the Acora Acoustics SRB with the new quartz finishes.
Words and Photos by Marc Phillips
I think that 2023 might be the Year of Tonality. I’ve had a couple people tell me to discuss tonality in greater depth, but I’ve been dipping my toes into the clear, clear water of neutrality and impossibly low noise floors so I kind of lost track of what tonality is. The Ampsandsound and Acora room, supplemented with VPI and Cardas and more, reminded me of why I love tube amps so much. My first experience with Justin Weber’s design provided a very cogent alternative to what I’ve experienced over the last year.
This was one of those systems that just drain all of the negative energy from your body until you’re a pulsating, messy blob of an audiophile who suddenly loves everything and everyone. My notes from the room say, “Very smooth and relaxed sound, yet accurate. Vocals were incredibly spooky because they felt so real.” That’s why most of us get into tubes, by the way. But the Ampsandsound and Acora room seemed to go beyond that–this was a place to lose yourself and soak in the reasons why we’re all so obsessed with music reproduction.
The Casablanca monoblocks in the Ampsandsound and Acora room seemed to have it all–they can achieve 45wpc with EL-34s and 60wpc with KT-88s or 6550s, so you can match them with more loudspeakers. The Casablanca is also an older design that has been re-introduced in a REV 2 version.
My last thoughts about the Ampsandsound and Acora room concern the future–how can I get Justin Weber’s products into my hands? I really want to dive back into headphones, and I think the Ampsandsound headphone amps are the ticket. After hanging out in this room, I might just put Justin Weber’s number on speed dial.
If you would like to hear even more coverage from FLAX 2023, check out our recap report and highlights from our audiophile-oriented show The Occasional Podcast. You can stream the episode direct from the embed below, or from your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, Android, Google, Deezer, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more.
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