RMAF 2019 Show Report Part 6
7th Floor At RMAF 2019
Garth Leerer of Musical Surroundings was on hand to introduce the new AMG ViellaForte turntable from Germany used at the front end of the rig, but he is shown above expounding the benefits of Clearaudio's Double Matrix Professional Sonic record cleaning machine. Jon Baker gave me the rundown on the new table. The Forte is a beefed up version of the original Viella. The standard Viella Forte is $30k with the tonearm, but the one in the rig with the geometric pattern engraved on the plinth was $32k. It plays 33, 45, and 78 rpm with the push of the appropriate button on the plinth.
The cartridge was a Clearaudio Jubilee ($6k). Both the plinth and the platter are more massive and there is a redesigned clamp. For the heavier platter there is also a re-engineered motor control unit with higher torque for faster start-up. The armboard was also strengthened and was fitted with their 12JT Turbo 12" tonearm. All this has required a price increase of $8k to $10k, but if you have to draw a line, the original model remains in production. A photo of some of these new parts is seen above.
Jon then introduced me to Rich Maez of Boulder. The phono stage for the Viella Forte was the new Boulder 2108($52k) with a separate power supply that actually had four separate power supplies in it: left, right, standby... and something else, maybe L&R? Cartridge loading is via a card with a single tight connection on the back from 1000 Ohms down to 100 for moving coil, and 47kOhms for moving magnet. Three solenoid buttons on the left select the input (in case you have a three-tonearm turntable). A low cut filter can be set for 10Hz or 20Hz (or taken out of the circuit). Mute? Yep, as well as RIAA, EMI, Columbia, and FFRR equalization. Mono and demagnification of the cartridge are also at the touch of a button.
The round tweak on top of the phono stage was a Q Point from Nordost. To quote their literature: It "emits a subtle field which manipulates all electromechanical resonances within its immediate proximity so that they resonate in unison with each other." So, in effect, it's a choir director for your component and you can benefit from one on each of your components. The music in this room was excellent, as you would expect, so who am I to argue? They even have a Q Source to power up to four Q Points if you want to forgo the switch mode wall wart for a sophisticated linear power supply. I look forward to reading the reviews on these guys. I also heard them in a room with VTL electronics driving some big YG speakers later on. Other equipment in this presentation included cabling by Nordost, a Nordost line conditioner and HRS racks. As you might expect, it all added up to another of the many Best Rooms.
The other big news from Boulder was the introduction of their new 866 integrated amp that should be shipping by the time you read this. It comes in two forms. One is a traditional all-analog version with three balanced inputs at $12,250. The other version has digital integrated in it with a Roon end point, Air Play wireless streaming, Ethernet capability for network streaming, USB inputs, optical Toslink, and XLR AES 3 all for $14,450. For Boulder, these are very reasonable prices. The preamp alone in the active system heard here was $21k.
Other details? 200 Wpc doubling down to 400 Wpc at 4 Ohms continuous power with peak output of 700 Watts into 2 Ohms. It is fully balanced until you get to the final output stage and of course, it has a remote. The clamp-like device seen on the back side is just that — it holds the little spotlight that shone on the amp. Normally, the power cord is inserted at that point. I expect these new integrated amps will be a big hit for them.
One last eye-catcher before I left the room was the AMG entry level Giro turntable in a color scheme that cannot be ignored. Entry level, but still a very substantial turntable.
At the smaller suite on the opposite corner in Room 102 was The Music Room. Really, that's the name of the company, otherwise known as TMR. They bill themselves as "The very best in pre-owned audio gear." Everything that comes and goes is checked over by one of a staff of four technicians to assure a properly working item. Located in Broomfield, Colorado, about half-way between Denver and Boulder they have a business model that deals directly with both individuals and retailers. Basically, it's a clearing house for used audio gear. If you're in the area, of course, you can just drive over and deal with them directly. Just don't pull up in an unmarked white van.
Note to self: Check in the basement for old audio gear to sell.
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