The upscale Emerald Physics EP-2.7 loudspeakers ($9k; offered at an on-site special price of $6k/pair) were clad in an inky black. This speaker features an upgraded concentric mid/woofer and tweeter array over the more pedestrian 4.x series, and this sits on top of a pair of 15″ woofers. The speakers feature OCC wiring, a tri-coat automotive finish and an external crossover/DSP. Specs land this speaker with a 20Hz-22kHz frequency extension, 8Ω impedance (tweeter/mid)/4Ω bass, and a 97dB sensitivity.
The electronics all came from Wyred 4 Sound … sort of. As we learned back at Newport, W4S is now making and selling SST electronics. Here, a Son of Ampzilla Mk 2 stereo amplifier ($3,000) was paired with a stereo W4S ST1000 Mk2 Class D amp for the twin woofers. A Theobe Mk2 preamplifier ($3,000) handled the switching and signaling, preamp-style. Some elegant kit, here.
The converter in question was the latest DAC from W4S, the DAC-2DSD SE ($2,549), includes femto clocks and is a considerable upgrade over the “stock” DAC 2:
As with the DAC-2 and DAC-2 DSD, the special edition DAC-2 DSDse boasts all the remarkable technology of its sister products including the industry-standard ESS 9018 32-DAC, DSD processing, and our proprietary discrete output stages.
Enhancing the already stellar performance of our DAC-2 series, the DAC-2 DSDse includes an array of highly upgraded components: Vishay Z-Foil resistors, ultra-low noise discrete regulators, ultra-fast recovery Scottkey diodes, premium grade inductors, green OLED display and a Rhodium-plated Furutech fuse. The culmination of these enhancements is refined audio performance down to the minutest nuances.
Delivering the highest quality audio of our digital-to-analog convertors, the DSDse is like the DAC-2 on steroids. As with all our DAC-2 products, the DSDse great value for your dollar and carries a five-year warranty.
A W4S Server 1 fed the DAC. All cabling was courtesy of W4S.
The sound in here was harder to parse than in the other EP room, but that was mainly due to the fact that there were some seriously rooted barnacles latched on to the seats in this room. I could not dislodge them. Glares, coughs, and standing directly in front of them for protracted periods of time, wagging my tail directly at their faces produced absolutely no movement. On second thought, they may have been dead. No matter, I wasn’t going to get a seat in this room, so all of my listening was done while bogarting the room. Not everyone is John Darko, apparently. Of course, he is 8 feet tall.
What was I able to glean?
Speed, power, precision. This system isn’t one straying off into tonal-centered warm-and-fuzzies, but instead appealing more the modern linearity. It’s exhilarating. It can be thunderous. It’s extraordinarily detailed. What it also is, is a window into what the high-end was only offering to the very wealthy few. The SOTA is moving down-market, thankfully. And while the system-price for RMAF attendees was a very expensive $15k, I can assure you that that money spent elsewhere would not have resulted in this level of sound.
Grab your seats, kids. It’s gonna be a ride.
I should note in passing, that I did not get a chance to hear the much-less expensive EP-X system. That system, packaged at exactly 1/3rd of the larger system, made quite an impression.