I can’t imagine bigger audio news this year than that of Audio Research filing for something akin to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Fearing that such an iconic company – one I always took for granted as being indestructible – might possibly go under and disappear from the audio landscape was disheartening and unsettling to me. Thankfully, a knight in shining armour by the name of Val of Acora stepped in to save the day.
And because of that, I was able to hear a very nice system in the American Sound / Audio Research room that comprised an Audio Research built-in-Minnesota i50 modular integrated amplifier (US$ 5500, plus US$ 750 to add the phono stage module, plus US$ 1000 to add the DAC module). The i50 was powering a pair of crossover-less, semi-active, 98dB-sensitive Rethm Maarga speakers ($US 12,990/pair), which can be attuned to the room they’re in using a level control situated on the back of each cabinet. Drivers on each speaker included a 6” wideband driver and four 7” bass drivers in an isobaric configuration.
Using as the source a DCS Bartók Apex DAC (CA$ 28,250) being fed a Qobuz-streamed FLAC file upsampled to DSD128, the system sounded seamless, transparent, clear, sweet, and super tactile. Transients popped, dynamics swung, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Also in the system were cables by Transparent Audio and an AudioQuest 707 power conditioner (CA$ 1700).