AMG, VTL, Vandersteen, Audioquest, HRS and The Audio Alternative – RMAF 2018

by Eric Shook

Most people walked into this room and went straight for the amps and speakers, or electronics and cables. My eye was drawn to the turntable, for a simple reason, it has three electronic capacitive touch speed controls which change color when in action. I was hoping the digital would be playing in the room so I could take a stab at fiddling with the buttons, but alas is my life — it wasn’t in the cards.

The AMG Viella turntable ($23,750 USD) was outfitted with a smooth looking Cherry wood trim skirt, and on-brand 12JT Turbo arm and cable. Lyra’s Atlas phono cartridge ($11,995 USD) provided all of the groovy insight. Though I didn’t get to handle the turntable’s speed controls myself, I did get to see the host of the room take action with a few records, sadly all in 33 rpm. I definitely found myself enjoying the track selection and pairing of the VTL TP-6.5 Signature Phonostage ( with MC step-up $12,000 USD) with the AMG. Output from there handed off to a VTL TL-6.5 Series II Signature Preamplifier ($15,000 USD) and monstrous looking VTL S-400 Series II Reference Stereo Power Amplifier. Surely the S-400 amplifier would present challenges for being carried away with its 250lb weight, but considering all of the technology present in the feature set, by divvying up the pounds for each one, you might come to maths that sound conservatively reasonable. With circuitry based on the Siegfried Series II Reference monoblock amplifier, VTL proprietary “Smart Tube” tech, precision regulated everything, shorter and firmer signal paths, adjustable damping factor controls to better match speaker variances. I’ve seen DAC’s with less going on inside.

What can I say about the Vandersteen Model Seven MKII ($62,000 USD) that already hasn’t been said about Santa Claus. Except for the fact the Model Sevens visit you all year, if you have the cash. What I can say that is a new experience, would be about the stands. Dubbed the Vandersteen 7 System 9 Granite Upgrade ($10,000 USD). I’ve never seen (or heard) them on what looks to be four inches of granite. Proudly flanking each Model Seven, a Vandersteen Sub Nine ($18,900 pr USD) which in my opinion are not only needed for the absolute largest of spaces, but also do well to reinforce smaller rooms and tackle the universal issue of idyllic speaker and sub placement not existing within the same footprint, such as at the show here in Denver.

AudioQuest was a big to do also in this room as they were showing off more than few new cables from their new Mythical Creatures series, which are aimed at the cost-no-object market. Namely the Dragon Shotgun Bi-Wire Speaker Cable which at 10 foot, the pair reached $58,999 USD.

HRS Stands, and a stack of Bryston digital electronics (though unheard) rounded out the system’s “accessories.”