by Rafe Arnott
When you wander the halls of a big audiophile trade show, you start to get what many refer to as “ear fatigue” or what I call “burnout.”
Putting in several hours running from room to room to take in whatever is the latest, and greatest from high-fidelity manufacturers spanning the globe at AXPONA this past weekend, I realized I was starting to slow down late in the afternoon on Saturday, and so sought solace in what I like to refer to as a “safe space.”
Border Patrol, and Volti Audio stay connected with Triode Wire Labs in a fairly regular fashion at hifi shows, and their rooms always qualify as a place to recharge, and sooth myself. Chicago this year was no different with the three companies showing their beautiful hand-made DACs, pre-amps, amplifiers, cabling, and loudspeakers.
The sound here is always accurate without being analytical, warm without losing resolution, and features a wide, deep soundstage with satisfying bass definition, and upper register air, and decay off piano, cymbal, and high hat notes: ticking all the boxes for this lover of musicality, tone, and timbre.
Border Patrol was flexing sonic muscles with the 300B-tubed S20 EXS integrated amplifier (18 watts, $18,500 USD), and their small, but mighty R2R (ladder DAC) 24/96 SPDIF/USB DAC SE ($950 USD).
There were also the P21EXD (from $13,150 USD), and P20EXD/EXS (from $18,500 USD) power amplifiers in the room, but I did not hear those during my visit.
Volti had the Rival (100 dB, 20kHz – 32Hz, from $7,900 USD) in place, and TWL was featuring a mix of Obsession ($1,399 USD) and, Digital American ($699 USD) AC cables, American speaker cables ($699 USD), Spirit, and Spirit 75 interconnects ($299 – $329 USD).