Musical Surroundings, Sweet Home Audio, AMG, DS Audio, Rogue Audio, and Magnepan .7 – FLAX 2020

Musical Surroundings, Sweet Home Audio, AMG, DS Audio, Rogue Audio, Magnepan .7 at the Florida Audio Show.

When I walked into the exhibit room hosted by Musical Surroundings and Sweet Home Audio, I firstly thought “This isn’t exactly a statement system.” But after a close inspection of the system’s components, it quickly became clear that the exhibitors were definitely making a statement with this system.

For one, I haven’t seen Magnepan .7’s at an audio show in a while, especially without Magnepan representatives there as a partner in the exhibition. Secondly, these .7’s are the truest entry level model of the Magnepan offering on display. Yes, there is the more affordable LRS but that’s not really a speaker as much as it is a $650 business card. Not to say the .7 Maggies’ don’t deliver high-end output at a high value, that they do well.

Rogue Audio’s Cronus Magnum III integrated amplifier echoes the high value statement being made here, with its sub-$3K asking price and all tube complement. But from there, things become a little more esoteric. The analog source, AMG’s gorgeous Giro turntable in metallic blue paint with 9WT tonearm and outboard power supply ring in at a little over $14K, and it being outfitted with DS Audio’s E1 optical phono cartridge system move things into an almost strange feeling arena.

As fellow writer Marc Phillips says about optical phono cartridges, “Normal cartridges use an electromagnetic generator to move the magnets (MM) or coils (MC), and the speed of that movement within the magnetic field determines the output signal. With an optical system, that output signal is determined by the distance the stylus moves. That makes everything much more simple: set-up and alignment, circuitry and passive RIAA equalization.

Without getting too into the weeds, when Marc says he likes something, it’s usually pretty good. It’s an easy, practical, and digestible description that assuages fears and concerns. Almost leading me to wonder why more manufacturers haven’t looked at taking a trip down this optical cartridge road. I say this, because the sound of this system in its whole, was just delicious from top to bottom. I didn’t think the Rogue would have the minerals on tap to flex the Maggies into submission, but it did. The multiple passes of the E1 Optical cart atop the Giro felt like home to me. Something superbly right about this system, and I can’t help but credit the source and wisdom of Sweet Home Audio for curating a system that makes such a statement. 

by Eric Franklin Shook

Giro Turntable w/9WT Tonearm and Power Supply – $14,250 USD

DS Audio

E1 Optical Phono Cartridge System – $2,750 USD

Rogue Audio

Cronus Magnum III Tube Integrated Amplifier – $2,995 USD


.7 Panel Loudspeakers – $1,400 pr USD