On the exclusive side of the amplifier market were the stunning new $28,750/pr Renaissance monoblocks by Gordon Maughan [right] and Alan Stiefel of Red Rock Audio. On active duty both in the Eben/Symposium exhibit and Red Rock's own ESP speaker setup already covered, these monos are visually reminiscent of Eduardo de Lima's chimney-style Audiopax amps and sounded extremely promising. At 100 lbs per and bandwidth to 100kHz, these are not your grandfather's tube amps. The input voltage gain stage uses a 6BL7 dual triode whose first half is direct-coupled to the second half to become a cathodyne phase splitter whose twin phases feed a second 6BX7 voltage gain stage that's capacitively coupled to four actively biased 572 output tubes in parallel push-pull AC filament mode.

Separate pi filters for the predriver/driver stage and the output stage isolate each other via capacitors and customized toroidal chokes. RC networking further isolates the predriver, cathodyne and driver stages. All amplifier circuit wiring is point to point with high-quality turret posts while a single circuit board in the power supply contains the soft start circuit and AC power management/filtering. Decorative and exchangeable hardwood wings allow for various aesthetic options.

Back in the affordable sector, Dan Wright of ModWright LLC showed his new $1,400/$1,900 standard/SE-remote tube preamplifier with 200kHz bandwidth and a S/N ratio of -122dB. Like the Belles unit, this promises to be a very high-performance unit well within reach of the ambitious yet constrained music lover and is designed and built by one of the finest modifiers in the country.

I'm confident we can obtain one for review and I herewith invite my moonie colleagues to put in dibs for this exciting assignment. Who has the sharpest elbows in the land? The same goes for the Van den Hul cartridges.

This now concludes my introduction of the RMAF show coverage and we'll continue shortly with alphabetical listings - but not before a few more special announcements.

Albert Porter now runs AlbertPorterPhoto and is AudiogoN's resident Nikonmaniac and show coverage expert. But he used to operate three stereo stores in the late 60s/early 70s and thus has a soft spot for anything audiophiliac. If you're a small-scale audio manufacturer in need of professional photography, contact Albert via the above e-mail or website links. During the PFO dinner, he sat right next to me and we talked for quite while. He assured me that he'd consider extra-special rates for the right audio assignment and mentioned numerous audio-related ad campaigns I'd seen here and there without knowing that he'd been the man behind the camera.

In my recent rave review of Mikhail Rotenberg's SinglePower MPX3 tube headphone amp, I made oblique mention of a corporate acquisition. At the show, Mikhail gave the go-ahead to spill the beans and name names: He's acquired GoldPoint and all production of GoldPoint's famed stepped series and ladder-type resistor pots is now in-house at SinglePower's Denver digs and your new source for these devices. Also look for a 6moons review of his top-line Maestro preamp/headphone amp soon - Mikhail graciously promised to send me one [the big chunky one to the left below].

With Harvey 'Gizmo' Rosenberg's parting, the hallways of this type of event lacked the kilted specter and tubed crown of the one and only true tube maniac. Based on his kewl head dress, Pete Riggle of Pete Riggle Audio seems naturally poised to fill this void and rather than just provide visual fun, he's got a really useful and inexpensive gizmo to brighten the days of all vinylphiles: The $99 VTAF VTA-On-The-Fly for Rega RB250, 300 and 600 arms depicted on his business card to the right.

For sheer out-there visual splendor, nobody can beat Josh Stippich of Electronluv whom we interviewed last year in his Salt Lake digs and who since has found a Cyprean admirer for whom he is building custom hornspeakers. The young genius has already gone through some 1300 lbs of aluminum to shave and shape things down to about 1000 lbs of speaker and if his customer permits, we'll soon have some pictures for you of this over the top project. For RMAF, Josh loaned a customer's preamps to Terry Cain's Cain & Cain exhibit. If ever a tube was in search of a safe cave, it found it in this masterpiece.

And as a reminder that audiophilia will die if we don't refill our aging ranks, a concluding picture of two audiophiles-in-training though they may not know it yet. More soon.