I have used the LKV Research PWR + amplifier as part of my benchmark rig for a while so it was great to meet LKV’s Bill Hutchins in the flesh at CAF. Connecting with the designer behind a component is always a treat and helps humanize the technology-mediated listening process.
Hutchins launched two products at CAF: the LKV Research VNL phono preamplifier (price to be determined) and the LKV Research PWR 3 power amplifier ($ 3,550). LKV Research’s Line One Control preamplifier ($ 3,500) and class PWR + power amplifier ($ 10,000) were also part of the system. The record player was a world first: Basis Audio’s Bravo record player with the Vector Tonearm ($ 9,750); mounted on this table was an Audio Technica AT-ART100 direct-powered stereo MC cartridge ($ 5,000). Two other world premieres: the Finley Audio Cirrus speaker cable ($ 1,785- $ 6,786 / pair depending on length) and The Davis Audio Entropic Vibration Control Blocks ($ 43.56 for a box of four). Rounding out the system: various Finley Audio interconnects and power cables, Les Davis Audio 3D2 vibration control pads ($ 6.54 / box of eight) and, most importantly, Joseph Audio Pulsar2 floorstanding speakers Graphene ($ 8,999 / pair).
Hutchins wrote in a press release about the VNL phono preamplifier: “I have spent several years re-examining every element of the phono stage – all the circuits, components and materials – to make it as perfect as possible.”
The LKV Research PWR 3 power amplifier was designed as the “little brother” of the LKV Research PWR +, at a “significantly lower price”, the press release says. Like the PWR +, it combines Class D Purifi modules with a class A input / voltage gain circuit and linear power supply.The PRW 3 delivers 175Wpc into 8 ohms or 350Wpc into 4 and 2 ohms.
Playing Cassandra Wilson’s “Fragile” from its 2003 release, glamour (great music!), the LKV Research platform made her voice dark as rich honey; the sound of the system was precisely, gently focused. After hearing so many large systems in large rooms, there was an aptness and familiarity with the Basis / LKV Research / Joseph Audio setup. The music was rendered with precision but not analytically, rich but also clear, and there was dynamism, punch and a considerable leap to the music.