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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.6.7 and PureMusic 1.84 in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, April Music Eximus DP1
Integrated amplifier: Peachtree Audio iDecco
Power amplifier: FirstWatt S2 prototype [on loan]
Loudspeakers: Zu Essence
Cables: Complete Zu Event loom
Powerline conditioning: 1 x Furutech RTP6, 1 x GigaWatt PF-2
Sundry accessories:
Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size: 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review Component Retail: $1.500

Red Wine Audio's Vinnie Rossi at RMAF 2011 showing with the WLM speakers he imports to the US

Patron saint to those short of funds? Audio writers are guilty of myth—and in some cases even king—making. The former is particularly so when their subjects shun the limelight. Think Don Garber of Fi who to this day lacks a website to tell his own story in his own words. In the case of Vinnie Rossi, patron sainthood would be writerly excess. And the website says all there is to say on his products and design philosophy. Even so it's certainly true that the US-made high-value approach has factored on the man's mind from the very beginning. As an ongoing proposition my bolded opening question thus stands.

As happens with certain brands which a particular magazine 'discovers', 6moons crossed paths with Red Wine Audio from the start. The product which put the firm firmly on the map was the Signature 30, a 30wpc Tripath/class D stereo amp on battery power. Its success unleashed an inspired-by flood of would-be successors. Our review of the Signature dates back to June 2006. Its sell price at the time was $1.399. Fast forward 5 years. The new Signature 15 offers half the go juice but does so as discrete class A/B FET power. This cleanly doubles into 4Ω. It then adds an auto-biased class A triode buffer—6922/E88CC, 6DJ8/ECC88, 7308/E188CC, 7DJ8/PCC88, 6N23, 6H23, 6N11 and 6GM8 are all rollable—which not only feeds the field-effect output transistors but exits into a variable output for active subwoofers. The Signature 15 still has three RCA inputs but comes standard with remote volume control and LiFePO4 rather than SLA battery cells. To top things off, it then sells for $1.500. In 2011 currency! That's half of what its current Signature 30.2 stable mate in the fancier casing demands. Value thus is alive and well at RWA. Huzzah!

Signature 15 at RMAF 2011 [from John Darko's show coverage]

* LiFePO4 stands for lithium/iron/phosphate. Such batteries are capable of very high output currents. Unlike conventional Li-Ion cells overcharging releases neither metallic lithium nor oxygen. Rather than only 50-60% of lithium utilization, LFP cells use their total amount. Depending on construction a quick charge to 90% of capacity can occur over a brief 5 minutes. Auto discharge of 5 percent/month equals Li-Ion precursors but LFP's internal impedance is about half and complete discharges don't reduce total capacitance values.

Naturally the Signature 15 benefits from the company's most current iteration of their smart/fully automated battery charging system which auto-senses the cell's state to top it off, then disconnects itself. In use the Signature 15 works (nearly) like any other integrated amplifier. Turn it on and it plays. Turn it off and it charges itself. If you want tunes on the porch or balcony, forget running a long ugly extension cord. You might instead bring along Vinnie's 256GB SSD-modified iPod with bypassed output stage which thus connects its Wolfson DAC directly to the Sig 15's inputs.