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Elimination of AC noise and its complex interactions with hifi sound aren't the only advantages of DC power. Elimination of low-level power transformer hum is another. In this circuit we even eliminate DC/DC converters for true 'direct current'. We also avoid the need for power-line conditioning. Here some spend more than two Lilianas combined. An Audience aR12-TS for example could set you back $9.000. Forget fancy power cords too. Here even the $11.000 NordOst Odin has nothing on your generic freebie Belden which connects the battery charger to the wall socket. Good riddance.

Then there is the generation of instantaneous very high current with very low output impedance. For an amplifier such low-impedance current delivery means superior control over the connected loudspeaker. With the Lilianas we thus get the promise of perfectly silent operation, perfectly consistent always predictable performance and what Vinnie views as the perfect combination of slam and delicacy. He calls it the iron fist in the velvet glove. Battery current and a bank of eight power Mosfets in push/pull make for the iron fist. Battery silence and a tube buffer add the velvet glove.

Naturally Red Wine Audio isn't the only advocate of DC power. Ron Sutherland has championed battery-powered phono stages for ages. KingRex, Human Audio, Audiophilleo and John Kenny offer battery packs for their USB-to-S/PDIF converters. KingRex has an optional battery supply for its low-power Tripath amps. Firenze Audio has various battery-power Tripath amps in the original RWA Signature 30 mold. The LessLoss DAC combines AC and DC power for specific areas of its circuitry. M2Tech has the optional Palmer battery supply and runs its top Vaughn converter on batteries exclusively. I've seen batteries employed to set tube bias. Audioquest use batteries to bias the dielectric of their cables.

Even so DC power for active audio circuits remains a minority pursuit. By the time amplifiers with 100w+ power ratings enter the ring, that little action nearly completely grinds to a halt. Veloce Audio's $15.000 400-watt battery-powered V6 valve hybrids are class D. Audio Consulting's 120-watt MIPA monos are not but demand a punishing 27.000 to 49.500 Swiss. Holey cheese.

Resourceful readers might add to this list. Even so it'll remain short. Very short. For today and by offering 230 watts into 4Ω, Red Wine Audio's Lilianas remain those rarest of beasts. That their cosmetics avoid bling and stick to basics—albeit executed very solidly—becomes further asset once we remind ourselves of the $6.000/pr sticker. For those of lesser power needs, the previously reviewed and awarded Signature 15 pioneered the same recipe for 15wpc and $1.500 [left]. At $100/watt for the precedent, the Liliana actually halves the investment on the per-watt index to $52 a share. "Its dual-triode cathode follower provides current but not voltage gain so valve rolling doesn't alter the gain structure of the amp. The 6922 adds tonal/harmonic richness, a larger 3D soundstage, better PRaT and improved retrieval of fine detail. It also affords the user sonic fine-tuning by rolling that tube.

"Two resistors fix the actual voltage gain in a discrete FET stage. The eight Vishay Siliconix power Mosfets—very similar parts to what's in your FirstWatt F5—are biased by a current source. Trim pots set the precise bias value and DC offset. There is no global negative feedback, only a nested local loop. The battery is a custom-configured 16-cell LiFePO4 pack with a built-in CMS or cell management board. That board balances each cell in the pack and is key to its long >2.000-cycle life. These battery packs don't care whether they're fully discharged during a session or not. Their cycle life remains the same. They also offer far greater energy density (more power in less space) and weigh less than half of the equivalent SLA versions we used before. That saves our customers shipping costs. The only downsides to our new LiFePO4 packs and special chargers are that both cost almost ten times more but far superior reliability and better sonics make it worth it. The metal hold-down bracket is custom made to keep this pack from moving about even should the unit be dropped in transit.

"The input stage is a balanced design. It is currently wired for single-ended since the tube input buffer is single-ended but in the future I'll be offering a balanced version as well for those who want that.

"Our battery pack has a very flat discharge curve. Once the voltage drops outside this flat curve, we switch over to charge or shut down if no charger is connected. Because we never operate outside this flat discharge curve, current delivery does not drop with state of charge. Even once our SMART board kicks into automatic charge mode—after about 6-8 hours of play time with a full charge depending on load and volume setting—our unique power supply delivers invariable and completely steady performance." (On a parallel battery note, Nissan's zero-emission Leaf vehicle is powered from an 80kW electrical motor with a 24kWh lithium-ion pack for a range of about 100 miles/charge.)

On the subject of output stages, should one assume that Vinnie's remaining switch-mode models will soon vacate class D to have the entire Red Wine Audio chorus sing jointly in the key of A/B? That would seem logical for a fully consistent house sound throughout. A little birdie thus told me that a new stereo integrated will use two of the Liliana boards for less power, likely around 50/100wpc into 8/4 ohms with à-la-carte options of DAC, phono and headfi boards. The Signature 15 will eventually benefit from such expansion options also to require a larger box.