Vinnie Rossi teases modular, rechargeable LIO at NYAS ’14


NYAS_2014Much like your correspondent Vinnie Rossi has been operating on sleep fumes in the lead-up to the New York Audio Show. He’s been readying something very new for RMAF and tells visitors to his room at the Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge that getting a prototype teaser ready for NYC called for 4am finishes most nights. Poor chap…

…and lucky us. This new box ‘o tricks isn’t being issued under Rossi’s usual Red Wine Audio banner, a brand hitherto synonymous with battery power. LIO is a very different beast. It’s both modular and powered by rechargeable ultra-capacitors – a shift that demanded fresh branding, that of Vinnie Rossi himself.

So what is the Vinnie Rossi LIO? The answer is ‘anything you want it to be’.

Configuring a LIO could be likened to ordering a Subway sandwich. You start with the basic box: silver or black or a mixture of the two by selecting top plate and front panel button colours from the (soon to be launched) website. Then you choose your modules (of which there are ten) to configure the LIO to suit your specific needs: DAC-pre, phono pre, integrated amplifier, headphone amplifier or a combination thereof.

For example, one could start with a DSD DAC module and headphone amplifier and then add an input selector switch down the line. That’s three. Got vinyl? Add a MM/MC phono stage module with dip switchable loading. Wanna get really cool? Add the remote cartridge-loading module that allows on the fly setting from the wand remote control or forthcoming Bluetooth-transmitting iOS and Android apps.

Autoformer volume control (AVC) is for a lean-and-clean sound that promises high current at lower SPLs. If you want more meat on the bone then the tube input stage module is advised, for which the resistor volume control (RVC) module must stand in for the AVC.


Need to hook in your loudspeakers as well? That’ll require the MOSFET amplifier module: 25 wpc into 8 Ohms and 45 wpc into 4 Ohms.

If any given module isn’t to your liking, it’s returnable to Rossi within 30 days for a full refund. That also means another big shift for the man from Massachusetts – he’s taking LIO sales to a factory direct model.

Then comes the really clever part of the design: ultra-capacitors, rechargeable devices that promise to last a lifetime (compared to the inherent charge-cycle limitation of batteries). Whilst one row of ultra capacitors supplies circuit juice a power brick recharges the other row. Switching between the two rows takes place automatically and is effectively invisible to the end user. This design approach maintains all the benefits of off-the-grid listening with none of the compromise of sometimes having to listen whilst charging that occurs with Red Wine Audio products.

Production LIO units will beginning shipping in November and although pricing has yet to be fully locked down, a basic LIO box plus one module is expected to come in at US$2500 with a fully kitted out unit flitting somewhere around US$6500.

Further information: Vinnie Rossi Audio

Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
Instagram: DarkoAudio
Facebook: DAR


Leave a Reply
  1. I see what looks like a RWA-Z1ES next to the VR Lio. Did you get a chance to try it? Both units look about the same size. I wonder if you can stack them without thermal issues. A RWA-Z1ES-x + VR Lio (preamp/headamp spec with extra olives) + some decent nearfield monitors and a top-end headphone sounds like a pukka desktop setup!!

    Much thanks for the coverage, JD.

  2. It was a RWA-Z1ES acting as source. Sounded pretty good, but I couldn’t listen long. Hard to tell what’s what when you’re encountering all the components for the first time.

    Worth further exploration at the least.

    • That’s right – impossible to know which component is contributing what to each room’s sound. Rossie is super enthusiastic about the digital circuit pathways found in the Sony player, modded or not.

  3. Love the idea of ultra-capacitors. I’m always dreaming of the new and possibly better ways to refine and abuse our music streaming ways.