Red Wine Audio Isabella

so i just ordered my red wine audio Isabella with dac -

it just went up for sale yesterday and vinnie of red wine stated that i should have it in 3 weeks. I have been excited about this one since it was mentioned last fall! Anyone else order one? I'll post my impressions once I get it. I have a good feeling that this one is going to be the ONE!

Yeah, I have it on order as well. Are you going to feed the DAC with a Mac book or cd transport?
I hope to get some objective opinions on this one...particularly with the dac. I think vinnie is awesome but id id like to see a real head to head say against the dood, joule, Audio Horizons etc.
hey kclone,

i just picked up my macbook based on vinnie's recomendation and am already ripping my music using lossless files. i really do love the clean user interface and "front row" software and the included remote. I can see and control this thing across my room, awesome! and it is battery powered naturally. vinnie mentioned that 6moons will be using the same macbook in the review that is coming next month - feeding the Isabellina dac. i am very excited to get my Isabella! Just need to be patience for a few weeks!

Vinnie took his time on this one, and from talking to him, he seemed like he was holding back a little on his thoughts about how it sounds. He wants to wait for the owners and reviewers to sound off. Of course 6 Moons is going to do a review and I think theirs are objective as far as reviews go. Like I have said before, if his preamp/dac sounds as good as his amps, then it will be a big winner in my book.
In order to get objective opinions you will have to get independent group of audiophiles and perform blind test in at least two neutral systems. Not easy thing to do. Most fear of the outcome some are bias and others are pre-fix on their preferences and idea of what sounds good to their ears. Also component synergy will play big part in the evaluation. I usualy compare components home in my system. Shot-outs are great and very helpful but not able to get the whole story and true about two components that are compared and evaluated.
It takes balls and open mind to have two components go head to head at each other and being judged by strangers with unknown preferences and listening skills. However, it is possible. Vinnie is very open minded and is not affraid to ask questions. He knows that I own his Sig. 30 and love it. He also knows about pairing his amp with Dodd preamp. He knows it is his competition and I am sure he somewhat respects Gery and his design. His Isabella must be very competitive and superior while its price tag is $1500 higher. Both are very wise. One cap in the signal path. Both use 6922 (X2) tubes. Both run on batteries. Similar volume controlers. Vampire RCA jacks etc.
If I had those two (actually all I need is Isabella) home, I would be more then happy to report my findings. And NO , I am not bias towards DODD. If RWA Isabella is in fact would most likely stay and DODD would have to find a better home. But untill then I am sticking with less expensive DODD which features HT pass-thru , more ins and longer battery operation on single charge. (double of RWA)
Just few thoughts about these fine products that will be talked about and always tried to be compare to each other. Until someone will put that controvercy to rest.

Enjoy the music

i also placed my order for the Isabella w/ dac and can't wait too! nice to see others in this camp.

while the Dodd also uses 6922 and battery, i'm not sure how much the preamp circuitry is alike. i have been trying to get more info from dodd and vinnie because i am curious. I know vinnie is using both sections of each dual-triode tube while the dodd only uses one. vinnie won't tell me the exact topology of the preamp but he says it is much different than the dodd and is one of a kind and it took a long time to perfect but he says it is well worth the effort. i only know basic electronics so i cannot say waht it means even if i saw a diagram, haha. Someone mentioned somewhere that the dodd uses dc-dc converters for the tubes B+ and this is not as clean. dodd did not let me know if this is true or not, but I suppose one can measure the voltage at the tube sockets and see if it is higher than the battery? I asked vinnie and he says his circuit is totally unique and uses no dc-dc convertes so there is no noise and loss of current. From the site the Isabella board looks much cleaner and with shorter signal paths and such, but all that matters in the end is the sound. look, we know dodd is very good from all the happy cusotmers such as Mariusz and i'm sure it is. There are things about the Isabella that make me believe it is going to be better for me, and i waited a long time for it to be ready and am excited.

the Isabella also allows for a hi and low gain setting and has the SMART module which i like the idea of, and a mode to run on the charger's power so play time can continue and the unit can be let on at all times if desired. I really like this idea! vinnie promises that even when running from the charger the sound is very good because of all the conditioning he performs inside, but the pure SLA battery power is the best. the other reason I went for the Isabella is the built in dac with USB. That is one less box and set of interconnects, and the design sounds like it will meet my tastes as i love analog tone but i am getting into the msuic server approach..

i agree with kclone. if it represents the great value and amazing sound of his amps, it is going to be a classic waiting to happen. If not i'll simply return within 30 day. vinnie must be very confident about his baby to offer this and i respect that. I'll be sure to post when I get mine in about 3 weeks and get time to listen. i am also looking forward to the reviews from 6moons and i think i read that Tone Audio will also be reviewing one in the next issiue. vinnie mentons this on his forum here -

ok enough talk. i want to listen and am excited!

Nate, I am curious just like you and would like to get more information in regards to both designs. As little as it is known about Isabella , even less we know about Dodd. If you compare the websites, Vinnie did better job getting as many details as he could at the time of Isabella release day (I think t was Friday). Vinnie is also very active on Audio Circle, where he tries to answer any questions regarding his products. I admire his support and time he dedicates to be as helpful as possible. However, I can not help but noticed the similarities between these two. Yes, there are some differences.......but.
So please keep us posted and hope to hear first impressions from one of you - first Isabella owners.

Love the DAC idea......NOS DAC and it runs on batteries too.
Very cool. If I was going to get one.....definitly the one with build in DAC. Also Six moons might try to compare Dodd to Isabella pre.......that is going to be very interesting review that I will be waiting for long and congrats on the Isabella purchase. I am sure that non of you will regrat it.

hi Mariusz,

I'd say there is a sufficient amount know about the Isabella from the website. I think the 'unknown' is the user feedback and reviews but these will be coming soon and then im sure Vinnie is going to be bombarded and backloged with order. This seems to happen every time and I remember waiting patiently on the list for my 30.2. Ive come to trust his ear and now i decided to buy now so I don't have to wait nearly as long - Vinnie mentions the dac board will be ready in just a couple of weeks and will be shipping. I bet he is selling many more with the dac than without, so i think we'll see some feedback in a few weeks, including mine :)

I agree - it is a very good idea to include the dac into the preamp to keep the signal paths short and reduce the number of components on the rack.

I'll keep you guys posted

Hi Jeff, I thought that DAC boards arrived least that is what I am hearing. I am very interested in the first users report (honest report) and look forward to find someone in NY area to compare the two battery wonders and help me decide if Isabella is worthy of the closer look in the future or Dodd is the one to beat .....still.
When you report back your first impresssions, please try to compare RWA DAC to another DAC with reputation and preferably in the same price range.



I've been playing my RWA Isabella, with built-in Isabellina dac option, for a few weeks now. I wanted to write sooner but I have been having a very difficult time pulling myself away from listening. I'm no reviewer by any means, but I will say this - Isabella already has FAR exceeded my expectations and I have never heard *any* preamp or dac that like more than this!

So everyone knows I am also using a RWA Signature 30.2 and Gallo Ref 3.1s.

What the Isabella is providing is more dimension and space, more foundation to the sound, a totally effortless presentation, more life and realism to my music than I thought was possible in my system. All this with just adding in the Isabella/Isabellina combo. Granted it is not a cheap upgrade but to me well worth every penny! :)

The Isabellina dac option gives me what vinnie/RWA promised - a natural and emotionally involving musical presentation that does not sound digital AT ALL. I am using a Macbook computer like the one vinnie uses and USB. Such a simple way to connect to all your music and sounds so good. I'm off the grid completely now and loving every minute of listening! the only other dacs that I have used in the past that are close (in my opinion) are the Altmann attraction dac and a modified ack dack. No coincedece that these are also battery powered and non-oversampling. but the Isabellina seems to has deeper soundstaging, more dynamics and pacing, and some more extension on the top end. I no longer own these dacs so I cannot do a direct comparison, so please take this with with a grain of salt since I am just going by my memory but I owned each of them long enough to remember quite a bit. also I am not sure how much the Isabella tube stage has to do with this vs. the Isabellina stand alone product that RWA now offers. Would be interested to see.

What I also like is how the Isabellina dac is built into the Isabella tubed preamp. Everything is in one enclosure so no interconnects needed between a dac and preamp and this makes for shorter signal paths and simplicy on my audio rack. I need to try the RWA interconnects and speaker cables next. When I do I'll report back.

I just read the post from Mariusz:

Now that was a very good post and I wish I can explain things that clearly. What I can say is that I am very satisfied with my Isabella/Isabellina, Signature 30.2 and Gallo 3.1s. I never heard it sound this good and I can say that I will no longer be hunting for a preamp, dac, or amp that is so satisfying to my ears. maybe I'll looking into trying new speakers later on, but right now I can't even think of changing a thing because I am pulled in the music and just want to buy more music.

like jeff, ive been seduced by the RWA Isabella with dac option for over a week and have trouble stop listening to the music. what else can i say that mariusz and jeff have not covered already? Isabella is everything i hoped for and more!!! vinnie has a real winner on his hands and i can only imagine how good the upcoming reviews are going to be for the isabella and isabellina dac. i'm glad i ordered early before its goes big and the lead time gets long as i cant see how the isabella w/dac will not be a classic. i have never herd a preamp and dac that truly makes music like this > stunning! Brava Isabella! tutti stanno bene! hahaha, i wish i knew real italian!


Jwarmbrand & Natewalker_2006

As you both know I am a happy Dodd owner and I hope that you found my comments truthful and accurate.......of course to the certain point (it is all system dependent and I had only one day to evaluate Isabella).

I share your enthusiasm towards Vinnie's new Isabella preamp as I believe it might be one of the best preamp out there - especially with its build-in Isabellina NOS non-up-sampling DAC.

If I had to choose only few words to describe it, it would have to be - smooth, analog sounding DAC, effortless, musical enjoyment.

If I did not have Dodd already, I would be placing order right now. It is that good.

Thanks for kind words and congratulations on getting and enjoying RWA Isabella preamp.

Guys, what preamp have you guys been using before being won over by this little Isabella?
Hi ViperZ,

Before the Red Wine Isabella, I have been playing with a Audio Horizons TP2.1 and an EE Minimax (borrowing from a friend). The RWA Isabella wins me over by
a lot!

hey mariusz,

thank you!

hey viper_z,

i was able to try the modwright LS36.5 but it wasnt for me. RWA Isabella was much more musical and spacious and 'effortless' like mariusz says. it was designed to be a perfect match with the Signature 30.2 so that makes sense why i like it better in my system. not saying the modwright is not good. for me and my system the RWA isabella is a sonic marvel and the dac option is very special to me. digital never sounds so good!

Back to listening for me,

Hi Jwarmbrand and Natewalker2006, may I know what's the rest of your equipments (amp, speaker)??

Does the Isabellina DAC have an "airy" top end?

I am using the Red Wine Isabella with built in Isabellina dac board, RWA Signature 30.2 power amp and feeding this into Gallo Ref 3.1s. Source is a Macbook feeding into the Isabellina dac via USB. Currently using diy interconnects and speaker cable, but will be purchasing the new RWA cables in the near future.

YES - Isabella dac is very airy and spacious sounding! I love it - why? it simply makes digital sound like music and I can finally connect with digital!

YES - Isabella dac is very airy and spacious sounding! I love it - why? it simply makes digital sound like music and I can finally connect with digital!

I agree.
I am in the process of auditioning new speakers as well to match with RWA gear.

I have auditioned AMR CD 77 about two months ago and loved it. Cost was the only barrier in acquiring this wonderful CDP. However with Isabella and Isabellina DAC, I am just smiling from the fact that it brings the same emotions and feeling while listening to AMR CD 77.
La Scala, Rethm Saadhana among few others are on my list of speakers to audition......if someone is interested.

Heard RWA with Rethms and loved it. La Scala is also very promising, potential match for RWA. Another is also a single driver speaker and the last one is Horn design 16K speaker that might not be the perfect fit for my kind of smallish room, but at this point I am open for suggestions.
Will decide in a week or two , what I am going to do or what I am going to upgrade to .....if ever.


wow... Mariusz, are you saying that the Isabellina is just as good as the legendary AMR CD-77 from top to bottom??

The AMR-CD77 is a 60lb beast, those engineers at AMR should fire themselves immediately., of course not. It is more like Ferrari vs Corvette. Different, but threels the same way.
Than again.....who know what the results would be if compared side by side????

my system is like jeff's but my speakers are devore super 8s and i am currently using DNM cabling but will also be trying the RWA cabling soon enough and will report back.

the more i listen to isabella and dac, the more i don't want to stop listening!

Devor super 8s.......????? hmmmm. :)
I know someone who is using those with RWA as well......:)

hi Mariusz,

devore works very well with RWA and vinnie of rwa mentioned to me that he has a pair of the devore Nines that are supposed to have a similar sound -- so i tried super 8s and love 'em with my RWA gear! if i was in a bigger room i would go with the nines, but i'm happy like a pig in you know what listening what with i have here.

You're right Nate, Vinnie is in fact using Devores.......are they 9s.....??? I am not sure. I spoke to one of RWA guys today comparing notes on cetrain pair of speakers and if I am not mistaken, he mentioned Vinnie's Devores 8s not 9s.
I also remember Vinnie mentioning 9s and always thought that's what he use home.
Anyway, do not be surprised to see another news announced on RWA website or AC forum this week or the next.
Now let me get some sand and put it in my mouth before I say something that I will regret later.

hey mariusz,

i was recently searching through the RWA forum on audiocircle and it is very clear that Vinnie has the DeVore Nines.

sounds like you know some RWA news, like "insider info"... tell me! haha

Yes he told me so but not for long.
That is part of the news that will be posted on his website tomorrow. Getting warmer????
haha - now I know what you are talking about mariusz!
man i am getting the itch to upgrade to a new set of speakers from Austria!

Hi Nate. I am sorry for not spilling the beans but I have promised to keep my mouth shut. Yep, they sure look very tempting. In fact, I will have chance to audition La Scala monitors in a week or two. According to Vinnie, floor standers and monitors are esentially the same speaker. The only difference is the 10Hz difference in bass extention.
As far as I know, Vinnie is selling his Devore 9s in favor of La Scalas. It is unfortunate that US dollar is so weak but even with its $5500 & $4500 for monitors,.... performance is said to be on par with more expensive designs. But most importantly, synergy between those speakers and RWA gear was said to be very special.........bad news for Omega speakers I guess...?????? From what I have heard the bass is awesome but what is most amazing about La Scalas is how they sound-stage and image.

We will find out pretty soon.

The La Scala seems like a great speaker. I've owned the Devore Super 8's and have heard the nines. Does the WLM La Scala or Diva have more weight, body? Does it have the crazy image and depth of the Devores?

Anyone done a listening comparison between the two? The La Scala is the baby of the line. How about the others? Where do they sit?

Not meant to derail but I do have RWA in my house.
Vinnie was kind enough to bring his La Scala monitors over to the August "Rave".(But away , the Isabella and Sig.30.2 on the picture are mine. :) )

My initial impression is very positive. They do indeed work very well with RWA gear. Smooth, relaxed presentation with very well define bass. Image and soundstage is exceptional for speakers in this price range. However it is the Grand Viola that I want to hear. Price on the other hand is way out of my reach.
I can not answer your question about the differences or similarities between La Scala and Devore speakers, simply because I have not heard the Devores. Vinnie did and he might answer this question for you. If it is of any importance to you, Vinnie just sold his Devore not ask me why.:)

2 Mrjstark

because he is the new WLM US distributor, or WLM is his in EU?
Both. ;)