Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2012

by Audiophilia on October 25, 2012 · 24 comments

in Audiophilia Visits/Show Reports

by Anthony Kershaw

Denver, CO – After last year’s audiophile love in, the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) was my number one iCal Work Calendar appointment for 2012. The 2011 show was that good. 170 rooms filled to the brim with everything new and old in high end audio. That the show takes place in Denver, CO, one of the loveliest, cleanest cities in the US, is a very pleasant benefit.

Now in its ninth year, RMAF continues to be organized in the most professional and indefatigable fashion by the amazing Marjorie Baumert and her army of dedicated volunteers.

Our Airbus A319 flown by the youngest looking captain I've seen.

Our Air Canada Airbus A319 flown by the youngest looking captain I have ever seen.

The flight from Toronto’s YYZ was smooth and bump free, captained by an affable fellow who looked like he was just out of short pants. ‘DEN’ is a huge airport but is navigated easily. I was in the rental car and arrived at the hotel an hour after landing.

I was just in time to do a quick check in to the Denver Marriott Tech Center, an 80’s looking, solid hotel, with comfortable rooms and large, open convention spaces, before the opening party started. Other than the ‘industrial’ location (no good local restaurants — the hotel’s atrium restaurant is pretty good and is a nice place to chill with other audiophiles), it’s picture perfect for an audiophile show. After a quick recce around my room, it was straight downstairs to the RMAF party. Baumert knows how to throw a shindig. It was a lovely time with lots of drinks (a very good Cabernet) and a warm, convivial atmosphere.

Party time!

Party time!

One of the pleasures of the show is meeting up for dinner. It’s a special time to unwind, discover new people and discuss everything audiophile (we’re worse than teachers and doctors for ‘work talk’ after hours). I bumped into Benjamin Zwickel and Hilary Klein of Mojo Audio, Pittsburgh’s finest cables! We had a lovely time and after dinner I was invited into the Mojo Audio room to hear the system being used. It had been warming up for sometime. Zwickel, always the perfectionist, was not too happy with the sound (the same as most exhibitors at the beginning of the show — Saturday and Sunday are the days many rooms begin to sing), although I was really enjoying the Mojo Audio DAC and Media Server with the superb Volti Audio Veretta loudspeakers (a company that debuted at the show only last year!). By the start of the show, the sound was to Zwickel’s liking. It was a very musical room.

Dinner time with Benjamin Zwickel, CEO of Mojo Audio.

Over the course of the three days, twenty seminars were offered that were very well attended, live performances by audiophile favoured songstress Anne Bisson and concert pianist, Fan-Ya Lin, and, once again, ‘CanJam@RMAF’, a trade floor dedicated to all that’s new and hot in the headphone and computer audio world.

Ray Kimber introduces Fan-Ya Lin. Even her rehearsal drew a crowd.

Ray Kimber introduces Fan-Ya Lin. Even her rehearsal drew a crowd.

It was on the CanJam floor where a lot of exciting developments in personal audio was in evidence. Companies like CEntrance and Audeze are producing very exciting products that are priced reasonably and bring high end sound to your desktop and even to headphones. Long time Audiophilia readers will know that I’m not ‘headphone guy’. I find them claustrophobic and usually unmusical, at least in the replication of spatially correct musical experiences. That said, a new company, Audeze, has a headphone called LCD3 ($1.9K). This gorgeous full size headphone is made of Rosewood with sheepskin or suede ear covers. I felt I could have had them on for hours as the sound was refined, ’spacious’ and extremely comfortable.

Portable. Nirvana.

Portable. Nirvana. CEntrance introduces its HiFi-M8.

Interestingly, CDs were in short supply at this year’s show. LPs and active turntables, yes, but the computer file was definitely Denver de rigueur. And the good news is that many examples sounded great. Lots of companies, both startups and legacy are doing USB DACs, and others doing music servers. Exciting times. I enjoyed the well executed DAC from Light Harmonic, the $20K Da Vinci 384K USB DAC — a futuristic monster of a DAC that looks amazing and sounds exquisite. Antipodes Audio highlighted its new Music Server. It is a fanless, standalone digital audio transport system, with SOtM USB output for USB DACs.

Some companies are doing well in this economy.

Some companies are doing well in this economy.

As usual with this show, there were lots of turntables playing. A company new to me is George Warren. These $5K ‘tables are made of exotic wood and are a wonderful match with Moerch tonearms. I heard some Bach organ music through Dynaudio speakers and the music was incredibly dynamic with exceptional rhythmic thrust. Beautiful to look at as well as to listen, and for a relatively reasonable price.

The George-Warren Custom Hardwood Turntable.

The George-Warren Custom Hardwood Turntable.

The most impressive room as far as analogue visuals was from KT Imports. It was festooned with brass turntable mountains. At $16.8K, the Triangle Art Reference turntable is among the most impressive looking I’ve seen. This massive turntable weighs in at 275 lbs! It was rocking the Kuzma 4 Point Tone Arm arm (5.8K). The sound was smooth with jet black background.

Triangle Art Reference SE turntable.

Triangle Art Reference turntable.

Kuzma 4 Point Tone Arm.

Kuzma 4 Point Tone Arm.

Talking of arms, Tri-Planar (photographed below) was in attendance as well as seen and heard used by turntable manufacturers. They can be difficult to set up, but the sound is sophisticated, dynamic and very refined. It’s a legacy arm and looks the part. Splendid.

Hans Henrik Mørch was in attendance in the George Warren turntable room. I’m a big fan of his tonearms. I remember my first experience in a review setting and was taken aback at Mørch’s ‘wobbly’ uni pivot arms. But, they work so well and adapt to so many ‘tables. Moerch has produced a new tonearm which is non pivot called the DP-8 Anisotropic. ‘Anisotropic because the effective mass for the horizontal mode of motion is many times higher than the effective mass for the vertical mode of motion. – No matter the effective mass of the armtube used’. It looked spectacular attached to the George Warren ‘table.

Hans Henrik Mørch.

Hans Henrik Mørch.

Electrons are great, but people are better. As usual, it was the people that made the show so enjoyable. The exhibitors presented their kit very professionally, were incredibly welcoming (and patient) with the punters (and trade). Below are some photos with captions of a few of the wonderful folks making up the show.

Mark Jenkins from New Zealand's Antipodes Audio. Mark's holding his new music server. Simple and elegant.

Mark Jenkins, from New Zealand's Antipodes Audio, holding his new Music Server.

Rick Kernan and Gary Gesellchen of Vanatoo holding their Vanatoo Transparent One Powered Speakers @$499 a pair.

Rick Kernan and Gary Gesellchen of Vanatoo holding their Vanatoo Transparent One Powered Speakers @$499 a pair.

Dave Kleinbeck of EnKlein Cables.

Dave Kleinbeck of EnKlein Cables.

Our friend, Robert Lee. The man behind Acoustic Zen.

Our friend, Robert Lee. The man behind Acoustic Zen.

My good friend Mike Mercer grabbing a quick kiss from Debby Wilson of Wilson Audio. Mike, Debby rocks an M3 not a Mini!

My good friend (and happily married) Mike Mercer grabbing a quick kiss with Debby Wilson of Wilson Audio. Mike, Debby rocks an M3 not a Mini!

Greg Roberts of Volti Audio standing next to his tremendous horns, the Vittora.

Greg Roberts of Volti Audio standing next to his tremendous horns, the Vittoras.

Gavin Fish of Light Harmonic, maker of the $20K Da Vinci 384K USB DAC.

Gavin Fish of Light Harmonic, manufacturer of the $20K Da Vinci 384K USB DAC.

Marjorie Baumert. Organizer extraordinaire. She has leveraged RMAF into the Everest of audio shows. And, as the photo shows, the warmest of human beings.

Marjorie Baumert. Organizer extraordinaire. She has built RMAF into the Everest of audio shows. And, as the photo shows, is the warmest of human beings.

Our standard comment about show sound and conditions. Even though the hotel is pretty good as far as solid rooms, ambient sound, hallway noise, crowd chat, and small rooms really impede our ability to offer anything but general comments. That said, the best sounds continued above the noise. The combinations were so musical that even the drone of excited audiophiles couldn’t harm them.

My first room visit was one of the most enjoyable. I heard a Shostakovich Violin Concerto (the stupendous Lisa Batiashvili, violin) coming from reasonably priced speakers from Jean-Marie Reynaud (the Abscissa Loudspeakers $5.5K). Surprise, surprise, the best sounding rooms chose appropriate, quality repertoire for the speakers.

My comment in our recent TAVES report regarding the never ending choice of Diana Krall and a million other mediocre female vocal talents was repeated here in the Mile High City. Sadly, many of the exhibitors added gravelly voiced male singers accompanied by a few acoustic instruments. Yes, the instruments sounded good, but the voices singing their puerile music have got to go. As in Toronto, if a punter requests something, fine, but represent your amazing speakers with equitable repertoire and talent. Please.

It is not a coincidence (and certainly not because of my predilections) that the Best Sound of Show winners played amazing music that highlighted the equipment and understood the vagaries of room acoustics.

As you’ll see from the photos below, many manufacturers teamed up with other makers and created little oases of calm. Good lighting (with a couple of rooms lit like a tart’s bedroom), acoustic and power treatment, lots of paper information and kind smiles were the norm. A wonderful feeling in every room I visited. The sound did vary considerably, but we’ll give all the less-than-good sounding rooms a pass under these conditions.

We usually have several writers and our photographer at CES/Montreal/Toronto, but for Denver it was just me. I did manage to visit each room twice, once informally for chat and photographs (for the quality of which I’ll apologize for now as the iOS6 on my iPhone 5 gave me nothing but trouble. Never again!), and a second time for focused listening. If I missed your room in this report, please accept my apologies. We will be adding ten new photos each day Tuesday through Thursday. If not in the main body of the report, maybe then. Thanks.

Jean-Marie Reynaud's 2 1/2 -way loudspeaker system, the Orfeo. The speaker is tuned triangular transmission line topology for the woofer. The tweeter is unbaffled. Such sweet sound.

Jean-Marie Reynaud Abscissa Loudspeakers ($5.5K).

Veloce Audio made the uber expensive YG Acoustics' speakers sing like angels.

Veloce Audio's kit was a great match with the uber expensive YG Acoustics loudspeakers.

I was about to write 'the pride of Lawrence, Kansas', but, in fact, these lovely speakers are from Taiwan, designed by Lawrence Liao.

I was about to write 'the pride of Lawrence, Kansas', but realized quickly that these loudspeakers are from Taiwan, designed by Lawrence Liao.

For less than $3K, these speakers from Bud Fried are a steal. Punchy, powerful sound, with refinement. Nicely done.

For less than $3K, these speakers from Bud Fried are a steal. Punchy, powerful sound, with refinement. Nicely done.

Gorgeous finishes from Aperion Audio.

Gorgeous finishes from Aperion Audio.

The PranaFidelity model Fifty90 loudspeakers ($3.5K) and the much larger Model 108A ($35K).

The PranaFidelity model Fifty90 loudspeakers ($3.5K) and the much larger Model 108A ($35K).

Ray Kimber's room used KEF speakers paired with McIntosh electronics. One of the largest rooms, but the kit handled the space easily.

Ray Kimber's room was very large but the KEF speakers handled the volume with ease.

Loudspeakers styled in gorgeous fashion from Estonia's Estelon. I heard lots of audiophiles rave about the sound in this room. It was incredibly dynamic and refined.

Estelon Loudspeakers styled in gorgeous fashion from the Estonian company.

None of these lovely speakers could sound the way they did without the very best in ancillary equipment. I mentioned that DACs, media servers with iPads (and other tablets) ruled the day over CD players. But, there were some very special electronics.

The Vitus Audio CD player and pre/power amplifiers driving a speaker to be named later were beautifully made components from Denmark. Each piece of the audio puzzle was $10K. The Zanden Audio CD Player Model 2500 was extraordinary in its looks and information resolution. The hand made Stradivari Reference Power Plant exuded class. Why can’t a power conditioner look good and be effective? Cary Audio had its beautiful Classic Series on show an introduced its new line of lower price point Audio Electronics products. Cary mentions on its website that ‘…by providing a modern design and excellent sound quality in lower price-point products, Audio Electronics is promoting the future of the high-performance audio industry while preserving the heritage and integrity of the Cary Audio brand.’. They look great and we have requested products for review.

Tubes were well represented, 300Bs and SETs, included. Superb Audio Research kit was everywhere but there were some lovely, smaller scale amps that sounded superb. Examples by deHavilland, Wavelength and Border Patrol jump to mind. And, monsters like the AirTight monos and the stunning looking Audio Power Labs were there in force.

The $22K Zanden Audio CD Player Model 2500.

The $22K Zanden Audio CD Player Model 2500.

The Stradivari Reference Power Plant.

The Stradivari Reference Power Plant.

The new line from Cary Audio. Audio Electronics.

The new line from Cary Audio. Audio Electronics.

The deHavilland Electric Company Mercury 3 Preamplifier.

The Wavelength Cardinal 300B monoblock power amplifiers. $8.5K a pair.

The Wavelength Cardinal 300B monoblock power amplifiers. $8.5K a pair.

Audio Power Labs 833TNT power amplifier.

Audio Power Labs 833TNT power amplifier.

Now, to what I considered the Best Sound(s) of the Show.

We will format it a little differently for this mountain of a show. There was so much that was worthy. You’ve already seen photos of excellent equipment that sounded great, but the following manufacturers really got their act together. Whether system synergy, a lucky room in a quiet corner where the ambient noise was minimized, a larger room with better acoustics, snake oil or pixie dust, I very much enjoyed the sounds in the following rooms.

Audiophilia’s Best Sound Value

Mojo Audio/Volti Audio

Mojo Audio and Volti Audio are a value added marriage made in audio heaven. If you love a true musical connection, this system should be on your audition list. The intimacy created from Mojo Audio’s DAC and Media Server, driven by Border Patrol amplification into Volti Audio’s single driver, Veretta Loudspeaker was almost tactile. I listened four times and each time the sound was very refined, pure of spirit, and felt like a cool stream on a steamy day. Absolutely lovely.

Mojo Audio's Mac Mini Media Server ($1.8K) and AD1865 Tube DAC ($5K) being praised in a very musical fashion by Volti Audio's single driver Veretta Loudspeakers ($10.7K).

Mojo Audio's Mac Mini Media Server ($1.8K) and AD1865 Tube DAC ($5K) sounded wonderful with the superb, single driver Volti Audio Verettas ($10.7K).

Most Auspicious Debut

Light Harmonic Da Vinci 384K USB Digital to Analog Converter

Not really a debut, but close enough. This angular component exudes style and exquisite workmanship. But, for 20K you’ll want more than the Starship Enterprise in your rack, and you get it. Filled to the brim with high art engineering, the sound delivered to the speakers was very dynamic, but it was the refinement of sound listening to a Haydn String Quartet that really wowed me. If you are ready to take the digital leap of faith and have the scratch, the Light Harmonic Da Vinci 384K USB Digital to Analog Converter is a must listen.

The Da Vinci 384K USB Digital to Analog Converter is the world's first true bit-perfect 384K asynchronous DAC using USB 2.0 technology ($20K). The acrylic case is for shows.

The Da Vinci 384K USB Digital to Analog Converter is the world's first true bit-perfect 384K asynchronous DAC using USB 2.0 technology ($20K).

Audiophilia’s Best Sound of Show.

We have three runners up and a clear winner.

German Physiks

With it’s primary ‘Dicks Dipole Driver’ loosely based on the famous Walsh driver, this German speaker is smart in your listening space, images like mad, throws a wide/deep soundstage, even in the small Marriott room, and delivers real music. They’re not flashy, look a lot different than your run of the mill boxes (I love the look), and will give years of musical pleasure.

Paired with Vitus electronics from Denmark, my CD show purchase of Illinois Jacquet’s ‘Swings the Thing’ sounded wonderful. The timbres of the instruments from the gem of a mono was very accurate. I returned to this room several times. I’d like to thank German Physik’s Robert Kelly for his patient and very professional explanation of the products’ technology. This is how the ‘front of house’ in the ‘new audiophile world’ (more of that later in Audiophilia) should be presented. Quality representing quality.

The Unlimited Mk II Loudspeaker (13.5K).

The Unlimited Mk II Loudspeaker (13.5K).

mbl

This famous German company produces expensive behemoth components. Here, as in many other shows, the products were a unified whole and sounded completely in concert. And, with amazing power and refinement. You pay lots, but you get lots. On show was the Reference Line. Featured were the Radialstrahler mbl 101 E MKII ($68K) and the massive 9011 monoblocks. Very impressive visually and aurally.

mbl's Reference Line with the mbl 101 MkII Radialstrahler Reference Loudspeaker ($65K).

mbl's Reference Line of loudspeakers and components. High price, amazing sound.

Focal-JMLabs

Power, power, power was handled easily by the mighty Focal-JMLabs Stella loudspeaker. I’ve reviewed the whole line from Focal except the Stella. But, I’m thinking this fantastic speaker is the sweet spot in the series. The AirTight Monoblocks (the final product as the chief designer is retiring) offered the sweetest sound in addition to their seemingly unlimited power. The Trans Rotor Appolon TMD turntable added to the delights. A superb system. I’ve heard the Focal speakers in concert with many different manufacturers’ ancillary kit. Interestingly, they always sound wonderful. This is rarely the case with many speakers.

The Focal-JMLab Stella Loudspeakers ($95K).

The Focal-JMLab Stella Loudspeakers ($95K).

Audiophilia’s Best Sound of Show

Wilson Audio

This was a clear winner. Always full of Wilson Audio admirers, the large room was set up perfectly. The gear was professionally presented by Luke Manley of VTL and Debby Wilson of Wilson Audio. Mr. Wilson attended the show on Friday.

I’ve never been a fan of the Wilson sound world. Tuned very successfully for a specific audiophile demographic (I call it ‘ziss, boom, bah’ — ultra resolved, kaleidoscopic with never ending power), Wilson Audio speakers for my taste looked as cold as they sounded. This sound ‘design’ was modified by Wilson (after a six month world tour of the greatest concert halls) in his smaller Sasha loudspeaker and has continued in spectacular fashion with the new Alexia Loudspeaker ($48K).

It’s a fabulous speaker, especially as heard here accompanied by the wonderful VTL Siegfried mono block amplifiers and a phalanx of digital dCS gear. The Alexia’s retain all that is good in Wilsonland — power and incredible resolution, but they play music so beautifully. Instruments and voices are fleshed out and the timbres are so accurate.

I heard some of Wilson’s personal recordings (by Peter McGrath) and they were very good (but one did remind me that capturing a great soprano on full throttle can be difficult), but the Sony recording of Schubert piano music played by Arcadi Volodos was unbelievably good. Some of the best sounds I’ve heard from a speaker and certainly the best piano tone, both attack and the decay, in my experience. Superb, and on that alone, the magnificent Wilson Audio Alexia’s won the day.

Wilson Audio Alexia Loudspeakers.

Wilson Audio Alexia Loudspeakers.

Close up of the wonderful Alexia.

There, you have it. Three days of fun, camaraderie and great sound. My second RMAF was even better than last year. The people in this business have endless energy and endless passion and to hear the sounds they convert from electrons into music is truly humbling. That said, there are wonderful folks that I will have missed in this report. Please accept our apologies. It is no reflection on your company. For this show, I was flying solo. And though I had about five hours sleep in three days, I’m not complaining. I’d do it all again today if I could (after eight hours sleep!). If you are an audiophile and music lover, the Rocky Mountain Audio Show should be your one must attend event.

Still want more? We’ll be publishing more photos with caption info Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week. Please check back. And, we’d love to read your comments. Thanks.

Tuesday photo update. Tomorrow? Turntable Wednesday.

Von Schweikert VR 44 loudspeakers ($25K) with Jolida Luxor mono amplifiers ($8K) and UHA tape deck ($22K). As usual, Mr. Schweikert was fastidious in his equipment matching. And the tape deck looked and sounded wonderful.

Von Schweikert VR 44 loudspeakers ($25K) with Jolida Luxor mono amplifiers ($8K) and UHA tape deck ($22K). As usual, Mr. Schweikert was fastidious in his equipment matching. And the tape deck looked and sounded wonderful.

Fosgate Signature Tube Headphone Amplifier, circuit design by Jim Fosgate, industrial design by Fred Hulen, and manufactured by Musical Surroundings ($1.5K)

Fosgate Signature Tube Headphone Amplifier, circuit design by Jim Fosgate, industrial design by Fred Hulen, and manufactured by Musical Surroundings ($1.5K).

Okki Nokki record cleaning machine ($.5K).

Okki Nokki record cleaning machine ($.5K).

The Dhoshi Audio Monoblock Amplifier is a push pull, pentode amplifier of 90 watts output. Using a pentode tube front end with parallel triode sections driving the output tubes, the amplifier produces 90 watts using 2 pairs of el34/6ca7 ($19K).

The Dhoshi Audio

This Danish company's cases are Boulder/ModWright Instruments quality.

This Danish company

Nat Audio Magma monoblock SET amplifiers ($45K).

Nat Audio Magma monoblock SET amplifiers ($45K).

This is how you do 'ID' in high end audio. Simple, elegant, informative.

This is how you do

Vapor Cirrus loudspeaker ($4k in black).

Vapor Cirrus loudspeaker ($4k in black).

The Rethm Maarga Loudspeaker ($30K).

The Rethm Maarga Loudspeaker ($30K).

Perreaux Audiant DP32 USB DAC Preamp (top) and matching 100p Stereo Power Amp. Makers of my first preamp, the SM3.

Perreaux Audiant DP32 USB DAC Preamp (top) and matching 100p Stereo Power Amp. Makers of my first preamp, the SM3.

Wednesday photo update. ‘Turntable Wednesday’.

Transrotor Rossini 25/60. This immaculate bit of kit was being raffled!

Transrotor Rossini 25/60. This immaculate bit of kit was being raffled!

Air Tight figured they should make a turntable. Wowza! The Air Tight Acoustic Masterpiece T-01 turntable ($6K).

Air Tight figured they should make a turntable. Wowza! The Air Tight Acoustic Masterpiece T-01 turntable ($6K).

Transrotor Tourbillon FMD ($34K).

Transrotor Tourbillon FMD ($34K).

I was surprised they made one. McIntosh MT10 ($9K).

I was surprised they made one. McIntosh MT10 ($9K).

The Funk Firm's Vector 3 ($1.8K)

The Funk Firm

Kuzma Reference Turntable ($6.5K).

Kuzma Reference Turntable ($6.5K).

Such a deal!

Such a deal!

The Unison Research Giro ($4K).

The Unison Research Giro ($4K).

AMG Viella 12 “V12” turntable ($16.5K)

AMG Viella 12 “V12” turntable ($16.5K)

Spiral Groove SG2 ($15K). Stunning!

Spiral Groove SG2 ($15K). Stunning!

Final photo update. Thank you for reading. We hope you enjoyed our coverage. See you next year in Denver for RMAF, Oct 11 — 13, 2013.

Lots of lobby teases this year. This one was best. I think they'll be many more teases next year. Great way to get folks to focus on your room.

Lots of lobby teases this year. This one was best. I think they

Antipodes Audio's Music Server. Sweet! Review unit coming.

Antipodes Audio

Green shirt? The tireless RMAF volunteers.

Green shirt? The tireless RMAF volunteers.

Cary's Katie Wright spent many hours explaining to the trade show floor visitors about the new line from Cary Audio, Audio Electronics.

Cary

Hegel electronics and Thiel loudspeakers sounding incredibly dynamic! Exciting combination.

Hegel electronics and Thiel loudspeakers sounding incredibly dynamic! Exciting combination.

Labcoats = serious business. Great stuff!

Labcoats = serious business. Great stuff!

Melody Valve HiFi.

Melody Valve HiFi.

Alex Sventitsky of WyWires. The cables were a lovely match for Zesto Audio kit.

Alex Sventitsky of WyWires. The cables were a lovely match for Zesto Audio kit.

Ayre electronics and Vivid loudspeakers.

Ayre electronics and Vivid loudspeakers.

The final image from the show is courtesy of the prize winning lady.

The final image from the show is courtesy of the prize winning lady.

{ 1 trackback }

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2103. Oct 11 — 13. — Audiophilia
08.23.13 at 10:28 am

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill 10.15.12 at 3:23 pm

I’ll never understand the glowing reviews of the Radialstrahlers. While they do throw an absolutely incredible soundstage, once again this year they were quite bright.

I can’t imagine listening to an entire album on them without your ears “bleeding.”

I agree that the Alexias were one of the best sounding speakers at the show, but don’t know how you missed the Ayre/Vivid room, clearly a tie for best sound of show.

Michael Mercer 10.15.12 at 5:27 pm

As usual, a SPECTACULAR show report that doesn’t read like a laundry list - but a human perspective on an industry based around passionate music lovers and audio hobbyists! Who needs another breakdown or commentary coming from reviewers who think they ALWAYS know better than the audience? One’s “best” is not the same as another. This is about the LOVE of the sound of music. The way it can transport us elsewhere. As usual, my dear friend here has painted a wonderful literary and visual tour of an audio fest that’s about the SOUL of our industry: The Music, the people behind the gear - and the people listening! We all contribute.

Quick Correction: The Audeze planar magnetic headphones you loved were in fact the LCD3’s ($1,900) but the LCD2 IS the planar magnetic can that put them on the map!! You got to hear the next generation my dear friend.

Also: Try Carmine’s for great Italian in Denver (it’s not il Molino or il Cortile on Mulberry St. in Little Italy - two of my fav joints - but) next time you’re back - we’ll go together!!

BRAVO playa. This piece brought me a piece of the joy I experienced while at the show.

PS: I know Debbie rocks an M3! I was caught in the moment and you remember every detail you cheeky _____. But I love ya. We were laughin’ about how even though we got twin turbos in our X3 - she’d dust me (SMILE) and remember: My Mini is no ordinary Mini my friend - it’s a Limited Edition John Cooperworks Mini Cooper - how do you think I got the BMW Memory Stick for use at RMAF this year??

admin 10.16.12 at 4:53 am

Hi Bill:

Many thanks for your comments. As we all perceive sound differently, I’m sure we could have 1000 different ‘Best of’ lists.

And, I did visit the Ayre/Vivid room. Three times.

Cheers, a

admin 10.16.12 at 5:00 am

Michael:

Thank you so much for your very kind words. They are very much appreciated!

We’ve received lovely emails and tweets about the report and how wonderful the show was. Now that I’ve slept, I can really appreciate just what a fantastic time RMAF is. Musically, professionally and personally. And getting to know you through shows and our beloved internet, has been one of the highlights. That you are one of the most insightful, funny, knowledgeable audiophiles and music lovers I know, makes attending the shows an educational and very fun event.

Glad we had our annual summit and was a pleasure to meet your cuz and chill. Great times.

And much more to come.

Hi to all.

Cheers, your friend, Anthony

admin 10.16.12 at 7:56 am

Correction made, Mike. Thx

PPL 10.16.12 at 5:23 pm

Focal-JMLabs, the picture of this room shows Soulution amps, not AirTight?

admin 10.16.12 at 5:55 pm

Incorrect. The AirTight’s are playing. They are the outside/vertical amps. The Solutions (stunning amps, BTW) are on the inner/horizontal.

Cheers, a

admin 10.16.12 at 7:37 pm

I just did an informal survey with my wife on the most beautiful turntable on Turntable Wednesday. Roy Hall’s wood wins! :)

Me? Spiral Groove.

Yours?

Benjamin Zwickel, Owner Mojo Audio 10.17.12 at 5:33 am

Anthony bumped into Hilary at the party on Thursday night for exhibitors and press. Apparently I was busy getting more drinks for the table. Its still unclear if Anthony noticed Hilary’s Mojo Audio name tag or if he saw a pretty woman that he wanted to get to know better. In any case, if you were wondering what I look like so drunk on wine I can hardly walk, Anthony took a photo of me for all posterity. Of course you may notice the photos is a bit out of focus. That’s because Anthony was just as drunk ; )

Michael Mercer 10.17.12 at 6:12 am

Anthony - now the wifey (after hearing your response, which I read to her - she sends her love btw) says the bromance is in full effect! SMILE.

You are far too kind, and I wholly appreciate what you said. I’ve worked my ASS off in this crazy industry. Kenny enjoyed meeting you as well. His buddy Harry Weinger is going to teach a class at NYC w/ ?uestlove on Classic Music (most likely pop)! Just saw it on Pitchfork.

Looking forward to seeing you at the next show. Will be in touch soon - and I sent Marjorie this link - she usually takes some downtime post-RMAF. I gotta decompress myself!!

Peace,

Michael

Michael Mercer 10.17.12 at 6:13 am

OH, and my pick for most beautiful turntable, which may sound strange, is the E.A.R magnetic drive (TRUE magnetic drive) turntable. That or the original Clearaudio Gold Reference

admin 10.17.12 at 7:03 am

You guys are too funny!

Benjamin, when in Denver, I only have eyes for audio :)
And good, free wine!

Great times, guys.

roy harris 10.17.12 at 7:24 pm

hi anthony:

kudos for your effort and thoroughness. it must have taken a lot of time and energy.

your comments show that you were having a great time.

by the way, did you encounter any panel speakers , and did you see or hear the metrum octave dac ?

admin 10.17.12 at 7:58 pm

Thx, Roy.

A few. Nothing jumped out at me. Did not hear the Maggies, though. Room was always chock a bloc.

Cheers, a

Clinton Jensen 10.18.12 at 4:21 am

Hey Anthony, thanks for the mention, although in the pic that’s our (Perreaux) new Audiant DP32 USB DAC Preamp (top) and matching 100p Stereo Power Amp (bottom).

The Perreaux SM3 (and SM2) preamp is a classic. Not sure how it would stack up against today’s modern preamps, but it was certainly treasured in its day. We still get a surprising number of enquiries from people looking for SM2/SM3 preamps and PMF 2150B power amps. The vintage guys love them…

Thanks for keeping us abreast of the RMAF antics. Sounds like you and Mike had a blast .Will definitely have to make it up there next year.

Cheers,

Clinton

dunnersfella 10.18.12 at 5:39 am

Just a note, the pic. of the Perreaux Audiant 80i is actually their DP32 preamp, mated (below) with their 100W power amp.
To be fair, they do look similar, however the DP32 will show the sample rate on the right hand side of the display, whereas the integrated 80i will not.

admin 10.18.12 at 6:30 am

Many thanks for the corrections, guys. Fixed.

Yes, Clinton, it was a blast. I had so much fun and am still recovering! :)

All the best to Perreaux.

Cheers, a

MARTIN APPEL 10.18.12 at 7:27 am

Hi Anthony, not whining about the wine…sounds like (pun intended) a rewarding show. It’s good to hear how much fun the show was and somehow you found the time to party and put together a piece of reportage that conveyed the atmosphere as well as the equipment. Looks like I’ll have to seriously think about attending next year.
I will be going to CES and THE SHOW in January. Maybe we can squeeze you in. Mike and spouse and Henry will make a formidable presence.

Mike will have a surprise for you should you be able to make it. Love to Jan.

admin 10.18.12 at 7:54 am

Thanks, Marty!

You would love RMAF. It’s so professional, so personal, filled to the brim with the best in two channel, high end.

So, you guys making the trek in November. Or, was Mike’s phone call just a tease?

Cheers, a

roy harris 11.04.12 at 4:09 pm

several attendees selected roger sander’s hybrid electrostatic flat panel speaker as best in show.

did you or anyone with whom you are acquainted have an opinion on roger’s design ???

admin 11.04.12 at 4:31 pm

Unknown, Roy.

I do like those speakers, though.

Cheers, a

Frederick Crane 11.27.12 at 7:37 pm

Great report, thanks. FYI, the Rethm Maargas are $8450, not $30k.

Frederick Crane
AudioPrana LLC

admin 11.30.12 at 11:50 am

Thanks for the correction, Frederick. Cheers, a

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