Author Topic: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - 2008  (Read 14766 times)

Offline Carlman

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Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - 2008
« on: October 09, 2008, 08:09:57 AM »
As I type, audiophiles are descending on Denver for one of the most enjoyable shows of the year.  Let's hear your comments about the show in this thread... Any updates from RMAF, including photos would be greatly appreciated... especially by those of us who can't go.

Remember you can post photos by uploading them using the 'Additional Options' below the typing area and above where you click 'Post'.  The only requirement is they need to be under 512 meg... so resize before uploading.

Thanks and hope everyone has a great time! :)
I really enjoy listening to music.

Bigfish8

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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - 2008
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2008, 04:38:37 PM »
As I type, audiophiles are descending on Denver for one of the most enjoyable shows of the year.  Let's hear your comments about the show in this thread... Any updates from RMAF, including photos would be greatly appreciated... especially by those of us who can't go.

Remember you can post photos by uploading them using the 'Additional Options' below the typing area and above where you click 'Post'.  The only requirement is they need to be under 512 meg... so resize before uploading.

Thanks and hope everyone has a great time! :)

Our flight leaves Raleigh at 6:40 AM tomorrow.  I wish I had flown out this afternoon, darn!

I do plan to take lots of pictures but I need some instruction on how to resize them to be under 512 meg.  Man, I am really looking forward to this event!

Ken

Offline Carlman

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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - 2008
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2008, 07:08:48 PM »
Just email the best ones to me, and I'll return them resized. :)  How's that for easy?
Have fun, Ken and all... I'm pretty sure Rich is already there. 8)
I really enjoy listening to music.

Bigfish8

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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - 2008
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2008, 05:59:36 AM »
I am sitting here in the Denver Airport reflecting on this fantastic 3 days that have just flown by all to quickly.  A month ago I had second thoughts and nearly canceled my reservations to attend RMAF.  It turned out to be even more than I anticipated and now I am find myself looking forward tot he show next year.  I made the trip with Vera and I was somewhat concerned that she would be bored to tears but she also had a great time.  She and several other wives took the train to Downtown Denver on Saturday.  They took in the museum and had tea in the oldest hotel in Denver.  Like me, she is hoping to make the trip again.

Possibly the highlight of attending RMAF for me was meeting Lonewolfny, Captain Humble, CarlV, OpenlyBaffled, BPape, Mgalusha, Jrebman and his wife and spending time visiting rooms with Richidoo on Saturday Afternoon.

I would say that waiting to travel out to the show on Friday from Raleigh was not a wise decision.  We were up at 3:30AM Eastern Time to catch a 6:40AM flight.  By the time the show ended at 6:00 PM (Denver Time) on Friday we were exhausted.  We were so tired we missed meeting many of the AN and AC guys that evening.  If we can make the trip next year we will definitely fly out on Thursday!

I have to shut-down now to board the plane and will write about my favorite equipment rooms tonight.

Ken
 


Offline Carlman

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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - 2008
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2008, 07:46:01 AM »
 :beer:  Thanks for posting, Ken!  Glad to hear the trip was a success! :)

Can't wait to see photos and hear all about it... from everyone who went!

-Carl
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mgalusha

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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - 2008
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2008, 08:05:50 AM »
It was good meeting Ken and the other folks from AN and AC. I swapped rolls this year and helped out my friend Mike Garner and ran one of his rooms. Unfortunately I was only able to hear 1 room outside of the one I was sitting in. One thing that was driven home was just how much tastes vary. I saw everything from folks who were absolutely in love with the sound in the room to folks who listened for 30 seconds and left with a "not working for me" comment. Of course I knew this but observing peoples reactions to the same system over a period of days really drove this home.

mike

Offline richidoo

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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - 2008
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2008, 09:42:56 AM »
Wow, where to begin?

The best part of course, was seeing friends audiophiles and exhibitors, and meeting new people. The first year I didn't know anyone and didn't get much out of it. This year I got a lot of tips from other audiophiles on which rooms to pay closer attention too. Most were rooms that I had visited but not sat down to listen closely. Merlin, Reference 3A were such rooms. I met AC's RobS, TomS, FrankS, Bob Smith, Shek, ecramer, ltr317, woodsyi, Stan from Usher, Scotthobby, a few others I'm not remembering their names.

I enjoyed cruising with LW, Captain Humble and Shek on Saturday morning. We went to the Hyatt where there were some large exhibits. Of these, I enjoyed Harbeth 40.1 driven by dnm electronics. There room was well treated with a wall of FG panels covered in black velvet curtain, so the deep bass was clear and punchy, a big improvement over the untreated hotel room they had last year where I spent a lot of time.  Next at Hyatt was Acoustic Zen's new gigantic speakers (3rd model) triamped with Halcro dm88 and all Halcro electronics. That was a very good sounding system, considering the open doors, no treatment at all, and huge domed tray ceiling. Crystal clear, no perceivable distortion. The horn loaded ribbon tweeter was slightly aggressive, but I felt that about all the ribbon tweeters I heard there except RAAL ribbons. I sapoke with a Halcro tech guy for a few minutes, that was fun. He showed me a pic of the dm88 guts and walked me through the most important features. It was mighty impressive, to match the sound I was hearing. chrisa recommended I visit our local Halcro dealer, and I think I might, even though it will just be a joy ride. They do have a class D stereo amp which they market for HT, but he noted variable switching frequency which he said makes it sound unlike other D amps with fixed switching frequency. An hour later I was discussing this very subject in extreme detail with SP Tech's Bob Smith who was an engineer at Crown for many years building that exact type of amp. Only at RMAF can a hobbyist audiophile find that kind of immersion.  OK back at Hyatt, the boys from Europe had come over with a pile of exotica. Once again this year I sat next to Robert Harley while he auditioned it. I can't remember all the brand names but the speaker is Kaiser with RAAL ribbon tweeter in a seperate solid stainless enclosure on top of the wooden cabinet with 3 dynamic drivers, and the amps were 50W SET monoblocks with four 845 tubes each. Punchy and extended, but full of SET love and fire. This was one of my top 5. In the Hyatt I also heard maxxhorn with my beloved Feastrex driver. yuk. Last year's cabinet sounded much better. By far the highlight of the Hyatt was the beautiful race driver Christine Jarrett posing and answering questions about her Formula Mazda race car which was covered in sponsor decals from audio brands. It costs $40 to buy, $100k total to race for a couple years, she and her husband are the only crew. Sounds like fun!!

Back to the Marriott...There is too much to describe in detail so I will just hit my highlights for now.
I enjoyed the First watt room very much. I returned there 6 times. A Lowther full range driver in 2" thick solid maple open baffle with tone tubby woofer, driven by First Watt (Pass) F5 and B1 preamp through Jena Labs cable and a masterpiece crossover by John Ver Halen, the Lowther importer. There will be a diy construction article on enjoythemusic.com about this speaker system. The woofers were new and so too I imagine the crossovers, but even on Thursday afternoon it was sounding very good. By Sunday it was incredible. I am now a Pass man. I spoke with Colin Pass at length on Sunday and he was a great rep for his company. Passionate, informed and cool. Talked me into XA30.5. No I did not buy it yet... ;)

I have a lot of friends at the Feastrex exhibit, so I visited there a lot, but did not sit down to listen much, a little on Thursday during setup. It sounded great this year. The traffic and excitement about them was stronger than last year. A folded transmision line (12 feet?) speaker with Urushi finish was brought from Japan which sounded the best of the three cabinets. It could easily play low organ notes with 4" driver. custom SET amps were also brought this year after Lamm proved incompatible last year. I did not get a demo of the Acoustic Revive low frequency generator thingie we talked about last week. I still like the Maiko horn sound better. Maybe I will try to get a pair of those there next year. Talked with a friend there about carbon fiber construction.

Krell brought evolution electronics and their new top speaker model, built with 1" thick aluminum walls. It was pretty amazing. Played surprisingly well in the small room, but was obviously capable of blowing down the walls. No box resonance there. Treble tone was good, which was surprising to me.

McIntosh room got 30 seconds of my attention on Sunday last stop before checkout. I avoided it as long as possible, but Carl wanted to know if it sucked again this year. I can report that it sucked even better this year. They have a new 250W integrated that was not playing. The C1000 preamp and 1200W monoblocks with Mac speakers with a zillion tweeters. The treble was not clear, and it was harsh and aggressive to me. Bass was even more of the yummy smooth Mac bass I grew to love using Carls MC402.

Analysis Audio had two rooms. One was manned by mgalusha, with Spectron amps Moddie 9SWL and Mikes super incredible SB. One of the best sounds at the show. The midrange was more solid than the bigger Analysis Audio (planar ribbon) speakers powered by VTL downstairs in the hall of exotica. I had fun helping Mike Kallelis position speakers and tune treatments in the larger system on Friday midnight. He is a reformed race car builder/driver, so we had fun talking about that. I like F1 and open wheel racing. Standing in security line on the way home my 10yo called to report that he won pole and came second after being spun last lap in his first ever motor race in gokarts. I may need to sell the stereo for racing cash soon. ;)

The spectron amps were impressive in mgalusha's room, and also in the SP Tech room. They are violently fast, clear, powerful. I can see the appeal. You find the music yourself in your heart, not through your ears like you would with a colored tube amp. On the Sunday a genuine spectron speaker cable was installed with feedback lead at the speaker terminals. It doubled the enjoyment of the system and is necessary to get the most out of the amps. To be honest, I enjoyed the sound but was not drawn to stay and listen for a long time. It was nice to meet Bob Smith and a lot of the guys who are drawn to that sound.  The Revelations are mightily impressive. I think it is a design still ahead of its time. The accuracy and power is really unbelievable. It is so intense that I would play it much lower, but I didn't have that opportunity.   I did ride to the airport in the shuttle with BRIAN DK (AC) who is visiting SP Tech for a long apprenticeship. He was fluent in the SP Tech theory and was able to bring me up to speed on the significance of the design. He has a Revelation on order, 15 months and counting ;)  His friend Karsten a Danish electronics designer and he are starting a company called Blue Cheese Audio which also sounded very exciting. Karsten also has Revelation.

The Focal Grand Utopia Godallmighthy actually sounded pretty good, relaxed and very musical excpt for the dreaded concave beryllium tweeter. Somehow it sounds a lot better on Wilsons. But the speaker is not only formidible presence, but also can emit music. Another surprise after hearing them last year. Boulder electronics.

On Saturday late afternoon,  Ken and I enjoyed the new Wilson Audio Sophia 2 with a brand new 75W integrated from Audio Research. It was lovely. Very inviting and comfortable. Great soundstaging. Bass was sized right for the room, but I missed the feeling of authority on my test tracks. Violin tone was not as good as I expected. I blame the AR amp which could be new, or just not up to the standard their Reference series delivers. I think for the same money my Minimax and Snappers are much better.

Ken and I also listened to the Usher Be-10 in the Exemplar Audio room. Exemplar is developing upgrades for the two Usher crown jewels. New crossovers with vastly improved parts quality, JPS wiring, carbon spike footers. The Be-10 version was being played side by side against stock Be10 for comparison. The comparison was flawed because the electronics powering each pair of Be10s were completely different. One Belles SS, the other tubes. I have compared my Be-20s with Belles and Monad at Shganes house, and Belles was not very impressive, although this is a bigger newer model. Anyway the tube amps driving the modded Be10 sounded noticably better, so that's encouraging. We'll see where the new crossovers are priced. Be 20 mod dev is not finished.  The clarity of the Usher midrange was amazing, as always. I felt like I was home. The large untreated concrete room sounded very close to mine. haha

Need a break, more later...  I didn't take any pics.
Rich

« Last Edit: October 13, 2008, 01:28:47 PM by richidoo »

opnly bafld

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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - 2008
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2008, 04:02:00 PM »
Rich, something you missed in your brief review, the Lowther/Tonetubby pairing only played down to @70hz and they had a cheap ($150?) Velodyne sub filling in the bottom.  :duh

Lin

Bigfish8

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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - 2008
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2008, 05:43:18 PM »
I arrived home a short time ago and wanted to add to the comments I wrote in the Denver Airport this morning.  First of all there are too many rooms and too much gear to remember it all.  Also, being at what I would classify as a sophmore level in this hobby and a first timer to RMAF understand my comments from that perspective.  Additionally, I tended to peak in and avoid entering rooms with non traditional looking or extremely large speakers that A) I could never afford and/or B) Would never have in my home.

First off, I want to let everyone know that Mike Galusha has done a first rate job in making his modified Squeezebox.  It was the source in the room he hosted with the Spectron Amp (no bybees) and the Analysis Audio (Amphitryon's I think) $28,000 panel speakers.  This was a nice sounding room and given the quality of the electronics it speaks very highly of Mike's talents!

While touring around with Rich on Saturday Afternoon I learned as him being a musician he was searching for musical details/accuracy that I could not recognize.  I was more interested in whether or not the sound produced was accurate enough that it sounded live to me and was enjoyable to listen to.  Also, I must admit that I tried to spend most of my time in rooms with equipment that I could potentially afford.  Given this as a back drop the following were some of my favorites:

1.  Odyssey Audio Room - Klaus had his new Kismet Mono Blocs, Kismet Speakers, Symphonic CD Player, and a Candela PreAmp. 
When I talked with Klaus yesterday he told me it was the best show he has ever had in terms of obtaining orders.  My wife loved the wood on the new Kismet Speakers and everyone I chatted with thought this was a great sounding room. 

2.  Dodd Audio/GR Research Room on Sunday.  - Danny has designed a new series of speakers for Tyler Accoustics.  Tyler was showing the largest of the new speakers in a room upstairs driven by Parasound Halo Amps.  Friday and Saturday Danny was showing an open baffle designed speaker being driven by Gary Dodd mono tube amps and a Dodd Preamp.  Sunday, Danny was playing Tyler's smaller bookshelf model of the speaker he designed.  With the quality of electronics driving the monitors they were incredible and I would have liked to have heard the larger Tyler Speakers that were upstairs in the Dodd Room.

3.  Jim Salk's HT3's being driven by Van Alstine Amps, Preamp and DAC with a computer music source.  I could have sat and listened in this room for hours.  It was a very clean, relaxing, realistic, musical room.  Jim is in the final stages of building a new model with a 10" woofer and a T line  bass unit.  Along with the great looking cabinets I am certain it will have a great sound.

4.  The ACI room hosted by BPape playing the Sapphire XLs driven by a very large Korato stereo amp.  This room was well treated and was a joy to visit.  Unfortunately, I tried to go back to this room several times but it was always very busy which I hoped turned out well for Brian and ACI. 

5.  I really enjoyed hearing the Wilson Audio Sophia's.  They were being driven by a new, small Audio Research Amp.  They produced a beautiful full range of sound that was totally realistic.  Rich had the host play a couple of tracks from his CD and has previously commented his observations. 

6.  Rich and I listened to a few tracks played on the Usher BE-10's.  The room had two pair of the speakers sitting side by side.  One pair had mods, Rich has referenced, and the other pair was as shipped.  Unfortunately, both pairs were not driven by identical electronics and while both pairs of the BE-10s produced fantastic music it was easy to prefer the modded pair. 

7.  I realized I failed to mention the ModWright room when I posted earlier and have modified this post to include my impressions.  Dan's room featured his brand new amp running in a stereo mode but can also be used in a monoblock configuration.  The preamp was the 36.5 LS with the seperate tube power supply.  The source was the ModWright Transporter or the ModWright Modded Sony CDP.  This was a very impressive sounding room!

8.  My favorite room happened to be the last room I visited yesterday.  I was sitting at the bar with Vera having some lunch around 2:00 PM.  I had decided the show was over for me.  A gentlemen sitting beside me struck up a conversation and asked me my impressions of the show.  After a few minutes he asked if I had visited the Wilson Benesch/deHavilland Room?  I told him I had not and he requested we come down to listen to a few tracks.  The music produced in this room was very enjoyable to both Vera and me.  They played the Wilson Benesch Trinity Speakers driven by the deHavilland Model 50A tube amps, the deHavilland Ultraserve Preamplifier and a custom CD Player.  Apparently this room has won best of show several times and from what I heard I can understand why.

Sometime Friday afternoon I visited the MIT Room and they were running a cable demonstration.  They used a $2000.00 pair of speakers.  Condition 1) Connected the speakers with $1.00/foot standard Radio Shack Speaker Wire and then played a track of music.  Condition 2) Disconnected the standard wire from the speakers and connected a $100.00 gadget to the end of the speaker wires and reconnected the speakers.  They replayed the track and yes you could definitely hear a change in sound quality.  Condition 3) Removed the Radio Shack Wire and $100.00 gadget and inserted their $1500.00 speaker cable.  No question, you should not be in this hobby if you were not able to hear a substantial improvement in the quality of sound.  Always wary of gimicks I asked Rich to attend the demonstration with me on Saturday Afternoon for his impressions and comments.  We both heard the same step wise improvements.  MIT was offering a 40% discount at the show but I did not bite as I failed to ask if I could return if I was not satisfied when installed in my system.  I will watch and try to gather more information on MIT's cable technology.  This was an impressive demo.

I have rambled on long enough.  As stated this morning I have marked next year's show dates on my calendar and am hoping my schedule will allow me to attend.

Again, it was great meeting everyone!

Ken



« Last Edit: October 13, 2008, 07:18:34 PM by Bigfish8 »

Offline richidoo

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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - 2008
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2008, 05:35:38 AM »
Right you are Lin, I forgot about that sub. But I did hear the system on Thursday afternoon without the sub. It was still sounding great, seemed to play low enough with piano trio, but it did sound better at the end of the weekend. Guitar amp drivers usually don't play very low.

The best thing about the show for me was coming home refreshed with new enthusiasm for my own projects. I was getting a little bored, and sometimes frustrated. Now I have lots of new ideas and things I want to try. Well worth the trip.
Rich

Offline bpape

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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - 2008
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2008, 07:41:15 AM »
Great to hear everyone's impressions.  It was a fun show for sure.  It was great seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and meeting people I've only known online.  Unfortunately, I too only got to see just a very few rooms. 

I did have the pleasure of hearing John Pousette Dart play live and have dinner with him on Saturday.  We had designed his studio in upstate New York last year and it was nice to meet him in person. 

Ken - next year, definitely stop by again.  If it's busy, I'd be happy to stick around after show hours for you to listen as long as you want.

Bryan
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Offline Carlman

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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - 2008
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2008, 07:45:55 AM »
After-hours listening sessions are the best! :)  :beer:

I hope to be there next year.. Maybe we can organize an 'after hours room-crawl' ! :)
I really enjoy listening to music.

mgalusha

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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - 2008
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2008, 10:53:25 AM »
Rich and Ken, thanks for the nice comments,  you guys are too kind.  :oops:

Offline bpape

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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - 2008
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2008, 11:14:17 AM »
I only got to spend a little time in Mike's room with the Analysis ribbons (when I was trying to scrounge a power cord).  Certainly not enough time to make a judgment but on first impression, they sounded a LOT better than the last 2 years if memory serves correctly.

Bryan
I am serious... and don't call me Shirley

Offline Carlman

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Photos from Ken
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2008, 06:36:42 PM »
Ken sent me these to post... He'll have to comment what they are but the file name is probably self-explanatory.

Thanks, Ken! :)



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I really enjoy listening to music.