Group Therapy => Sharing Experiences => Topic started by: Bigfish8 on October 15, 2007, 06:05:58 AM

Title: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: Bigfish8 on October 15, 2007, 06:05:58 AM
Hey Guys:

I know that some of you went to RMAF.  How about sharing your thoughts and maybe some picutures of the show. 


Title: Re: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: Carlman on October 15, 2007, 07:54:39 AM
Thanks for starting a topic on RMAF.  I hope to hear others comments as well... I've uploaded my photos to the gallery, click here (;su=user;cat=4;u=5) to see them.

RMAF 2007 Review

I will preface this by saying I took no formal notes and had no real agenda.  Too much happened in too short of a time to write it all down but I’ll do my best and try not to bore you either…

I arrived at the close of the first day of RMAF and headed straight to the bar… I needed something to alleviate the 12-hour journey.  I got to meet a lot of folks in person which was a real treat.  I wish I could’ve spent more time with some folks, though. After getting tossed out of the bar at some point, it was time to go to bed and gear up for the 1 day I had a chance to see it all. Haha… I don’t think there is a way to see it all, regardless of how long you stay. 

Unfortunately, new house and work duties prevented a long trip for me this year.  I’m just excited I got to go.  This is the 3rd year I’ve tried to make it… Rich had it right, he stayed 4 days.   

I got up early Saturday and tried to get my nametag.  I didn't know what time it was but the staff at the desk let me know it wasn't time for them to give me a nametag.. Later, at the appropriate time, someone handed it to me. ;)

Saturday morning I was just sort of bobbling around listening to whatnot and talking to vendors on the first floor of the atrium.  Most folks seemed intense, busy, and focused.  These were serious audiophiles.

It wasn’t very laid-back like I thought it'd be.  The air was serious and folks were really driven to see stuff.  I later learned why.  I tried to go to the McIntosh room because that’s what I own and wanted to get an earful of something I was fairly familiar with… but it was locked.  The rep was outside waiting for a key so I tried to make small talk but was essentially ignored.  I decided to come back later.  When I did I got more ‘tude and quickly left thinking about other brands of gear I’d like to hear.

So, the morning wasn’t going all that well.  I decided I needed some breakfast and the line at the restaurant had disappeared.  What is it about food that just makes things right?  So, I got a full belly and started over.  Also, Rich found me at breakfast and the rest of Saturday I had the most enjoyable time. 

I had a couple of my cd’s lathed by the cool guys at "Explosive Upgrades". They're cool guys with some good ideas.  They have a 'Noise Destroyer' that was popular as well.

The Teres room was very impressive and interesting.  I’m not into vinyl or horns so, I only listened a little while and left.  But wow, what an impressive amount of craftsmanship.

Aside from meeting people, my goal was to hear the new Eastern Electric M156 monoblocks that Bill O’Connell now offers and Aspen’s Lifeforce from Hugh Dean.  It took me all day to get to them both, having missed them somehow when I first started… If Rich hadn't met up with me earlier and helped me get my bearings, I wouldn't have enjoyed the show as much as I did.  Thanks again, Rich.

Note: I was completely unprepared for this show.  Working non-stop until the moment you leave for the airport has its drawbacks and this was one of them.  If it’s your first time at RMAF, make a list of what you want to see, sit down, look at the room numbers, and then go see them in an organized manner.  I kept ‘meaning to’ do that… oh well.  But, I realized why folks were so serious and organized Saturday morning... they had things to do!

This show was a learning experience for me.  What's cool is this show (like life) can be whatever you want to make it.  If it’s social, technical, potential purchases, etc… You can do it.  Another thing I learned is that hotel rooms have horrible acoustics and very few were able to manage them.  It reminded me of my old sound room which was 11x13 and it had a huge bass peak at the back of the room.  That’s where we always sat and the same problem existed in most rooms at the show. Realtraps were placed here and there and I’m sure helped but these rooms needed about 10 times what they had… I know this because it was like being in my old room. ;)

My main goal with this show was to meet people, make friends, and of course, catch up with old ones.  I wanted to see what this show was all about.  I’ve never been to a big audio show like this before.  I had a great time and accomplished most of what I’d hoped but still didn't get to spend much time with folks.  I was a bit overwhelmed by it all and hopefully next year I’ll be better prepared… and spend an extra day.  1 day isn’t enough to do much… but 2 nights of drinking were certainly a lot of fun.

I really appreciated meeting a long list of fellow audiophiles and friends.  I had an absolute blast both nights hanging with people I admire and enjoy.  I'm already looking forward to next time.

Thanks and hope to see everyone next year.
Title: Re: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: Bigfish8 on October 15, 2007, 12:13:38 PM

Thanks for the comments and the pictures from RMAF.  Attending the show next year will definitely be on my calendar as it sounds like a lot of fun.  Your comments mirror most I have read concerning the poor accoustics in most of the rooms. 

I notice one of your pictures were of the new ACI Sapphires.  Did you have an opportunity to listen and what were your impressions? 

Take Care,

Title: Re: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: richidoo on October 15, 2007, 03:04:22 PM
I survived RMAF!

But now, after 30 seconds trying to type the above line without errors I realize I am in no shape to be typing anything.  :lol:

But I will say that it was great fun. Lots of stuff to tell - after a nap and a gallon  of water. I just walked in from the airport to a rousing greeting from my kids and a pile of new audio goodies in my office. Hint: I need to go buy a battery tonight :)

Ken, I heard the ACI/BSP room, it was one of my favorites. The speakers were amazing, in no small part due to Bryan's great room treatment (not too much like some rooms) and his Korato electronics from Serbia, and Bolder modded SB3. It was extremely musical, smooth, effortless, really a pleasure. Bryan and Mike were both very helpful, informative without being salesy pushy, and are obviously extremely talented hifi'ers. The speakers seemed to be some kind of magic trick with the amount of clean low bass they made from a 5.25" driver, with no congestion or tightness in the mids even with big bassy music. I understand there are larger models too, on my long list of to-do's to check out.

The best part for me by far was meeting so many new people that I only knew "virtually." Lonewolf, bpape, jrebman and his wife Linda, Capt Humble, Bill O'Connell, openly baffled, Joe Cohen, Hal Teramoto from Feastrex, lots more. What an incredible feeling to find you have good friends waiting to meet for the first time. Everyone was so friendly and open hearted toward meet new people with a common interest. It really gave me a whole new perspective on the hobby, and now it takes on a whole new meaning. Like any hobby, it really is about sharing with friends first and foremost.

pause for food and sleep....  ;)
Title: Re: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: Carlman on October 15, 2007, 03:07:10 PM
Ken, I will probably add more comments as I can...  I just wanted to post my overall thoughts first... I thought the ACI's were excellent.  They had a good balance of detail and naturalness.  They were speakers I could live with, that's for sure.  

I also really liked the Merlin floorstanders (in the photos also).  If they had more bass or a matching/seamlessly blended sub, they'd be ideal.


P.S. Yay! Rich is home!  And already writing positive and eloquent comments, even while tired.  :shock:  Get some rest... looking forward to hearing your comments, Rich.
Title: Re: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: bpape on October 16, 2007, 08:07:49 AM
Thanks to everyone who stopped by.  It's tough to be able to spend as much time as you'd like with everyone from both ends.  I'd love to talk and play music for everyone for an hour or 2.  I'd also love to be able to get out and listen to everything else that's going on (I actually got out for a total of 45 minutes between the 3 days  :cry: )

It was nice to finally meet Carl and Rich as well as a few other folks who I only knew from their online personna.

If I may put in a plug here - plan on stopping by the ACI/Korato/GIK room next year.  Plans are already underway and there will be some nice surprises. 

Title: Re: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: jrebman on October 16, 2007, 10:34:36 AM
So much to say, so this will probably come in installments, and I will hopefully get a few of our pictures up as well, but that's a whole new learning curve I'm not quite ready to deal with today.  But, first things first -- the people... all I can say is what a truly great, smart, and fun bunch all you guys are!  It was just a total pleasure to finally meet all of you face to face, have a brew, and chat about all kinds of things.

Rich, Carl, Lone Wolf, Brian, Bill O'Connell, and many others from AC as wel -- what genuinely nice human beings that I feel privileged to know and have met, with the hope that next year will include even more.  I know I'm leaving names out, but not on purpose, and mostly the others I can think of are not active here.

I'm glad to hear you all thought so highly of the ACI Sapphire XLs -- as fate would have it, Linda and I took home the Force XL sub, the Sound Anchors SCS stands, and placed an order for the Sapphires in cherry!  We were both that impressed with them, and certainly in no small part to the excellent electronics driving them and the acoustic treatments in the room.  We had no intention whatsoever of buying speakers -- wasn't even looking for them -- and ostensibly had just stopped by the room to hear the Bolder Statement modded SB because it was my personal unit that was being used in the room.  We weren't expecting what happened next, but we ended uup returning to the room several times over the course of the weekend, and first thing Sunday morning after breakfast we made a run for the ACI room to tell Mike to put together a package price for us.  We're still kind of shaking our heads in disbelief, but not from anything remotely like buyer's remorse, still just can't believe we bought speakers when we love both the sonics and appearance of the Adagios.  I think we both just realized that we loved listening to the Sapphires, and could listen to them effortlessly, with any kind of music, and at any level.

Most of my other roamings had to do with the other side of my split audio personality -- the single driver, low power SET amp fetish, and being the facilitator of the single driver circle on AC, that's where I'll be posting most of my findings related to that. But I'll just give a sneak peek here in that one of the nicest sounding rooms I heard in this category was the Audio Magus room, where I got to hang out with Michael Mardis and listen to an all battery powered system driving a pair of the "Grass Shack" speakers -- a Hemp Acoustics FR8 driver in a sideways oriented TQWT design made of bamboo plywood and which had just been finished on Sunday morning.  Bamboo, hemp, Grass Shack -- you do the math :D.  I had a nice conversation with Michael, talked a bit about some new products that will be coming out, and some design philosophy, engineering ideas, etc.  Very nice guy who I hope to keep in touch with, and also to try some of his creations.  And to think, the main reason I went into that room was just to hold a Trends amp in my hands so I could get an idea of the physical package, and hopefully to hear it do it's thing a bit as well.

There were other things of interest that had nothing to do with speakers and the like, and again, one of the other more or less completely "accidental" discoveries was in the Audio Note UK room, where I had gone simply to fondle the Audio Note TT-2 turntable that I had just placed an order for.  What was playing in that room was the exact system I nearly  purchased this past summer -- the Oto SE integrated amp with phono (parallel single ended EL84, 10 watts) and the AN-E SPe HE speakers with the hemp cone woofer, silver voice coils, etc. all wrapped up in a beautiful Applewood veneered baltic birch ply box.  I'm still glad I didn't buy that particular system, even though it sounded pretty nice -- just not the sound I was looking for.  So, what was the surprise?  Well, for those of you who were looking at NOS DACs, there was the Audio Note 0.1x DAC with both coax and USB inputs -- the first production Audio Note DAC to have USB input.  I was mightly impressed with it's sound, and knowing the speakers and amp, I knew what the DAC was contributing to the mix, and for $1500, I thought it was a great deal.  Probably one of the better price-performance ratio Audio Note pieces, and I've heard a lot of them at every price point.  If I had the extra money I'd buy one myself, and I've never been a huge fan of NOS DACs, for whatever that's worth.

Anyway, a great show, way too much to see, not enough time, but plenty of good people to make it well worth it.  I'm just sorry I missed Carl, Rich, and Bill for dinner out Saturday night :-).

More later,

Title: Re: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: Carlman on October 16, 2007, 11:42:13 AM
Thanks for your kind comments, Jim.  BTW, Jim was the only one sporting the AudioNervosa T-shirt... There should be a prize for that.  Next year anyone wearing an AN shirt gets a free dinner on me.  I'll plan better and keep in touch better as well now that I have a better understanding of the whole event and area.  I was a little taken-back by how big of an event this really is.

Looking forward to more comments from everyone...

Title: Re: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: richidoo on October 16, 2007, 03:51:17 PM
Finally a minute to come online.

First off, I saw Daedelus for Ken, and liked it. It was a nice clear smooth sound, which got the heart of the music through easily. They really "spoke." Paired with the utterly gorgeous Art Audio 845 monoblock tube amps, mass strings were very rich and one high point of the show.  Later I went back and heard the smaller of the two speaker models and enjoyed that almost as much. It had plenty of bass, just not as deep or impressive as their big brother. A few people commented on the appearance of the larger Daedelus as not particularly trendy or show off slick. But they were nicely made of real hardwood with a satin oil finish that I love.

Then onto Serious Stereo for WEEZ, man we missed you! I can;t say I was impressed with Serious as much, but they were playing some not so great early recordings of Patsy Cline which they were extremely fond of so I didn't want to interrupt their reverie with Bartok. So I couldn't really get a sense of its high end performance. Sorry! The display used antique furniture so it ws very homey and comfy, and the brothers were fun and helpful with questions. Maybe Jim can give you his wife Linda's take on their demo? ;)  Linda was so much fun, I'm really glad to have met her. You're a lucky man Jim.

I spent a lot of time in the The Lotus Group rooms, hearing various permutations of Feastrex drivers in various cabinets. One in particular was great with D5nf driver and passive radiator. I thought it was the best single driver speaker that I heard at the show, and was very satisfying with extended treble and bass, enough to enjoy good recordings without longing for more. I don;t think I heard that hemp driver Jim was speaking of though. :( Lotus Group also distributes Acoustic Revive brand, so I got a demo of their CD demagnetizer and ionizer on my homemade demo disc. It was a very noticeable improvement. I don't know why nor care, but the price was surprisingly cheap for the job they did, less than a grand for both. Is that cheap? Hmmm.... maybe not. Weird but cool. I wondered whether it would make any difference when I rip tracks to network. I knew better than to ask, but it would be cool to actually try and see the sound of two identical ripped tracks one before and one after zapping. If it worked I would order those gadgets immediately.

Carl and I did sample the Analysis Audio panel ribbons driven by Behold electronics. They were great, but I still think the amps were holding them back. What was lacking last year with Joule OTL tubes was filled in, but the strength of the OTLs were missing. I found the speakers less enjoyable this year, but bass was improved big time so rock sounded much better. I would love to hear them with AR Reference electronics and 210 amps. These speakers are Ref-worthy -haha. I met a nice guy starting out as hifi dealer in MA who is carrying the line. The importer Mike is a swell guy, real, honest, dedicated and trying to do right. He would fit in well here.

I also heard the new Apogee clones, they were not as smooth or natural as the Analysis Audio version even WITH AR reference electronics- haha but the fine electronics could not be denied nor hidden by the speakers' slight edginess. He would not turn up the volume, afraid of the acoustics in the room. Startup company, seemed a little shellshocked by the show. Harley will name them best of show. He likes the in your face stuff, now I get it. I am also personally biased towards the Analysis, FWIW. I like Mike. The new Apogee is not the old Apogee, just an apogee restorer who took the name and stuck it on his own version of Apogee copy, including the model names.

mbl made on impression on me.  Last year I sat next to Bob Harley while he listened to the big dogs, and he subsequently gave them his best of show. I thought they were obnoxious. So this year I was determined to figure out what is so special, if anything. The stars lined up and I could "hear" them playing in their element and I think I got it. Seemingly infinite current and speed playing through a huge metal omni speaker makes awesome transient response, dynamics and a good natural sound, good tone. They were still smooth and musical if you call the sample track I heard music, more like movie scene drum orgasm. Overall I enjoyed it, but I don;t know if I could live with it. Next year I will practice being an even bigger arrogant snob than the demo host and insist that they play my Dvorak strong Quartet so I can find out for myself if they can play delicately. Since Harley's own system is Maxx2/BAT600 I am not surprised he liked the mbl, But I know the MAXX can make music too. Jon Valin says they can, and I usually trust his comments to some degree. Unfortunately they were only playing music that showed off these transient strengths and the vibe in there was not inviting enough for me to ask to play my demo disc that would shed light on its ability to actually play music, so I just enjoyed the fireworks and moved on. The first time I wandered in there, they were playing the "basic" (cheapest) system. It was truly obnoxious, harsh and screechy treble, the worst sound of the show. Unbearable really. Lots of people in the room, huddled on the far side away from it, all talking to avoid listening. The big speakers were much better.

Acoustic Zen's new speakers were playing with some kind of ss amp, sorry, I don't remember which. I enjoyed them, but not as much as the Adagios last year with Response tube monoblocks. Robert was as gracious as ever.

I spent a lot of time in the Harbeth room, and got to know Harbeth importer Walter Swanbon and mfg rep for Resolution Audio, Tim Ryan. We had fun testing tweek vibe footers after the show ended. The new Monitor 40s were there, the first pair in the US. The bass driver is new along with crossover, resulting in higher input impedance and mush easier to drive them. The speakers were close to perfect for my taste, but lacked the very bottom half octave that I love so much, and the Harbeth plastic mid range gave up a slight amount of mid range hyper detail, making everything sound truly beautiful. The midrange detail that I crave was slightly diminished compared to drivers made of stiffer materials. Even with bass response to 30Hz, the room with no treatment was surprisingly good. I wondered if the resonant cabinet was the reason for this, but Walter assured me that room treatment is just as valuable with them. But their room was same size and shape as everyone else and we could crank deep bass and I never heard any crazies. Beautiful speakers. The Resolution Audio stuff was also very innovative and cool, with great sound. The performance was excellent, made even better when modded by GNSC.  I think the Harbeths would prefer 100w of PP tubes, maybe that would bring back the midrange hyperdetail. Just guessing. I guess the Monitor 40s were my favorite speaker at the show. Awesome.

I'm not surprised Jim bought the ACIs, I loved them too. Last year, Jim bought the Adagios and they were my favorite of the show. I'm looking forward to learning more about Mike Dzurka and ACI speakers. I would love to hear the larger models sometime. Congrats Jim!!!

Acapella had huge 4 way horns with plasma tweeters. They sounded very dynamic as to be expected, but very little horny coloring. It was not as smooth as the smoothest cone speakers, but lively and exciting while still musical and delicate, even at too high volume. The room was huge with gigantic computer optimized molded diffusors. The elements looked like the Sydney opera house rooftop. They  diffused bass down to low frequencies and made the room sound awesome. Don't know who makes them, but they looked expensive and utterly lacking in WAF. If you are looking for a way to cause a quick divorce, this is it. I assume it would be like one of those gopher sirens that you put underground. No woman, not even an audiophile would tolerate those things, but they worked pretty good even down low, which is the miracle. The Acapellas were played too loud most of the time. On last day I heard them playing solo classical piano, still too loud, but at least I could focus in.

Joe Skubinski was in the Usher/JPS room. I was glad to finally get to talk to him, as the room was crowded all weekend while the new 718s played. Same room that had Nuforce last year, but this sounded much better with traditional Usher bipolar SS amps. The little speakers easily filled the whole huge room, powered by Usher amps and Aluminata wires. Clean clear sound, even my bass tracks sounded almost completely satisfying, surprising from the single 5" woofer and small "bookshelf" style cabinet, would love to hear them with tube amps sometime. Bass was better on the tiny dancer than the Monitor 40. The system had typical JPS sound, smooth, silent, a certain solid rightness. Good stuff. It was fun to meet Joe, I pretended to be a spy trying to exact secrets about Alumiloy from him. A couple times he smiled at the questions, but for the most part he was very forthcoming and explained to me much more than I could comprehend. Something about annealing the wire and multiple layers of different alloys. The kind of aluminum he uses is an alloy of other metals which is significant in some way I didn't understand, but yes there is aluminum in them thar wires. I'm sure he has many secrets too, making me realize just how complex designing good wire really is.

Emerald Physics had a cool demo. Their new speakers are open baffle with 2 15" drivers on the bottom, and a horny compression driver tweeter, all blended with Behringer DCX2496 digital crossover and biamped by 2 stereo Belcanto 300watt ICE amps. It sounded pretty darn good fromone source, messed up on another, culd have been a preamp issue, dunno. I never got to hear my demo. Huge open sound with great fast bass, no room problems I could notice. The mid/highs were a little brittle, but that could be the stock $250 digital crossover which has a reputation for crappy sound. A few mods similar to what Bolder does with a SB and it comes alive. Overall, a very promising debut and lots of interest and talk about them. I hope they come back again next year with the system really tweaked.

Luxman was there in force, they had every product on display. I heard an incredible Cannonball Adderley track being played, it was one of the best sounds I heard. I don't remember the name of the speakers, but they looked like big silver footballs with 3-4 drivers on the front. They sounded a little hifi but nice. I could tell the magic was in the tube electronics.

Break time.
Title: Re: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: miklorsmith on October 16, 2007, 04:14:10 PM
Title: Re: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: Bigfish8 on October 16, 2007, 04:22:23 PM

You truly have a special gift for writing as this is an excellent review of the show.


Title: Re: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: bpape on October 16, 2007, 04:25:17 PM
Horny tweeters and big silver footballs - must be the high end  :rofl:

Nice writeup Rich.

Title: Re: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: Bigfish8 on October 16, 2007, 04:36:54 PM
Horny tweeters and big silver footballs - must be the high end  :rofl:

Nice writeup Rich.


Hi Bryan:

I have read your comments here and at AC about RMAF.  Sounds like you were really busy and had a great room.  Hope the show was productive for you and hope to attend and meet you at the show next year!

Title: Re: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: bpape on October 16, 2007, 04:59:43 PM
Sounds good Ken.  Looking forward to meeting you.   There will definitely be some surprises next year   8)

Title: Re: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: Bill O'Connell on October 16, 2007, 06:01:08 PM
The show was absolutely wonderful, meeting folks that you only know by name and now being able to put a face to those monikers. Had a blast guys.
 Just a quick note to Rich, when the stringed quartet came into our room to listen to the Ray Kimber ISOmike recording they had done recording them playing ,besides being a bit humbled that they chose our room, the cellist who has the firmest and one of the most muscular handshakes I've had the pleasure to embrace was also such a little cutie in her demeanor. :D

Carl, thanks for turning me on to the scotch, I believe I will now switch :o
 Trying to catch up on a week's worth of work.
Title: Re: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: richidoo on October 16, 2007, 06:23:42 PM
Just a quick note to Rich, when the stringed quartet came into our room to listen to the Ray Kimber ISOmike recording they had done recording them playing ,besides being a bit humbled that they chose our room, the cellist who has the firmest and one of the most muscular handshakes I've had the pleasure to embrace was also such a little cutie in her demeanor. :D

I would agree her presence and playing certainly added a cherry to the already sweet show. ;)   I'm jealous she picked you, Bill... hehe   It was so nice to finally meet you and enjoy a long fun evening together.

String quartet reproduction is my hifi target, and I optimize everything toward that, which may make some of my equipment choices seem strange. I am not surprised at all that they came to see your room. Fantastic source, full range ribbon speakers and the most powerful tube PP amps at the show. Perfect for strings. I bet it was awesome to hear. I found their CDs on today... They are a little pricey, but I'm sure they are worth it. Even if just to have a picture of the cellist.  haha    I still got my lookers license.
Title: Re: RMAF - Pictures and Thoughts??
Post by: lonewolfny42 on October 16, 2007, 08:04:53 PM
Pictures and Thoughts??

Had a great time....met a lot of good people (thats the real show).....heard some good music....had some fine scotch (thanks Bill)....can't wait till next year !!!!! :beer:

I hope even more people come to the 2008 show !!!! (Plan ahead - Oct. 10,11,12 -2008)

That ACI/BP Audio room was easy listen, made a good choice....enjoy !!!

Sorry to hear your sick....get well soon.....missed you at the show...