Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2016 Show Report - Page 2 - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #11 of 27 Old 10-07-16, 06:32 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2016 Show Report

Von Schweikert Endeavor E5 Speakers, among the best at the show, I have no doubt, at $35,000 per pair. A 3-way system, the EA E5 is extremely neutral and natural. After spending a halr hour in the room with them it was starting to get hard to leave them alone. A single Von Schweikert Shockwave V12 sub, $11,500, supplied the low end.

There is not a whole lot to say about the Von Schweikert E5 / V12 combo, because there very little that they did to color the source material. A really special set of speakers and a pretty decent value on top of that. Very nice.

Only day one, so it is early to declare Best In Show type awards, but the Von Schweikert set is definitely nominated.

Supporting:
  • A pair of Signature 200 IQ amps by VAC, $14,000 each, stereo amps operating in mono mode, capable of supplying 200 W each into 4 ohms.
  • Signature 4 Rosewood turntable by VPI, custom built to fit two 12-inch tone arms and Soundsmith Hyperion cartridge, all for $7,999.95.
  • VAC Master Preamp with phono pre, $40,000.

    Room treatments by GIK Acoustics.

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2016 Show Report-img_20161007_154202.jpg

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2016 Show Report-img_20161007_155221.jpg


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post #12 of 27 Old 10-07-16, 07:46 PM
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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2016 Show Report

Room 6030 contained quite a pleasant surprise. The Aurum Cantus V3M monitors, with stands and free freight delivery for a mere $2000! The sound is right up my alley, ribbons and 6.5" woofer loaded into a minimal area, slanted baffle. Erring only toward the warm side of neutral, possibly and most likely due to the room, with a mid bass presence that belied their size. The ribbon is capable of high output, showcasing the bite of the saxophone on the Paul Burner Band's "That's All Right".

Tunes were offered up by the Music Vault Diamond server (($4995), digits decoded by a Benchmark DAC2 DX ($1995) and amplified by the lust-worthy Wells Audio Majestic integrated amplifier ($3599).

The Aurum Cantus V3M, in a short, had absolutely no problems representing the upper echelon gear that fronted them.






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Wayne's Comments - Audiophile Direct - Aurum Cantus VM3 Speakers.
Roger DuNaier, owner of Audiophile Direct gave me the rundown on the Aurum Cantus company, one of the biggest makers of speaker components in the world. The $2,000 price point for the a pair of speakers with ribbon tweeters and stands, sounding as transparent and accurate as te VM3, while also being dynamic and fun, is almost unheard of. Roger and I agreed tha the tweeter can make or break a speaker. In this case the Aurum Cantus (Latin for Golden Song) definitely make it. The VM3 seem to pop out at you, yet are very easy on the ears, very non-fatiguing.

"I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit." - Bill Hicks
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post #13 of 27 Old 10-08-16, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2016 Show Report

Seaton Sound:

Mark Seaton has been refining his speaker designs both evolutionarily and revolutionarily very consistently over the 5 years since I first heard his offerings. His new F18+ Subwoofer design, with an 18 inch driver and a 4,000 W amplifier that can drive up to 3 F18 slave units, is an impressive addition to his product family.

The Catalyst 8C design has been around awhile, and I have heard several iterations of the design as it has been refined along the way. The latest iteration makes use of an improved co-axial compression tweeter which has improved off-axis response. The design has been optimized to capitalize upon this factor, and the result is a sound that is quite refined through the mid and high-frequency range, rivaling systems costing many times what Mark asks for his.



When I first sat to listen to the 2.1 setup, although I already knew there was a phantom center channel in play, I involuntarily opened my eyes to verify that the clear, concise center image was indeed not coming from a hidden center channel speaker.

The imaging was uncanny and extremely satisfying, crossing into the rarely-approached dimension of concise depth acuity. You just don't hear that very often. Imaging through the mid and high ranges was excellent, allowing me to pick out images that stood only inches apart in their respective mixes and hear the empty space in between. Lower-mids were not quite as near-perfect, but that can take a lot of fine tuning in a dedicated environment. Overall, the sytem, which can sizzle and satisfy a true home theater buff, would make most picky 2-channel listeners lust for a Seaton Sound system of their own and wonder how Mark manages to coax such sound from modest components. Extreme attention to detail is the secret, and short conversation with Mark about the design is all it takes for you to realize that he (1) knows his stuff (2) loves discussing it, both as an engineer and as an experienced high-end caliber listener, and (3) stays well away from any perception of hand-waving or claims that you have to be special or part of some "inner circle" to understand what he does and how his products sound so great. The room, with GIK Acoustics treatment, boasts imaging and soundstage performance that very well might be the best at the show.

Mark's room system, retailing at a little over $8,000, delivers such value that it probably makes many of the exhibitors at RMAF blush.

Mark's systems are always a treat to hear. I had a hard time tearing myself from the room, a good sign every time. Systems that can blow the walls out yet have the refinement to let you enjoy subtle detail in dynamic music tracks, that is Mark's specialty, and he just gets better and better at what he does.

Okay, now I am gushing. But I am not embarrassed and I stand by every word. This is a GREAT sounding $8k system.

Dennis' impressions -

What else can I add to this? My immediate and lasting impression is that Mark did a fantastic job of making left and right speakers disappear completely, they never, ever called attention to themselves. Hard background vocal pans from an acoustic version of Seal's "Kiss From A Rose" were never directly from the Catalyst 8C, but from a plane behind the speakers.

The subwoofer was truly an iron fist in a velvet glove, as with the loudspeakers, I was totally unable too localize it's physical position, the F18+ was the perfect companion to the Catalyst 8C pair.

Ending my demo, a Shuttle launch containing 8 Hz content was played, massaging the room with ultra low frequencies, the flame scorching the air with cracks and pops. Such fun!
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post #14 of 27 Old 10-08-16, 12:54 PM
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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2016 Show Report

Here, I am enjoying the new Technics Grand Class SL-1200G playing 78 rpm. Pictured is a quick cartridge change that took less than a minute to swap out. Good 'ole Victor Herbert, in mono, takes me back to a time prior to my own.

The $1700 SB- C700 monitors remind me how much I liked them the first time heard, helping to transport me back in time to an era of sound reproduction decades gone, while sounding better than any loudspeaker of the 78 rpm era could.

Room 1121, next door, contained more R2R fun, showing off the statement SB-R1 ($28,000), playing Yello "Out of Dawn", there were some percussion strikes on pipe that, as I was typing this sentence, made me take pause and listen more intently. The immediacy available from reel to reel listening has that affect.



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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2016 Show Report

A quick stop into this exhibit gave an A/B comparison between the DEQX "room compensation", as they prefer to call it, and none, demonstrated by playback of Metallica "Enter The Sandman" like I have never heard it before. Playback sans correction sounded very familiar. A very convincing demonstration of the power of DSP addressing room anomalies.

Another demonstration was given between the actively driven VAF Signature loudspeaker's 6th dB/octave driver crossovers and 96 dB/octave (!!!). The exorcism of driver intermodulation was stark, a night a day difference. What a wonderful product DEQX has created in the HDP-5.




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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2016 Show Report

The Sugden/DeVores Fidelity room has it going on, as I always find. I have an admitted bias against dome tweeters, preferring ribbons and planars, but the Orangutan O/93 speakers have me questioning the validity of my opinion.

A blues piece by Skip James, "Hard time Killing Floors Blues", played through the Well Tempered Amadeus turntable and tonearm/DPS power supply, EMT TSA MC cartridge, Sugden Masterclass PA-4 phono preamp and Sugden A-21 SE Pure Class A integrated amplifier, had me pinned to my seat. Soundstage was deep and wide, yet the speakers seemed not to be there at all, as should be. The Orangutans sonically disappeared completely, the beautiful booked marked flat cut maple baffles containing the tweeter and woofer the only indication that I was listening to a stereo and not a phantom band in a smoky dive bar.





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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2016 Show Report

Sitting down for a rendition of "La Lorona", the female vocal piece captivated me with the effortless reproduction of the combination of Christina Pluhar's soft spoken and forcefully sung voice.

The Nils Lofgren Band "Bass and Drum Intro" plucked strings remained easy to hear in the background despite the bombast of percussion, such is the ability of 3-way ELAC Reference Series FS 507, which features a cool adjustment knob on the back to physically align the tweeter in relation to the midrange.

The ability of a ELAC towers to "lay it down" and maintain composure was cemented with the playing of "Seeya" by Deadmau5 Feat and Colleen D'Agostino.

Want a sultry rendition of Diana Krall "Temptation"? The ELAC floorstanders can handle delicacy and subtlety, too.

A plethora of Audio Alchemy gear piped the music to the FS 507 pair.



Skipping over to Room 4032, the Andrew Jones designed 85dB sensitivity UniFi UF5 Slim ($1500/pr.) showed that, with the same "Seeya" track, it could indeed trade sensitivity for the gain of deep bass and still hit satisfying volume levels with the mere 40 w.p.c. supplied by the ELAC DA101EQ-G amplifier. The decision to trade sensitivity for bass did not make the Debut B5 render male voice with excessive "chestiness", as evidenced by Fink "The Trouble You're In".

Completely bowled over, for the money I am finding this all ELAC system to be THE budget system of the show.





ELAC UniFi UB5 Slim ($750/pr.) & S10EQ subwoofer ($499).





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Wayne's comments:
The minute you sit down to listen to the Elac FS 507 Reference Speakers, you feel like something special is going on. I heard Elac's offerings for the first time at AXPONA last spring and was quite impressed. My impression seems to vacillate between I don't hear anything particularly special, which means they are doing their job effectively with Swiss-perfect neutrality, to Whoa, I like how they handle THAT passage, which means they are working hard to deliver difficult material while making it sound like it is easy work. Good job.

Metallica's Black album, cranked, remained an easy listen, no harshness, very neutral, very clean, very even, very easy. The coaxial mid/tweeter is sonically nearly invisible. Then the same Metallica performed by Scala and Kolacny, choral version, was a real treat.

"I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit." - Bill Hicks
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post #18 of 27 Old 10-08-16, 06:54 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2016 Show Report

Some speakers you have to sit in the sweet spot to tell there is something special about them. The Wilson Benesch A.C.T. One Evolution P1 Ettore loudspeakers had me from the doorway. At $40,300 per pair, playing Dean Martin from vinyl, sounded pretty much unbeatable. A 2.5 way design, driver integration is impeccable. Piano, vocals, ESPECIALLY VOCALS, no, pretty much everything, just unbeatable. Another sure nomination for best of show in my opinion.

The cabinet design is aluminum and carbon fiber, and uses the same dense foam material used in aircraft cargo holds, and is so rigid and inert that internal bracing is unnecessary. Internal volume is maximized. Drivers also are Wilson Benesch, also aluminum and carbon fiber. During a demo, a subwoofer driver cone was lain on the floor and the demonstrator, a thin man, stood on it, causing no deformation. Undoubtedly, a heavier man would have had the same result.

This is one impressive set of speakers. Neutral, easy, they make you go I want a pair of these. Even after hearing the price tag, that feeling does not fade.

There is a very lively presentation, yet it remains uncolored and neutral, and completely non-fatiguing.

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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2016 Show Report

Dr. Hsu is coming out with a new coincident loudspeaker. The 6 ohm CCB-8 pre-production prototypes units I heard are nearing design completion.

While not wholly apparent during music playback (with VTF-1 MK 3 subwoofer), I did notice a "boxiness" quality made apparent by spoken voice during a 5.1 demo (with the VTF-15H MK II subwoofer). Knuckle rapping on the CCB-8 enclosure gave a hollow sound and caused the yellow woofer cone to vibrate. Let's hope that the post production models are better damped.

Off axis imaging remained anchored between speakers, one of many benefits realized from concentric drivers. The sweet spot was huge, I walked around and found it spanned from wall to wall.

All in all, it was a good, fun demo and had people amazed at the 2.1 quality of sound delivered from an $1100 total for CCB-8 and VTF-1MK 3.



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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2016 Show Report

Entering the room, the first thing that catches your eye is the large, bright red floorstanding loudspeaker pair, in sharp contrast with the tiny, ripe cherry colored amplifiers. Intigued, I was eager to hear what JTR Speakers and the Digital Amplifier Company had brought to the show.

Warming up with Fleetwood Mac "Gypsy", the accompanying singers were spread out alongside Ms. Stevie Nicks, neither behind, nor in front of her. Leslie Buckingham's guitar solo took place on the right, far toward the back of the stage, Christine McVie's keyboards taking front and center from Stevie Nicks at the song's end. I expect going further into the audition of this system, this type of soundstage and imaging are to be a theme...

...and I was not disappointed. Hiromi "Wanderer" starts of with cymbals splashing and crashing wide, the centrally located piano dead center, not drawn a seemingly 9 ft. wide as many systems do. Depth is clear to the back wall and a bit beyond at times, 4 ft. or more behind the plane of speakers.

The miniscule Digital Amplifier Company Maraschino Cherry amps (w/external power supplies) are as deceiving in their ability to power these large NOESIS 210RT towers as they are fun to look at, delivering a surprising 400 watts to the loudspeaker's 4 ohm nominal impedance.

Transport duties were handled by the OPPO 95, with D/A handled by the cleverly named Digital Amplifier Company DAC DAC. The decision to use miniDSP DDR 22D Dirac Live room correction, to me, is as important as treating the room, which was done properly with 6 well placed GIK panels and 4 sizable corner bass traps. This really brought out the system's capabilities, pushing aside the listening room, allowing the recording venue to be transported to our location.



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