Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2014 Show Coverage - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 51 Old 10-11-14, 09:58 AM Thread Starter
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Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2014 Show Coverage

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2014 Show Coverage

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Reporting from the beautiful Denver Marriott Tech Center for HomeTheaterShack.com, equipment reviewers Dennis Young (Tesseract, left) and Wayne Myers (AudiocRaver, right) are on the scene bringing you highlights from the show.


Index Of Room Reports:
It is finally here!

A few highlights from our first afternoon:
Sponsors Angel City Audio and SVSound both have new speaker offerings at the show.

Audio manufacturer Light Harmonic is developing a power amp that they claim will put big, expensive monoblock performance into a small, affordable form factor. The class A-B amp will have some interesting little tricks up its sleeve. Product name Keep, part of the LH Labs Geek series.
Much more to come.

The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2014 thread will continue as the open discussion thread.
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post #2 of 51 Old 10-12-14, 09:43 AM Thread Starter
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re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2014 Show Coverage

Another day down, one more to go.

Highlights from yesterday:
From Can Jam:
$5500 Ear Speakers. Not for everyone, but it was difficult not to drool.
HiFiMan flagship HE6 model sang nicely, but is to be replaced in 2015.
RHA in-ears, from across the pond - comfortable and accurate enough that one could easily forget they were in-ears. Hand-polished!
oBravo cans with AMT tweeters from across the other pond.
Serious Bluetooth cans for the audiophile who will not be tied down.
Sennheiser HD600, HD650, HD700, HD800, in normal and differential configs, set up for A-B-C-D-E-F comparison.
More to come.
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post #3 of 51 Old 10-13-14, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
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re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2014 Show Coverage

Wow, what a weekend. Speaking of "Wow," I have awarded four Wow! awards for the rooms that really grabbed me, plus two I Want One awards and a Most Dynamic Speaker award.

My Wow! awards go to:
  • Linkwitz Lab - Siegfried Linkwitz's speaker designs come in DIY kit form from Madisound - after you buy the plans from Linkwitz for around a hundred bucks plus change - all extremely affordable and easy to build. And they sound phenomenal!
  • Seaton Sound - Mark's rooms always manage to give me chills. The Catalyst 12C pair did it this year, with assistance from miniDSP and Dirac Live room correction.
  • KingSound - Their Prince III full-range electrostatic panels made my ears say "I am home." Lyngdorf room correction was assisting. I was so enthralled I forgot to take pictures.
  • GoldenEar - The Triton One setup was simply awesome.
The I Want One awards go to:
  • KingSound's Prince III electrostatic speakers.
  • Spacial Audio's Hologram M1 dipole speakers.
And the Most Dynamic Speaker award goes to:
  • Seaton Sound, for note-by-note dynamism that stood out in a field of very dynamic competitors.

Linkwitz, Seaton, KingSound, GoldenEar, Spacial
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post #4 of 51 Old 10-13-14, 07:17 AM Thread Starter
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re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2014 Show Coverage

Miscellaneous photos...




We are headed home today. Individual room reports will come soon.
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post #5 of 51 Old 10-13-14, 02:00 PM
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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2014 Show Coverage

Wayne, thanks for the great work, I owe'd you at least a fix of the title.

AJ

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post #6 of 51 Old 10-13-14, 10:14 PM
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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2014 Show Coverage

Oh, boy... what a show! I don't recall any rooms that sounded bad by any means. Of course, some were better than others. I'll start off by showing one of my absolute favorite rooms, the Classic Audio Loudspeakers/Atma-Sphere/Purist Audio Design/Tri-Planar exhibit. This room also shows the price of admission to having top notch gear. It's well beyond my means, but am glad I got to experience what they had to offer.

This system portrayed the largest soundstage I've ever experienced from a strictly two channel system. I've heard bigger from multi-channel setups, but this was like sitting second or third row from the front of a real stage. Of particular note were vocals on the various tracks played, most life-like I have come across yet.

If I could somehow afford this system, and had a room large enough to accommodate it, happiness would be ensured for a long time.

I meant to go back and get me one of those Nipper dogs that were for sale, but with the excitement of the show, I forgot.

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Wayne's Comments

There are those who "see a horn and just keep walking." But there are those who have discovered some fine sounding horns, too, and the midrange horn in the Classic Audio Loudspeakers Project T-1.5 is definitely one of them.

Maybe it is the way a horn couples with the room's air that can give it the power to reach out and captivate you without warning. Listening to music on the Project T-1.5 was a very personal experience, like that horn was projected the soul of the music directly into your heart. The wide soundstage and precise imaging delivered a female vocalist who seemed to hover in the air a foot in front of the speaker plane. It felt like she was there to sing for me and me alone.

The Project T-1.5 uses a custom horn design and field coils replaced permanent magnets for all drivers to reduce distortion.

"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 #7 of 51 Old 10-13-14, 10:49 PM
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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2014 Show Coverage

The drive home from Denver took us most of the day, we just arrived home a few moments ago. There will be more 2014 RMAF show coverage to come!

"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 #8 of 51 Old 10-14-14, 10:30 PM
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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2014 Show Coverage

Jackpot! I hit a Goldmund room! First thing I asked upon entering the room, "Is this an all Goldmund system?" Why yes, yes it was.

I was just passing by, and Goldmund was not one of my intended stops. I wasn't even aware they would be exhibiting. So, I did not get the name of this particular speaker. Looks like Prologue+ on the backside?

I did get a little insight into what makes the system tick. I was already aware that Goldmund has been putting active crossovers and amps in their speakers for years. Now, they also put the DAC inside and transmit the wireless signal from the preamp. Simply plug whatever source you like into the preamp/hub, and listen to the all metal enclosure speakers work their seamless, well integrated magic.


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"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 #9 of 51 Old 10-16-14, 12:20 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2014 Show Coverage

Linkwitz Lab

  • LXmini (kit, with DSP, plus pipe and fittings, without amplification): $690 per pair
  • LX521 Constant Directivity Reference Monitor (kit, with DSP, without amplification): $3,058 per pair
Siegfried Linkwitz has been spreading the good word about audio via his Linkwitz Lab web site since 1999, and has been an audio experimenter and a contributor to the field since the '50s. Part of that good word seems to be Good sound does not have to cost an arm and a leg. His innovative speaker designs are sold in kit form along with a purchase of the plans directly from Linkwitz Lab.

His rooms at the last two audio shows I attended for HTS were always crowded, and I had never made it to hear what all the fuss was about. This year I committed to make that room a priority. Some of my thoughts in the past have been along the lines of How good could they really be? Now I know the answer.

To put it simply: very, VERY good!

When I entered the room, there was only one chair empty in the back, and as at shows gone by, I started to leave. But Siegfried's lovely wife Eike directed me to sit, and obediently I did. Luckily the front-center chair opened up a moment later.

I had been listening to the LXmini speakers, and was already impressed. They seemed not to need a carefully-centered listening spot to cast a grand soundstage. The tiny LXmini consists of two drivers, a LF driver mounted at the top of a damped PVC pipe, providing an omnidirectional pattern up to 700 Hz, and a Mid/HF driver facing the listener in front of a smaller section of damped PVC pipe, providing a rear-diffused dipole pattern above 700 Hz. A miniDSP unit provides an active Linkwitz-Riley crossover (yes, Siegfried put the Linkwitz in Linkwitz-Riley) and equalization for the two drivers. Four channels of amplification are required, two per LXmini tower.

Note that the positioning of the two drivers helps create crossover directionality in the acoustical realm. The Linkwitz Lab web site, and undoubtedly the purchased plans as well, give a wealth of theoretical information about the design in a readable style targeting the DIY hobbyist.

How did the LXmini sound? The room easily garnered on of my Wow! awards for the show, and I had not even heard the bigger LX521 monitors yet. I started listing descriptors without embellishment, as though the LXmini had as much right of ownership over those descriptors as their designer had over the crossover type named after him:
  • Virtual Point Source
  • Full
  • Even
  • Flat
  • Clean
  • Precise
  • Unified
  • Dynamic
  • Honest
  • Natural
  • Humble
In normal listening positions, especially the front-center LP, the room was filled with sound that emanated from space in the most real and natural way possible, creating a huge, deep soundstage with pinpoint imaging wherein those humble, rustic little PVC-mounted speakers completely disappeared - Don't need to show off visually, 'cause in the audio realm I've got it nailed. Not intended for high-volume listening, they appeared capable of delivering 80 to 85 dB average listening levels in the medium-sized demo room. Moving closer to one tower allowed one to hear its point-source unity, unsurpassed by any single-full-range or small-two-way design that I have heard, with the soundstage-producing advantage of omni-directionality at LF and dipole characteristics at HF. I am curious what a similar design with crossover at around 200 Hz would perform, putting all of the critical soundstage- and image-producing frequencies into the dipole driver's range, but it is difficult to imagine it sounding significantly better than the LXmini.

LXmini plans cost $105 from Linkwitz Labs. The LXmini materials are available in kit form from Madisound for $525, including the miniDSP unit and program, to which the builder adds PVC pipe and standard fittings, plus 4 channels of amplification. It is a Wow! of a DIY project if I ever heard one, attention-getting in its elegant design and arresting in its audio impact.

The LX521 Constant Directivity Reference Monitor, a four-way fully-dipole design, performed much as the LXmini had done, hinting at shared ownership of the list of descriptors above. A dipole bass unit consists of two 10-inch drivers, V-frame mounted in a push-pull baffle. A bridge over the bass unit isolates the mid- and tweeter-baffle from LF vibrations; the mid/tweeter baffle can be aimed independently of the V-frame nestled below it. The LX521 added DEEP bass - the deep booms on Stravinsky's Firebird had shake-your-seat impact - and filled the room with a completely natural soundstage and flawless, pinpoint imaging. The LX521 could pump out much higher volumes and appeared entirely capable of being classified as a reference speaker.

Kit price for all CNC-cut wood pieces, ready to assemble and finish, along with the 12 SEAS drivers and an assembled and tested custom analog signal processor (using a miniDSP unit is also an option) adds up to $3058, a pricier setup to be sure, but one that will please the most particular of audiophiles. DIY-ers: on your marks, get set.....
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post #10 of 51 Old 10-16-14, 12:33 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2014 Show Coverage

Funk Audio

  • Funk Audio 8.2.P Loudspeaker: $7,205 passive, $9,735 active with amplifier, per pair
  • Funk Audio 21.0 Subwoofer: $6,720 each
  • Funk Audio 0.5kW x4 M1 Power Amplifier with Active Crossover: $3330 each
We did a lot of noticing and talking about tweeters at RMAF. The less you notice a tweeter, the better. The Funk Audio tweeter stood out in its being unnoticeable.

While listening to the 8.2.P, there were times that the frequencies covered by the large planar tweeter were recessed, very laid back. But when something really happened in that range, like the harmonics of a female voice, it was right there with all the strength that was called for, and with perfect clarity. It was an interesting presentation, almost hiding when not needed, but reminding you at times that it had been there all along in its own very unobtrusive way. I said as much to the designer, who took it as a great compliment, saying he had put a LOT of time into that tweeter.

The soundstage was nice, imaging was somewhat soft but very stable. The huge subwoofer did some serious floor shaking when called upon. It could be felt far down the hall in other rooms.
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