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AudiocRaver 10-02-15 01:11 PM

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - RMAF - Show Report 2015

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Reporting LIVE from Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2015 at the Marriott Denver Tech Center:

Dennis Young and Wayne Myers are in Denver and ready to rock and roll. Check back often, there is lots to tell you about, and we will be posting through the weekend.

Table Of Contents:

Audioengine HT6
Audioengine A5+
Cambridge Audio
Dan D'Agostino
Dynamic Sounds Associates
EMM Labs
German Physics
Jeff Rowland Design Group
Joseph Audio
JTR Audio
Kimber Cable
Legacy Audio
Linkwitz Lab
Martin Logan
Neat Acoustics
Pass Labs
PS Audio
PSB Speakers
TechDAS Turntables
Triangle ART Turntables
TW Acustic Turntables
Usher Audio
Vapor Audio Perfect Storm
Vapor Audio Nimbus
Volti Audio
VPI industries
Well Rounded Sound
Wilson Audio
YG Acoustics

In Summary (link):

  • The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest Organization always does quite a job pulling together a top-notch high-end audio show. This is my third RMAF in a row, and it is without a doubt the show that I feel I simply must attend. Hats off to the RMAF people for an excellent 2015 event.
  • Marriott Hotels: Their organization is a marvel and is exemplary in the running of their facilities. Time and again I have seen their personnel go out of their way to accommodate, help, assist, direct, and go the extra mile to make life easy for their guests, and always do so cheerfully and efficiently.
  • VerticalScope receives thanks from Dennis and me for sending us to RMAF to report for Home Theater Shack members and readers.
  • Home Theater Shack members and readers. You are what it is all about. We appreciate your support, friendship, discussions, and feedback.
  • Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse in Paxton, Nebraska. We stopped at Ole's going and coming this trip, and decided it is definitely the place to catch a meal while crossing the outback of western Nebraska. Not much to compete with, of course. Still, we enjoyed our meals going both directions and it is nice to know of a reliable restaurant to stop at on a trip like this.
  • I personally wish to thank my travel partner and fellow reporter Dennis Young. This is our fourth audio show trip together. Dennis does most of the driving and puts up with my sometimes-slipshod navigation patiently. He is a fun travel companion and has become a good friend. Any of you who know him personally will recognize that he is merciless in his pursuit of truth and fairness and accuracy in all that he does. While that can be occasionally frustrating, I appreciate the way he keeps my own thinking processes honest and working clearly and logically.

tesseract 10-02-15 02:54 PM

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Hello, dear readers! I decided to start the 2015 RMAF show off in a BIG way.

IsoMike 4 channel SACD recordings piped via Kimber Cable into gigantic EMM Labs amplifiers and four (4!) Martin Logan Neolith hybrid loudspeakers.

Wow'ed from the start, I must say. One of my favorite recording techniques played through one of my favorite speakers.

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Imagine all that went into creating this experience:
  • The Blue Knights drum corp travels from Denver to Salt Lake City.
  • The University of Utah football field is reserved for the performance.
  • The football team gives up the locker room for a day for the Blue Knights to use.
  • The streets surrounding the stadium are blocked off for the day to eliminate traffic noise.
  • Air traffic controllers divert all air traffic from the air space above and around the stadium.
  • All air conditioning for the University of Utah campus is shut down for several hours.
  • The stadium is set up for the special IsoMike recording process.
For the RMAF room:
  • The huge MartinLogan Neolith speakers are brought to RMAF for the demo.
  • The four bathtub-sized 1500 watt EMM Labs amplifiers are set up to drive them.

Wayne's Comments:

This was not just a room to visit to hear and see equipment. This was a once-in-a-lifetime listening experience I will never forget. Max volume probably reached 110 dB plus. The dynamic range of the recording, from soft passages to loud passages, was said to be 60 dB. Compare that to 10 or 15 db for most modern studio recordings. It was simply awesome.

tesseract 10-02-15 04:46 PM

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The Vanatoo Transparent One is a wonderful little all-in-one audio solution, just add a source through one of many various inputs. DAC and amplifiers are included internally.

Said to be only 3 dB down @ 48 Hz, lower register

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weight seemed to extend at least another half octave below that.

AudiocRaver 10-02-15 04:48 PM

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PS Audio demonstrated their new BHK Signature Preamp, which will ship next year. No price is yet set. It played through all PS Audio electronics, all built in Boulder, CO by the small (number of employees = 30ish) company. The YG Acoustics Sonja 1.3 speakers, $106,800 per pair, rounded out the setup. They gave a very balanced and natural performance.a piano/violin duet was delightfully detailed. Even in an off-center seat, I was unable to locate the speakers by the music, the soundstage was that natural. Diana Krall's vocal and piano sounded fantastic.

Center hot seat: Wow, great, sharp imaging. The soundstage simply exists in the room. Yeah, I could live with this setup. Very detailed. I did not hear them ROCK, but everything I did hear was pretty near perfection. Nice!!

I have complained from time to time at shows like this that speaker setup is often less than optimum, sending me looking for the best listening position in the room. This room was set up perfectly, with TLC and great attention to detail.


I came back with my test CD, and yes, the system ROCKED for sure. Kurt Vie's guitar rock sound, Wailin' Jennys, Civil Wars, Muse, orchestra, Rachmaninoff on the wonderful Overs piano, this system can do all.

This might very well end up being the system to beat at RMAF this year.

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AudiocRaver 10-02-15 06:27 PM

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OK, I have been waiting for years for a vinyl system to convince me that it is possible for vinyl to beat digital, or at least to feel that it could be possible. I just heard it.

The 3-armed VPI Industries Avenger turntable with Magnetic Drive, two 12.7'" Classic 4 arms and one JMW 12" 3D-printed arm, with Miyajima, Zero-Mono, and Ortofon cartriges, and the Dynamic Sounds Associates 3-input Phono Peamp, through Parasound Halo JC-1 amps and Joseph Audio Pearl3 speakers... with this system I would be a vinyl freak in a heartbeat. I heard a mono 1949 recording played with a mono cartrige that gave me chills.
It all comes to almost $100,000 without exotic cables, but why stop there? I have heard it, and I now believe it. Vinyl CAN rival digital. Simply Amazing. Clarity. Dynamics. Smoooooth response. Engaging. Amazing. You have never heard anything like it. Did I say Amazing? I might have, but I am going to say it again. AMAZING!

If you are thinking about high-end vinyl, Dynamic Sounds Associates is the company to talk to. Want to save some serious cash doing it? Fagetaboutit, ain't gonna happen. Their man Dave Sckolnik is more an authority about vinyl and vinyl reproduction than any other 10 men I have met, and is a lot of fun to talk to. If you live within 100 miles of Denver, COME HEAR THIS ROOM. It won't cure hair loss, but it might change your life. In fact, for that sound, take the hair loss. Easily worth it in trade! (It will still cost you the $100 grand, too, though.)

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I have heard it said that the only thing happier than a 3-legged dog is a 4-legged dog. Does the same apply to turntables? Come hear for yourself? Did that make any sense? I do not know. But I can say for sure, that is one amazing turntable! There, I finally said it -- AMAZING!

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AudiocRaver 10-03-15 11:06 AM

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Legacy's V-System and Aries on display. A fellow listener felt prompted to tell me about his own Aries system and how happy he is with them. They did indeed offer an effortless delivery.

The Aries were my favorites in the room. They were interesting and accurate at the same time. The use of the AMT type tweeter definitely contributes to the clarity of the Legacy speakers.


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AudiocRaver 10-03-15 11:38 AM

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AudioKenesis featured their Promethius Sigma system with Space Generator modules and Swarm Subwoofers. Toed WAY in for a BIG sweet spot, a consideration for home theater users.

I personally go for tighter imaging, but the spaciousness was very enjoyable.

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Dennis' impressions:

While the Prometheus Sigma did quite well on their own, I dug the spacious soundstage of the Space Generators and would add them to any one of the multiple pairs stereo speakers I have.

The award winning Swarm Subwoofers System was completely invisible acoustically, as a great sub system should be.

All in all, a well rounded system, designed to work with the room, rather than against it.

tesseract 10-03-15 01:01 PM

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Room 2016 with JRiver Media enhanced JTR Speakers 210RT (Reference Tower) with Captivator 1400 subwoofersin 5.2 configuration was a literal show stopper. Be it the crushing dynamics of a Book of Eli gunfight, the subtlety of an Adele live concert or the bombast of John Williams' "The Emperor's March", I sat transfixed, unable to write, even as superlative adjectives flooded my mind. A few scenes from Tron Legacy actually blew the hair on my head back. Of particular note, no EQ was used or needed.

Should I ever be fortunate enough to have my own dedicated theater room, I'll be knocking on the door of JTR, and likely, JRivers.

Wayne's comments:

I heard the intro to Mad Max Fury Road on this system at bone-jarring levels. Then the next day had my test CD played through. JTR as done an admirable job of creating a system that can do surround cinema to satisfy the most demanding cinema user, and two-channel with true finesse and clarity. That is no minor feat. A great speaker to consider for a system that will do both jobs.

tesseract 10-03-15 01:33 PM

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The Cambridge Audio room features new loudspeakers with a feature I have been waiting for, for years. An affordable high frequency driver that handles most everything above the Schroeder frequency, freeing the woofer from beaming, which allows it to relax and reproduce modals, only.

A really wonderful design, value priced as is Cambridge's want, at $599 for the monitor and $1299 for the floorstander.

tesseract 10-03-15 02:20 PM

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The Technics $1700 SB-C700 is probably the most capable small monitor I've encountered. I sat waiting patiently to listen to the $27,000 floorstanders, but was in absolutely no hurry. Once the larger SB-R1 came online, it became apparent that the sound grew larger as well, but the little monitor gave up nothing to it's big brother except that sense of scale. Those with small to medium sized rooms would do well with the SB-C700.

The Reference Class R1 Series SU-R1 media server/preamp passes it's signal to the unusually large, for a Class D amp, $17,000 SE- R1 (seems like their accountants are fond of the number "7") via CAT6 cable keeping the signal digital all the way.

For me, the biggest surprise of the show. Technics is back, folks.

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Wayne's Comments:

VERY impressive. The digital design carries the bits clear into the power amp, regardless of format, where the system D to A stage is the pulse-width-modulation power stage itself - running at 1.5 MHz, many times faster than most digital amps. Gallium-Arsenide output devices are the fastest available. Linear power supplies keep noise to a minimum.

When first paired with speakers, the amp analyzes the impedance curve and phase corrects for impedance variations. Read that last sentence again. This is digital amplification done right.

Mid/tweeter driver is co-axial and time co-incident, and sounded superb. The tower and small sealed model (in white) sounded almost identical, it was very difficult to tell which was playing.

Techniques demonstrated not just the state of the art, but, in many ways, the future of high-end audio.

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