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RMAF (Rocky Mountain Audio Fest) 2013 has come and gone... and HTS members Joe (ALMFamily), Wayne (AudiocRaver) and Dennis (tesseract) visited quite a few rooms and share their thoughts within this forum.



We are changing up the way we post our show coverage, as you can see. We have a sub-forum dedicated to the show... and each room we covered will have its very own thread. This way, any discussion about that room will be in its own thread and not mixed in with discussion about other rooms.

Sponsors will be listed first in our Sticky Thread section at the top... and all listings will be in alphabetical order. We will create an Index here in this post for an easy overview of all the rooms we covered and to provide quick links to those threads.

For some rooms we will have comments from all Joe, Wayne and Dennis... in some cases it may only be two of them commenting, and in others it will be one of the three. I may have something to say about a room or two myself.

Joe, Wayne and Dennis... it was an absolute pleasure to be able to once again hang out with you three guys. I sincerely appreciate what you do and the effort you put into the coverage of these shows. You have ears to die for... you are classy guys... you know what to look for and what to listen for... it just does not get any better than this. To everyone out there reading this... if you are doing drugs... STOP! Spend that money on transportation and lodging and start going to these shows. It is the greatest high you could ever imagine... especially if you love this hobby. They are the grandest of fun-houses... and all the people you get to meet makes it all the more enjoyable. It was also a pleasure to see many of our sponsors again, as well as meet some that we have not met before. Thanks to RMAF and all involved!

I want to make a fairly bold statement... I firmly believe I heard the best speakers I have ever heard at this RMAF show, although priced just slightly beyond my price range. I will not state the brand or what room it was just yet, but we will have the speakers at our $2,500 speaker evaluation event for a special review that will be posted separate from the evaluation.

We do not state a "Best of Show" or similar, simply because we did not go to every room at the show, and to make such a claim, that is what we would need to do. Not only would we need to cover every room, but it would have to be the same person. We might make comments towards a room being the best we heard, but that is about as far as we can go. If we do say this, keep in mind that we DID NOT cover every room and this does not indicate it was the best room at the show. We can not account for how other publications justify their claims.

We also hope to have another surprise for our readers that we tentatively worked out at the show... a 5.0 home theater system that has yet to be reviewed. This review will also be posted separate from the event. If this works out as planned, it will be huge for our readers.

If you have general comments or questions about RMAF 2013, you can post them in this thread.

RMAF 2013 Show Coverage Index Listing
HTS Sponsors

GIK Acoustics / Odyssey Audio
GR Research
Madisound
Marantz (D+M Group)
SVSound
Underwood HiFi / Emerald Physics / Wyred 4 Sound

Non Sponsors
Angel City Audio
Audeze Headphones
B&W Headphones
Doshi Audio / Paragon Sight and Sound
Dynaudio
Eugene Hi-Fi / DeVore Fidelity
German Physiks
Grimm Audio
Induction Dynamics
Kimber Cable
Lansche Audio/Aaudio Imports
Mr. Speakers Headphones
Phase Technology
PSB Headphones
PTE - Precision Transducer Engineering
Sanders Audio
Sennheiser Headphones
SoneZen
Tidal Audio / The Lotus Group / The Voice That Is / Audio Power Labs
Vanatoo
Vandersteen / The Audio Alternative
Vaughn Loudspeakers
Vienna Acoustics / Dr. Feickert Analogue / IsoTek / VANA
Wilson Audio Alexia / VTL
 

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After attending this show, it made the fourth show I attended this year. I thoroughly enjoyed each of them, and this one was a great way to end my year of show reporting. There were so many great systems on display, and I was reminded again that you do not have to spend huge amounts of money to have a great system.

In fact, the best systems I heard over the weekend were systems that I could actually afford - and they sounded better to me than some of the big expensive set ups.

Thanks again to HTS and all its members for giving me the opportunity to bring these shows reports to you!
 

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It is years since I have been to an audio show. The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, with its emphasis on high-end stereo gear, was the perfect chance to get caught up on what is happening in the industry these days. The high points for me were...

Fascinating Tweeters:
  • There were several offerings with the RAAL tweeter which gets a lot of buzz these days, so it was on my list to watch for. Once company had two RAAL-supported models, a favorite room for me.
  • Plasma tweeters - that is right, plasma, burning gas modulated by a high voltage to create high-frequency sound waves - showed up in two companies' offerings that I heard, and I was knocked out by their smoothness.
  • A relatively inexpensive beryllium dome tweeter in a budget-conscious tower that rivaled these high-end models' clarity and smoothness.
Disappearing Speakers:
  • On four occasions I walked into rooms with music playing through speakers that were acoustically invisible. Their sound field was so wide, open, and completely natural that there were no cues as to their location within it. No matter how mamy times this happens, it is always an occurrence that confuses and delights at the same time. I have noted in the individual commentaries the rooms where this happened.
Headphone Surprises:
  • A new company with two magnetic planar models at very nice price points.
  • A demonstration of the advantages of balanced headphone wiring. I had no idea the difference would be so clearly audible.
A Crash Course in Electrostatic Speakers and Support Technology:
  • We had a private session with a maker of electrostatic speakers that was extremely educational and introduced us to a couple of must-have products.
Great People to Work With:
  • The biggest treat of all was working closely with Sonnie (Sonnie), Joe (ALMFamily), and Dennis (tesseract) for three days. These guys are wonderful individuals and passionate audio lovers, are dedicated to professionalism in their work for Home Theater Shack, and have become personal friends whom I greatly appreciate. Thanks for a great weekend, guys. Sonnie most of all for making it all possible for me. And of course the HTS members and readers for your interest and support.
A Great Show and Venue:
  • Kudos to the RMAF crew, the Marriott venue and staff - I was greeted with smiles and and offers of assistance every time I entered the building; seriously, those Marriott people know what they are diong - and to all the exhibitors, working on tight timetables and under far-from-ideal conditions to bring us all a weekend filled with the best-sounding, most beautiful audio gear on planet earth.
 

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Sonnie, Joe, Dennis (Wayne?), good seeing you all again. Hope you all had an uneventful, safe return trip home.
Thanks to all for stopping by and a special shout out to Hugh for providing a very nice amp to demo my wares.
I suppose I'll see you at the next one some time next year.

cheers,

AJ
Soundfield Audio
 

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Thanks guys for attending the event and reporting on all the details within the sub-forums. That is a great way to keep things organized and clean. Easy to get to for those interested. You guys are the eyes and ears for those of us who were not able to attend. Thanks once again for your thoughts on this event. :)
 

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Nice reporting on the event guys. It sounds like you had a blast. You know, it has alway surprised me that most speaker demo's are in poorly or even untreated rooms. It is nice to see Bryan working his magic + seeing some of his new products. Any chance to get him to comment on his treatments & why he used what for why? I would really like to hear about that (even more so if he took measurements).

And nice to see some HT applications like the one from SVS. After all, we are the HT guru's :yes:! I hope we can do some full surround evals at some point. Boy that would be a lot more work :whew:. Again, nicely done fellows, keep up the good work!
 

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Nice reporting on the event guys. It sounds like you had a blast. You know, it has alway surprised me that most speaker demo's are in poorly or even untreated rooms. It is nice to see Bryan working his magic + seeing some of his new products. Any chance to get him to comment on his treatments & why he used what for why? I would really like to hear about that (even more so if he took measurements).

And nice to see some HT applications like the one from SVS. After all, we are the HT guru's :yes:! I hope we can do some full surround evals at some point. Boy that would be a lot more work:whew: Again, nicely done fellows, keep up the good work!
I am guessing here, but I wonder if some vendors purposely decide not to treat the room so that you can hear what they sound like in a more "raw" state. If you like how they sound that way, treat certain issues when you place them in your room could only improve the sound.

Just a thought as I have never considered asking...
 

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This was my first Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, but it certainly will not be my last. There is so much going on, it is impossible to see it all. This means one MUST return the following year, right? :D

I had a blast going from room to room, experiencing the work of many enthusiasts, talking shop, meeting old friends, meeting people face to face that I have been chatting online with for years, and making new friends. It was especially fun sharing experiences and developing friendships with my fellow Home Theater Shack staff members Joe (ALMFamily), Wayne (AudiocRaver) and HTS co-owner Sonnie (Sonnie).

I've been in this hobby for over 30 years, but heard the best sounds ever at this show. I would encourage all audio lovers that can make the trip to do so, it is a real treat.

I'd like to thank you, Sonnie, and Home Theater Shack, for sponsoring RMAF 2013 coverage and enabling us to share this experience with the HTS membership.
 

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Thanks for reporting on this event and can't wait to read about the experiences and thoughts. When I lived in Phoenix AZ back in the 1980's I used to drive up to Vegas for the annual CES. I remember how much I enjoyed those shows back then and can imagine the RMAF would be just as awesome to attend.
 

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You guys always do a great job reporting on these shows, almost like being there!

Which were your favorite set-ups to listen to? Which speakers are on your want to buy list?
 

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Wilson Alexia's for me, although the Saunders electrostatics were pretty hot and a lot more affordable.
Best audio demo I ever heard was with Wilson speakers as well, for the price it should be expected though.

Of course the Sanders electrostatics aren't exactly an affordable choice either but I sure would like to hear a pair one day.

Thanks for the info.
 

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Best audio demo I ever heard was with Wilson speakers as well, for the price it should be expected though.

Of course the Sanders electrostatics aren't exactly an affordable choice either but I sure would like to hear a pair one day.

Thanks for the info.
1) It's nice to read praise for Wilson's products. I once heard a pair of Sophias and couldn't understand the many negative comments I had read about Wilson - Aesop's sour grapes, perhaps.

2) When I auditioned the Sanders 10c, another of my audiophile misconceptions was shattered - the Behringer crossover definitely didn't spoil the party.

---

I'd love to attend the RMAF, but I have to settle for shows that are closer to home - few and far between. Ergo, I really anticipate the show coverage - hopefully, with lots of photos over which to drool. :thankyou:
 

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1) It's nice to read praise for Wilson's products. I once heard a pair of Sophias and couldn't understand the many negative comments I had read about Wilson - Aesop's sour grapes, perhaps.
I think they get so many negative comments because of the extreme price, and even then they aren't perfect which leads to criticism.

Another outstanding demo I once had was with the Von Schweikert VR4 SR MKII which compared to the Wilson's are a deal at only $10K a pair at the time. That demo may have actually surpassed the Wilson demo as I brought along my own music to listen to. I still drool everytime I think about that speaker.
 

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I did not hear the Wilson's, but of everything I did hear, the Sanders 10c was to die for... incredibly detailed and clear.

Of course, I don't think I heard anything that was not at least good, although I was scratching my head on a few setups where I had to either move to an "undesignated sweet spot seat" or a spot they had no seat ( I moved the seat myself) to get the best sound (image and soundstage). It made me wonder if our ears were that much different.
 

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I don't think your ears are different at all. I do think that when some of these vendors are setting up, they get so involved with all the hook up & people & show stuff that this very important step (to us anyway) gets left by the wayside.

Same with treatment. Any audiophile knows the merrits of treatment, to not treat at a venue like this is unfathomable. Double that when you consider some of your competitors are! That is one reason why I was glad to see Bryan in a booth. Quality products deserve to be heard in an optimized environment.

And I still would like to hear how Bryan went about treating his room. Just saying :bigsmile:.
 

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I don't think your ears are different at all. I do think that when some of these vendors are setting up, they get so involved with all the hook up & people & show stuff that this very important step (to us anyway) gets left by the wayside.
Maybe. But there are vendors like myself who understand electro-acoustics, psycho-acoustics, physiology and psychology quite well (along with the works of Toole, Olive, Griesinger, etc) and "treat" accordingly....as purely preference, often mandated by sound source horrid native polar characteristics.

Same with treatment. Any audiophile knows the merrits of treatment, to not treat at a venue like this is unfathomable. Double that when you consider some of your competitors are!
Our "competition" is with customers, of which preferences vary greatly. No one size fits all. Though I would concur, the typical show crowd would believe that so called aspirin for cancer "treatments" are mandatory, both visually and aurally, as a elixir panacea. Much the way extra zeros create superior sound.

cheers
 

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Im interested to hear what people thought of the Linkwitz Lab LX521 on display...one comment on the Linkwitz site reads...

"RMAF brought over 400 visitors to our room giving them an auditory experience and appreciation of stereo they never could have had before the advent of the LX521. I surprised myself several times about the speaker's bass output capabilities when hearing new material that visitors brought. We shocked more than one well known loudspeaker designer by the transparency, clarity and dynamics of close to live-like sounds produced by these speakers, and by the believability of an auditory scene devoid of loudspeakers. It was a most enjoyable magic trick, people got lost in the music and many listeners came back to our room for more. As one person wrote to me afterwards: "Your room at the show was 'Hotel California' - the room where people kept entering but never left."
 

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There is something to be said for a system that sounds great in a room with little or no treatment necessary. My speakers at home are in my wife's living room, and there's no way she's going to allow bass traps and 'funny looking' diffusers hanging on the walls. I would use some room treatments if I had my own listening room, but I would still prefer not to have to do too much. I hope others can appreciate coming into my room at RMAF and hearing pinpoint imaging, wide sound-stage, great tonal balance, and startling dynamics achieved without too much room treatment. I'm proud to demo our system that way.

I make a choice to set up my system on the long wall, and I understand the compromise in doing so. If I set up at the narrow end of the room, I would have many seats with good sound, and zero seats with magic. If I set up on the long wall, I get one seat with magic, two seats that are good, and the rest need to wait to get into the magic seat. It's a tough choice, but I'd rather some people get the opportunity to hear the Vittoras the way I know they can sound, even if it excludes others from that experience.

I need a bigger room at RMAF

Greg
 

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You guys always do a great job reporting on these shows, almost like being there!

Which were your favorite set-ups to listen to? Which speakers are on your want to buy list?
There were so many rooms, I didn't get a chance to hear everything I wanted by any means. In my limited experience, and keeping in mind this is a show with many systems crammed into hotel rooms and didn't get a chance to put their best foot forward...

The Wilson room I visited just nailed every aspect of sound reproduction. I'll never be able to afford that system...

I want to buy a pair of the Sanders Sound Model 10C, they sounded GREAT. Still, I'd have to save up for a long while. I am thinking hard on these.

The Vapor Audio Nimbus White was another great for me. Even though the Joule White they also showed has better resolution and is more transparent, the more sensitive Nimbus was able to hit the levels I like effortlessly. I spent a lot of time in their room enjoying the music. They sold me on SET tube sound, also. I heard a couple of examples of SET amps and a solid state amp on their Joule White speakers. Regrettably, still out of my budget.

The EMM Labs room with Sony speakers ( I'm not sure I have an equipment listing for this room) had the best soundstage and imaging I've ever heard, due to the 4.0 IsoMike SACD recordings. Enough so that I was compelled to buy an IsoMike test disc.

Speakers within my reach that I am really keen on were the Angel City Audio Trinity, the Soundfield Audio VSFT1 Tower, the Phase Technology PC9.5 towers and Phase Technology PC60 CA monitors. These guys gave the big boy toys a run for their money. I wonder if some of these expensive guys could play in the affordable arena and still compete? Most anyone can spend tons and get good results, but to build a blue collar budget speaker takes real skills.
 
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