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RMAF 2016 Show Report (Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest)
RMAF 2016 Show Report
Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest & CanJam 2016
Part 4 By Steven R. Rochlin

 

Her Highness, Queen of all that is RMAF is Marjorie Baumert. No matter what the Denver Tech Center Hotel staff and management threw at her due to the many problems with their hotel facelift, she overcame and succeeded! A humble bow to Marjorie, she deserves it... and much more! Attendees and exhibitors all had a frolicking-fun time at RMAF 2016 and CanJam 2016 Denver.

 

 

 

Bring it on Zu Audio, as they always have surprises and the freshest music! Here at RMAF 2016 Sean armed their big room with Zu Audio Experience prototype ($30,000 per pair) that are, ike all the company's designs, highly sensitive at 101dB/W/m @ 8 Ohms. Love the design, with a well thought out driver array too. This is a very full bandwidth design a is said to "offer a clear option to the loudspeaker price segment."  With unknown modern chillax funk to Yours truly music, it sounded superb!    Capable of very effortless reproduction of the most complex and dynamic music and sounds, even at realistic sound pressure levels. They were being driven by the humble Peachtree Nova 300 integrated solid-state stereo amplifier ($2299), with cables being Zu Cable Event through this system (~$4000 in all). My listening notes say, "Awesome friggen imaging, super wide, deep and balanced frequency top to bottom. Great deep bass!" Zu Audio's RMAF room sounded simply amazing! No doubt about it, Zu Audio earns my Best Sounds At RMAF 2016.

 

 

 

Kevin Hayes of VAC is showing me their incredible Signature 200 iQ vacuum tube stereo power amplifier ($14,000, with two used in mono mode here at RMAF 2016). With 100 Watt per channel (200 in mono) it has their exclusive patented VAC iQ Continuous Automatic Bias System, said to be "the only system able to hold each power tube's true underlying idle current perfectly steady at all times". VAC's Master Preamplifier -line stage ($27,000, phono option adds $13,000) is an all-new design that follows their cost-no-object Statement preamplifier. The other preamp at RMAF is their Renaissance Mk V, which is priced at $9900 and also has a phonostage option ($2500). Keep in mind that VAC's fully balanced, zero-feedback, transformer-coupled Class A1 triode circuit is what Kevin Hayes feels "preserves and conveys the emotion and vitality of music. There are no coupling capacitors to detract from the purity, and no loop feedback." Speakers are the Harbeth Reference Monitor 40.2 in cherry finish ($14,795). For turntable duties was the Acoustic Signature Ascone Mk2 ($33,999) with Signature 12" TA 9000 tonearm -($18,999) and Signature MC3 phono cartridge (~$1700). Tellurium Q Black Diamond speaker cables (3-meter pair $4200) and Shunyata Research power strip round out the system. So how did all this sound together? Like buttah darling! My listening notes go on and on about sound smooth that is enjoyable and lottsa fun. "Really all day listenable." VAC and company get my vote for the Best All-Day Music Enjoyment Audo System at RMAF 2016. Sure some systems bowl you over initially, yet get fatiguing after a few minutes to perhaps the first hour. Yet this VAC setup made me want to just stop covering the show and plotz my tukas down in the center seat and enjoy the music.

 

 

 

Nordost's room always seemed to be very busy during RMAF 2016 here in Denver. Retailer The Sound Environment provided the gear, including the SimAudio MOON 260DT as CD transport ($2000), with digital decoding being by dCS Rossini D DAC ($23,999) with Rossini Master Clock ($7499). Analog amplification was by Balanced Audio Technology including their P6 vacuum tube phono stage ($3495), VK-43SE (solid-state linestage ($8995) and VK-655SE solid-state stereo amplifier ($16,495). Of course all cabling was by Nordost and included their Valhalla 2 power cord ($4999.99), Valhalla 2 interconnects  ($7599.99)... Tell ya what, here a breakdown of all the other cables by Nordost:
 
Valhalla 2 Digital (1.25m) $3299.99 
Valhalla 2 Speaker (1.25m) $9599.99
Valhalla 2 Tonearm (1.25m) $4799.99
Tyr 2 USB 2.0 (1m) $1299.99
Qb8 Mark II $1599.99
Qx4 $2699.99
Qv2 $349.99
Qk1 $249.99
Sort Lift: $599.99 (for a pair) 
Sort Kone: B/C $149.99
T/C $369.99
Sort Füt: $350

So how did it all sound? No doubt it was another sweet sounding room, with smooth yet detailed extended highs and tight, tuneful midbass too. Here's a room i wish i could stay all-day in and forget about RMAF 2016 show reporting and business meetings. So much to do, so little time.

 

 

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