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RMAF 2017 Show Report (Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest 2017)
RMAF 2017 Show Report
Tekton, Parasound, The Audio Alternative, Vandersteen, VTL, And AudioQuest.
Show Report By Kemper Holt

 

Tekton And Parasound
Sometimes you enter a room and are just struck by the looks of an item, that item here is the ring of tweeters employed in the Tekton Double Impact speakers ($3,300 with upgrades as demo'ed ), an arrangement I have never seen before. I've seen vertical lines of tweeters, and midranges, but never a ring of 6 with a 7th in the middle. This is the out of the box thinking of a brilliant designer, Eric Alexander, who explained why he used the array of tweeters to me. Primarily by utilizing many tweeters he can lower the crossover point to around 440 Hz for them thus lowering the moving mass of the diaphragms covering the midrange, now the tweeter array, resulting in better definition and detail in that all important region. The middle tweeter is used in the traditional manner for extended high frequencies. His designs use some Pro Sound drivers which are very efficient allowing the speaker to be driven with flea watt amps, and muscular ones as well. The Double Impacts are spec'd at close to 99dB/W/m sensitive, letting them be a perfect choice for low power SET designs, and at the same time have big room filling ability when used with powerful amps as Eric did here in Denver. Partnering with Richard Schram of Parasound fame, they put a pair of Parasound JC 1 monoblocks ($8,990/pr) to good use ensuring more than enough oomph for the DIs. A Parasound JC 2 preamp ($4,495), an OPPO UDP 205 Universal Player ($1,299), and Mogami Cables finished the room.

I split my time here between being mesmerized by beautiful music, and dragging Eric out into the hall to talk about Tekton. He has just dipped into his wealth of speaker design ideas, so expect more radical designs to come from Tekton, based in Orem, UT.

My demo CD sounded exceptional in this room. Vocals were dead center and correct height, extraordinary level of details let me hear breath inhales, hall ambience and decays, especially noticeable in the Cowboy Junkie's "Mining for Gold" from The Trinity Sessions album. Margo Timmins voice was angelic and ethereal with long decays back into the hall, and the HVAC low frequency noise missed by many speakers was properly reproduced. The DIs exhibited planar like transparency, but also horn like dynamic swings. The impact from a drum kit or Orchestral bass drum was chest and room pressurizing, tight with good extension. String tone on massed strings was beautiful, tone colorful, the stage was wide and deep, my foot tapped and head bobbed. Mainly I found I just wanted to enjoy my selections as well as Eric's, the DIs seemed to have no favorites in music choices, but live recordings were especially well rendered taking us to the venue, sounding exciting as the dynamics were startling, the images placed precisely, and the speakers disappeared completely making the illusion believable.

I could have spent the rest of the day listening to music and talking to Eric about his designs. This is a time for budget conscious audiophiles to rejoice, the amount of great sounding kit at affordable pricing has never been better. Please remember the DIs with upgrades (crossover and wiring), are only $3,300 delivered in CONUS, and they deliver music so correctly that it brings High End performance down in price so many more can just enjoy the music.

I just spoke to Eric and he let me in on a goof up he made in Denver. The room could have sounded even better except for Eric's inexperience with the JC 1's bias choices. He didn't know there is a choice of low or high bias levels. The amps were in the low bias position for the show limiting the Class A output to a few watts, the high setting allows for 25 Watts Class A power before switching over to AB operation. So even with that handicap this room sang true, and was in the top echelon at RMAF, congratulations Eric.

 

 

The Audio Alternative, Vandersteen, VTL, And AudioQuest
I regret not visiting this room until late Sunday or I would have made many trips here just to hang out. For the second year in a row I will rate a The Audio Alternative room my favorite. Keeping the Vandersteen Model Seven MK II speakers ($62,000/pr) and Vandersteen Sub Nine subwoofers ($18,900) from 2016, the Ft. Collins, CO based retailer added electronics from VTL, a VTL TL-7.5 Series III Reference Linestage Preamplifier ($25,000) and a pair of VTL Siegfried Series III Reference Monoblock amplifiers ($65,000/pr). For the analog front end a Brinkman Balance turntable with 12.1" tonearm and RoNt power supply ($32,080) was used decked out with a Lyra Atlas phono cartridge ($11,995) feeding a VTL TP-6.5 signature phono stage ($12,500). Digital was handled by a Brinkman Nyquist DAC ($18,000), a hybrid design with a tubed output stage. AudioQuest Wild Blue Yonder and Wildwood cables tethered everything together and the equipment sat on HRS VXR audio stands.

Bea Lam of VTL was the DJ deftly handling the record cueing chores and picking out some great music. I stayed here for an hour reveling in new music and letting old favorites just take me away. All the audiophile boxes got checked here, speakers disappeared completely, huge soundstage that was wide and very deep, voices came form four feet behind the plane of the speakers, dead center, right height, and perfectly sized. Frank Sinatra had an in the room presence, just mesmerizing. Horn section was wildly dynamic, string tone spot on, and the impact from percussion was palpable, very live sounding. Ray Brown's Soular Energy album showed the percussive sounding piano with great body and harmonic rightness sounding very real. I stopped writing down the music selections and just let myself enjoy the music, congratulations on a superb room.

 

 

---> Back to main RMAF 2017 show report page. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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