RMAF 2018: It's Different This Time
First, I feel the need to apologize to the many manufacturers, distributors, and retailers at RMAF 2018. For the very first RMAF in 2004 was reporting on as many rooms as possible. Eventually a crazy idea came to me and thus that changed to live streaming, where exhibitors would come into the makeshift TV Studio (the room itself and bandwidth generously provided by RMAF) and share with the world in real time / live about exciting new products! This year I felt a bit, well, uneasy. As this article is my final RMAF 2018 'show report', am sure many readers quickly realize that for the first time during any of the ~200 show reports by Yours Truly that I've not covered a single room. Relax, as Enjoy the Music.com had five photojournalists in Denver and their reports will be online soon. So what was my Muse / wife Heather and I doing at RMAF 2018?
As both a short- and long-term planner, there are times when your personal resources are best employed for other tasks. Press events and business meetings filled the days, as did handing out Enjoy the Music.com's Best Of 2018 Blue Note Awards. This year we bestowed a record-breaking 18 products, the most ever! That also meant someone had to hand carry all these awards to attending manufacturers, and that takes quite a bit of time when navigating the maze of exhibitors spanning many floors and large conference rooms.
You may have noticed this site has grown a bit over the years. Today, our plans are for increasing to an even greater, and broader, expansion in both our industry-facing and readership-facing goals. As the Creative Director of this humble 7000+ page site, my 'job' is to come up with crazy ideas and (perhaps, but not always) try the 'least crazy' ones (ok, sometimes true craziness happens too). IMHO it was best to deploy our vast resources where they would help achieve these ongoing goals to best serve everyone.
Rest assured we have guys covering the home audio side, another one for the CanJam section.... Truly love visiting rooms, reporting, etc. as this brings brief music enjoyment between the busy workload of scribbling down notes in hopes of delivering to you an informative and entertaining show report. Alas, enjoying music in various exhibit rooms was not my 'assigned' task.
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one (me).
With that said, and trying to make the best of reaching to perhaps exceeding certain goals overall for Enjoy the Music.com, RMAF 2018 was more about the people than it was hi-fi gear. As I wrote in August 2015 celebrating this site's 20th Anniversary, "There are many joys, and pitfalls, as sometimes you are a 'victim' of your own success. What once was a nighttime fun of creating content while my day job kept the lights going; eventually the site seemed to take on a life of its own! This is a great position to be in, yet with these added duties came immense responsibility too. Recently a longtime friend was hired by a leading audiophile magazine and my only advice to him was to wield his newfound powers carefully. Once you get more involved in any industry, you also find there are many paths...".
"For me, high-end audio is far more than just equipment. It is about all the brilliant people! We have engineers (technicians), creative visual designers (artisans), businessmen and of course visionaries. There is such a wide variety of experts in various disciplines that over the years one's thirst for knowledge is not just increased, it opens up more questions. With every door of knowledge opened you quickly realize that there are five more doors behind that. The more you realize you know, the more you become conscious of just how much you do not know. Yes, it is a paradox!"
And so as my final 'report' about RMAF 2018, I'd like to showcase some of these brilliant people. There are many, many more not selfied below, as wanted to keep this a bit more broad-based and not necessarily manufacturer-specific. Already have 'improved' ideas for AXPONA, which again means no 'show report' formal from Yours truly. Heather and I will be there in Chicago of course. As you may have read within our recent press release, Enjoy the Music.com sponsored both the industry-facing Thursday night exhibitor / press party, plus the enthusiast-facing seminars... which were live streamed for the first time in RMAF's history! Am truly humbled by the many congrats and thanks from so many in Denver. Here's a little special advanced info for you, during AXPONA 2019 Enjoy the Music.com is sponsoring the Thursday night party and all seminars.
Would like to humbly thank all exhibitors at RMAF, and most important of all Marjorie and the abundance of volunteers that make this show possible. So when you read a show report within any publication, please remember it is these generous people all working in harmony together that make RMAF the peak of success it has reached today. Next year the new venue is spectacular! We're not talking just world-class, it is a venue I would be proud to take any of my venture capitalist and incubator friends to. Luxury goods showcased within a proper luxurious environment.
Isn't it time we as an industry reach a broader audience? Billions of people enjoy music each and every day. Right now we're only reaching a tiny fraction of that. Imagine what the combination of educating and bringing a mere 0.5% of that crowd to a show (will allow you to do the mathematics).
First up is RMAF's hardest working gal Marjorie Baumert who has kept this whole circus of audiophiles going for the past 15 years. If i may so bold as to say, "Marjorie, our entire industry deeply thanks you for all you continue to accomplish for our industry. You're truly appreciated!" And yes you look very tired girl, and that alone proves how extremely hard Marjorie works during RMAF. Pleeease, get some much-needed sleep!
Abey Fonn of Impex Records is tirelessly working ensure some of the best ultra-high quality vinyl LPs. Usually it is re-issues and whatnot, which we all love, yet soon they'll be offering original music from Cuba! Their most recent effort has yet to reach stores, yet in December 2017 a grouping of Cuba's finest musicians were recorded. Think along the lines of Buena Vista Social Club, yet far more rare traditional Cuban music played on authentic Cuban instruments! Their upcoming Lo Que Dice Mi Cantar release on record label Muxia Music was played for members of the press during RMAF and the sound is simply stunningly realistic (as you'd expect from Impex Records). As the company's first original music release, it was recoded in Cuba on high-end digital gear and expected release date is sometime in 2019 (maybe late 2018?). This is not typical yawner 'tourist music' (bah!), this is authentic Cuban music that has either never been recorded, or only on ancient / historic offerings (read: old / low quality). When it is released, do yourself a favor and buy it. The music, and sound quality, is truly inspiring!
Singer and pianist Anne Bisson was at RMAF 2018 signing autographs... and of course performing for attendees too. This is another reason to attend high-end audio shows, because, you know.... music love :)
Speaking of music love, here's none other than the man, the myth, the all-loveable Chad Kassem. Even if somehow you've been living in a van by the river, <cough> Tyll Hertsens </cough>, even then you know who Chad is. You know, Acoustic Sounds music retailer plus Analogue Productions vinyl LP and disc re-master / producers, plus his Blues Masters concerts and he also.... Chad is the man!
Cookie Marenco... an not even sure where to begin other than love love love for all you do girlfriend. And believe me, this smart 'n' fun woman does so much! Am going to 'cheat' (please forgive me) and just copy / paste her Wiki entry, "Cookie Marenco is an audio engineer, record producer, and composer. She is the founder of OTR Studios and Blue Coast Records and has engineered or produced five Grammy-nominated records, several gold records and an Academy Award-winning documentary. Marenco, along with French engineer Jean Claude Reynaud, developed Extended Sound Environment (E.S.E.), a proprietary recording technique. Marenco's artist credits include Max Roach, Bryan "Brain" Mantia, Kenny Aronoff, Steve Smith, Brady Blade, Tony Furtado, Tony Trischka, Dirk Powell, Rob Ickes, Charlie Haden, Tony Levin, Steve Rodby, Buckethead, Ralph Towner, Paul McCandless, Ernie Watts, Glen Moore, Mary Chapin Carpenter, John Jennings, Pat DiNizio, Kristin Hersch, Brad Mehlda...".
Am sure you get the idea here and why I'm not qualified to even try and describe how awesome Cookie is. Everyone loves cookies :) A most humble thanks Cookie for all you do.
One of my longtime car audio buddies Earl Zausmer always seems to pop up at high-end audio shows. Many of us were deeeep into custom car audio back in the 1980s and 1990s, and Earl was one of the stars (he's still a star, now if only we could get him to write home hi-fi reviews...).
Yes boys and girls, that's none other than EveAnna Manley of Manley Labs. Have known EveAnna since, well, OMG about half my life! She continues to inspire both home audio and recording studio engineers with some of the best gear. Talk to any longtime studio guy about Manley Labs gear and be prepared to hear gushing words filled with positivity. Manley Labs also makes home audio gear too, much of which we've been honored to have the opportunity to review here at Enjoy the Music.com.
My long lost Brother and sending infinite love to you Tyll Hertsens. We go all the way back to, well, CES 1995 or so. For years we both wondered who actually posted on the Internet the very first high-end audio show report (i did, yet it was on CompuServe's CE Audio board). Many of you know Tyll from his Headroom goodies, and later headphone reviews and measurements. Like many (retired) high-end audio reviewers, he now lives in a beat up old van thingy by the river. I jest, i jest (or do i?). Tyll is doing what he chooses to do in the way he chooses to do it. Judging by the smile on his face and stories he shared with me, dude, i'm sooo jelly! If i was swingle and retired, would be in a service van following you around buddy. Again, infinite love to you bro.
Warren Chi, OMG dude it is soooo good to see you so very happy (he has a great girlfriend too!). Warren works with Jude, Ethan and others on Head-Fi, which is without a doubt the global leader in headphone discussion board, CanJam shows, etc.
Ugh, how did the above pic get within my RMAF 2018 show report? Quick, scroll down!
Sandy Gross, for those newbies, basically created more successful loudspeakers than i could shake a stick at [and as a percussionist / drummer i can shake a long stick (hmmm)]. Sandy's most recent gig began in 2010 as co-founder of GoldenEar Technology. Am sure you've read the many glowing reviews of these speakers. Oh, and they're sanely priced too. If you've not heard them, please do so at your nearest dealer.
Oh no, somehow got some schmutz (dirt) on the cell phone selfie camera as here's Marc Finer. His credentials within the consumer electronics industry are both immense and impressive (and legendary). IMHO one of our industry's most underutilized resources. If we as an industry could somehow afford him, he'd be my go-to guy for working with both hardware and software companies as it relates to audio and music (re)production. Marc, huge apologies for such horrid pic, as you were so very kind to take a moment from your extremely busy schedule to pose for this (blurry) photo. My bad :(
Last, and most certainly not least, is this super sexy smart yummy incredibly lovely young lady. Think her name is, ummmm, what's this girl's name again(?), oh yeah Heather Rochlin... and rumor has it she's also a Muse for some crazy guy within the audio industry. If you happen to see Heather at a hi-fi show, one may want to bow to all the Greatness that is Goddess Heather. She truly inspires...
As always, in the end what really matters is that you...