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RMAF 2018 Show Report (Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2018)

RMAF 2018 Show Report -- High-End Home Audio
Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest 2018
Show Report By Greg Weaver

 

Good
If you've not heard about Tekton, you've probably not been paying attention to show reports. Showing in two different rooms this year, they made yet another superb presentation of their uncanny degree of performance at real world pricing in several rooms, but I was particularly impressed by room 6032. I'm sorry to say that they had no listing of the gear in play. But running all Parasound electronics to drive their Electron SE ($4000), finished in a beautiful blue, Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Texas Flood" was captivating! The Tekton's do an exquisite disappearing act, leaving behind a remarkable stage with particularly good imaging, creating realistic heft, weight, and impact, without too much bloat, revealing superbly natural and open vocals. Staging was just a bit more on the two-dimensional side of real than with some more costly loudspeakers, but the overall performance was simply outstanding!

 

The extreme overachiever, the Tekton Double Impact.

 

Jim Salk and the cat's at Schiit teamed up in room 3000 to present an absolutely engaging system. Fronted by the Salk StreamPlayer Gen III SE, with Roon and Tidal ($2,495), the Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC ($1,249), the Schiit Freya Preamp ($699), and a pair of Schiit Vidar Monoblocks ($1,398/pr.), all driving the Salk Song3 BeAT Speakers ($4,495/pr.). The name BeAT, is derived from the Be for beryllium, and taking AT from their AudioTechnolgy midrange. This room offered up splendid articulation, full of fine detail, with honest, rich, tone. Attack was nicely defined, with good resolve, and a very open and natural sound overall.

 

Impressive sounds from Schiit and Salk.

 

The teaming of TriangleArt with Muradio's new SP1 hybrid electrostatic speakers in room 1104 really spoke to me. The source while I was in the room was the TriangleArt Master Reference Turntable ($39,900), with Osiris mk2 12" tonearm ($6,890), and an Apollo MC Cartridge ($8,000). All TriangleArt electronics, from the Reference Tube Phonostage ($12,995), Reference Tube Preamp ($18,995), and the new TA-200M Pure Class A monoblocks ($73,000), drove the Muraudio SP1 Point Source hybrid electrostatic speakers ($14,700).

 

USA Premier of the Muraudio SP1 hybrid electrostatic speakers with all TriangleArt System.

 

I found myself relaxing immediately in this room, with its rich, full bodied, yet very articulate (without being overly detailed) presentation. I couldn't ignore its relaxed, natural, yet musically detailed and coherent presentation.

I had to stop in to see what Studio Electric's David MacPherson and ModWright's Dan Wright were pulling off in room 9010, especially as Dan had a new Phono Stage that I will be reviewing for another journal soon. I will admit that I was not familiar with the Fern & Roby "The Montrose" Turntable ($7,100), yet fitted with the with the expressive Hana SL cartridge, and with the new ModWright Instruments PH 9.0 Phono Stage ($2,900), with external power supply, this combo served up some mighty engaging tunes. I also heard digital playback with the OPPO Sonica DAC with ModWright Instruments Tube modification ($2,500 mod only). The rest of the system was the ModWright Instruments SWL 9.0 Anniversary Preamplifier ($2,900), the ModWright Instruments KWA 100SE solid state amplifier ($5,250), all driving the Studio Electric M4 monitors ($3,100/pr.).

 

A "nude" shot of the engaging Studio Electric M4 monitor .

 

This room was contagiously good sounding, with warm tone, leaden with musical detail, and infectious nuance and finesse, yet capable of significant dynamics and sensational punch. I could have stayed here for hours...

 

The US launch of Dan Wrights new PH 9.0 two-box phono stage .

 

It was my great pleasure to run into Gayle Sanders, of Martin-Logan loudspeaker fame, whom I've not seen at a show in some years. I was looking forward to hearing the new Eikon system he introduced at AXPONA in April, because that room had been so busy, I hadn't been able to get a listen or to say hello.

Using the Aurender W20 Music Server with MQA ($16,700), an Aurender ACS10 Caching Server and Streamer ($5,600), with all IsoTek cables and conditioning, and resting on a Grand Prix Audio rack, the Eikon Audio Image1 integrated Active Reference Music System ($25,000) were making some remarkable sounds in 8014.

 

 

The Eikon is somewhat unique in that Gayle has incorporated digital signal processing (DSP), employs room correction, and new amplifier technology, to provide a complete, nearly all-in-one package for discerning listeners who desire a simple approach to high performance. Essentially, you just pick your source and the Image1 does the rest.

It was a remarkable presentation in this relatively small room. The musical envelope was tight, articulate, and vivid. Piano recordings easily conveyed their percussive quality, yet the system was equally comfortable presenting an undeniable, flowing ease. I was very impressed by how effectively the Image1's native room correction neutralized much of the hotel room's acoustic interaction with the recordings it was playing, allowing me to much more accurately perceive the size, acoustic signature, and even the decay of the space of the recording. This system offered exceptional clarity, surprising weight, serious punch, and was rife with high frequency shimmer and air. This is a very exciting product.

The first room at RMAF in which I encountered Andy Payor's Rockport Technologies Avior II loudspeakers was 3024, teamed with CH Precision, but it would not be the last. This was an exotic system, featuring the new Kodo The Beat SE Turntable ($50,000), with a Schröder LT Tonearm ($12,500), and Lyra Etna SL cartridge ($10,000). Electronics were all CH Precision, staring with the P1 Phono Stage ($31,000), or the C1 DAC ($32,000), using the L1 Preamplifier, A1.5 Amplifier 150Wpc stereo ($39,500), and all Echole cables to drive the engaging and gorgeous Rockport Avior II loudspeakers ($39,500).

 

This system was utterly transparent, displaying an exceptional ability to resolve fine detail and micro dynamic events. With exceptionally faithful tone, good texture, it was musically revealing, with extraordinary clarity and focus. The musical experience was both quite smooth and extended, with just a slight leanness of body and bloom.

 

 

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