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RMAF 2007 - Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2007 Report / Coverage
RMAF 2008 Show Report
(Rocky Mountain Audio Fest)
Article By Ron Nagle
Page 1

Stats and Stuff
This is the fifth consecutive year the Colorado Audio Society has produced, "The Largest Consumer Audio and Home Entertainment Show in the Nation". Every year the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) has evolved and this year the show was bigger and better than ever. For the first time the show spilled over into the nearby Hyatt Hotel. There were ten demonstration spaces added at the Hyatt with two additional rooms set aside for daily seminars. I am convinced that the success of the RMAF is due to the fact that it is a grassroots effort produced by an Audiophile Society. I have watched what was once a hobby changed by corporate bean counters that do not understand the values that guide audiophiles.

I believe that the CAS succeeds because they understand how high quality audio nurtures our love of music. This fifth annual RMAF provides an affordable venue that even a garage based audio start up might use to get the word out. And that is exactly what this beleaguered business of audio needs. Hear are some statistics from the RMAF show co-directors Allan Stiefel and Marjorie Baumert. There were nearly 3500 people at this yearís 2008 show thatís an increase of seven percent over last year. Sunday the last day of the show things usually taper off but this year they had 406 last minute attendees, a significant increase over the previous year. This year there were audiophiles from 21 foreign countries in attendance.

I had a delightful conversation with two of these people, a Mr. Nicolas Noack and his wife. They flew 28 hours from their home in Pretoria South Africa to attend this RMAF, now thatís my kind of people.

In 2007 the Colorado Audio Society booked 328 exhibitors on line for the show. This year the show printed an additional 437 exhibitor badges. Now most of these exhibitors share rooms and expenses and some of these exhibitors booked more than one room so an exact count is difficult. To illustrate I found AV123.com direct marketing had products on display in multiple rooms.  And as befits human nature, the CAS expects some rooms have products and people inhabiting them that they donít know about.

 

The Rooms At The show, In No Particular Order.
As usual far too much to see and write about but now just a few highlights worth a shout.


As it happened the first room I walked into was producing some very decent sound. It was housing Nola Accent Speakers. Carl Marchisoto was demonstrating the Nola Baby Grand Reference speakers powered by Audio Research CD-7, Reference 210 mono amplifiers and Reference 3 preamp. The $55,000 speakers have eight open baffle dipole midrange cone drivers and eight 4-inch ribbon tweeters above a bass cabinet housing four 9-inch magnesium woofers. The music I sampled had power without edges, smooth and very life like it was one of the most natural sounds at the show.

 


Down the hall in the Audioengine room was a demonstration of a self-powered two-way speaker system. The company displayed 3 separate systems. The Audioengine 1 system was playing when I walked in, this is a wireless transmitter and receiver hook up. The transmitter was an iPod in a docking device and the tiny receiver was plugged into a USB style jack on the speaker cabinet. Their literature states that the system has a 100-foot range and is compatible with any media player. It is flexible enough so that it could also be used as a normal stereo pair. I believe that this wireless connectivity thing is something that we are going to see a lot more of. And of course this just might put a lot of wire pulling installers out of work.

 


The following is more of an anecdote than a review. I bumped into Michael Fremer in the Roberts Acoustics and Vincent Audio room. He wanted me to listen to a demo CD that he recorded. It consisted of only two tracks, the first was a classical music selection he recorded from a vinyl disk and the second track was the exact same selection played back after the vinyl was demagnetized by the Furutech Demag, MSRP $1,980. The difference between these two tracks was not subtle; you could have knocked me over with a feather. The demagnetized vinyl was dead quiet with an added sense of musical flow. Obviously we have all grown so accustomed to the extraneous noise content in vinyl recordings that we are no longer aware of it.

 

  


Peter Ledermann, although his appearance reminds me of some biblical figure his most notable quality is his innovative influence on high-end audio via his company Soundsmith. This guy is to high-end audio what Preston Tucker was to the automobile industry. He manufactures and designs a blue LED lighted glow in the dark DC powered strain gauge cartridge. The preamplifier system provides the power and compensation for disk playback. There are 7 Cartridge and preamplifier combinations. The base model is the SG-400, $7,499 six steps up in the product line is the SG-810 $14,999 it has a remote control and all the bells and whistles. In various combinations you can opt for remote control, full input switching, cartridge performance displays, front panel lighting controls and an additional line input. Cartridge tweakers delight: he makes six different replacement cartridge styli for his strain gauge cartridge. Get this! All the stylus assemblies are magnetized you simply pull off the bottom plate holding the stylus and stick on another stylus with a different contact profile. He makes speakers and MOSfet power amplifiers and moving magnet cartridges everything is housed in drop dead gorgeous solid wood. You have a choice of cherry, walnut, rosewood, maple, mahogany, beech or piano black check it out.

 


OTL amplifiers are not quite dead yet. I found yet one more, it is from the McAlister Audio from Ontario Canada. They had on static display an Output Transformer-Less mono power amplifier it is the new top of the line SE44. Interestingly Peter McAlister uses 16 vintage TV 17Jn6 driver tubes for power. Both monoblock amplifiers have a separate outboard power supply. Thatís four chassis incorporating a total of 46 tubes. This wood trimmed amplifier produces 165 wpc goes down to 2 Ohms and at $8,500 Canadian they are reasonably priced. He has a full line up of home hi-fi components every one of them features some very innovative circuits. I like his unusual designs and he is well worth a second look.

 


A story not of equipment made from cold metal but rather a story of wonderful music. It is about Doctor Mark Waldrep and his recording company AIX records. He recorded the beautiful voice of Jennifer Warrens in 5-channel surround. I was privileged to here her sing something called Train Time. Dr. Waldrep set up an array of five German Physiks HRS 120 speakers. Front, left right and center and two left, right speakers in the back. After the recording session was finished she or her lawyer decided not to release the album. I really do hope that what ever the issues may be that they are resolved so that we may hear this wonderful performance.

 


The Moscode Audio room and the Von Schweikert VR5 SE speakers.  I could hear wonderful sound in this room exhibiting both fluid ease and subtle details.  Power was Supplied by George Kayeís new 200-wpc Moscode 402 AU amplifier. This is a Hybrid amplifier with Class-A tube driver stages coupled to a MOSfet output stage. The new Moscode amplifier features gold clad printed circuit traces and improved and simplified circuit design. These innovations lower the noise floor far beyond what was possible before. I hope to soon get a review sample for Enjoy The Music.com.

 


Channel Islands Audio room... I call your attention to this room because they had on display what may be the least expensive quality twin tower line source speakers on the market. The speaker on display was the two-way LS 6 Focus Line Source and the manufacturer is AV123. They are a direct marketing business with no show rooms or dealers. You buy this speaker on line with a 30-day trial, the price is $4,999 and you pay the shipping. Even if you live on the opposite coast the price and the performance makes it a good deal. I can think of more than a few small two-way monitors that cost two or three times the price of these really fine towers. I am still not convinced that all the problems of digital amplifiers used in a high-end two-speaker audio system have been resolved. Unfortunately Channel Islands was using the LS 6 to demo their line of Class-D amplifiers in an untreated room The LS 6 speakers debuted last year at the RMAF and they performed better.

 

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