RMAF 2012

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 17, 2012 7 comments
I walked into a highly compressed modern rock recording. Worse than that, the song itself was horrible, dreadful, unimaginative, bad. I mean, it really, really sucked.

I was tempted to blame it on the system:

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 10 comments
As familiar as I may be with the Playback Designs/Evolution Acoustics set-ups that Blue Light Audio's Jonathan Tinn brings to shows—one of these, with darTZeel electronics and much bigger Evolution Acoustics loudspeakers, received my Best of Show at T.H.E. Show Las Vegas a few years back—I constantly find myself amazed by the quality of the sound. This time, with Playback Design's MPS-3 DSD-capable high-resolution CD player with USB input ($8500); an Ampex ATR-102 open-reel recorder, restored by ATR Services, Inc of York, PA, playing 15ips master tapes sourced from ATR and Puget Sound Studios; and B.M.C. Audio's AMP CS2 integrated stereo amplifier ($8400) driving Evolution Acoustics' MMMicroOne 2-way monitor loudspeakers with stands ($2500/pair), the sound of a Shelby Lynne demo safety copy of her new album, provided by ATR Services, blew me away with its solid bass, powerful slam, and great depth. True, there was a bit of an edge on Lynne's voice, but it may have been room-induced, and sure didn't stop me from writing "OMG" in my notes.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 3 comments
It was nearing the end of the day of the first day of the show, and I hadn't covered nearly enough exhibits to ensure blogs for every room on floors 4 and 5, plus a number of others that I had agreed to cover. That, I figured, was why I found myself increasingly breathless as I ran from room to room, listening to less and less music before jotting down a few notes and heading out the door.

Then I entered the Coincident Speaker Technology room, heard some gorgeous music, and realized the underlying reason for my near-frantic pace.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 17, 2012 1 comments
A younger listener walked into the room and requested “White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes, a song I know well.

The system, built by Tempo High Fidelity: Verity Audio Amadis loudspeakers ($30,000/pair); Musical Fidelity M8700m 700W monoblock power amplifier ($12,500/pair) and M8PRE preamp ($5000); dCS Paganini stack with a Puccini clock; Vibex power conditioning; and a mix of Transparent and Basis cables.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 1 comments
When I entered Vienna Acoustics' room, their new Beethoven Baby Grand Symphony Edition (SE) ($4,500/pair), set to ship in November, was playing everything but Beethoven. Thanks to Boulder Electronics' 865 integrated amplifier ($12,500) and 1021 CD/Net DAC ($26,000), the latter streaming music from a Macbook Pro; IsoTek's Sigmas power mains filter network ($3,000); and Analysis Plus Silver Opal cabling, Jack McDuff's tenor sax filled the room with lovely, warm sound. The untreated room was not the kindest to the speaker's bass response, but everything above sounded great.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 2 comments
I don't know if it's a case of careful component and/or cable matching—Wilson Audio, after all, favors VTL electronics and Transparent Cabling, and Spectral always dems with its own, MIT-manufactured cabling—or just better engineering, but my experience of Teresonic single-driver loudspeakers has shifted dramatically for the better over the years.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 3 comments
Whisky, music, and chatter were all flowing, not necessarily in that order of priority, in the Music Hall room. Actual order of importance was determined by the visitors, of whom there were plenty, with a little boost from the high-proof atmosphere. Nonetheless, amidst a din too intense for serious listening, and preparations for the evening's dance party in the hotel Atrium that Music Hall was co-sponsoring with Chicago's Tweak Studio, Roy Hall and Leland Leard were managing to give complete and cogent raps about the equipment playing through the din.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 17, 2012 5 comments
“For a speaker manufacturer to not recognize the importance of room interaction is either disingenuous or willfully naïve,” said Wisdom Audio’s Jon Herron, during his demonstration of the tall, slim L75 loudspeaker ($18,700/pair) and its outboard SC-1 crossover ($6500).

At the time, I was marveling over the system’s full-range, large-scale, dramatic sound. I found myself looking up in the air, feeling as though I was seated in a concert hall or movie theater, surrounded by sound.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 3 comments
Get a grip, Serinus. The equipment may have been ringed with Christmas lights, but it was October in the Denver Marriott Tech Center, not December in the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin. Nor does Nhan Huang of Angel City Audio resemble Western conceptions of Mary's immaculate offspring. Be that as it may, or as some of my harshest critics may wish it weren't—jump to it, JohnnyR—the Melody Pure Black 101 preamp ($499), Melody M845 monoblock amplifiers ($5899/presumably for the pair), Onix CD-50 $3699), Angel City Audio P2000 power conditioner ($4499), and MG Audio interconnects and speaker cable were delivering bright and incisive sound on two unidentified jazz tracks.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 6 comments
Mike Hopkins of Aperion Audio has reason to smile. The Aperion Verus Grand ($1798/pair), a three-way tower loudspeaker with a frequency response of 45Hz–22kHz, 6 ohms impedance, and 92dB sensitivity, was being fed by a Marantz SA 1153 SACD player and PM 1153 integrated amplifier via Straight Wire cabling, and delivering a very nice, complete presentation of Belinda Carlisle's cover of "Hallelujah."
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 1 comments
At the center of SVS loudspeaker demo were its prototype, hand-built Ultra Series Ultra Towers ($1999/pair), with a rated response of 28Hz–22kHz (±3dB). Due November 20, the speaker's trapezoidal cabinet, which has no parallel lines, was blasting raucous, sinfully compressed, ridiculously tipped up rock courtesy of Classé's CA-2300 amplifier and CP-800 preamp. Once the energy shifted, I enjoyed the lovely touch of sanity delivered by cellist Antonio Lysy (from Antonio Lysy At the Broad on Yarlung Records playing Piazzola's "Oblivion" on a fabulous CD that is also available in hi-res download format from Linn. And when the Ultra Series is released, it will also include the SVS Ultra Bookshelf ($999/pair), SVS Ultra Center ($699), and SVS Ultra Surround ($1199/pair).
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 1 comments
What more can be said about Audioengine's flagship self-powered loudspeakers, the A5 ($399/pair) and A2 ($199/pair), than has already been said? We currently use the bigger babies for sound on an antiquated TV in my husband's man cave, aka "the cottage," and they're astounding for the price. The speakers were showing off thanks to several prototype Audioengine products that are still in the development stage.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 1 comments
There was so much going on in the George Warren Precision Sound room that, once I finished snapping photos, it was hard to focus on the music. Nonetheless, it was clear that the George Warren turntable ($4200–$4850, depending upon finish) with its MØrch DP-8 tonearm (around $5000, available in gold or silver) were what this system was all about.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 1 comments
Visual aesthetics were clearly not the main priority in room 431. Pictured is Polk Audio's LSiM 707 loudspeaker ($4000/pair), driven by an unseen Oppo 83 SE used as a transport, the excellent Peachtree DAC/Pre ($4700), and, on the computer end, a Macbook Pro running Amarra 2.4.2 via an Audioquest Carbon USB cable. Audioquest Rocket 88 cabling, PS Audio P10 power conditioner, XLO-10 power cords, and room treatment completed a system that, on George Benson's classic recording of "The Ghetto"—a song that doesn't sound remotely like the predominantly Mexican, multi-ethnic and multi-national ghetto in which I live—sounded like solid hi-fi.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 0 comments
Gingko Audio demmed a more than chump change system, some of whose components' names showed that imagination is alive and well in the high-end. Playing a VPI Traveler turntable ($1400) with Grado Prestige Gold ($200), Gingko Audio Cloud 9T ($349), and Gingko Audio dust cover ($279); Jolida Fusion preamp ($1500), Wells Audio Innamorata amplifier ($6000), Music Culture Technologies MC501A USB CD player ($3995), Gingko Audo ClaraVu 7 full-range loudspeakers ($6990/pair), DanaCable Black Max 88 speaker cables ($2995), and Gingko Audio Platformula rack ($2995), bass sounded decent, but a recording of Gustav Mahler's Symphony 5 that the exhibitor chose otherwise sounded bright and glassy.

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