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dcstep
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RMAF 2010 My Favorite Rooms

I've been attending the RMAF since 2005 and this was my favorite time, by far. I can attribute much of my happiness to finally learning a valuable lesson. I've learned to turn around and leave a room that sucks the instant that I realize that it has damaging potential. Almost all the people running the rooms are nice and want to be helpful, BUT many of the rooms sound absolutely horrid. I used to try to be "nice" and at least sit through a song, but now I don't even sit down in many rooms. This year, after three days, my ears were still fresh. I spent more time in the really good rooms and went back to a few two to five times.

My absolute favorite room was the Avalon/Rowland room, where Avalon introduced its mid-sized, floor-standing "Transcendent" speaker, driven by Jeff Rowland Design Groups new Model 625 stereo amplifier. The sound was a little rough on Friday when they were using Rowland 301 monoblocks, but by Saturday morning, the 625 and some small speaker placement adjustment had pushed the sound to glorious levels.

On Sunday morning I came back to the Avalon/Rowland room right at openning at had a quiet, almost private session with the system, listening to Doug Wamble play Ken Parker's "Brownie" acoustic archtop guitar and sing. (It's not released yet). The richness of guitars overtones and Doug's voice were palpably real, except that the mic on the guitar was a little too close. That gave unrealistic size to the guitar, but afforded a very rich symphony of steel and wood, much like when I play that guitar myself. Later, we listened to the Israel Phil under Bernstein play Dvorak's Ninth. The entry of the brass gave me the same goose bumps that I feel when I'm onstage playing trumpet in the middle of a great brass section. The brr of the bones and trumpets was palpable and rich with no harshness, even at very high listening levels.

The all-Gamut room was very nice. After being in a HUGE room last year, Gamut was in a small room and brought appropriate sized small towers for their room. This was scaled down from the Avaolon/Rowland room (which had lots of traps and damping added) but very accurate harmonically and emotionally involving.

My seond-favorite to the Roland/Avalon was the Playback Designs/DarTZeel/Evolution room. At times the mid-sized Evolution speakers overloaded the room, yet the mids and highs never threatened physical harm to my ears. In fact, I visited this room three times and loved my Brownie/Wamble CD just as much here as I had in the Rowland room

There was a large room with dCS/VTL/Wilson that sounded the best that I've ever heard Wilson sound. I'd always felt that Wilson should sound better than what I'd always heard at shows and this room proved my suspicion right.

Another very pleasant surprise was the Luxman room driving some speakers that looked like giant silver snails. The system sounded way, way better than the speakers looked.

The Esoteric room had great sound, but I don't think that the Esoteric speakers deliver the full emotion that the Esoteric front-end could put into a superior speaker. These speakers don't do anything "bad" they just don't pull you in and aren't as rich in the mids as some others. However, they're good enough that you know that the digital front-end is a high-potential setup.

A block away, off-site, Soundings Audio put on a great demonstration of the Vienna Acoustic "Kiss" speakers driven by a Boulder front end and amplification. I spent a couple of hours here, helped along by wine, beer and other goodies.

I could live with any of the systems that I've mentioned here. So that you know my biases, my current system is Playback Designs CD/SACD player, Rowland Contiuum 500 amplification and Vienna Acoutic Beethoven Baby Grand speakers with Analysis Plus wiring throughout.

It wouldn't be fair for me to talk about the systems that sucked (there were many) because, as I said in the lead-in, I only stayed a few seconds with those systems. To be fair, most systems were no where near their full potential in a well developed home system. Some were able to deal with poor room acoustics better than others. Also, surprisingly, much of the equipment was not broken in and burned in prior to the show.

It was a great show. If you come in the future, save your ears and only spend time in the rooms that invite your ears in rather than assult them. It's not a purely a loudness thing, but an uglyness thing. I listened at some pretty high levels, but only on the best systems.

Dave

Buddha
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Re: RMAF 2010 My Favorite Rooms

Thanks for posting that!

Did you get a chance to hear "The Clue?"

dcstep
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Re: RMAF 2010 My Favorite Rooms


Quote:
Thanks for posting that!

Did you get a chance to hear "The Clue?"

Ahh, deja vu all over again.

No, I have no clue about "The Clue."

Dave

Buddha
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Re: RMAF 2010 My Favorite Rooms

As I read more of the Stereophile Show Blog, I am thinking I am losing my religion.

Just speakers...going in order down the blog page....

JBL 1400 = $11,500

Acoustic Zen's Crescendo = 16,000

RM Loudspeakers' CH-11R = $17,500 - $20,000/pair

Eficion F250 = $9250/pair (with a fucking 10,000 rack, no less!)

LSA Statement 1 minimonitors....hallalouie...only $2,600 (in a $18,000 set up...with $8,000 speaker wires.)

Audio Kinesis Strato Prism = $4,400

Harbeth Super HL5 stand mounts = $4,995

Audio Machina speakers, with woofers, no less = $20,000

Verity Audio Leonore = $15,995

Studio Electric monitors, with "handsome retro gill" = $2,450

Wilson Sophia = $16,900

Thus concludes page one of the blog on my computer.

I have dug Hi Fi since I was a tween, but I am having a serious case of "no effing way" with some of these trends...and then they start in with the Hi Fi vs. "High End" bullshit.

For a small fetish industry, we seem to be overly willing to mix S&M pricing into getting our aural jollies.

dcstep
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Re: RMAF 2010 My Favorite Rooms

BTW, the JRDG Model 625 is Class AB, around 300-wpc stereo, combining power factor correction with "no overall negative feedback." For now, Rowland continues with their excellent Class D line of electronics, but the new products are Jeff's very latest twist on class AB.

The show amp was not completed until 11 p.m. the night before the show opened. It was in it production chassis and using production parts, but Jeff had hand assembled it. All his units are hand assembled, but by others under his supervision, in his shop, using precut wires, etc. He estimated that deliveries will start by year-end, now that he knows that it works. Actually, he was beaming the whole weekend because the amp worked so well, right off the bench. He said it was two-years from conception to completion, including the last year studying the layout and trying to achieve the shortest possible signal pathes while squeezing it all into the solid billet aircraft aluminum chassis and keeping parts apart that don't get along well. He succeeded.

There's a set of monoblocks coming out in the not-too-distant future.

Dave

dcstep
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Re: RMAF 2010 My Favorite Rooms

I hear you Buddha. Every system that I listed in this thread was at least 30k and the average was probably 50-ish and one or two are six-figures.

Soundsmith had nice sound also and I should have mentioned them. If you ignore the $13,000 Teres TT in their system, but used one of their more modest moving iron cartridges in a Project or Hall TT, a Pioneer Elite disc player, a Pioneer amp and one of Soundsmiths' excellent pairs of mini-monitors, you could have a very fine sounding system for high four-digits.

I've got over 30k invested in my system and wasn't really looking to upgrade, but the Rowland Model 625 has me jonesing again.

Dave

JSBach
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Re: RMAF 2010 My Favorite Rooms


Quote:
As I read more of the Stereophile Show Blog, I am thinking I am losing my religion.

Just speakers...going in order down the blog page....

JBL 1400 = $11,500

Acoustic Zen's Crescendo = 16,000

RM Loudspeakers . . . . . . . . . .etc

Point taken, however, there's a hidden question here. How many of these examples are overpriced junk and how many are state of the art examples using expensive materials and therefore valid pricing?
Me, I don't grumble as some (notice I said SOME and not ALL) of the companies producing these sticker shock devices as they often include the advances first installed in their expensive modes in their cheaper ones and we all potentially benefit. Also we should keep in mind that what can be had these days for little money is frequently way ahead of what was available some years ago due to significant advances in materials science & construction techniques. (lets not get into Chinese slave labor here though)
Having said that I'm not denying that some silly money speakers etc are absolute rubbish obviously aimed at the near deaf, rich & gullible who want to impress their associates .

Kal Rubinson
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Re: RMAF 2010 My Favorite Rooms


Quote:
As I read more of the Stereophile Show Blog, I am thinking I am losing my religion.

Just speakers...going in order down the blog page....

JBL 1400 = $11,500

Acoustic Zen's Crescendo = 16,000

RM Loudspeakers . . . . . . . . . .etc

Mebbe you would be happier with the speakers listed in my CEDIA blog.

Kal

Stephen Scharf
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Re: RMAF 2010 My Favorite Rooms

I agree with the OP that the Evolution Acoustics/DarTZeel/Playback Designs was one of the better rooms, and that the bass from the MiniMMTwos were overwhelming the room. The mids and highs were to die for, though. You should have stuck around to hear the Studer tape deck. Interestingly, this same setup sounded better in a similar sized room at the CA Audio Show in Emeryville, CA.

I also like the GamuT room as well, though even the smaller S5s bass was overwhelming the small room.

My favorite room was the Dynaudio Sapphire/T+A V-series room.

ncdrawl
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Re: RMAF 2010 My Favorite Rooms

Interested in Duke's speakers(AudioKinesis)

10k is my *personal* cut off for price. anything above that..well, hell with it.

these trade shows are all the same. I used to go to the MusikMesse in Frankfurt Germany every year..and although it was pro audio, it was a similar vibe. a visual masturbation session for rich white people. Actually, thats what hifi is anyway.. but these trade shows are particularly disgusting.

a carnival of materialist glory-holes.

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