Welcome to the RMAF 2006
Welcome to Virtual Rocky Mountain.
With 45 minutes before show time in the Marriott Denver Tech Center, let's start with some background information on the 3rd Annual Rocky Mountain Audiofest.
Marjorie Baumert (left), show Co-Director with her husband Al Steifel and Colorado Audio Society founder Art Tedeschi, explains that the show has grown from over 66 exhibit rooms the first year to well over 100. There are at least 313 exhibitors registered for this year's show. Attendees, who travel from 38 states, numbered 1900 last year, up from 1000 at the first show. At least an equal number of attendees are expected this year, with the largest number of attendees from Colorado and California.
Publicity has been massive—everything from national ads in Stereophile and other publications to a full back page in Outfront, Denver's local gay & lesbian publication. Four radio stations have run ads, and the business editor of the Denver Post has run a very supportive editorial. Coverage has also extended to Colorado Springs.
Why a show in Denver? It seems the Colorado Audio Society had for several years talked about sponsoring an affordable audio show. With so many manufacturers based in the state—the second member to join the 60-member Colorado Audio Society back in 1981 was Jeff Rowland—they thought, in Marjorie's words, "Staging a show would be a fun thing to do."
Asked what the show is accomplishing, Al responded, "I don't know if I can answer that for sure. We're providing a forum for high-end audio, a lot of which is composed of analog, two-channel, and small exhibitors, outside of a major metropolitan area and in a far less expensive venue. The thing that has kept me doing it is that we've gotten a lot of positive feedback from vendors that they're having more fun here than at the larger shows."
"We'd like to bring in the next generation," says Marjorie. "It seems to me most of the people here are older. How do we bring in the younger guys and gals? That's why we have at least three rooms devoted to affordable systems, and another three to iPods. We'll see if it's going to work."
It should be noted that both the 92-page show brochure and a big sign in the lobby identify the three "affordable" and three "iPod" rooms. There is also a big emphasis on analog, which attracts all age demographics. A case in point: on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Mikey Fremer will present hour-long "Practical "Guide to Tonearm and Turntable Set-Up" seminars.
"I have my own affordable system upstairs in our home that plays five CDs at a time," Marjorie says. "I'm not an aficionado, but I love music. Frankly, some of what they play here is too loud for me."
"Women have more sensitive hearing than men," Al explains.
The Denver Marriott Tech Center is huge, with spacious, uncrowded lobbies and a far more laid back feel than Las Vegas. There's plenty of room for seminars and presentations, which include two by Steve Hoffman on the Art and Science of Mastering, Richard Bird on Room Acoustics, Ray Kimber on Experimental High Resolution Recording, Wally Malewicz of WAM Engineering offering A Practical Guide to Speaker Set-up and Musicality of Amplifiers, two Meet the Editors panels variously featuring editors from online publications and TAS, and Bob Cordell and Darren Kuzma on "Amplifier and Loudspeaker Listening and Measurement," with measurement data supplied by Stereophile's John Atkinson. It's far more than one person can possibly take in, let alone report on. With apologies to all those I will undoubtedly miss, on with the show!