Something happened in the middle of the tenth floor. In the remaining rooms I visited to the right of the elevatorwith apologies to all those systems I unintentionally missed due to the pathetic human limitation of being unable to be in three rooms at oncethe sound was darker, less illumined, but nonetheless quite involving. This is actually a sound that large numbers of audiophiles prefer. It's a more seasoned and mellow sound, less apt to sound bright and edgy in live rooms, and closer to the sound in acoustically dampened environments. It's truly a case of different strokes for different folks.
As Jason mentioned earlier, I gave 5 hour-long presentations at RMAF entitled "Hearing is Believing—Is Hi Rez Digital the Future of Audio?" To allow Showgoers to hear the differences between the hi-rez masters of my recordings and CD and MP3 versions, I used a system put together by HiFi+ editor Roy Gregory for his demonstrations of system tuningAyre A7-xe integrated amplifier, Avalon Evolution NP2.0 speakers (which I reviewed in July, Vertex AQ cables, Stillpoints rack and speaker stands, and Quantum QX4 "field generator"to which I added a MacBook running iTunes 8 driving a Wavelength Audio Cosecant USB DAC.
Joachim Gerhard kneels beside his very attractive Amerigo loudspeaker ($5500/pair). The Amerigo is a 3-way bass reflex design with a 0.8" dome ring radiator tweeter and proprietary 6" midrange and 8" bass drivers. Gerhard uses expensive birch plywood because he feels it sounds better than MDF.
More beautiful woodwork was found in the Daedalus Audio suite. The Ulysses ($10,950/pair; add $500 for matching plinths) is Daedalus Audio's top-of-the-line speaker. It uses a 1" Eton dome tweeter, two 5" custom-modified Fostex midrange units, and two 8" proprietary woofers, and has a rated sensitivity of 97dB.
Talk about effortless. Another room which I thought offered superb sound was occupied by Moscode, Von Schweikert, Esoteric, Placette, PS Audio, and Cardas. I think I heard the most beautiful music of all that reproduced at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in this very room. I don't even know what was playing, but what this system excelled at was communicating the all-important space between the notes.
Newcomer Virtue Audio made its debut at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest showing a colorful collection of affordable Tripath amplifiers. The 45Wpc Audiophile One ($249) integrated amp was engineered by Audience's Roger Sheker and uses VirtuCap input capacitors designed for Virtue by Audience. Inside the chassis, you'll find the cutest little heat pipe designed to maximize space and keep things cool. On the rear panel, propeller post binding posts makes making connections easy, and the amp's aluminum chassis is available in five bold colors (black velvet, snow [a kind of frosty white], red brick, clouds [a kind of frosty blue], and mesa [a kind of mustard]).
One of the most obvious solutions to the problem of attracting a younger audience to high end hi-fi is mentoring. It is undoubtedly clear that younger generations of music lovers can distinguish between poor and good quality sound. They can, after all, hear a wider range of frequencies than older folks. And they do, after all, love music. So, what is the problem?
Another thing that caught my eye in the Daedalus Audio room was this nifty, little wood case for the Logitech Squeezebox. Daedalus' Lou Hinkley told me that he had done it as a one-off project, but because so many people seem interested in it, he may decide to build more. The attractive wood case provides beneficial EMI shielding, Hinkley said.