Could be. I saved my visit to the Audio Unlimited room almost for last on Sunday afternoon at RMAF. There was the pair of Focal Grande Utopia EMs that apparently had NY retailer Andy Singer dancing at their launch in France last spring. driven by a pair of Boulder 2050 monoblocks. Front-end was either Boulder's new 1021 disc player/music server or the Clearaudio Statement turntable. Cabling was all Tara Labs, including Mikey Fremer's reference The Zero interconnects. Musical Surroundings' Garth Leerer played me just two LPs for me to become awed by the 580 lb Focals: the Gary Karr transcription for double bass and organ of the Albinoni Adagio, which showed how effortlessly the speakers handled not just the spl but also the scale of the organ's sound, and Iona Brown's performance of Vaughan Williams' A Lark Ascending, which showed how well the speakers did delicacy.
As John Atkinson (right) and I were saying our goodbyes until the 2009 CES in Las Vegas, RMAF co-directors Al Stiefel and Marjorie Baumert were compiling attendance stats for this year's show. Although the fact that there were far more rooms this year, with exhibits spread over two hotels, left some exhibitors thinking that attendance was down, attendance was actually up just over 7%. Almost 3500 people attended this year's RMAF. The Sunday walk-ins were 407almost 150 over last year.
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?
Hiram Toro explained that he took the reigns of Koetsu USA when his close friend and Koetsu importer Ronnie Caplan unexpectedly passed away. Before Ronnie succumbed to complications following a heart attack, Hiram had promised his friend that he would take care of everything, fully expecting that Ronnie would recover from his illnesses. Hiram kept his promise and has maintained the Koetsu presence in the US market for the past two years. When he decided that that wasn't enough fun, he added Chario loudspeakers and Montegiro turntables to the roster.
Putting together a loudspeaker kit may be an art of an older generation. I had model airplanes and cars, but I often hear older audiophiles talk about the first loudspeaker they ever built. It always kind of freaks me out.
In my opinion, few rooms at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest could compete with the sound produced in the Ayre Acoustics/Vandersteen Audio suite. To me, the music created by this combination just sounded right. It was effortless, involving, and realistic without being overly etched or bright.
The more I hear Vandersteen Audio's loudspeakers, the more I find myself admiring their relaxed, controlled, natural sound. Richard Vandersteen, the fighter pilot featured in a recent banner ad on this website, was happy to present his Quattro Signature Mk.2 ($11,700/pair). It utilizes a 6.5" mid-bass driver derived from the Vandersteen Model 5A and sounded exquisite driven by Ayre amplification.
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.
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.
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.
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.