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.
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.
And here's that sexy Modwright-modified "Truth" Transporter with its tubed analog stage. Transporter owners can have their units modified for $2000, plus shipping; Modwright provides new units for $3800. All Modwright modifications are only available factory-direct.
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]).
There's nothing like ending a day at RMAF with a reminder of what the real deal sounds like. If Ray Kimber had his marching band blasting their way around the lobby, the fabulous multi-feted, Grammy Award-winning recording engineer/producer Cookie Marenco gifted us with her renowned piano teacher, Art Lande tinkling the keys in the Marriott's Atrium on Saturday night.
One feature of this year's RMAF that has catapulted it into the major leagues of audio shows was the sheer number of well-attended workshops and panels scheduled at the Hyatt. Over the course of three days, one room featured "Let's Get Digital" with Robert Harley of The Absolute Sound, "Music Everywhere" by Steven R. Rochlin of EnjoytheMusic.com, "The New Music Label" by attorney Ned Hearn, "Adventures in Digital Formats, Unsampling & Dithering" with our own John Atkinson, "Digital Playback Equipment Design Considerations" with David Solomon of Signal Path International, and "Music Discovery" with consultant Sean Leonard. Many of these were panels, with a host of additional participants.