Philip Bamberg's Bamberg Audio was playing the Series 5 TMW ($8800/pair) and displaying the Steries 2 TMM ($4800/pair) when I entered. The 5 is a 3-way design with a 375W active woofer, parametric EQ, and separate monitor. It is said to descend flat to 25Hz, and down to 18Hz 6dB.
Since my earliest visits to the Stereophile Show, well before I began writing for the magazine, I have always left Jeff Joseph's speaker displays with a smile on my face. This show was no different. Displaying the lovely Joseph Audio Pulsar ($7,000/pair) with not-yet-released-or-priced Pulsar stands, the combo with Ayre electronics (including the QB-9 USB DAC$2750) and Cardas Clear cabling was a joy.
The sound was so full, so all encompassing, and so natural in the small Magico room (Tower 9022) that I doubt I'll encounter another display at RMAF that will top it. Certainly on the first day of the show, the sound achieved by (pictured, left to right) Tim Marutani of Marutani Consulting (Emeryville, CA), Alon Wolf of Magico, and Maier Shadi of The Audio Salon (Los Angeles) was so satisfying that it topped anything else I heard on Day One by a long shot. A very long shot.
The newest Zu loudspeaker is the Omen. I don’t know much about it. The product literature says: “Omen is the right loudspeaker for every concert fanatic, music junky, skater fool, and snowboarding dirtbag; splitting your cash between your lifestyle outside and your lifestyle inside just got a whole lot louder!” So, Zu has a specific audience in mind. At just $999/pair it is also Zu’s most affordable speaker.
Zu did an outstanding job of transforming their drab hotel room into a comfortable, swanky listening environment, utilizing Flor modular carpeting tiles, a nice lounge seat, and some sweet-looking gear: Zu’s Soul Superfly ($2600/pair), a 16 ohm loudspeaker with a claimed efficiency of 101dB, in dazzling green finish, looks right at home with Luxman’s SQ-38u integrated amplifier ($6000) and D-38u CD player ($4000) and a Peachtree Nova D/A integrated amplifier ($1199). At the time I listened, Zu was using Channel D’s Pure Music front-end software ($129) for iTunes as a source, and there was an easy, laidback feel to the music.
DSPeakers are active designs with built-in Anti-Mode room correction. We listened to the smaller Servo 300 speaker ($3500) with a Resolution Audio CD player, and, just as in Montreal, I was surprised by the small system’s big sound and bold bass. Also on display were DSPeaker’s standalone Anti-Mode correction units, the 8033 C ($350) optimized for home theater applications and the two-input 8033 S ($450) for stereo systems.
Here we see the Vitus Audio SIA-025 integrated amplifier ($20,000; 100Wpc running class-A/B) and SCD-010 CD player ($20,000) and Amphion’s Krypton 3 loudspeakers ($20,900/pair). Amphion is now distributed in North America by VMAX Services. This system was very easy to listen to. Even at low volumes, there was no lack of drama, scale, or drive. It was a pleasure catching up with VMAX’s Richard Kohlruss and meeting Vitus’ Hans-Ole Vitus, who tells me he’s got a new phono preamp that Michael Fremer will love.
Jason Victor Serinus got the scoop on Mistral, represented in the US by California’s Napa Acoustic, at the AXPONA show earlier this year. I was just as impressed by the looks of the little 40Wpc Mistral MM-4 SE integrated amplifier ($699). It reminded me a lot of the Shanling MC-30 Music Center.
Sjofn HiFi made a big splash at our Home Entertainment 2007 show with the Guru loudspeaker, and the company hopes to attract greater attention with their new monitor, “the clue.” I walked into the room just as a thunderous bass note was struck. “Whoa,” I thought to myself as I took the last remaining seat in the packed demo. The little Sjofn speakers ($999/pair) were partnered with electronics from Norway’s impressive Hegel: CDP4A CD player ($4500) and the 200Wpc H200 integrated amplifier ($5000). The system was small, but it produced nothing but big, room-filling sound. There was that well-controlled, thunderous bass and startlingly quick transients.
The 2010 edition of the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, occupying parts of nine floors of the Denver Marriott Tech Center, is set to be the biggest and best RMAF yet. For now, guests, exhibitors, and press are enjoying "the calm before the storm." But that will soon change, and this quiet, sun-soaked hall will be one big blur of color and activity. Judging by the show's directorywhich is obviously thicker than everwe're in for some serious fun.
Some savvy exhibitors, such as Audioengine (seen here), have announced their presence at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2010 with banners hung across their balconies, so everyone knows where the party's at.
The Lift, conveniently located outside the Marriott's large, central atrium, is where weary show-goers and audiophiles will raise their spirits with pints of the finest local brews. Some of those fine brews include: 1554, Fat Tire Amber, Blue Paddle, 5 Barrel Pale Ale, Titan IPA, Modus Hoperandi (ha!), Hoss, Avalanche, and Cutthroat Porter.