RMAF 2011

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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 20, 2011 0 comments
Industry veteran Colleen Cardas—and yes, Colleen, I meant the word "veteran" as a compliment—has set up, with vinyl blogger Marc Phillips, a new company Colleen Cardas Imports, to distribute Unison Research amplifiers and Opera loudspeakers in the US. However, the room at RMAF CCI was sharing with Positive Feedback Online was featuring the Sonicweld Pulse Rod active speakers ($125,000/pair including DEQX DSP equalizer). Analog front-end was the Funk Firm Sapphire turntable $5000) fitted with the Funk Firm FXR-II tonearm and a Transfiguration cartridge and feeding a Unison Research Unico Nuovo integrated amplifier ($2795) used as a phono stage. Digital front-end was a laptop running Amarra feeding USB data to the new Sonicweld Divertor ($2888) which fed 24/192 S/PDIF data to the DEQX.
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 20, 2011 4 comments
Taking an imaginative approach to the design of their room, rack manufacturer Dynamic Contrasts was holding the impressive BMC C1 integrated amplifier and the Esoteric UX-3SE CD player in a tight embrace with its RTS system. With Legacy Focus SE speakers, the sound in this room featured impressive dynamics and extension at both ends of the spectrum, but the sound was so loud, not only with David Essex's driving "Rock On" but also with 10cc's gentle "I'm Not In Love," that I couldn't stay. Perhaps I am just getting old.
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 20, 2011 8 comments
Speaker engineer Don Keele almost wrote the book on measuring speakers. so when I bumped into him at RMAF and he told me he had a new speaker on show, I went straight to his room. There, I saw and heard the CBT36, which as you can see, is very unusual in both appearance and design. CBT stands for Constant Beamwidth Transducer and is based on unclassified military underwater sound beam-forming research. There are 72 0.75" tweeters crossed over to 18 3.5" Dayton Audio midrange units, arranged in groups that, with the 36° arc of the 5'-tall array, gives sound that doesn't change its balance as the listener sits or stands. And as you can see from the mirror that Don has slipped in front of the speaker in my photo, the ground-plane reflection of the array effectively doubles its height.
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 20, 2011 0 comments
Von Schweikert speakers were featured in a number of rooms at RMAF, and their VR-33s ($4500/pair) were demonstrating impressive dynamics with a drum recording in the second-floor room the company was sharing with Jolida. Power was being provided by the new Jolida JD 1000RC tubed integrated amplifier, which gets 100Wpc into 8 ohms from its four matched pairs of EL34 tubes. The VR-33 weighs 103 lbs and combines an MTM array on the front panel with a rear-firing, port-loaded woofer. "Own a $15,000 speaker for only $3750" says Von Schweikert's literature. My notes said $4500, but whatever the exact price, you get a lot of speaker for the money. As you can see from the photo, the price of the VR-33 has been kept competitive by using a cloth covering for the enclosure rather than veneer.
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 20, 2011 3 comments
Stephen Mejias has already reported on the sound in the room shared by Wilson, Transparent, and Dan D'Agostino. I was equally impressed, agreeing with Millennia Media's John La Grou that one of Peter McGrath's classical recordings, Mahler's Symphony 5 performed by the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson-Thomas and captured with Joe Grado's omnidirectional microphones, was as good as it can get when it comes to two-channel representations of an orchestra. (John manufactures the very-low-noise mike preamps I use for my Stereophile recordings.) But I really just wanted to show another picture of the forthcoming Dan D'Agostino Momentum line preamplifier, with Dan's wife Petra lending me her hand for scale, as she rotates the volume control ring around the meter.
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 20, 2011 0 comments
It is obviously an Avalon design but the new Idea loudspeaker ($7995/pair) continues the Colorado company's goals of combining transparency and articulation with expansive soundstaging. All these qualities were in evidence at RMAF, with the Ideas driven by Electrocompaniet monoblocks on cuts from Johnny Cash and Luka Bloom. The Idea combines a 1" dome tweeter with two 7" Nomex-Kevlar–cone woofers. The woofers are loaded with a downward-firing port.
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 20, 2011 3 comments
When Michael Fremer reviewed the 710 amplifier from Swiss manufacturer Soulution last August, his praise for the sound was surpassed by mine for the measured performance. "The Soulution 710 is definitely one of the best-measuring amplifiers I have encountered, " I wrote, "Color me impressed."

Denver retailer Apex Audio, which is continuing in the tradition of the late John Barnes' Audio Unlimited store, was using the Soulution 700 monoblocks ($130,000/pair), which each offer 430W into ohms, 860W into 4 ohms, were being use to drive Focal's Stella Utopia EM speakers ($90,000/pair), with their electromagnet-powered woofers via Tara Labs cables.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 19, 2011 Published: Oct 20, 2011 1 comments
Avatar Acoustics’ Darren Censullo always puts together an impressive system. Every aspect seems carefully considered, made to complement the whole.
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 20, 2011 0 comments
Simaudio's Lionel Goodfield was his usual effective DJ self in the room in Colorado retailer Listen-Up was demming the Canadian company's gear. Digital front-end was the Moon Evolution 650D CD player/DAC ($8000) that Mikey Fremer raves about in the November 2011 issue of Stereophile; analog front-end was the ProJect Xperience Classic turntable feeding a Moon 310LP phono preamp; the Moon Evolution 700i integrated amplifier ($12,000) that Fred Kaplan enthusiastically reviewed for Stereophile last March, was driving Sonus Faber Cremona M floorstanding speakers ($10,000/pair). Cables were all Shunyata Black Mamba and power was sourced from a Shunyata Hydra.
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 20, 2011 0 comments
The analog front end in the E.A.R. USA room was the Townshend Rock 7 turntable ($3200), with its unique system for applying damping where it is most needed, at the cartridge end of the arm rather than the pivot, fitted with the Helios Omega arm ($2800) and a Dynavector XV1S cartridge. Phono preamp was the E.A.R. 324 that both Art Dudley and Mikey Fremer have enthused over in the pages of Stereophile.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 19, 2011 4 comments
I’ve grown used to hearing good sound in rooms occupied by Joseph Audio loudspeakers and this was no exception. We had a toe-tapping, hip-shaking, good time in here. The system was locked in a deep and heavy groove, sounding dynamic, fun, lively, and totally listenable.

Yes, listenable. You’d think that everything at a hi-fi show would be listenable, but you'd be surprised.

Anyway. The system:

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 19, 2011 2 comments
It was around this point of the show that I started to feel weak and dizzy, overwhelmed by the size of RMAF and disappointed by the lack of truly affordable gear. Thank goodness for Gold Sound. The Colorado dealer had pieced together not one, not two, but five affordable, audiophile systems priced under $5000.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 19, 2011 0 comments
Riding the Acoustic Signature Storm ($7500) was the new FXR II tonearm ($1995) by the Funk Firm. Super cool.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 19, 2011 11 comments
Even as my dear friend Michael Lavorgna lays down the law in the Wild Wild West that is Computer Audio and continues to rid himself of Compact Discs, I find myself more and more attracted to the little silver discs and their associated players. So I was happy to learn about Parasound’s new CD 1, which adds a computer to the conventional CD player.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 19, 2011 3 comments
Audioengine’s new A5+ ($399/pair in gloss black and white; add $70/pair for bamboo) adds a remote control, RCA and mini-jack inputs, a rear-panel USB charge port, rear-panel heatsink, upgraded speaker binding posts, and a variable preamp audio output. In addition, the A5’s large circular ports have been replaced by narrow slotted ports, said to provide a smoother, cleaner low end. (Who doesn't want that?)

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