RMAF 2011

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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 18, 2011 1 comments
Jason Stoddard and Rina Slayter presented a row of Schiit headphone amplifiers—Asgard ($249), Valhalla ($349), and Lyr ($449)—along with the Bifrost DAC ($449, with “buzzword-friendly” asynchronous USB input; $349, without USB input).
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 18, 2011 2 comments
The sound of the Harbeth Compact 7 speakers, driven by an LFD integrated amplifier via TellurideQ cables was as musically communicative as I was expecting. But then I saw the triangular Stein Magic Diamond sitting on top of the speaker cabinet and knew I was in the presence of serious audio strangeness. Sam Tellig wrote about the Stein devices in his September 2011 issue column: "The Harmonizers, Magic Stones, and Magic Diamonds helped make the room boundaries disappear and the venue of each recording matter more. It was as if sound flowed more freely through the air."

Ulp!

But the sound in this room did have some special magic to it.

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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 18, 2011 0 comments

Swedish manufacturer Sjofn was luring visitors into its room with an attractive woman drawing their attention to a poster on the wall outside the door announcing (the clue). Inside the room was a pair of unprepossessing stand-mounted speakers, driven by a Hegel amplifier via Supra cables. The two-way, ported Sjofn speakers ($999/pair) were taking full advantage of their boundary loading to produce a big sound.

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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 18, 2011 0 comments
Tempo Distribution's John Quick was putting an LP on the Basis 2200 turntable (fitted with the Basis Vector 4 tonearm and My Sonic Labs Eminence EX cartridge)when I went into his room. He was showing off Musical Fidelity's new M1 VINL (no "Y") phono preamp ($1199), which has the same form factor as the M1 DAC and a front-panel display to show which of 10 resistive loadings (MC) or capacitive loadings (MM) has been selected. The sound of vinyl in this room, with the Musical Fidelity M6 500i 500Wpc integrated amp ($7000) driving Verity Leonore floorstanding speakers ($16,000/pair), was clean, clear and full-range.

But what I enjoyed most in this room was a live 24/48 recording of Tori Amos singing and playing piano at the Montreux Jazz Festival,played from John's laptop running Amarra and sending USB data to the dCS U-Clock interface for the Puccini player used as a DAC. Ms. Amos sounded vividly real.

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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 18, 2011 0 comments
The Audio Alternative's big room on the ninth floor was one in which I spent more time than I had intended, such was the spacious sweep of sound produced by the Vandersteen Model 7 speakers ($50,000/pair with premium M7 crossovers) driven by Audio Research Reference 250 monoblock amplifiers ($25,990/pair). A CD of Joe Williams singing a vocal version of Miles Davis's "All Blues," recorded 20 years ago with the then-groundbreaking Colossus digital system kept me in my seat. The source components were supported on one of Harmonic Resolution Systems' excellent racks, BTW.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 18, 2011 0 comments
I hope this doesn’t gross you out or make you cancel your subscription or anything, but SEXY (in all caps) is the first word that came to my mind when I walked into the room hosted by Tone Imports, DeVore Fidelity, Well Tempered Labs, and the Box Furniture Co.

There was a lot of pretty stuff to look at and listen to in here.

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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 18, 2011 0 comments
Retailer Denver Audio Designs was featuring Thiel's elegant-looking SCS4T tower speakers ($3690/pair) in its RMAF room. But the Dire Straits album playing when I entered the room had more low bass than I remembered the Thiels giving when we reviewed them. The system was familiar—Simaudio Moon 360D player, 350P preamplifier, and 330A amplifier, all wired with StraightWire—but then I saw in the corners a pair of Thiel's new USS subwoofers. The towers were bring run full-range, with the subs reinforcing the sound below 40Hz.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 18, 2011 2 comments
Bob’s Devices’ Bob Sattin was especially excited about his new CineMag 1131 (Blue) step-up transformer ($895). These transformers are especially developed for use with low-output moving-coil cartridges and represent the very best that CineMag has to offer. Hand-made and very limited.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 18, 2011 1 comments
The Tape Project’s Piper Payne enjoys an iced coffee while listening to a Bottlehead headphone amplifier driving AKG K1000 ear speakers—be still, John Marks' beating heart!—and receiving a massage from Bottlehead’s Dan Schmalle.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 18, 2011 1 comments
“Oh, man,” I heard someone say. “You’ve got the XX on vinyl?!”

Dynaudio's Mike Manousselis turned, smiled, and nodded to the small group of young attendees.

“You’re killing me!”

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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 18, 2011 2 comments
Larry Greenhill's May 2010 review of JBL's Synthesis 1400 Array BG loudspeaker was a highlight of that year's issues for me. At $11,500/pair, the 1400 Array offers a huge but highly neutral sound from its 15" woofer and horn-loaded midrange unit and tweeter. At RMAF, the JBLs were being driven by a Mark Levinson No.512 SACD player, No.326S preamplifier, and a pair of No.531H amplifiers, all hooked up with Transparent cables. The room's acoustics had been tamed with ASC Tube Traps and the sound was as good as I was expecting.
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 18, 2011 0 comments
Doshi Audio was new to me, but the sound the Doshi Jhor 90W monoblock amp ($18,995/pair) was getting from Wilson Sasha W/P speakers with—shudder—an MP3 of Porcupine Tree was impressive. I was relieved, however, when a Milt Jackson LP, featuring Ray Brown playing a bowed solo version of Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight," went on the SME 20/3 turntable fitted with a Koetsu Onyx cartridge and SME Series V tonearm. The rest of the system included Doshi's own Alaap v2.1 full-function preamplifier ($14,995), a Wadia S7i CD player and 171i iPod Dock, with Transparent Audio cables used throughout.

And the names? "Jhor" and "Alaap," Nick Doshi explained to me, are two of three parts of the Indian raga musical form.

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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 18, 2011 0 comments
Colorado retailer Listen-Up's B&W and Classé room offered a surprisingly full-bodied sound from the small B&W PM1 speakers ($2800/pair), driven by a Classé CA-2300 amplifier and CT-P800 digital preamplifier via AudioQuest cables. But if you closely, you can see one of the almost-as-tiny B&W PV1 subwoofers ($1500 when last available) fleshing out the low bass. Visitors to the room were encouraged to play their own recordings on the Mac mini that was acting as a server sending asynchronous USB data to the CT-P800.

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