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 familiarSimaudio Moon 360D player, 350P preamplifier, and 330A amplifier, all wired with StraightWirebut 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.
I stuck my head in the door of Room 8009. "That's Willie Nelson," I recognized that distinctive voice. "But what's he singing? Wait a second, that's Peter Gabriel's 'Don't Give Up'WT...?" I had to go in and take a seat. Daedalus Athena three-way speakers ($9950/pair) were being driven by AMR AM-77 monoblock amplifiers which in turn were being fed signal from a First Sound Presence Deluxe tubed preamp ($9200). Source was AMR's impressive CD-77 CD Processor. Nice, very nice.
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.
Emotiva introduced their Pro line at RMAF, beginning with three active loudspeakers: the Airmotiv4 ($399/pair), Airmotiv5 ($599/pair), and Airmotiv6 ($799/pair). Microphone preamps, DACs, and high-performance monitors are all in the works.
Dan Laufman explained that his background is in pro audio and most of the people involved with Emotiva have some sort of interest in recording and music production. As a frustrated ex-musician, Laufman longed to again be a part of the creative experience.
The 2011 RMAF saw the debut of MBL's new Corona series, all finished in gloss white. Playing Peter Gabriel's new CD of some of his songs abut accompanied by a orchestra, the C31 CD player ($9200) and C51 300Wpc integrated amplifier ($11,100) sounded open, spacious, and uncolored with the new MBL 116F "Radialstrahler" loudspeaker ($32,000/pair).
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.
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.
Danish manufacturer Vitus Audio was showing off its new RI-100 integrated amplifier ($13,000) at RMAF with a pair of YG Acoustics' two-way Carmel speakers, connecting everything with Purist Audio Design's Corvus-series cable. (Purist was celebrating its 25th anniversary at RMAF.) Running the 300Wpc amplifier's output stage in class-AB rather than class-A allows the RI-100 to be, for Vitus, relatively affordable.
Jason Stoddard and Rina Slayter presented a row of Schiit headphone amplifiersAsgard ($249), Valhalla ($349), and Lyr ($449)along with the Bifrost DAC ($449, with “buzzword-friendly” asynchronous USB input; $349, without USB input).
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.
The Tape Project’s Piper Payne is a talented mixing and mastering engineer and an active member of the Audio Engineering Society. (Be still, John Atkinson's beating heart!) She also enjoys origami, bunnies, the blues, and Bottlehead headphone amplifiers.
The Tape Project’s Piper Payne enjoys an iced coffee while listening to a Bottlehead headphone amplifier driving AKG K1000 ear speakersbe still, John Marks' beating heart!and receiving a massage from Bottlehead’s Dan Schmalle.