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.
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.
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.
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 withshudderan 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.
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.
One of Colorado dealer Listen-Up's rooms at RMAF featured Musical Fidelity gear, including the M1 CLiC network player ($1999) that Jon Iverson will soon be reviewing for Stereophile. But what caught my attention in this room was the cute Penaudio Cenya speaker ($3995/pair), a two-way stand-mount that uses premium SEAS drive-units. We have been impressed by Penaudio speakers in the past, so it was good to hear that Tempo Distribution will now be importing these Scandinavian speakers, which use a unique cabinet construction combining MDF and plywood, in the US. The sound of John Lee Hooker dueting with Van Morison was surprisingly full-bodied considering the diminutive size of the speakers.
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.
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.
As we can tell from Michael Lavorgna’s awesome reporting over at AudioStream, computer audio was very hot indeed at RMAF, but there were still lots of old-fashioned vinyl enthusiasts to be found digging through the old-fashioned crates for old-fashioned music.
Their politically incorrect poster may have raised some hackles, but it has to be admitted that Odyssey was making some great sounds in their room at RMAF. Klaus Bunge was showing off the Kismet Reference Monitor standmounts ($2500/pair including stands), which use a Scanspeak beryllium-dome tweeter, driving the speakers with the two-chassis Odyssey Reference Line amplifier ($3500), which combines a tubed input stage with solid-state output. I listened to that old audiophile classic, Radka Toneef singing Jim Webb's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress," and the tangibility and solidity of the imaging was to be marveled at, given that wide-baffle speakers tend not to throw a stable, well-defined soundstage.