RMAF 2012

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Art Dudley Posted: Oct 18, 2012 1 comments
Strange that I should travel 1800 miles to hear products that are designed and manufactured less than two hours from my home. Happily, the McIntosh experience at RMAF was worth the effort, especially inasmuch as the hallowed brand distinguished itself by playing real music as opposed to audiophile chestnuts. (Think of it!) I especially enjoyed some selections from the Beatles' Anthology 3 collection, played via JRiver software on an HP laptop, through a McIntosh C50 preamp ($6500) and MC452 amp ($7500), along with the McIntosh MEN220 room-correction system ($4500, which includes the microphone—but not the stand—seen in this photo). Rounding out the system were the company's recent XR100 speakers ($10,000/pair): certainly the best McIntosh loudspeakers I have yet to hear.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 18, 2012 2 comments
Not to be outdone, Kent Loughlin of MIT (Music Interface Technologies) staged 5-minute cable comparisons in the MIT room on the 2nd floor of the Marriott’s Tower. Using a Cary CD player and Cary monoblock amplifiers, and Polk Audio monitors with Custom Sound Anchors stands, Loughlin initially chose the beautiful, albeit oft-played soprano solo from Reference Recordings’ superb version of Rutter’s Requiem to let people hear the difference that MIT’s AVT Speaker Module ($149), which added up to 10 poles of articulation, brought to MIT’s custom installation cable (80 cents/foot for 12-gauge cable with two conductors).
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 18, 2012 1 comments
One of many Colorado retailers that displayed at RMAF this year, Fort Collins Audio hosted the debut of the TSG planar ribbon tower line array loudspeaker ($29,000/pair). Unfortunately, the speaker sat unplayed in the corner of the room when I entered, replaced by the excellent Totem Earth ($8995/pair). Connected to a Hegel H20 amplifier ($5740), Hegel HD20 DAC ($1995), and Quicksilver Audio preamp ($3900) via Kimber Kable Bifocal XL speaker cable and Kimber Select 1126 interconnects, the system was producing fine, solid sound with nice color.
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Art Dudley Posted: Oct 18, 2012 3 comments
The three-way, 220 lb Avior loudspeaker from Rockport Technologies ($29,500/pair) uses the same beryllium tweeter as the company's $225,000 Arrakis, complemented with all-new midrange and bass drivers that are built around Rockport's proprietary carbon-fiber sandwich/composite cones. The Avior sounded truly impressive with a Playback Designs MPS-5 CD/SACD player/DAC ($17,000), Electrocompaniet EC4.8 preamplifier ($5129), BAT VK-655SE amplifier ($14,000), and cabling from Transparent Audio. A representative from the Omaha, Nebraska dealer The Sound Environment demonstrated the system with humor, charm, candor—and good music.
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Art Dudley Posted: Oct 18, 2012 1 comments
A pivoted straight-line-tracking tonearm? The description is far less oxymoronic than it seems, given the arrival of the Schröder LT tonearm ($8900). This fascinating and apparently very well-executed design works by augmenting the main arm pivot with an extra pivot at the base, the latter said to offer exceptionally low resistance to the arm and cartridge as they follow the inward spiral of the groove. The geometric relationship between the two pivots is such that the headshell—and the cartridge and stylus—maintain perfect tangency to the groove from beginning to end. Thus the headshell requires no offset angle, which also means that no anti-skating force is required. Very cool.
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 18, 2012 0 comments
Whereas the headphone enthusiasts' CanJam had been a subdued affair at the 2010 and 2011 RMAFs, this year's event seemed to have twice as many exhibitors and twice as many attendees. You can find Tyll Hertsens' informed and informative coverage of the RMAF CanJam for our sister site InnerFidelity here.
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Art Dudley Posted: Oct 18, 2012 1 comments
Cardas Clear Sky—the sample to which VP of Sales and Marketing Andy Regan is pointing in this photo—is the latest and most affordable of the company's "Matched Propagation" speaker cables, and is said to be ideal for owners of high-efficiency loudspeakers. The retail price is $775 for an 8' pair, terminated with Cardas spade connectors. (I have requested a review sample, and hope to report on the Clear Sky cables within the next couple of months.)
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 18, 2012 1 comments
In the Nordost/Raidho suite, I was very impressed by the spacious, delicate, detailed sound made from a system comprising Raidho C1.1 standmounted speakers ($20,000/pair, including dedicated stand), a Simaudio CD player, Hegel amplification, Quantum Resonant Technology (QRT) power conditioning, and, of course, Nordost cabling.
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Art Dudley Posted: Oct 18, 2012 1 comments
Speaking of McIntosh, there was lots of Binghamton bling on display in the Totem room, where showgoers enjoyed the world introduction of the Totem Forest Signature loudspeaker ($6000/pair). Driven by a McIntosh C50 preamp and MC452 amplifier and fed by an Apple laptop running Amarra software, the Forest Signatures sounded like great all-around-ers, combining thoroughly impressive spatial performance with surprisingly good color and "body," plus a very natural top-to-bottom tonal balance. As with the Brodmann/Electrocompaniet, Wilson/VTL/dCS/Spiral Groove, Audio Feast, and MBL demonstrations, having to leave the cocoon of this room was a drag.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 1 comments
At the center of SVS loudspeaker demo were its prototype, hand-built Ultra Series Ultra Towers ($1999/pair), with a rated response of 28Hz–22kHz (±3dB). Due November 20, the speaker's trapezoidal cabinet, which has no parallel lines, was blasting raucous, sinfully compressed, ridiculously tipped up rock courtesy of Classé's CA-2300 amplifier and CP-800 preamp. Once the energy shifted, I enjoyed the lovely touch of sanity delivered by cellist Antonio Lysy (from Antonio Lysy At the Broad on Yarlung Records playing Piazzola's "Oblivion" on a fabulous CD that is also available in hi-res download format from Linn. And when the Ultra Series is released, it will also include the SVS Ultra Bookshelf ($999/pair), SVS Ultra Center ($699), and SVS Ultra Surround ($1199/pair).
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 17, 2012 0 comments
In the AudioQuest room, I was treated to a course on the Powers of Network Attached Storage. It wasn’t really a course and it wasn’t really called that, but it could have been. AudioQuest’s Steve Silberman is convincing. And I am now convinced that, when the time comes for me to dive into computer audio and other digital waters, I’ll seriously consider a NAS for my needs.

While Silberman has found success with several different NAS devices, on display in the AQ room was Synology’s powerful DS712+, which Silberman says is highly reliable, has a very friendly user interface, and never compromises the performance of his system.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 1 comments
Visual aesthetics were clearly not the main priority in room 431. Pictured is Polk Audio's LSiM 707 loudspeaker ($4000/pair), driven by an unseen Oppo 83 SE used as a transport, the excellent Peachtree DAC/Pre ($4700), and, on the computer end, a Macbook Pro running Amarra 2.4.2 via an Audioquest Carbon USB cable. Audioquest Rocket 88 cabling, PS Audio P10 power conditioner, XLO-10 power cords, and room treatment completed a system that, on George Benson's classic recording of "The Ghetto"—a song that doesn't sound remotely like the predominantly Mexican, multi-ethnic and multi-national ghetto in which I live—sounded like solid hi-fi.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 17, 2012 2 comments
Eficion’s distinctly shaped F250 loudspeaker ($9950/pair) combines an Air Motion Transformer tweeter with a 5” carbon-fiber midrange unit and a 10” woofer. The speaker has a high specified sensitivity of 90db and a frequency range of 30Hz–35kHz.

The speakers were partnered with Plinius (“The Heart of Music”) gear: the 125Wpc, Class-A SA-103 power amplifier ($10,125), M8 preamplifier ($5150), and Tiki 24/96-compatible networking DAC ($4775).

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 17, 2012 0 comments
As Jason Victor Serinus mentioned, there was a party going on in the Music Hall room; and, while this meant that you really couldn’t evaluate the sound of the system, it also meant that you were bound to actually have fun.

Hmm: Evaluate sound or have fun, evaluate sound or have fun?

Oh, darn. I guess I’ll have fun.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 2 comments
I wish I could tell you how the music sounded in the main Emotiva room. Alas, there were so many people talking about the sound of Emotiva's XSP-1 Differential Reference preamp ($899), ERC-2 Differential Reference CD player/ digital transport ($449), XPA-1 Differential Reference monoblock power amplifier ($999), XRT-6.2 Xref Tower speakers ($699/pair), and due-by-Christmastime XDA-2 fully balanced Differential DAC ($399) that I was unable to take a serious listen. Definitely good for Emotiva, if not necessarily for you the reader.

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