RMAF 2012

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 18, 2012 21 comments
Jim Rush of PTE (Precision Transducer Engineering) of Orange, CA explained that he was using the system in his room, headlined by PTE’s The Phoenix self-powered, bi-amplified loudspeaker ($5700/pair), to conduct 10 different blind tests with five sequences. The results of his experiments, which he said demonstrated that most people couldn’t discern differences with a high degree of accuracy, are slated to be posted to PTE’s website.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 18, 2012 0 comments
As I was heading out of the Sony room, which John Atkinson is covering separately, I spied an open door. Like a cat to a paper bag, I dove inside to discover the sensational recording engineer and producer Cookie Marenco of Blue Coast Records. A strong proponent of DSD, with which she records many of her projects (including free hi-rez downloads), Marenco was hanging in Sony’s storage area/hospitality suite prior to delivering one of her four guest demos in the adjacent Sony room. (Gus Skinas of Sonoma Systems presented three other demos, and Chad Kassem of Analogue Productions the remaining two). I promised Cookie, when snapping the photo, that I would say nothing about the tantalizing, not-yet-released products intentionally hidden from view.
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Art Dudley Posted: Oct 18, 2012 3 comments
Stereophile alumnus and publicist extraordinaire Jonathan Scull—Bel Canto, Furutech ADL, DEQX, XLO—exchanges fire with the RMAF registration staff: In life as in the Leonard Cohen songbook, "Outdrew ya'" rhymes with "Hallelujah."
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Art Dudley Posted: Oct 18, 2012 0 comments
North American distributors Rutherford Audio were on hand with the latest full-range loudspeaker from the German company ELAC, with celebrates its 86th anniversary this year. (Brit-fi fans such as myself will remember ELAC as the manufacturer of the silky-smooth aluminum-dome tweeter from the first and best version of the Acoustic Energy AE-1.) Their new 249 BE loudspeaker ($8000/pair), the woofer cones of which are faceted for rigidity, sounded fine with Burmester electronics. Bruno de Lorimier of Rutherford Audio invited us to guess if the singers on one recording in particular were wearing boxers or briefs; the answer, of course, was "yes."
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Art Dudley Posted: Oct 18, 2012 1 comments
I finally got to meet one of my audio heroes, John Tucker: founder of Exemplar Audio and co-designer of the legendary Exemplar Horn loudspeaker system. Tucker, who spent the early part of his career working for NASA at the Johnson Space Center, is an engineer and software designer who keeps a distinctly open mind when it comes to the audible effects of seemingly anomalous mechanisms—from acoustic resonators to powered cables. (John is also featured in an article of mine that will appear in the Autumn, 2012 issue of The Fretboard Journal.) These days, Exemplar's products include a heavily modified version of the Oppo 95 disc player ($3500, including base Oppo unit) and a line of active interconnect and speaker cables called Portals.
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Art Dudley Posted: Oct 18, 2012 0 comments
Danny Richie of GR Research, which supplies drive-units and other components to the DIY community, designed and assembled these panel loudspeakers using push-pull planar-magnetic drivers from BG Corporation. The loudspeaker, which hands over to a servo woofer at 200Hz, sounded open and detailed with all-battery-powered tube electronics from Dodd Audio. (There was also, on static display, a gorgeous one-off Dodd preamp using 6C33C tubes for voltage gain!)
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 18, 2012 3 comments
Gideon Schwartz of Audioarts NYC had assembled quite an impressive system, most of whose components I had never heard before. Given the system’s price, one would reasonably expect something wonderful, if not extraordinary from Zellaton Studio Reference One loudspeakers ($52,750/pair); Nagra’s new Jazz preamplifier ($12,250, with the input and output jacks now on the back instead of the sides), 300B power amplifier ($16,950), and VPS phono preamplifier ($6850); Metronome’s C8 Reference Asymmetrical USB DAC ($22,750) and Calypso Reference transport ($43,750); Holborne’s Analog 2 Mk.2 turntable ($7495), Dualpivot tonearm ($3475, MC1 cartridge ($1975), and rack ($3975); Van Den Hul’s Cumulus 3T speaker wire ($6995/pair) and The Cloud 3T interconnects ($695/set); and a Schopper Thorens fully restored 124 Mk.2 (“priceless”).
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Art Dudley Posted: Oct 18, 2012 0 comments
There's pretty much only one way to hear Rammstein at a hi-fi show: Visit the demonstration room of Swedish-based, American-built Sjöfn HiFi. (As close as I can tell, the name is pronounced hoofin, although you have to do something funny to the H.) Sjöfn 's Managing Director, Lars Erickson, approaches the selection of demo music with a adventurousness and whimsy—this is the man who turned me onto the great Israeli trance duo, Infected Mushroom—and the sound of his new two-way loudspeaker, The Clue ($999/pair, direct, including shipping) was up to the task. As with earlier Sjöfn designs, I have no idea whatsoever how he manages to wring such enormous scale, clarity, and impact out of such a tiny box. But he does.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 18, 2012 5 comments
When I walked into the Robyatt Audio room, I discovered that Robin Wyatt had come all the way from New York City to show people what a lovely, airy sound he could get from Jacintha’s “Here’s to Life” and other LP selections. “The man who recorded that LP used the same stereo Miyajima Kinsui cartridge that I’m using for playback,” he explained.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 1 comments
There was so much going on in the George Warren Precision Sound room that, once I finished snapping photos, it was hard to focus on the music. Nonetheless, it was clear that the George Warren turntable ($4200–$4850, depending upon finish) with its MØrch DP-8 tonearm (around $5000, available in gold or silver) were what this system was all about.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 17, 2012 3 comments
Wavelength Audio and Vaughn Loudspeakers teamed up for a sound that may have lacked the bass impact and scale of other systems I heard at RMAF, but that was coherent, relaxed, and very easy to enjoy.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 17, 2012 3 comments
Merlin Music Systems’ Bobby Palkovic is having a better time than ever, and you could tell by the sound in his room, which was remarkably tuneful, engaging—neither too forward nor too laidback—and, most of all, fun.

“I like to take things to an end, and now I’ve gotten to a point where I’m beyond happy,” Palkovic said of his Master VSM loudspeaker ($13,600/pair), which are now wired with Cardas Clear cable.

Adding to Palkovic’s pleasure is his new relationship with digital music:

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Oct 17, 2012 1 comments
In the Music Hall room, I also met Alissa Vassilkova, whose father, Alfred, is the founder and lead designer of Estonia’s Estelon loudspeaker company.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 1 comments
I never thought that yet another listen to Rebecca Pidgeon's "There is a Rose in Spanish Harlem" would hold my attention, but, on the set-up from Avatar Acoustics' Darren Censullo, the recording sounded irresistible. I was especially seduced by the system's compelling warmth in the midrange and correctly proportioned bass. But really, everything in this room sounded really good.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2012 3 comments
It was nearing the end of the day of the first day of the show, and I hadn't covered nearly enough exhibits to ensure blogs for every room on floors 4 and 5, plus a number of others that I had agreed to cover. That, I figured, was why I found myself increasingly breathless as I ran from room to room, listening to less and less music before jotting down a few notes and heading out the door.

Then I entered the Coincident Speaker Technology room, heard some gorgeous music, and realized the underlying reason for my near-frantic pace.

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