I’ve come to expect nothing but great and interesting music from Audioarts’ Gideon Schwartz. I walked in to Dead Can Dance’s Spirit Chaser, and, though the volume was much lower than that heard in most other rooms, the music was nevertheless engaging and in many ways more inviting: smooth and detailed, with exceptional image focus and superb stage balance.
Sonus faber mated its Olympica 3 loudspeakers ($13,500/pair) with Audio Research’s Reference CD9 CD/DAC player ($13,000), Reference 75 amplifier ($9000), and SP20 preamplifier ($9000). Heard through AudioQuest Redwood cables, the system uncompromisingly conveyed the take-no-prisoners nature of the demo CD that was playing during my time in the room.
There was so much going on in Audiohouse’s ParasoundMonitorKimber etc . . . room that all I’m certain of is that the system had a really nice midrange. The Monitor Audio Platinum PL200 speakers ($9000/pair), alas, were insufficiently broken in, and there was no time to return on the last day when, I’m told, the system strutted its stuff so well that Audiohouse’s David M. McPhee sold two pairs of the Platinum PL200s to attendees.
The Funk Firm’s new entry-level turntable, the Flamenca ($1495, without cartridge), will be available next month. The two-speed ‘table uses a DC motor and a very thin (0.15mm) thread-belt to drive its glass platter. Funk refers to their tonearm as a “pickup arm.” A tonearm, explained Pro Audio’s Brian Tucker, implies that the arm imparts its own sonic signature to the system. Funk aims to eliminate the arm from the system, thereby allowing the cartridge to perform optimally. In this case, the Flamenca’s new F6 tonearm is carrying a Dynavector DV 10X5one of my fave cartridges. The F6’s detachable mounting block is meant to simplify cartridge installation. And, while the stock Flamenca is said to be specifically balanced for high-quality performance straight from the box, it can be easily upgraded with Funk’s Achromat platter mat and any of Funk’s higher-end tonearms.
Earlier this year, Michael Fremer gave us the scoop on Acoustic Signature’s new Wow turntable ($1950 with Rega 202 tonearm). It employs the same bearing design and AC motor found in all Acoustic Signature turntables, uses a 9-lb CNC-machined platter with a leather mat, and comes in high-gloss black or white acrylic. In person, the ‘table is very attractive and seems extremely well built.
With up to 75 rooms to cover on multiple floors of the Marriott’s tower, I decided to check out Synergistic Research’s much-heralded new products before the show officially began. Inventor Ted Denney decided to dem his new babies, not with the expected megabuck system, but rather with a Bose radio. Positioned atop one of his Tranquility Bases, used as shelves on a Solid Tech rack, the radio played a vocal track by Anne Vada and Aki Fukakura as Denney demonstrated the cumulative effects of his tiny aluminum passive HFTs (High Frequency Transducers, $299/5 pack), active FEQ (Frequency Equalizer, $750), and Tranquility Bases. (In the photo, Ted is pointing to the HFT affixed to the front of the radio.)
"What is this music?" asked Jason Serinus (above).
We were sitting in the VTL room, where a pair of Wilson Alexia speakers ($48,500/pair) were being driven by VTL's S-400 stereo amplifier ($33,500), TL-7.5 Series III preamp ($20,000), and TP-6.5 phono preamplifier ($10,500 with transformer).
"It's 'Lose Yourself to Dance,' my favorite track from Daft Punk's Random Access Memories LP," I whispered...
Every year, the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, which starts today in the Denver Tech Center Marriott, kicks off with a pre-show gathering for exhibitors and press in the hotel’s Atrium. With each attendee handed two coupons for free drinks, it’s a great way to come down after an intense day of travel and room set-up. Show organizer Marjorie Baumert, shown with Ric Mancuso of Reference Recordings, was having an especially jolly time celebrating the show’s 10th Anniversary.
I did not see the same kind of impressive attendance I've become used to seeing on RMAF's opening daylines stretching through the lobby, out the doors, and around the parking lotbut, at just past 12pm this afternoon, there was nevertheless a fine crowd of anxious hi-fi enthusiasts gathered round the registration tables.
Earlier this year, I reviewed PSB's Alpha PS1 powered desktop loudspeakers. Pleased by their small size, great looks, and clean sound, I purchased the review samples. Now, PSB offers the matching SubSeries 100 subwoofer ($249).
Everyone's favorite audio show is about to get underway. The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest returns to the Denver Marriott Tech Center on October 1113.
RMAF may not be the biggest consumer audio show in North Americathat honor recently passed to T.H.E. Show Newport Beachbut even without a cigar show, car show, wine show, and airport right across the street, RMAF's 440 brands spread over 138 hotel rooms, 25 big rooms (and three more at the Hyatt across the street), a CANJAM headphone ballroom hosting a record 37 exhibitors, 14 software vendors (CDs, LPs, etc.), and 26 lobby exhibits is definitely something to get excited about.
For its 10th anniversary, the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest has lined up some stellar entertainment. With more than a little help from Kimber Kable, Nordost Corporation and Reference Recordings, Marjorie Baumert began the celebration with a pre-show performance by vocalist Lillian Boutté. The only musician since Louis Armstrong to be decorated Ambassador of Music by the city of New Orleans, Boutté brought her 30 years of experience with jazz, gospel, and R&B to the first of three performances at the show. Backing her up were Eric Gunnison on piano, Mike Marlier on drums, Mark Simon on bass, and a singer whose name was not listed in the program.
The demos given by High Water Sound’s Jeffrey Catalano are as much about music as they are gear. Attending one is like sitting in on a music history lesson with a wonderful professor. Catalano most enjoys making direct connections between the seemingly disparate.
On this occasion, he practically shook with excitement. As he walked across the large listening room, on his way to select one of the many vinyl LPs that had been propped up against a side wall, he paused to address the crowd: “For me, what I’m about to play . . . this is just the best piece of music I’ve heard . . . in . . . years.”