It was great to again encounter Andy Payor of Rockport Technologies and hear the stunning 200 lb Ankaa loudspeaker ($26,500/pair). Of all the speakers I heard on the first two days of T.H.E. Show, the Ankaa produced images so large and lifelike that it made other speakers (including several wonderful-sounding models I’ve already discussed) seem like pipsqueaks. I have no doubt that the expensive, neutral-sounding Gryphon Antileon Signature stereo amplifier ($31,000 for 150Wpc) and Mirage preamplifier ($25,000), as well as the debuting Purist Audio Design Proteus Provectus cabling had a lot to do with Andy's triumph. As he rather selflessly noted, "The real reason for a good image lies in the collaboration."
Next weekend's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) is bigger than ever. Scheduled to be held October 1517 in the Denver Marriott Tech Center, the seventh annual show has expanded from last year's 145 display rooms to a record 174. Add in silent displays in hallways, and there were products in every price range from a good 400 companies (up from 350 in 2009). Now occupying six floors in the Marriott Tower (including the mezzanine) and two in the Atrium, the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest has well earned its reputation as the largest consumer-audio and home-entertainment show in the US since the demise of the Stereophile Shows.
Artist Jay Paul Apodaca and his lovely wife, Houda Alaoua Apodaca, were rocking out with Roksan UK’s Oxygene touch-sensitive, Bluetooth-equipped integrated amp ($7000) at the world premiere of its limited edition Jay Paul Apodaca incarnation. As the story goes, Roksan’s owner, Tufan Hashemi, visited Jay Paul’s store in Detroit and began collecting his art. Eventually he decided to commission Jay Paul to make 12 original paintings that he could reproduce on the front of the Oxygene. Mated with Roksan’s Darius S1 loudspeaker, the artwork and system livened up the Marriott’s Tower like few other systems I heard.
RSL, the reincarnation of California speaker manufacturer Rogersound Labs, was showing its economical CG stereo system ($1250 with free shipping, stands optional). The system was making bearable a 24/96 file of Diana Krall singing “S’Wonderful.” Usually this particular selection has me crawling out of my skin. No mean feat that it didn’t this time. The system includes a single subwoofer that was hidden behind me. The good news is that the speaker system comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Debuting at CES 2011, Running Springs Audio’s Elgar Powerline conditioner is so new that Dan Babineau has yet to produce product literature. A trickle-down, opening price-point piece ($999/6 outlets), it can handle 1800W maximum. The 100% passive, noncurrent-limiting design employs the same filters as all other Running Springs Audio products, but uses a smaller-laminate inductor to increase dynamics.
Designed for smaller, modest systems, the Elgar Powerline conditioner is hand-built in Anaheim, CA. “It does three things really,” Babineau said. “A high quality circuit breaker, it also takes care of atrocious noise anomalies, and cleans up the power without negatively affecting the source. This has always been my goal since I started the company ten years ago.”
I had heard much positive buzz about the fascinating-looking Salk SoundScape loudspeakers. Equipped with the excellent RAAL custom ribbon tweeter, an Accuton midrange, and a separate Acoustic Elegance woofer, the Soundscape 10 ($9999/pair base price, or $13,999/pair with a 12" woofer) is said to perform from 21Hz60kHz, ±3dB. It also offers adjustable tweeter and midrange ambience, and looks like a baby that will attract lots of positive attention in your living room.
The magic numbers, for Salon Son et Image, are 25, 100, and 10,000. Canada's first and largest high-end audio show, whose 25th-anniversary show arrives March 2325 (press day March 22) in downtown Montreal's Hilton Bonaventure, expects to set a new attendance record as up to 10,000 visitors explore 100 exhibit rooms.
Tipped off by Stereophile reader David Goodwin, I recently visited the San Francisco Airport Museum's beautifully thought-out and executed exhibit The History of Audio: The Engineering of Sound. Installed to coincide with the 121st convention of the Audio Engineering Society, held at San Francisco's Moscone Center October 5–8, the exhibit runs through May 2007 in the North Connect Gallery of the airport's Terminal 3 (footnote 1).
In a surprising move, the San Francisco Symphony has announced plans to release the next installment in its ongoing Mahler series, the beloved Symphony 5, in download format before issuing the recording on hybrid SACD/CD. The Fifth will first become available on iTunes on September 12, and in hard format three weeks later. Such an unprecedented release schedule, from one of the few symphony orchestras in the world to regularly record in the high-resolution SACD format, can be seen as part of a near-universal recognition among record labels of the importance of online sales.
"We did this for audiophiles, really," says the San Francisco Symphony's general manager, John Kieser. "Our distributors around the world have been telling us that it would be terrific if our Mahler series were available as a complete set on vinyl. This is a major endeavor, in that we're talking about 22 LPs."