The highlight of the VRS Audio Solutions room was witnessing VRS' Vincent R. Sanders and Neil Sinclair (high-end pioneer and former owner of Theta Digital) engage in a heated discussion over optimal methods for achieving hard disk-stored music playback. These two went at it as if dealing with life and death itself. Which, in the case of high-end audio, isn't far from the truth.
Toward the end of Day One, I encountered my Bay Area Audiophile Society buddy Jeff Wilson in the hallway. Jeff, a true music lover and long-time audiophile whose ears I trust, is about to open a showroom with Bob Kehn in Oakland, CA that will feature Magico, VAC, Silversmith, and other top-quality brands.
Just as the mythical Phoenix arose from its own ashes, the birds of the Talon Audio line have again taken flight, this time as Talon Loudspeakers. As of August 7, Rives Audio (www.rivesaudio.com) has acquired Talon Audio and plans to reintroduce many of the company's most successful models.
Rives Audio and Talon Audio (now owned by Rives) proudly introduced the Thunderhawk, a $25,000/pair, composite speaker consisting of the $10,000 Hawk positioned atop the Thunder cabinet. The latter’s woofer is available either with a passive crossover, or with the new Rives Sub Parc, fully adjustable active crossover, which includes a 1000W switching amplifier. Said to deliver full-range sound down to 18Hz, the system sounded absolutely seductive playing jazz vocalist Susanne Abbuehl’s Compass (ECM).
RM Loudspeakers of Fort Smith, Arkansas were showing the CH-11R "True Exponential Folded Horn" ($17,500$20,000/pair) and RM-105 ported four-way ($9900$12,400/pair). I love the old school / new school look of these contrasting speakers. Playing the latter with unspecified components and cabling, I especially enjoyed the nice warmth in the bass voices of While You Are Alive, John Atkinson's 2007 recording of Cantus.
t's one thing to know that you're attending what has quickly grown into the largest annual high-end show in the United States. It's something else entirely to try to take in even a third of the 180 exhibits that were spread over the width, breadth and height of the Denver Marriott Tech Center.
RMAF 2010 drew such a huge rush of attendees on the first day (October 15) as to cause at least one overly packed elevator to spend what seemed like a minute in limbo, considering whether it should dare try to ascend. When it finally determined to go up rather than crash down, it moved in fits and starts, and shuddered each time it reached a floor. I think more than one of its occupants took a vow then and there to finally lose some weight. Stereophile ran out of their new-at-the-Show November issue by the end of the second day, and when a member of the Colorado Audio Society donated his collection of back issues to us on Sunday (see the photo), they were all gone within minutes.
Show exhibits extended to eight packed floors, and down into the. . .
As John Atkinson (right) and I were saying our goodbyes until the 2009 CES in Las Vegas, RMAF co-directors Al Stiefel and Marjorie Baumert were compiling attendance stats for this year's show. Although the fact that there were far more rooms this year, with exhibits spread over two hotels, left some exhibitors thinking that attendance was down, attendance was actually up just over 7%. Almost 3500 people attended this year's RMAF. The Sunday walk-ins were 407almost 150 over last year.
There is no need for Denver's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest to toot its own horn. The three-day affair, which opens at noon on Friday, October 12 in the Denver Marriott Tech Center, promises no less than 431 exhibitors; 174 exhibitor rooms, including 24 large ones (same since 2009): 41 miscellaneous vendors; 35 CANJAM vendors; and an impressive number of show debuts.
The largest US high-end audio show open to the public is also, despite its size and occasionally snow-encrusted environs, the warmest and friendliest audiophile show in the country. For this we owe thanks to Marjorie Baumert, who continues to nurture and sustain the show following the death of her show co-founder and husband, Al Stiefel, at the start of 2009; the exceptional staff at the comfortable Marriott; a dedicated cadre of volunteers drawn from the Colorado Audio Society and Marjorie's extended circle of friends and family; and exhibitors who, welcoming the relative peace and quiet of the location, approach the show as if reuniting with old friends.
Even as editing continues on his forthcoming Stereophile recording of Brahms' Handel Variations and Schumann's Symphonic Études, Canadian pianist Robert Silverman is set to perform and re-record all 32 of Beethoven's piano sonatas. Silverman's eight-concert series of Beethoven sonata performances and recordings will take place in San Jose's lovely Le Petit Trianon Theatre, beginning this coming Thursday, September 9 and ending on April 14, 2011.
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.