As the sixth annual Rocky Mountain Audio Fest draws to a close at the Denver Marriott Tech Center, what is now the largest annual audio show in the USA could boast an attendance of 3700, 200 more than last year. Prominent among attendees from 49 states and overseas was a notable increase in the number of under-40 attendees. No doubt they were drawn by the rise of audiophile computer-audio playback, the resurgence of vinyl, and the large exhibit hall populated by the Head-Fi headphone community. The younger attendees included an influx of students, who responded to RMAF’s concentrated outreach to local colleges.
Scaena's imposing systems never fail to provide one of the highlights of the Show experience. Once the flashing light show on the VAC tube equipment was turned off, I was able to settle in and enjoy sensational sound through the Scaena Spiritus 3.6 System with Trifecta subwoofers ($130,000), VAC Statement 450 monoblock amplifiers ($78,000, presumably for the pair), VAC Signature MK2a preamp with phono option ($19,500), Audience Adept aR-12-TSS power conditioner ($10,000) and, for analog, the Kronos counter-rotating dual platter turntable ($28,000) with Graham Phantom Supreme 12" arm ($6000), Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement cartridge ($15,000), and Audio Research Ref phono 2 ($11,995).
The pendulum has swung back to the West Coast. Just one week after the Capital AudioFest, three weeks after AXPONA NYC, and six weeks after T.H.E. Show Newport Beach, the second California Audio Show is set to begin. Scheduled for July 1517 in the Crowne Plaza SFO in Burlingame, the show is located just minutes from San Francisco Airport, a few giant steps from a major freeway, a free shuttle ride away from the airport's BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) stop, and an eight-minute walk from CalTrain's Broadway Station.
Show organizer Constantine Soo, founder and editor of Dagogo.com, reports that the show currently promises 42 rooms of various sizes, all with active exhibits playing music. The list of exhibitors and brands, complete with a generous helping of California retailers, service providers, and distributors, includes a host of companies whose equipment resides in the homes and dreams of Stereophile readers.
The outboarding THE Show, run by the affable Richard Beers, was held for the first time at the Flamingo Hotel on the Strip, two Las Vegas blocks from CES’s “High-Performance” venue, the Venetian. In previous years, THE Show had been held at the St. Tropez Resort, then the Alexis Park, but Richard now has a multi-year contract with the Flamingo. I estimated THE Show had representation from a good 110 manufacturers. One of the big draws was actually outside the Flamingo's back door, where Panasonic was demming HD-3D TV in a huge trailer. It's rumored that some die-hard two-channel audiophiles snuck into the trailer trying to mask the same guilty expressions that they carried to the porno exhibit in the Sands Convention Center.
Last year, after my photo of him briefing a cadre of adoring acolytes appeared on this site, Richard Beers forbid me to ever publish pictures of him that were taken unawares. So this time, with his full knowledge and consent, the miracle man whose expertise and persistence makes T.H.E. Show(s) possible, has allowed me to reveal to the world what he looks like at 10:12AM, before his 25th cup of coffee.
Miguel Alvareaz of Point St. Lucie, Florida, is a defector for the cause. A self-confessed former marketing rep for Bose who always had a passion for audiophile products, he eventually left the company to develop the Tripoint Troy power product ($8000). Based on a new concept, the device uses passive filtration in the form of magnetism and layers of different materials (brass, copper, and proprietary products) to eliminate and reduce EMI and RFI. Rather than a line conditioner per seone is in the worksthe Troy is a grounding device to which you attach ground wires from the various components in your system. (If a component lacks a ground wire, Miguel can explain how to determine the right place to affix one).
Shunyata, which first made its mark with a novel line of US-made power cables named after various snakes and using a ferrite-based powder filling to absorb RF, has come out with five new serpentine products. According to sales manager Richard Colburn, the company has learned how to put more metal inside its cables, thereby increasing their gauge. The copper used is CDA-101, the only copper certified for its purity. Proprietary connectors are unplated brass, which company founder/designer Caelin Gabriel considers to sound the best.
Even though Simaudio’s Costa Koulisakis once explained in near exhaustive detail the relationship between Moon products and Simaudio, all I can remember is how good the components sound. You too may go over the moon about the three new products in my blog price range. In numerical order, the Moon Evolution Series 610 LP phono preamplifier ($7000), based on the reference Moon 810LP that Michael Fremer reviewed in December 2012, is a dual-mono, fully balanced differential design with isolated oversized power supply with a pi-type filter; adjustable impedance loading, capacitance loading, and gain settings; and selectable equalization curves. It will even wash your windows.
One of the joys of John Atkinson's RMAF panel session was discovering a remarkable unanimity of understanding and vision amongst a group of men who work in different countries on different areas of sound reproduction. Amidst scribbling seven pages of notes that barely scratch the surface of the knowledge and wisdom shared by panelists, I looked up to discover John and everyone having a ball as they spoke with one mind about the current state of the commercial recording industry, and the future of high resolution formats.
The natty Barnaby Fry, Philip O’Hanlon’s rival in the bow tie department, was getting good sound from a handmade-in-the-UK system, consisting of Rega’s RP6 Limited Edition Union Jack Version turntable, shown complete with cartridge and electronic speed control ($2095), Apollo-R CD player ($1095), DAC ($995), and Brio-R integrated amp ($895). Chord cabling held the system together (and a whole lot more), and fed signal from the electronics to MC’s twenty.21 ($2600$2800/pair, depending upon finish), a stand mount monitor from the same Professional Monitoring Company that is said to help standardize the BBC’s studio sound.