Count on McIntosh to invariably dem something new, albeit in chassis that maintain the company’s distinctive aesthetics. This time around, Ron Cornelius showed the new MCD550 SACD/CD player ($6500) with volume control, headphone output, asynchronous USB 2.0 input, and 32-bit, “192kHz PCM/SD digital to analog conversion”; and MA8000 300Wpc integrated amplifier ($10,000) with MC/MM phono inputs, five digital inputs that decode music up to 32/192, home-theater bypass, and headphone amplifier. In an all-McIntosh set-up, the system delivered the classic warm midrange and solid bottom end I’ve come to expect. Highs, at least in this small hotel room, were a touch metallic, however.
“Hands down great sound” I wrote of a room that combined Joseph Audio’s universally lauded Pearl loudspeakers ($31,500/pair with outrigger bases), Cardas Clear cabling, and a VPI Classic Direct with 3D arm ($30,000) outfitted with a Soundsmith Hyperion OCL cactus cantilever cartridge ($7500), with Jeff Rowland’s Capri preamp with phono option ($4300), Aeris DAC ($9800), and 825 power amp ($32,000). Sourced from computer, Boz Scaggs “Thanks to You” sounded gorgeous, and the beauty of Reference Recordings’ LP version of Vaughan Williams’ The Wasps confirmed the superiority of both the equipment chain and the Keith Johnson/Sean Martin recording team. Bass was profound, the midrange world-class, and highs just right. Transparency, too, was excellent. I wish I could have spent hours immersed in the beauty and grace of this system.
Roger Fortier, US distributor for ADAM Audio (Advanced Dynamic Audio Monitors), paired ADAM Column loudspeakers ($7500/pair) with Clarus Audio cabling from Tributaries and Cary’s CA0211 monoblocks ($20,000/pair), SLP-05 preamp ($6500) and Cary’s brand-new, prototype, full-function media streamer ($3995). Playing Christy Baron’s oft-heard “Ain’t No Sunshine When He’s Gone,” the system produced an exceptionally nice, warm midrange with an overall touch of sweetness. It also handled bass very well.
McIntosh’s Carl Porter was in the midst of demming McIntosh’s MEN220 room correction system ($5000) when I snapped this photo. I’ve heard this baby in action several times, and was not surprised by the positive effects its room correction, custom-EQ, and 2-way crossover had on a recording by Alison Krauss.
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.
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.)
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.
The 2013 Burning Amp, the DIYAudio forum's "annual experiment in temporary community dedicated to radical self-expression and self-reliance," got off to a slow start. Although a semi-hidden posting about the one-day, all-volunteer event, held in six rooms at San Francisco's Fort Mason Center on Sunday, October 6, appeared months ago, the email blast to the Burning Amp mailing list only went out late on October 3. As a result, attendance was light, making it much easier to listen to music in the extremely live, audio unfriendly rooms.
Central to every Burning Amp is Nelson Pass (above), whose boundless generosity and support to DIYers worldwide has made him a father figure of sorts.
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.