John Atkinson and I have made an agreement. When John is not taking part in any of the eight "Demonstration of Live High-Resolution Recordings" seminars he has scheduled over the course of the Fest, he will cover the exhibits in the Marriott's Atrium rooms, and I will cover exhibits in the Tower. Of course, each of us is free to cross over to the other side if we're dying to hear something. But that's the plan.
I was utterly intrigued by the innovative speakers from Dr. Shelley Katz’s UK-based Podium Sound ($5995/pair). Katz produces panel loudspeakers that mechanically vibrate via electromagnetic drivers. Inherently free from phase error and less sensitive to placement than electrostats, they operate full-range without any filters.
Santy Oropel of Twin Audio Video Inc. of Loma Linda, CA was producing some very nice sound with Triode Corporation’s TRV-A88SE, a KT88-based, 12Wpc, single-ended integrated amplifier ($1800) and TRV-4SE Limited Special Edition tube preamplifier ($2750). Everything save the faceplate and casing is made in Japan.
Nelson Pass is up to good again. Following the wonderful sound of Ella and Billy I heard in the corridor, I discovered Nelson's prototype open-baffle speaker system. It sports both a Lowther PM6A full-range driver and a pair of SEAS W26 10" woofers. The 40"-high open baffle, which at this stage of the game is not intended to be a final design statement, has no side panels, only a central brace in the rear. The system was bi-amped, with the Lowther driver fed using a 60Hz, 6dB/octave high-pass filter feeding a First Watt F3 7Wpc JFET amplifier. The woofers were driven by a Pass Labs XA30.5 fed by a 12dB/octave active crossover. No equalization was employed. That the sound was so good was especially amazing, considering that the digital front end was pieced together at the last minute after the originally intended computer drive arrived minus its charger chord. I look forward to hearing the finished product.
According to Marjorie Stiefel, who with her husband Al slaves over the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest for months on end, this year's RMAF has 142 exhibit rooms, 29 more than last year. The show, has in fact, not only reached the hotel’s size limit—the DTC Marriott is Denver's third-largest—but also exceeded Marjorie's and Al’s energetic capacity. Fried to a crisp beyond the smile, the couple is considering hiring help for next year in order to meet increased demand from such major players as Linn, McIntosh, Esoteric, dCS, Kimber, Wilson, BAT, Gamut, Clearaudio, Edge, Ayre, Nordost...you name them.
The fourth annual Rocky Mountain Audio Fest is taking place this weekend at the Denver Tech Center Marriott. Registration was up 15% this year; snapped in the line in front of the registration desk at 9am was erstwhile Stereophile staffer Jonathan Scull (sensible suit, smart tie, and flashy glasses), these days a successful PR and marketing consultant.
ArkivMusic.com has just signed a deal with Warner Classics to reissue, on demand, out-of-print recordings from Teldec, Erato, and Warner Classics. The site's first 300 offerings from the Warner USA catalog, available at the end of October, will join the more than 4000 other out-of-print titles from EMI, Sony/BMG, Universal Music Group, and two dozen independent classical music labels now available on demand from ArkivMusic on ArkivCD. An additional 1000 ArkivCD reissue titles should become available by the end of 2007.
EMI and Virgin Classics, one of the oldest and two of the most respected names in classical music, have undertaken a series of audiophile-friendly initiatives designed to strengthen their online presence. At the start of September, the labels together launched the EMI and Virgin Classics Listening Club. Open to music lovers who purchase new EMI or Virgin Classics discs marked with the Opendisc logo, the club's "exclusive" online environment offers participants the opportunity to build relationships with some of the labels' top artists.
Naxos is making money from classical music. In the record industry, which seems to daily lament declining sales, piracy, and the demise of bricks-and-mortar retailers, that's news in itself. But when the world's largest independent classical-music company is able to turn a tidy profit while catering to the needs of audiophiles, that's cause for rejoicing.
Luciano Pavarotti interrupted the extended farewell tour he'd begun in 2004 to undergo cancer surgery last July in a New York City hospital. Though he often proclaimed intentions to resume touring, he was forced to curtail further public appearances. After a recent hospitalization for a high fever, he was released on August 25 to spend his remaining days at home. His second wife, sister, four daughters, nephews, and close relatives and friends were all at his side in Modena September 6 as he died.