RMAF 2019

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Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 09, 2019  |  4 comments
That the first big room I visited sounded as good as it did, which was far from the best I’ve heard those components sound, was due to the expertise of setup wizard Stirling Trayle. A lot of room treatment was brought in at first, but after Trayle did his thing, most of it was stashed in a hallway. The system, from Nordost, VTL, and YG Acoustics, was headlined by VTL’s Siegfried Series II monoblocks ($75,000/pair), TP-6.5 Series II phonostage ($12,500), and TL-7.5 Series III linestage preamplifier ($30,000); a special edition of YG Acoustics Sonja 2.3 loudspeakers wired with Nordost ($112,800/pair); and enough Nordost Odin 2 cabling and power products to keep several silver and copper mines operating for weeks.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 09, 2019  |  4 comments
McIntosh had (at least) one big system, two smaller systems, and one minisystem in their huge room.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 08, 2019  |  15 comments
Occupying a small but significant place in Bluebird Music’s outer suite, the new Jadis Orchestra Black integrated amplifier ($3995) was producing sweet and enjoyable sound that, on a track from Count Basie Meets Oscar Peterson, felt like a lovely warm kiss.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 08, 2019  |  3 comments
The big news in the Musical Surroundings room was the introduction of the AMG Viella Forte 12 Turbo turntable ($30,000), shown in its engraved version ($32,000).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 08, 2019  |  8 comments
Mark Conti’s MC Audiotech room was dominated by his company’s just-launched, Paul Paddock-designed MC Audiotech Forty-10 2-way loudspeaker ($35,000/pair including crossover). Hidden in the high-frequency spaced array are 10 identical bending wave drivers “of the latest generation,” which cover everything above 100 Hz. In its Folded Cube low-frequency enclosure reside two “industrial type” woofers in a dipole arrangement. The speaker uses a dedicated hybrid external crossover, with low-frequency level/contour controls.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 07, 2019  |  7 comments
Do VAC tube components possess chameleon-like powers? That's the question I've begun to ask: Each time I encounter their components in different settings, I hear radically different sound. Here, from a system including Nola's towering new Concert Grand Reference Gold 2 loudspeakers ($250,000/pair), an Audio Research REF CD8 CD player, Nordost Odin 2 cabling, and VAC's Statement 450S IQ amplifier ($63,000), Master line stage ($28,000), and VAC DAC MK II ($12,000), the sound was midrange preponderant—not at all what I expected to hear from either VAC electronics or a 275lb open-baffle line-source array design with a claimed frequency range of 18Hz–100kHz, 91dB sensitivity, and 8 ohm impedance. I think the room was simply too shallow in depth, with seats too close, for these speakers to strut their stuff.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 07, 2019  |  1 comments
For a room too small for Tekton's massive, multi-driver Moab loudspeakers ($4500/pair), Parasound and Tekton were getting surprisingly good sound. The small system lineup was headed by the new Parasound Classic 200 Integrated ($1195), which includes an all-analog signal path, analog bass management with high and low pass outputs, a DAC whose circuitry is, in the company's words, "pulled directly out of the award-wining Halo P-5," and far more goodies than you might expect at this price point.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 07, 2019  |  3 comments
Ed Meitner goes analog?

Not really. But the famed digital pioneer and founder of EMM Labs, known especially for his work with DSD/SACD, was showing his prototype optical phono preamp, the Optical Equalizer. Designed solely for use with DS Audio's optical cartridges, it can be described as a marriage between analog and digital. With specific filters for the different DS Audio cartridge models, it's expected in the first quarter of 2020.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 07, 2019  |  4 comments
Haniwa's chief designer, Tetsuo Kubo, surprised me with the sound of his new Clear Focus speakers plus digital phase control system amplifier ($25,000 total). With a much larger cone than in previous versions and an impedance of 1.3 ohms, this loudspeaker sounded totally smooth, with a very strong midrange presence, when mated with their 400Wpc amplifier. Even the bright voice of Luciano Pavarotti was pleasant to listen to, and thrilling as well.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 06, 2019  |  30 comments
It’s no surprise that the Wilson Audio rooms were buzzing. Both Sheryl Lee Wilson and her late husband Dave’s successor, son Daryl, were on hand to unveil, in passive display, the new Chronosonic XVX loudspeaker ($329,000/pair, seen to Daryl’s right).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 06, 2019  |  6 comments
Before the revelation of Bryston’s new BDA-3.14 streamer/DAC/digital preamp ($4195) came another, far less welcome one: The Gaylord Resort and Convention Center is huge. Ridiculously huge, and constructed with less-than-penetrable logic.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 06, 2019  |  21 comments
Where am I? I thought I was heading to Denver to cover the 16th edition of the three-day Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, but it looks as though I boarded the wrong plane and ended up in Las Vegas.

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