The 2017 RMAF: A Show Well Done

"It was a love-fest all around!"—Herb Reichert

With those succinct words, Herb Reichert aptly summarizes the special spirit that is Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. There may be US shows with greater attendance, but there is a special energy about the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest that sets it apart from the rest, and keeps exhibitors and dedicated audiophiles returning year after year.

Thus was it fitting that, at the end of the Rocky Mountain International HiFi Press Awards (RIHPA) on the first night of the show, Gabi Rijnveld of Crystal Cable (left above) presented show organizer Marjorie Baumert (right) with a crystal rose pendant in honor of her dedication to the industry members and consumers who make high-end audio what it is. As she glowingly received her honor and shared a few words, Marjorie reflected back to the assembled industry members and press the love that so many of us feel when we encounter her.

After a few years of declining participation, during which a number of Asian companies hoping for US distribution filled exhibit spaces formerly occupied by American firms, RMAF has made a major rebound. How this year fared for exhibitors—it takes months to assess the impact of show participation on sales—is TBD. While some muttered that Sunday was pretty dead, and attendance on other days subpar…well, Sundays are often dead, regardless of show or show venue. In addition, when you have the most active exhibits of any US show, plus the largest CanJam/headphone expo of those shows, attendance can look small because attendees are scattered far and wide.

What is true is that while there are more large-size rooms than ever available to exhibitors, space for exhibits in RMAF's "standard-size" guest rooms has shrunk. Rooms may be longer in the Atrium, but they're just as narrow as in the Tower. If you had huge numbers of attendees, rooms would be unmanageable.

In addition, the entire US show landscape is transforming. After CES 2016, Stereophile published my "What if They Gave a CES and Nobody Came?" Three months before the next CES in January 2018, an advance count of high-end exhibits in the Venetian suggests that we'll soon have a partial answer to that question. Post the query, "Who's Going to CES?" on Facebook, and you'll get "no" after "no."

In addition, the ever-growing AXPONA Chicago is moving to a new hotel whose room size and acoustics leave lots of questions unanswered; the first year of the Los Angeles Audio Show, intentionally limited to approximately 115 exhibitors, left many frustrated about the perceived lack of attendance and challenging hotel logistics; the Bay Area-based California Audio Show sputtered along; the long-running T.H.E. Show cancelled at the 11th hour; the New York Audio Show remains problematic; and the formerly small Capital Audiofest outside DC seems poised to fill all available rooms and emerge as the largest-attended show on the East Coast.

Meanwhile, High End Munich has become the most important consumer/dealer gathering in the world, and the annual, hardly-to-be-scoffed at Hong Kong Audio Show attracts an astounding 30,000 attendees. With the ascendance of these shows, increasing numbers of distributors and dealers who reside in places other than North America are choosing to confine their show-going to Europe and Asia.

How the show scene will look in another year or two, amidst the political and ecological shakedowns that are affecting multiple populations and continents, is unclear. What is certain is that as long as Marjorie Baumert is around and at the helm of RMAF, and the members of Colorado Audio Society selflessly volunteer untold hours of hard work to make the show a success, RMAF will retain its special place in the audiophile landscape.

Thank you, Marjorie. It was a great show. On to the next one.

tonykaz's picture

Let it be RMAF

Darn it, this ain't 1980 where all the floors at the Winter CES are jammed packed, every day. That was nearly 40 years ago & that was Vegas when Vegas was FUN and every individual Casino had three Bands playing LIVE music. Phew, Vegas Strip was a riot and WCES a must-go-to Show!!!

Even the Summer CES in Chicago was a must.

WCES: "the biggest Show on Earth"

That was then,

RMAF is now.

The Car Shows are still Slam'n. The Texas Car Show runs for a Month. ( they got pretty much nothin else going for em, bless they're little hearts )

RMAF still needs a bit of Professionalism. One look at Tyll's Love Videos and we'll see a form of Show Anarchy with Exhibitors visible at every angle. I'm say'n that headphones isn't a Flea Market.

Oh well, thanks Mr.JVS & Co. for reporting.

These Ladies seemed to have done a nice Show.

Tony in Michigan

funambulistic's picture

... for blessing my "little heart", but, as the saying goes, "Everything is bigger in Texas!" and that holds especially true for our hearts.

John in Texas

Anton's picture

One of the coolest, nicest, greatest people in the industry.