RMAF 2010

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Stephen Mejias  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  1 comments
Music Hall’s inexpensive USB turntable, the two-speed, belt-driven USB-1 ($249), uses an aluminum die-cast platter, has a groovy S-shaped tonearm equipped with an Audio-Technica AT3600L moving-magnet phono cartridge, and comes in a high-gloss black finish. Overall, it resembles something Run DMC might’ve brought to a gig.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  6 comments
...was the title of the seminar presented Sunday afternoon by Audio Precision's Jonathan Novick. Audio Precision manufactures high-performance test gear (including the systems used by Stereophile for its reviews) and Novick's presentation concerned, among other things, how graphs, as published by Stereophile, are more meaningful than single figures of merit and how conventional measurements can miss problems with amplifiers that are undoubtedly audible. I came away from this presentation with some ideas on how to improve the magazine's test regime, but most telling was Novick's final slide which paraphrased Albert Einstein: "Not all that matters can be measured. Not all that can be measured, matters!."
Stephen Mejias  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  2 comments
Oswalds Mill Audio is doing something refreshing and beautiful, combining brilliant industrial design with a classic sense of style and a deep love for music.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  4 comments
It's always a joy to encounter Todd Garfinkle of M•A Recordings. Here he shows his latest audiophile quality CD, Nama. Also available as a 24-bit/176.4kHz hi-rez DVD-ROM format in a plain package that belies the beauty of its contents, the recording is the rightful successor to M•A's Sera una Noche and La Segunda, and features some of the same superb Argentinean artists. I can't wait to take a listen, once I dig it out of my luggage.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  1 comments
Source material in the Nola room was a pair of open-reel recorders from United Home Audio, but on the one piece I listened to, Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, it sounded like a dub from LP. Not that there's anything wrong with that!
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  1 comments
Jolida of Maryland sure knows how to produce good sound for people with limited budgets. Playing Leonard Cohen's classic "Back on Boogie Street" through iTunes, with all the sonic compromises that Apple's music server imposes on a system, Jolida's Glass FX tube DAC ($350) and Glass FX 25 Integrated hybrid amplifier ($350) still sounded great. This was not toy hi-fi; it was an indisputable portal into the real thing, with a musicality that put to shame some much more expensive systems I encountered at RMAF.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  1 comments
Not only was the sound in the Larkspur Suite familiar, so were the speakers. The $80,000/pair Acapella High Violoncello IIs being demmed were the exact same pair that I had very favorably reviewed in the September issue of Stereophile. Amplification was all-Einstein, including The Tube preamp that Michael Fremer reviewed in October.
Stephen Mejias  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  4 comments
Jeffrey Catalano’s High Water Sound provided my very favorite musical experience of the 2010 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. Along one wall of the room, there were stacks and stacks of vinyl records, an obvious sign of something good about to happen.
Stephen Mejias  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  1 comments
Photo: John Atkinson
John Atkinson  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  7 comments
Driving Von Schweikert VR-3S speakers ($7995/pair) in Room 8032 was the awesome-looking Kronzilla SXI Mk.II monoblock, featuring the largest tubes I have seen in an audio amplifier. Source was the French EEra CD player, and there my handwritten notes become illegible. Apologies :-(
John Atkinson  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  5 comments
One of my two best sounds at RMAF was from Revel's Ultima Salon2 speakers ($22,000/pair), which have been favorites of mine since Larry Greenhill's review appeared in the June 2008 issue of Stereophile. At RMAF, the Revels were being driven by Mark Levinson No.53 monoblocks ($25,000/pair), which in turn were being fed straight from the variable output of a Mark Levinson No.512 SACD player ($15,000). Cabling was all-Transparent. The superbly stable soundstaging extended beyond the physical positions of the speakers, the tonal balance was one of the most neutral I heard at the Show, and the bass was both extended and defined. I would have stayed listening for longer, but the Show only had 30 minutes more to run and I had two more rooms to visit.
Stephen Mejias  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  0 comments
Here’s a look at one of Jude Mansilla’s systems: Apple iPad, Head-Direct HiFiMan HM-801 portable music player, Grado Head-Fi Series HF-2 headphones. I took a quick listen and enjoyed the liquid midrange, the smooth, easy sound.
Stephen Mejias  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  0 comments
“Oh, this is new…and this is new, too. And, oh yeah, we’ve also got this,” went Music Hall’s Leland Leard around and around his busy room, a funhouse of hi-fi and vinyl.
Stephen Mejias  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  0 comments
There were lots and lots and lots of headphones at CanJam, a headphone lover’s paradise.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  6 comments
As in previous years, the 2010 RMAF featured a full program of seminars. I moderated two of them, the first of which on Saturday morning featured Channel D's Rob Robinson demonstrating how to rip LPs to your PC. Rob flew by the seat of his pants, doing everything in full view of the packed house—including booting-up his Mac mini, hooking up a Music Hall turntable to a preamplifier/ADC and connecting the preamp to the computer with a FireWire link—to make the point that there was nothing intimidating about the process. (His and my thanks to AudioEngine for providing powered speakers to allow the audience to hear what was happening.) The only departure from orthodoxy was that as Robinson was using Channel D's Pure Vinyl program (reviewed by Michael Fremer last August) to capture the data, he was using the program's digital-domain RIAA correction so used a flat-response preamp rather than a true phono preamplifier.