From the coverage I’ve read, this seemed like a fun show to hit. And if the quality of the vendor turnout is any indication, RMAF this year will set all manner of records.
Some of the best coverage I’ve seen comes from Jason Sirenius’ CAVE blog:
Some highlights for me were the WideaLab Aurender S10. What makes another music server actually interesting? Better digital outs, specifically AES, that are supported by a great clock. That rules. The $6k price tag? Not so much, but hey, it does have a sexy aluminum case.
Also glad to see the Light Harmonic DaVinci DAC getting some air-time, especially after the problems at CAF. This is a great sounding DAC and the fact that it hunts for the Rebel Alliance in it’s spare time shouldn’t be counted against it. I do have to say, however, that the new $15k price tag, which was $3k higher than previously announced at Axpona this Spring, is going to put it in serious harm’s way of the acclaimed MPS-5 from Playback Designs. For “only” $2k more, the PBD unit offers both an SACD transport and the ability to play DSD files natively.
Missing from the CAF this year was Philip O’Hanlon of On A Higher Note. To the delight of the CAS crowd, he brought out not only some choice Luxman gear, but he had no less than 2 systems showing off different Vivid Audio speakers. I’ve not heard enough of these wonderful beauties and look forward to seeing what The Magician will bring to RMAF this year.
I’m also disappointed that I didn’t get to hear Sony’s new statement speakers, the $27k SS-AR1. Not that I’m shopping for full range speakers at the moment ( … stupid stock market … ), but still. They look awesome.
One of the main themes of this show was high resolution audio. Blue Coast was there, talking about their new DSD offerings — that is, audio files encoded as DSD for playback from a computer. Personally, I think this is very interesting — I’m a big fan of SACD, and chose to hold on to my Accuphase DP-85 because it just plain rocks as an SACD player. Ok, that said, I’m not really sure I want to get DSD files. There are only a couple of players — I think Pure Music either does or will support it, and ditto Amarra. Only a few DACs support native DSD — Playback Designs comes to mind. But if you’re noticing the fact that I’m not exactly swimming in examples, you’ve taken my point exactly. This is a rather shallow pool we’re now fishing in. Sure, the future may well have more to offer us consumers, but for now … I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable recommending even considering DSD support as one of those things you should have in your next DAC. Hell, we’re just now starting to see some serious traction with 176/192kHz files (thank you HDTracks!), but DSD? Where the hell are those? 2L and Blue Coast? Not exactly an embarrassment of riches. I guess I have to say that I feel about DSD about the same as I do about analog tape — “it’s interesting, but … I don’t really get it”. I’m going to be sticking to vinyl records (and 176/192 PCM, whenever my Berkeley Alpha USB ever ships) for the foreseeable future.
Okay, yeah, there was more there but since I didn’t go, let me refer you to the blog above or to Stereophile’s coverage of the show.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I think local shows are great. They really give the prospective buyer an opportunity to hear far more than any one given dealer can possibly show off in a really compressed period, and for that, I think they’re invaluable. They’re also fun. And a great place to catch up with new and old friends. Whether they actually make any money for the dealers shelling out to stuff them full of their delectable audio goodies remains to be seen.