There are over 400 brands exhibiting here at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. Making this event one of largest audio shows in North America. For some this can seem overwhelming. and cause a bit of anxiety. Alas, have no fear, the rag-tag band of misfits from Part-Time Audiophile are ready to be your audio show guide.
Here are some surefire rooms to get you started and off on the right foot.
VIMBERG, Tidal, The Voice That Is! (Room 7018)
Okay, for some time now I’ve been drooling over TIDAL loudspeakers. So much so, that maybe I’ve also been wishing for the day to come when a lottery ticket, or an out-of-court injury settlement can enable me to financially make that leap. Well… I wish no more. Welcome VIMBERG, from the makers of TIDAL loudspeakers. Take the best in material sourcing, and engineering, then draw upon decades of pedigree wisdom and craftsmanship — what you are left with is the VIMBERG Mino tower. Possibly one of the greatest bargains in hi-fi.
Sonus Faber, McIntosh Labs (Room 5002, 5024)
Marking their 35th anniversary, the new Electa Amator III represents a powerful homage to a model history that is credit for much of the Sonus Faber success. I can only draw parallels from fine watchmaking to make sense of the fine level of detail, materials, and finishing used in crafting the third generation of Sonus Faber Electa Amator. Sounding as elegantly poised as it’s looks give clue to, I was not prepared for the muscle and commanding ability this stand-mount speaker could have on a room. Definitely one of the sexier exhibits at the show.
PranaFidelity (Room 4010)
Steven Norber’s electronics and speakers are continually offering some of the best sound I’ve encountered in the audio show circuit. A one man design house, the value Steven Norber can offer in his PranaFidelity gear is near unimaginable anywhere else. His Fifty90 (MTM) monitors deliver more of the full-range hi-fi experience than you can ask for pound for pound, dollar for dollar. My first experience with PranaFidelity was an all digital affair, this go round we are carried even higher with analog tape and vinyl. I dare you to drop by Steven Norber’s room, give it a thorough listen, and then tell you are not overwhelmingly in awe.
Legacy Audio, Raven Audio (Room Evergreen A)
Like peanut butter and jelly, I can’t think of a finer synergy on display in hi-fi. Legacy loudspeakers have defined American design and lineage for several decades, but when the most recent years have gifted us the pairing of Legacy and Raven Audio tube electronics, we’ve entered an era where Legacy sound and performance value now have to be considered legendary. Consistently one of the best exhibits in my audio show memory, a Legacy and Raven exhibit room by itself would still be worth the cost of admission.
VAC, Von Schweikert, The Audio Company (Room Maroon Peak)
All parties involved are known for bringing their A-game to every exhibit, the VAC electronics are definitely a major part of the story here at RMAF. The new Statement 450i iQ Integrated Amplifier is an ultimate performance, cost-no-object instrument of beauty — living up to its every foreshadowed promise. Among some of the finest components around the world, the VAC level of detail and build are second to none.
Kanto Audio (Room 9021)
Now for something different. A self-contained and genius implementation of a powered loudspeaker, the new monitor from Kanto Audio named TUK (pictured in white). The TUK is destined to be one of the most talked about loudspeakers of 2019. Gobs of power and bass force underpin one of the most engaging and exacting top ends I’ve encountered well under $1K. Be assured, the new TUK monitors were steadily leaving jaws dropped from both show-goers young and not so young.
Nola Speakers (Room 2021)
The Nola room is large for most exhibits of this size, but the newly upgraded Metro Grand Reference Gold 2 series of loudspeakers handle the room without even flinching. Creating an environment more mirroring a live performance, the transporting nature of the Nola room borders on the absurd. Sonic landscapes are large and go on for miles into the distance. Dynamics are to die for, and I honestly don’t know how a relatively small tower can somehow sound so big.
ESD Acoustic (Room Bluebell)
I usually don’t associate horn speakers with great imaging, but the Feng Ming four-way horn system offers pinpoint imaging on a behemoth scale. Massive horns reach for the ceilings and resolve a sonic image that tears down walls. Despite the system being one of the more aesthetically stunning at the show, I urge you to sit in the middle chairs, close your eyes and settle in for a equally stunning listen.