RMAF 2018: ListenUp and How to Conquer a Hotel Room

ListenUp has really built up their presence in the Mountain Time Zone over the last few years—the audio/video dealer now has four locations in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and Albuquerque. Perhaps it’s a coincidence that I walked into four separate ListenUp rooms at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, each one presenting a great-sounding system at different price points.

Just Another Notch in the Wall

Before I launch into all the wonderful equipment ListenUp brought to the Marriott, I do want to discuss one room anomaly found in many of the rooms—one that I’ve dealt with as an exhibitor many times. Most exhibitors placed their systems against the back wall, and the rear right corner of the room had a column of sorts that contained the HVAC system. That forced many rooms to place speakers asymmetrically, with less than optimal space between the speakers.

ListenUp took advantage of this by assembling modest systems with small speakers in two of the rooms and wound up getting great sound from affordable equipment. We’re talking real low-frequency heft here, the kind of sound tailor-made for audiophiles who have small rooms.

Big Rooms, Little Rooms

The first small room featured a system comprised of NAD and PSB, two companies known for tremendous value. A modest NAD C268 power amplifier ($800) and a Bluos DAC C658 ($1500) streamed MQA files to a pair of PSB T3 Towers ($3750/pair), and the result was a powerful and open sound emanating from a fairly tight space.

The second small room was a little more ambitious with components from Pro-Ject and Sonus Faber. Pro-Ject is updating their compact DS series and showed the Amp Box DS2, Pre Box DS2 Digital and CD Box DS2T, matched to a Pro-Ject RPM3 Carbon turntable/arm and Sumiko Blue Point #2 ($999 complete) and the gorgeous Sonus Faber Sonetto IIIs ($4000/pair) with the Gravis II subwoofer ($1499). There was plenty of room on the rack for the even smaller S2 series components, including the Pre Box S2 Digital and the Stream Box S2 Ultra. Still, the entire system retailed for less than $10,000 and provided listeners with big hearty bowl of excellent sound in a small room.

The two larger rooms contained systems made up of SimAudio Moon and B&W, and Focal Sopra loudspeakers and Classe. These “big” systems still sounded magnificent in the small quarters, but the small systems were really surprising in the way they coupled to their rooms. It’s not every dealer who knows how to accomplish this feat, so ListenUp deserves a big round of applause for the Taming of the Hotel Room.

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