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RMAF 2018: Eric’s Parting Shots, Wrap-Up

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With only a few hours left on Sunday, the final day of the last Rocky Mountain Audio Fest to be held at the Denver Marriott Tech Center, I become sentimental. I decide to take a moment for myself. I go for a quick stroll through the remainder of the show, I collect a few extra photos, and maybe even take in a song or two.

Here, a photo tour of my last hours at the show.

Bob’s Devices

Bob Sattin’s step-up transformers for Moving Coil cartridges are well known, and their sound: legendary. For myself, I’ve never used one in my home system. There are a myriad of moving coil cartridges I’ve encountered at shows or in the systems of friends that really strike my fancy. I however, just haven’t made the jump. When at Bob’s table however, I always grab the headphones, cue up something from his personal record collection and mentally dive in. Often I walk away from Bob’s table mulling over the idea that this may be the best headphone presented experience at the show. It happened that way for me at Axpona, and it has happened again here at RMAF.

Classic Album Sundays

Bjork, Homogenic

Bjork and Kate Bush are tied for 3rd place in my top five recording artists of all time. Kate is 3a and Bjork is 3b. When I heard that Classic Album Sundays was going to be demonstrating the full album, along with a complete backstory and synopsis of the album’s genesis, I was more than game for reserving a seat. The most interesting feeling I experienced in the room, was wondering how many of the other patrons knew this album, or Bjork’s catalog of recordings as well as I did.

ESD Acoustics

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 anyone to sit in the middle chairs, close their eyes and settle in for a equally stunning listen.

FOCAL

The Focal breakfast party is a hit. Debuting the new Kanta speakers and the updated driver technology to go along with them. The demonstration was two fold; one part being an explanation of the engineering processes and philisophy that goes behind the design, the second being a listening session of the Kanta speakers. The listening session took place in a room within a room — a pop-up listening room if you will — and to be fair, it was quite impressive.

High End by Oz

This was one of the better exhibits at RMAF for a few reasons, sound being one — but also for having that showroom atmosphere. Teeming with activity both in listening sessions and conversation; show-goers were in for an engaging experience both sonically and personally. Some rooms can have that “tread lightly” feeling of awkwardness that comes from an uncertainty of being welcome. Not the case in a High End by Oz exhibit, or in this case — mobile showroom.

MSB Technology, Magico

MSB always changes my opinion about speakers that I am often iffy about. The MSB and Magico M3 combination was for many one of the many competing for best-in-show sound. Accuracy is one thing — and one thing MSB does well — but to also impart a fleshy realism to music that does nothing to evoke ideals of coldness or sterility often associated with digital, that is truly special. Without a doubt, one of the best exhibits in true high-end digital.

Ryan Audio, Pass Labs

I get excited about bookshelf speakers, especially when it looks and sounds like they’ve just chopped the heads off of the tower and decided to give you 2/3 of the sound for possibly 1/2 of the price. I’m not saying that is exactly what is happening in the Ryan room, but with the most exquisite sixty watts of Pass Labs integrated power, the Ryan room was doling out almost everything I remember from S840, but now in the much smaller physical volume of the S610 stand-mount speaker.

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