Friday at the 2019 RMAF was one of those long, busy and productive days where at the end of it you sit back and think wow, I met a lot of interesting people. Not just people, but people I really wanted to meet, people who mean something to this industry, people I’ve only read about up until now. One of the most interesting encounters involved one Hiroshi Ishihara, president of Youtek Limited in Japan. Mr. Ishihara, if you don’t know, is the man behind Hana cartridges. Hana cartridges, if you don’t know, are really making a big impact here in the states–they offer that magical Japanese cartridge performance for extremely reasonable prices–starting at just $450.
I’m a long-time Japanese cartridge kind of guy. Right now I own a ZYX, a Transfiguration and a Denon 103 modded with The Cap which I reviewed in the summer issue of The Occasional. Once I mentioned that to Mr. Ishihara, we launched into a long conversation about analog. I told him that Hana was becoming very popular in the states because of the off-the-charts value, and he seemed incredibly grateful and gracious. This conversation occurred in the fabulous vinyl-only 2019 RMAF room from In Living Stereo, the NYC dealer, which featured unusual tube amplification from Mactone. This is a Japanese electronic company that has been making gear since 1964, and both the look and the sound was an enticing mixture of vintage and state of the art. Along with a Clearaudio turntable, Hana ML cartridge and the Trenner & Friedl Osiris loudspeakers (you already know I love Trenner and Friedl and Bob Clarke of Profundo, the US distributor), and the system sounded incredibly alive and exciting.
One of the finest systems I’ve heard in a long time came from Nick Doshi of Doshi Audio, Jeff Joseph of Joseph Audio and Jeff Fox of Command Performance AV in Falls Church, VA. Of course, it featured many of my favorite manufacturers — Joseph loudspeakers, Doshi electronics, with J. Sikora turntables, Kuzma and cables Cardas Audio. The bass in this room was simply amazing, both taut and subterranean. When it comes to picking my best sound at show at the 2019 RMAF, it’s going to be difficult to top these gentlemen.
Friday at the 2019 RMAF was also a day where I interviewed a lot of fascinating folks from Sonus Faber, McIntosh and more. I heard lots of great products such as an all-Haniwa Audio system, an all-Bryston system, and an amazing new SA-Z1 active speaker/DAC from Sony that’s going to be a game changer when it comes to near-field listening from a desktop system. I listened to Bill Low of AudioQuest talk about the technical side of cable design in a way that was both easy to understand and somewhat philosophical.
But the biggest highlight of Friday at the 2019 RMAF came at the end of the day when I met Carl and Marilyn Marchisotto of Nola. I’ve been reading about these two since Sam Tellig was The Audio Cheapskate. I told them that, and their incredible reply was that they’ve been wanting to meet me for a long time as well. Me? Are you sure? I was genuinely touched.
Now it’s time to go back out there for that busy Saturday crowd at the 2019 RMAF. I’m looking forward to meeting many more wonderful people.