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Rocky Mountain Audiofest 2018

  • I’ve been coming to RMAF almost from the beginning.  Some 14 years later, the show news is that they are moving to the giant Gaylord resort near the Denver airport.  This should be exciting but in many ways I will miss the Denver Tech Center.  It feels a bit like the end of an era in high end audio.  I am sure the new location will take the show to a new level for the hard-working Marjorie Baumert and her team from the Colorado Audio Society.  But oh what memories of this Marriott! [...]
  • RMAF 2018: Göbel Audio and CH Precision

    November 29, 2018 // 1 Comment

    What a system this was!  Clarity, huge dynamics, genuinely involving sound.  I hit this room three times.  It was that good.  Elliot Goldman had brought all his top gear.  Okay, honestly he stacked the deck…or should I say they stacked the CH Precision boxes?   There were literally dozens of them.  I’ll explain this is a minute. We were listening to Göbel‘s Epoque Aeon Reference speakers at $220,000.  The electronic stack was an impressive set of CH Precision gear [...]
  • RMAF 2018: HiFiMAN Introduces the Jade II

    November 28, 2018 // 0 Comments

    As usual at Rocky Mountain, the CanJam area was full of energy.  I went down there to cover the latest from Pro-Ject before hitting their room in the tower.  It’s a shame I don’t have time to cover as much of CanJam as in the past but I did run into Scot and he asked me to add HiFiMAN to the coverage list so I ambled over to their tables and ran into my friend Adam Sohmer who does their public relations work. I grabbed a listen immediately to the Jade II electrostatic system which [...]
  • RMAF 2018: Eggleston Works, Brinkmann, AudioQuest

    November 28, 2018 // 0 Comments

    It seems like every time I run into Anthony Chiarella, good sound is present. Brinkmann Audio turntables at the HiFiBuys event in Atlanta?  Good sound. EgglestonWorks speakers with a full Brinkmann stack in Denver?  Good sound.  No, scratch that.  Great sound. I’ve known that Brinkmann can make great turntables.  Then a year ago I heard the Nyquist DAC.  Oh yeah, that’s very nice.  House sound of Brinkmann?  Analog.  Smooth. Resolving.  Oh yeah, the good sound [...]
  • RMAF 2018: The Dragon Inspire from Moon Audio

    November 27, 2018 // 2 Comments

    It’s possible that I’m a sucker for new gear that has that vintage appeal. Which may be why the Dragon Inspire IHA-1 Tube Headphone Amplifier is so appealing. It also might have to do with that crazy-red paint job. It was the paint that gave it away, actually. For those of you with a two-channel background, this look and feel has “Cary Audio” written all over it. Which makes sense, since the amp is a collaboration between Moon Audio and Cary Audio‘s founder, Dennis [...]
  • 2018 RMAF: Marc’s Wrap-Up

    November 25, 2018 // 1 Comment

    I haven’t attended a high-end audio show as a member of the press in nearly a decade, and I’ve never done a “wrap-up” before, so this will be both an honor and a stroll into the wilderness. The 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest was indeed a thrill–I haven’t been there for the last two or three years and it was a pleasure to return. I had one small problem, however, with getting lost. This was the first time I’ve been to the DTC Marriott since the [...]
  • RMAF 2018: Eric’s Parting Shots, Wrap-Up

    November 24, 2018 // 1 Comment

    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. [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • RMAF 2018: Black Cat Cable Wows with Coppertone

    November 17, 2018 // 1 Comment

    Chris Sommovigo of Stereolab, which makes the Black Cat line of cables, had a table near CanJam showing off his latest affordable cables named Coppertone.  I’ve been impressed with Chris’ designs in the past and was curious what he was now doing with Coppertone so I followed up with Chris after RMAF and he graciously agreed to meet at a nearby taco place.  Chris is an intelligent, deliberate person and he’s always been good about sharing his knowledge on cables and [...]
  • I’ve known the folks at Fidelis Music Systems in Nashua, New Hampshire for many years. Not only were they one of my top dealers when I was a distributor but they also distribute, in turn, some of my favorite brands of all time such as Harbeth, LFD and Palmer. I’ve visited owner Walter Swanbon and his very knowledgeable crew at the store a handful of times, and I know I’ll always be treated to great sound from interesting companies—and not from the usual suspects, which is one of the [...]
  • I caught up to Purist Audio Design‘s Jim Aud at RMAF, where the music flowed like water and the dynamics made the angels weep. This was a great room. Of course, this was also a Classic Audio Loudspeaker room, so this was a gloriously familiar sound. And yes, those were Novacron amps — new ones, this time — from Atma-Sphere driving them, and a Kuzma turntable spinning vinyl. Mr. Aud was showing off a brand new cable — the Diamond Revision 30th Anniversary USB. Yes, a [...]
  • RMAF 2018: Gryphon Audio and Tweak Studio

    November 16, 2018 // 1 Comment

    I closed my eyes.  A strange but familiar world of percussion and bass beats opened up in my imagination across a vast soundstage.  I forgot about my exhaustion from a full day of walking the halls and taking hundreds of photos.  I reconnected with Yello in a way that even my system back home was not yet capable of.  “La Habanera…La Habanera…”  The walking bass line Yello is famous for was vivid.  There was a wonderful flow to the music.  Note decays trailed off [...]
  • I was enthusiastic about checking out the Audioquest room at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. Just a few months ago I met Audioquest’s Bill Low when he strolled into one of my dealer’s stores while I was visiting. We had a wonderful conversation about the audio industry in general and then we sat down and listened to a wonderful system that consisted of the brands I distributed, all wired with Audioquest cable. It sounded wonderful. I was looking forward to seeing Bill once more. [...]
  • My first hands-on experience with Raidho Acoustics’ loudspeakers occurred a few years ago, when I was pulled into an exhibit room to listen to a new digital technology. I can’t even remember what that product was, but I do remember the small yet very expensive Raidho 1.1 monitors that were in the system. They provided one of the most vivid and clear windows into a musical event I’ve ever heard—albeit with limited low-frequency information. I was so impressed with that demo, and the [...]
  • Lucien Pichette of the Jeff Rowland Design Group is an old friend of ours. He grew up in Montrose, Colorado, where Colleen and I lived for a few years, and I used to drive past his boyhood home nearly every day. I was happy to visit with him in the Rowland room at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest and talk about Colorado, but I kept getting distracted by the beautiful shiny faceplates of the gear in the room. If you’ve ever seen a Rowland product, you know exactly what I mean—even though [...]
  • I’m a huge fan of the LS3/5a…are you? If so, you probably know all about Falcon Acoustics, the only manufacturer licensed by the BBC who is continuing to produce the original 15 ohm LS3/5a design in 2018. Falcon, located in Oxford, England, manned three rooms at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest—one that featured a simple set-up around their LS3/5a ($2995/pair), a larger room focused around their new tower speaker, the Reference GC6500R ($26,000/pair), and an incredible third room filled [...]
  • Troy Audio was presenting at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest and just like last year, they had great success in keeping their exhibit room as one of the most visited, and well regarded. The Story Troy Audio had two systems: The first was made up of Triode Corporation tube electronics, a preamplifier and power amplifier using 300B tubes at just 8 watts. The digital source was an Esoteric CD transport, while the DAC was the small giant DAC212SE from DiDIT High End. All cables were Synergistic [...]
  • Bob Sattin is one of those guys I always see at the shows, but I’ve never really introduced myself to him. That’s a bit ridiculous, considering that I’ve been calling myself the Vinyl Anachronist for 21 years and here’s someone who is totally dedicated to vinyl playback and has created some truly outstanding products…especially in the field of step-up transformers. So at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I made a commitment to march up to him and his Bob’s Devices booth at the [...]
  • The Very Definition of POSH Naming a speaker POSH? This would all seem silly if the system in the Gershman Acoustics room didn’t offer a luxurious and exceptional sound. Ofra and Eli Gershman were showing off their new POSH Statement loudspeakers ($129,000/pair), powered by a VAC Statement 405S amplifier ($46,000) and a VAC Master preamp with phono ($40,000), with a VPI turntable using the hottest new thing in phono cartridges, the Audio-Technica AT-ART1000 ($4995). All cabling was from [...]
  • I don’t have a lot of experience with GoldenEar speakers, although plenty of audiophiles, not to mention most my old dealers, have given me an earful—they offer outstanding value, they’re incredibly dynamic, and whatever I’m representing better be able to compete with these products from audio legends Sandy Gross, Don Givogue and Bob Johnston. Keeping It Simple When I walked into the darkened ListenUp/Hegel/GoldenEar room at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I was taken aback by the [...]