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RMAF 2015 Show Report
RMAF 2015 Show Report - Day 2
Rocky Mountain Audio Fest
Report By Rick LaFaver


Other Rooms To Note

Room 8028: Boulder And Chario
In a room with Boulder electronics top to bottom that was combined with beautiful, and very capable, Chario Acedemy Sonnet Loudspeakers ($7,500 per pair) I feel that the components, or the music, should be the first thing that grabs your attention. In this case the very odd speaker configuration grabbed my interest. The Charios were maybe 18" off the wall, if even that far, and the two REL S/3 subwoofers were corner loaded flanking the speakers. There were no wall treatments whatsoever and one of the speakers was right in front of the headboard where the bed once was while the other was against the regular wall (uneven reflections from the back wave of the speaker?). It was clear the designer was trying to use the barrier reinforcement to really amp up the bass response, but at this level of audio this is not something you'd typically see. Surprisingly, the room sounded very lively and interesting as the rep informed us of the Master Set room configuration technique championed by Sumiko. It seems to focus on the phase alignment of the transducers with all else (reflections, colorations, nodes, modes and the like) treated as points of intrigue within the sound. It definitely had some merit, but during passages with high dynamics or a lot of bass the room quickly became overloaded, over excited, or just noisy. It is a concept I will take into consideration but not forsaking traditional room treatments, there is however such a thing as an over-treated room.



Blue Bell Room: Sony And Pass Labs
Noted from above as the death of CDs by the bloody hands of vinyl, this room featured some seemingly impressive gear from Sony however the room was consistently too loud to really get a take on what was going on sonically. The thing that held my attention here was some amazing music from Acoustic Sounds. The Sony media server seemed to have a huge suite of features, unfortunately I couldn't get my hands on an equipment list, but it seems Sony is continuing its journey back into the hi-fi world and the amplifier is designed by Nelson Pass of Pass Labs fame.



Iris Room: Daedalus, Modwright And WyWires
The Iris room featured the debut of the new concept 845 DS SET ($50,000/pr) monoblock amps from ModWright that produces 32 watts each of Class A single-ended triode power provided by one 6HV5, one 845, and a pair of 6AX4 tubes per channel. The room also featured the official transition of the Daedalus Poseidon to the V.2 edition ($16,450) featuring gorgeous baked flame maple (golden brown and delicious) and guitar grade dark walnut inlay on the baffle. The woodworker in me admired the joinery to put together maybe the only solid hardwood cabinet at the show. It was perhaps one of the only cabinets joined with dovetail construction. The sound was balanced for the most part and musical, but less engaging than I would hope. There were many different components within this system yet the music just didn't grip me. There might have been something that wasn't quite clicking, as have heard the old Poseidons sound better than this at past shows. Daedalus also debuted the new DiD Daedalus isolation Devices ($160 each), which is a cleaver little milled aluminum cup housing captive ball bearing and a block of hardwood which they said allows electronics to resist vibrations and interference from the rest of the audio system. Quite simple and effective. Everything in the system was connected via cables from WyWires.



Maroon Peak: Focal And VAC
Although the amp was probably overshadowed by the Focal Utopia Grande EM ($190,000 per pair), to me the real star of the room was the all new VAC Signature 200iQ (tentatively $14,000) KT88 based stereo/mono hybrid amps. There were two of these per channel running in bi-amplified mono into the Grande Utopias running four KT88s per amp providing 200 watts in mono mode. The 200iQ features separate switchable stereo and mono circuitry, meaning it is optimized for either use. It also features a discrete circuit that monitors and not only automatically adjusts its bias, but dynamically adjusts the bias based on current draw and temperature allowing the tubes to perform consistently even as the heat builds up and current demand changes.



Room 2009: The $1,600 Room With Russ Andrews And Kimber Kable
Although not the clear way to build a $1,600 system, this demo was convincing enough to make me reconsider. With less than $600 and some time on eBay they picked up a mid-1990s Arcam CD player (this counted as one of the four at RMAF) and an integrated amp with a pair of Focal 702 loudspeakers. From there, they added $1,072 worth of power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables from Kimber Kable and Russ Andrews (Russ Andrews RA-100, Kimber Kable Timbre, Kimber Kable Speaker Cable). This was a great demo as they switched between cheapy out of the box speaker cables and interconnects to Kimber and Russ Andrews' entry level line. It was truly pulling a veil off the sound and letting the music shine. I am not one to get duped so I looked for the secret amp change or volume knob or what have you, but I assure you it was just the cables. I am a believer.


Next stop is CanJam with portable audio, headphones and in-ear monitors...


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