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RMAF 2019 Show Report -- Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest 2019

RMAF 2019 Show Report Part 1
Show Report By Rick Becker



  I also had a nice chat with Darren Myers, the designer of their new Stellar Phono Preamp ($2500) that seemed to be doing quite well in the big demo rig. He is seen here laying vinyl on a VPI 40th Anniversary table that has been getting a lot of exposure at shows lately.




Valerio Cora from Acora Acoustics Corporation just east of Toronto, Canada, is a familiar face seen at the Canadian shows. They divided up the long Willow Lake room into two separate presentations. Room 2 had their SRB monitors ($15k) seen here their dedicated stand ($5k), all in high polish granite (2cm thick) and in Room 1 they had their SRC-2 floorstanding speaker ($36,500). The rack, holding a trio of Esoteric Audio components ($11k to $22k each) is their prototype design with granite shelves and modular brass spools that allow for variable shelf clearance ($7k w/four levels).



The larger speaker had more expensive Esoteric digital gear ($20k to $31k, each) and Audio Research Ref. 10 preamp ($33k) and 750SE monoblocks ($70k/pair). Cabling was courtesy of Cardas. Music here was very clear with virtually no cabinet resonance emitted. The smaller rig in particular was very elegant in its styling and simplicity. On Sunday Valerio may have had his SRC-1 speakers ($28k) with only a single mid-woofer on display. I'll try to get better photos if I see them at Toronto in October.



Ron and I were lured into the Red Rock 5 room by the fine sound of music coming from Alsyvox speakers driven by Omega Audio Concepts electronics and cables. There was a lot of synergy here as evidenced by the electronic crossover for the speakers being made by Omega. On the table were monoblocks on each end with a DAC and CD transport between them. The lower box in each instance was a separate power supply. The ensemble cost about 40k Euro. The small black box on the very left end was a DSD player. And you can see the remote for volume control. Gianpiero Peron gave me the scoop on the Omega gear from Treviso, Italy, and Daniele Coen from Valencia, Spain, was the head man from Alsyvox. He told me his wife was instrumental in the elegant design of the planar speakers.



The Botticelli model shown here ($89k, plus $$25k for the external crossover) uses a 5mm wide ribbon super tweeter, 25mm wide ribbon mid-tweeter and a ribbon/planar woofer. What was most interesting to me was the 94dB sensitivity and their claim of an easy load allowing virtually any power amp. My emotional music meter rose into goose bump territory as this was the finest panel speaker I've ever heard and easily the most beautiful I've ever seen. Hoping their entry level Tintoretto model might be a lot more affordable, I asked. (It's $69k.) Never mind that I cannot afford it, this room was easily one of the Best Rooms at the show.



Ron was captivated by an Omega banner displaying an extraordinary floorstanding Avant Garde CD player costing €65k. The banner was later removed because too many people were asking about it. The size, price and cost of shipping it precluded their bringing it to the show. Omega makes some very Avant Garde electronics and speakers, far beyond what we saw here.



Plummeting from the stratosphere to the Marketplace in Colorado Ballrooms B I encounter Victor from VK Music whom I know well from the Canadian shows. The little Sparkler Audio Nostalgia II AM / FM stereo tuner ($750), expensive, but cute, caught my eye. Behind it was the Elekit 6QA5 Single Tube Amp kit ($400) that comes with the tubes laying on top, not the 6V6 GT tubes that are installed, two watts per channel, for those who want to grow their own gear.



Having figured out the room layout in the Conference Center we took a look at downtown Denver, vaguely seen in the distance about a third of the way from the left border. If you look closely, you can see the tire tracks of the Hotel Tracker on the dirt road. We had done a little exploring, looking for an inexpensive (not cheap) parking space.



We then wandered over to the hotel side of the Gaylord complex to find the elevators that would take us up to the hotel room exhibitions. The place was huge. Yes, that's a small lake on the lower level. And no, I was not standing on a diving tower. We shot up to the 11th floor. The elevators were fast, smooth and never made us wait very long. I suspect the hotel was not very full, aside from people with the show. Next year will likely be a different story. 



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