Ah, late fall on the Front Range
of the Rockies! The last of the cottonwoods are putting on their final show
(the aspens long ago having given up their leaves), the first snowfall has
come and gone, the Broncos have yet to break our hearts and that sound in the
air is not tykes in their Trick-or-Treat garb, but the glorious ring of
high-end audio coming from the Denver DTC Marriott and the Rocky Mountain
AudioFest. For the third year in a row — and with each one better than the
previous — the Colorado Audio Society has put on what is fast becoming the
audio show for the public. The facility is perfectly matched to the size of
the event, the focus has turned ever more toward two-channel, and the turnout
from both manufacturers and consumers continues to grow. If you weren’t
here, you missed out.
Before starting my coverage let me preface it by noting that even though I
live just south of Denver, I had to work during part of the show and so was
only able to cover a portion of it. A quick scan through the show handbook and
I find just over 100 rooms displaying gear from approximately 275
manufacturers — so full coverage is more than any single person (excepting
only our own Steven R. Rochlin) could deliver. Hence, my selective coverage.
You may want to know why I chose the gear I did so I’ll tell you. My filter
was simple — I liked what I heard or saw. I did try to focus more on smaller
and newer firms, but you’ll see some of the old guard here and there as
well. With that out of the way, let’s walk around the show.
Editor Steven R. Rochlin comments: This is the first time in nearly a decade
i have missed an important show within the United States. Due to the many e-mails reaching my
in-box i feel the desire to explain. The day before the RMAF was the largest
single-day track event of the season! As many of you know, my love for road
course racing is deep-rooted. Preparing for this event included many new
tweaks to my setup plus five
hours of dyno tuning. The end result speaks for itself as my previous best lap
time at this venue was 1:30.3. During this event i was averaging 1:27.5, with
a long session hovering around 1:26.5 when the tires and tarmac really hooked
up. Please accept my apologies for missing the RMAF 2006 and look
forward to seeing everyone at CES or RMAF in 2007. For those interested,
in-car video with data acquisition
overlay is available by clicking
here. Note the sustained and ever-changing G-forces as displayed by
the traction circle. This is considered by many to be quite good for a two
decade old saloon car that was originally designed three decades ago!
First up, IDS. A speaker company headed by
former MacIntosh guy Roger Russell, IDS has a single product, the IDS25, named
for the 25 identical drivers mounted in a single, approximately 6 foot tall
sealed cabinet. It’s not cheap at $18,900, but, driven by MacIntosh gear (natch)
it delivered seamless, full-range sound.
Next, Sonicweld was making glorious sound with
their Pulserod. This $64000 speaker is bloody near impossible to photograph
without using multiple studio lights, but in person is just flat out lovely.
Right next door AudioKinesis wowed me with the $4000 JazzModule. The picture doesn’t convey the size very well, but at about
4 feet tall, the JazzModule looks imposing but the sound is nimble, full-range
and very impressive. Driven by the NTV amplifier from Richard Grey, they had
one of the very best sounding rooms at the show.
Analysis Audio was showing the impossible (at least for me) to photograph
$24,000 Amphitryon loudspeakers that were so positively reviewed here at Enjoy
the Music.com®.'s Superior
Audio magazine. The accompanying electronics from
Joule Electra – the LA-150 pre-amplifier ($5250) and VZN-160 Mk II amplifier
($22,000), made for a very sympathetic and musical pairing.
Vandersteen and Ayre also created beautifully musical and yet detailed
sound. The Vandy Quattro ($6995) and Ayre MXR
monoblock amplifiers ($8250 each) combined the best
of both company’s sound. BTW, Richard Vandersteen says keep a look out for
30th anniversary model 2 early next year.
Advanced Ribbon Technologies was showing their $6900 Metro. A ribbon paired to a 7-inch woofer, the sound was seamless,
lively and yet also relaxed. The partnering gear from Naim, no doubt, had much
to do with that, but it was clear to me that the loudspeakers were pulling
their weight as well.
Triode Corporation of Japan was purposely messing with our collective minds
by positioning the diminutive Micropure Kotaro loudspeaker ($3100) next to the
Acoustic Zen Adagio and then blowing the room away with the sound from that
little box. I know I was impressed by both the
sound the finish on the Kotaro. As for Triode, they were using their Tri
TRV-35SE ($1699) EL34 based integrated amplifier (insert RMAF09.jpg) on the
Kotaro and the sound was just about perfect.
Just like me, PS Audio is Colorado based but that’s not the reason they were
getting such enjoyable sound in their room. The $2195 Power Plant Premier
assured them of clean power in a show setting. The
rest of the electronics — an old Digital Link 3 DAC, Trio C100 amplifier and
others, gave a very warm, detail and relaxing sound.
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