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RMAF 2017 Show Report (Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest 2017)
RMAF 2017 Show Report
Bob Carver, Joseph Audio, Doshi Audio, Von Schweikert Audio, Audionet, And GTT Audio Video.
Show Report By Kemper Holt


Bob Carver
Sporting a Captain's hat, Bob Carver was at his room entertaining everyone and displaying a mostly Carver ensemble. The Amazing Line Source speakers, ($18,500/pr) including a SubRosa subwoofer, grab your immediate attention running floor to ceiling but they are so skinny that you quickly almost forget about them as they disappear (both aurally and visually) in a few minutes. A pair of Carver Model 350 tube monoblocks ($9,500/pr) drove the speakers most of the time, but I did stop by when the new smaller stereo amp was employed. Called the Crimson 75 ($2,500), the new amp is 75 Watts/ch and drove the Amazings to surprising levels. The crew used a Mytek Brooklyn II DAC ($1,995) and a laptop using Roon to stream music. One feature of the amplifiers has to be mentioned, the tubes run at almost room temperature as I proved to myself by touching them without issue, and because of that come with a lifetime free replacement policy, nice touch Bob.

I visited Bob's room many times and learned when a speaker has user adjustments it's a worthwhile feature, but it can be tweaked too much. The crossover has three knobs to adjust the bass, midrange, and treble regions so you can tune the system to a room. Once when I ducked in the highs were too much, sounding a little etched with an emphasized sibilance. Every other time the system was superb, the soundstage was wider and deeper than the room, the speakers disappeared completely, great transparency with oodles of detail, huge dynamic swings, and pressurizing low bass. Frank Sinatra was perfectly focused and the correct height, his voice strikingly familiar, and the big band's dynamics were awesome. I played "Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow" from Dave Grusin's Mountain Dance CD and heard the most realistic tambourine reproduction at the show. I wish Bob had more dealers so the Amazing Line Source speakers could be heard more easily by a larger number of music lovers, I loved stopping by the Carver room to hear what was playing.



Joseph Audio And Doshi Audio
This room was far down the hall and a little isolated, but you missed a great sounding room if you didn't go all the way down to seek it out. Jeff Joseph and Nick Doshi put together a superb system that reached greater heights when a re-built Studer tape deck was used including some wonderful tapes from Leslie Brooks. Jeff had a beautiful pair of Pearl 3 speakers ($31,500/pr) in a stunning white finish looking very modern. Nick supplied a Doshi Line Stage ($16,995), Doshi Phono Stage ($16,995), Doshi Monoblocks ($34,995/pr), and the Doshi Tape Playback Preamplifier (16,995). Playback Designs did the D/A chores.

In this big room the system displayed a big soundstage, sensational midrange tone and richness, and pressurizing deep bass. String tone was exceptional, and the orchestra was nicely imaged across a wide and deep stage. I was going to leave when Leslie said the tape deck would be ready in two minutes, boy am I glad I waited. Frank Sinatra was in the room singing "Try a Little Tenderness" and the band sounded live. The strings, woodwinds, brass and drum kit had that dynamic range excitement that fools you into thinking the band is in the room. George Benson also gave me a sense of being live, small vocal inflections, his voice focused starting five feet behind the Pearl 3s, pouring forth emotion, with loud peaks missing any glare or edge. To top it off, I heard the tape of the Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore East, I was transported back to 1970 and rocked out with Gregg and Duane, I forgot all about reviewing and just got lost in the music. A great sounding room that was elevated to top shelf when playing R2R tapes, nice job guys!



Von Schweikert Audio, Audionet, And GTT Audio Video
This was the first time I was able to experience Audionet gear not attached to YG speakers, and it only fortified my appreciation for the brand. Hosting the room were Damon Von Schweikert and Leif Swanson from VSA, and Bill Parish of GTT Audio Video, a veteran trio of industry leaders. The attention grabbers at the front of the room were Von Schweikert VR-55 Aktive loudspeakers ($60,000/pr) and a pair of Audionet MAX monoblock amplifiers ($30,500/pr). Audionet also supplied the PRE G2 line stage ($23,350) and a PAM G2 with EPX phono stage ($20,200). To spin records a beautiful Kronos Pro turntable ($38,000) held a Andre Theriault Black Beauty tonearm ($8,500) sporting a ZYX Audio Ultimate 4D cartridge ($4,400). An Aurender N10 server dealt out files to a Lampizator Golden Gate DAC ($20,000). MasterBuilt Audio cables connected it all, incorporating a mix of Ultra and Signature lines. The secret sauce to even out the bass response throughout the room is a couple of VSA Shockwave V12 subwoofers ($11,500 each) run out of phase to help with bass nodes.

The story here is synergy, the Aktive VR-55s and Audionet turned out to be a perfect match. Ben Webster's Gentle Ben was playing and I found a wide and deep soundstage with a real 3D quality, bowl you over dynamic swings, good instrument separation, and the ability to hear low level subtle information easily while other instruments were playing loud. The piano was particularly real sounding, percussive at times yet portraying subtle micro-dynamics when the music called for finesse. Bass was tight without overhang, went very deep, drum kits displayed quick transients and the ability to pressurize the room, and upright bass plucks made me feel like I was in a small club listening live.

I'll cover their smaller room next time.



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