Best sound at RMAF

Room #535 by a long shot. Vyger TT, AirTight PC-1 Cart, Kharma speakers, Tenor Audio Amp.
Room #9025 E.A.R. USA All EAR but the 2 Dynavector XV-1S M/S.& cables.

Most disappointing. Most of the rooms.

The Fry Street Quartet that was playing was the ear mark for all rooms and many fell short. Passing by them playing was a relief from the different gear being played. I ran out of some rooms. The greatest speaker on the planet.......... not.

It was the simple systems that were musical that was worth hanging around and spending time with. Harbeth for example.

Big money systems with no TT, I don't get that.

I own all Audio Note and I was let down by the level 2 presentation as my system is much better. Not that it was bad but AN can get best sound at the show with a level 5 system.

All in all it was worth going to.

Thanks to Audiogon, Darrin of Audio Limits, Brian of Aaudio Imports and Peter Q from Audio Note I can say I have a system that sounds so much better than what I heard at the show. That my friends is what it is all about.
So happy I am that I didn't have to spend two, three times the money to have what I have. Audiogon rules!!
Note I can say I have a system that sounds so much better than what I heard at the show.

Wow that is disrespectful to the audio industry.

Surely there were many manufacturers and dealers that made an effort to go there and must have had stuff worth hearing. I wish I could have gone. Are you serious - was it really that bad or is your system so good?
Having a systems that is 100% Audio Note are you really open to other ideas of what sounds good ??
I don't think any disrespect was intended, Shadorne. At shows I have been to,
few systems have performed close to their potential. The great system in a well-
set-up room is the exception, unfortunately. In some places the venue is a
difficult one, with tiny, low-ceilinged, boxy rooms.

I have worked with exhibitors who got it right, or pretty close. They paid a lot of
attention to positioning and acoustic treatment, and they arrived an extra day
ahead of time to get ready.

These systems ended up sounding nice, but still, getting home to my own
listening room was a pleasure. If you haven't visited a show, or tried to set up a
system at one, you have little idea how much of a challenge it can be.

Read my post again very slowly and notice what room I liked the most. Any AN in there?

#2 EAR

#3 Harbeth and it was run with SS. I am a SET amp lover.

All three were better than the AN room.
Glory- that Is what Its all about If one Is happy with ones system. I am also very happy with mine at present. Why was It worth going If all the rooms as you say were "Most disappointing. Most of the rooms." What were you expecting to hear that you didn't?But I also agree It was well worth going and a must go to event.
I was most perplexed (lol) when I went Into a room to hear a speakers with my cd's that I had taken to the show and the chap told me couldn't! well he was a turntable maker!, so I guess he had a point. I perhaps should've noticed that there was no cd player with the rest of the gear In the room. But you can get a little goggled eyed with all the stuff In each room (to my defence your honor).
Tobias- room sizes that we are for the most part are blessed with here In the US are not quite the norm In other parts of the world ie Europe. So the hotel room sizes are what most especially Brits can expect to listen In. I know friends that have gear In rooms that are not much bigger than 10' x 10' that are sitting rooms also not just hi-fi gear. A bit of a tight squeeze methinks.
I thought that there were quite a few rooms that sounded really good. My possible favs were the Apogee room and the Maxx'2, to name but only 2.
I actually did read the post....
This is what I read...

"I own all Audio Note"
"Most disappointing. Most of the rooms."

The one room you loved was "Room #535 by a long shot".

There is absolutely nothing wrong with you having narrow tastes. To each his own.
But how can the rest of us tell if what was good or not good at RMAF based on narrow taste??

I thought it was worth going because I got a FF,split and roomed with a AN nut such as myself, met Darrin of Audio Limits and Brian of Aaudio Imports who I had only talked to by phone and communicated by E-mails. These fellow audiophiles have beem such a help for me in putting together a system that to me sounds right. It is very strange to meet for the first time one who you only have met by phone or E-mail.

Met and talked to some Positive Feedback reviewers and compared notes.

I did not leave the show wanting. I left knowing that with a lot of help from these friends I have built a very good sounding system. No disrespect to any manufacturer or any fellow audiophile intended.
I thought best in show was the Mbl room(2030), most dissappointing was the Mark Levinson/Wilson Room(2013).
Shows are not for making buying decisions based on sound quality, doesn't anyone get that? The manufacturers and exhibitors toil to set up in unfamiliar and almost always sub-optimal rooms. Often, unable to bring complete systems or sharing exhibitor costs, they end up matching their gear with other pieces with which they do not have synergy. The rooms are packed with a varying amount of sound absorptive bodies, often walking around. Occasionally talking. The music that is played is often unfamiliar and also strange. The time alotted to optimize room acoustics is very limited. Hell, it takes me months to get a new pair of speakers in the right place. So, if the sound is not optimal, or not as good as it is one's home, that is not in the least bit surprising. There is, after all, no substitute for an in-home demo. This is not to denigrate the exhibitors who work so hard to get things right; it is simply how things generally work out and that seems lost on the buying public.
I enjoyed room 509, Amber Wave tube amp and the Intuitive Design speakers. Hard to believe those small 2 way Summits filled the room with such authority, bass was amazing and the speakers just gripped every note. Those Monos sure threw off some heat, dont know how much the amps were responsible but I sure loved those Summits. The ATC room with the Doshi preamp & Once analogue turntable I found to be very poor. Have never auditioned ATC before and maybe something was wrong there but I heard the Beatle's 1 Album and it left me cold. These are just 2 standouts among many, not claiming either was best or worst.
AN owners are in a special club and they seem to say the same thing: there is Audio Note and the others, more like saying that there is my way and the wrong way.
Bowbow & Acadie,

I gave three non AN rooms that I thought were better than the AN room. How is that narrow thinking? I was disappointed in the AN room as it was a level 2 on the AN scale and I was hoping for better.

Sorry to say I thought most of the rooms, but not all, were disappointing, for one reason or another. One reason was, IMHO, a TT is a must in a high end audio show. There were a lot of rooms without TT's. It is like a baseball player going to a game without either a glove or a bat.

Other members can chime in and pick the best sound at the show.
#1 MBL
#2 Daedalus / Art Audio
#3 Proclaim / Red Rock

I didn't get to hear all the rooms, dismissed others for reasons that didn't necessarily have to do with the quality of the system, and as Viridian points out, there are many significant compromises that are faced by the exhibitors. Still, it's fun to hear what floats other's boats in the same context. I'm normally a SET / Horn guy myself, but most of my favorite rooms were SS or hybrid...I even really liked the BelCanto class D with the Pioneer speakers. I did like Quicksilver's SET combination, which is very close to my own system as it was configured at the show. Not many other SET systems, nor any of the really exotic mercury vapor rectified sauna-maker tube-amp rooms that caught my fancy. There's another RMAF thread here with other impressions of the show.

This was my first RMAF, and I am already looking forward to next year. I agree that show conditions limit what the equipment is truly capable of, but don't let that stop you from going. I had a blast! I was drawn more toward rooms that had real world equipment that might be affordable for me. I really liked the Dream Maker and Jazz Modules speakers in the AudioKinesis room. Duke is a super guy to talk to. I also liked the new Serac TT with Artisan arm in the Galibier room. At $4000 it is a great buy. I thought the sound came very close to the more expensive Gavia with Tri-Planar arm. There was some great music for sale too. I bought all 3 of the LP's that Bernie Grundman was selling at his Straight Ahead Records booth. They sound fantastic. I also enjoyed the music in the M-A Records room. The Seminar given by Roy Gregory on Analog Setup was very interesting and a real eye opener. I enjoyed Bernie Grundman's talk on mastering too. I wish I could have met Mehran from Sorasound, but he could not make it due to an emergency. Theree were many more highlights, but I have taken up enough space.
I must've of completely got my ears In a mess with the MBL room, they were playing some Instrumental track and It was way way to bright and harsh sounding for me, I did go on friday afternoon, so maybe you guys that have raved about It went later than that?, so what changed between my listening and yours?hmmmmm. I think I am In a class of one on that one.
Hey Marco, I am predominantly a horn lover also, but prefer S/S to tube amplification. This all goes to show that It is different strokes for different folks. I wouldn't swap my mere lil 'ol Oris 150 speakers for the Acapella Trilons!
Thought I’d take some time to comment on the RMAF some, my impression of some of the systems seem to correlate (for the most part) with posts/blogs I’ve read about on other sites. So.. in no particular order here we go:

I wanted to spend some time really giving the Cary stuff a good listen, but like many rooms the exhibitors chose to talk loudly and socialize with people, it made it impossible to relax and enjoy the music. If I spent a bunch of money hauling gear to a show and several days promoting my company I would probably step into the hallway to chat. I’d also play interesting music, I wandered into some rooms simply because they weren’t playing audiophile dreck. I’m sort of in the market for a new CD player so I did pay attention to a variety of different digital front ends, my short list is coming together.

Laufer Teknik speakers were the talk of the show, they do so many things right these guys are bound to be successful. The LT’s are panels, however they are neither electrostatic nor ribbon speakers. They have four 3” drivers on the back of the speakers that drive a single flat panel. The panel is made of a sheet of mylar, a honeycomb structure, then a second sheet of mylar. The drivers excite the mylar membranes and produce impressive sound, there really wasn’t much missing except maybe the very lowest octaves, a subwoofer may be required. Claimed to be 93db but 2.8 ohms impedance.. they were driven by a 300 watt amplifier. No dealer network just yet, they are selling direct for $6995 and several orders were placed while I was there. Keep your eye and ears open for Laufer Teknik.

Another equally surprising set up was a complete Bel Canto system driving Pioneer TAD S-1EX speakers. Yes, Pioneer! The sound was very detailed and coherent, I would wax eloquently about the system but I didn’t audition it for too long, the music wasn’t to my taste and they would not play music the audience brought along. Regardless, this system s generally accepted as top ten at the show and well worth seeking out. Who woulda thunk..Pioneer?? $7000 for a pair of ‘em, pretty crowded price point these days.

I had a great time at the Art Audio room, listening to a wide variety of music for quite some time with a very musically inclined and sociable lady. They were using a Bluenote Koala CDP. On Saturday they had the 845 mono amps driving the larger Dadaelus speakers. The sound was very articulate with excellent center fill; listening to Steely Dan, Blue Rodeo, and Red Hot Chili Peppers was a lot of fun, my feet started cramping up from the toe-tappin’ going on. The system did get congested when I threw some complex rock music at ‘em (Marillion Live) but all in all, a very musically satisfying system.

I wandered into a room and lo & behold, a pair of Apogee Duetta Signatures were set up, the rest of the gear was Audio Research. I still kick myself for selling mine many years ago, man I love the sound of these speakers. The pair in use were re-built with Graz’s (Australia) ribbons, they look a bit different as the ribbons are cut using CNC machines rather than the old Apogee technique of the good old razor blade. The sound was exceptional, I went back to the room several times to revel in the incredible midrange. Graz is selling his own models now, the equivalent to the Duetta Sigs sell for $21,000. That’s not a typo.

Some fellow ‘phools insisted I go hear the Amber Wave/Intuitive Design Summit room. The Amber Wave tube amps have some of the biggest damn tubes I’ve ever seen/heard, probably 18” high and the heat coming off the amps was like sunbathing in Phoenix in July. The sound was excellent (airy and holographic come to mind) but I couldn’t live with the heat thrown off by the amps, nor can I afford $40,000 for a pair of the Amber Wave amps.

Saw Gilbert Yeung and dropped in on his Blue Circle room for a bit, our favourite mad scientist is building speakers now too! I suspected they would be voiced similar to the electrostats he has always loved, and for the most part this may be an accurate assessment. They look like most other box speakers but do seem to be more panel-like in sound. I found the sound a bit too rolled off, Gilbert sez someone else found them a bit bright so he toed them in to alleviate the perception, probably over-did it some. Lacking in the lowest octave Gilbert sez that’s easy enough to fix and will be addressed in the production version. I remain intrigued with Blue Circle. are offering up some pretty good products (imported from China, natch) at very compelling prices. Anyone looking for really good bang-for-the-buck ought to check out their website.

So Hack, did you take the time to give Audio Note a fair listen? Yes, I did. I spent about 45 minutes in the AN room, for the most part alone with the AN gent and listened to the system extensively. AN brought a Level Two system to the show that included a 10 wpc tube integrated, their turntable, transport, DAC, cables, speakers. We listened to a wide variety of music, very gracious and accommodating hosts. The verdict: I asked why the system couldn’t get the lower midrange right, it seemed to be missing something at 150hz-200hz. AN told me It could be one of two things: the tube integrated has a so-so preamp section (if they set up some of their separates evidently I’d have a different opinion), and, the room was set up the day before and clearly some more tweaking/experimentation was in order to bring it up to snuff. My impressions at the end of the session: the AN folks are really nice to hang with and really enjoy music, they probably should have brought a more ambitious system to the show.

I’m not sure which room/system I’d give best of show kudos to, sort of a two-way tie:

BAT electronics and the Wilson MAXX system was absolutely uncanny, the sound was detailed yet had PRAT in spades. It’s fair to point out I’m a BAT owner and fan, however I have never liked Wilson speakers and for whatever reason this combo rated as one of the very best at the show. Geoff Poor from BAT was acting as DJ and before he played a cut would provide fascinating background on each piece of music. He gladly took requests and played music attendees brought along too. Yes this system is expensive but a mere drop in the bucket compared to…

Kharma with MBL electronics and Vyger analog front end. The system:

Kharma Midi Exquisite speakers: $80,000
Kharma Enigma Cables: $6,000 per meter
V.Y.G.E.R Indian Signature Turntable with Carbon Arm $42,000
LAMM PL2 Deluxe Phono Stage $7,300
Air Tight PC1 Phono Cartridge $5,500
MBL 6010D Linestage Preamp $20,000
MBL 9011 Mono Amps $76,000
MBL 1621a Transport $21,850
MBL 1611 DAC $22,300
Finite Elemente Pagode Signature rack $2,095

What did it sound like? I can’t even begin to describe the system but suffice to say it’s a good value. I’m not kidding.
This was my second year and here are my picks. I refuse to list a speaker that doesn't have adequate bass response to be realistic to what's recorded.
1. Acapella Triolons
2 Scaena line array plus subs
3 Thiel 3.7
4 Sunny Cables horn speakers
5 Mark & Daniel Aragon
I figured the first two would be great but the Thiel was the big shocker for me. Probably the best top to bottom balance and imaging of all. I went back 3 times and every time walked out stunned.
As for Mark&Daniel, I think their Heil type air motion driver is awesome. The upper notes on a piano sound so real. Can't wait to hear their two biggest ones (Apollo 1&2) with the largest version of the AMT. Tough to integrate with the woofers though.
I heard lots of great speakers as far as resolution and clarity but most just don't have any foundation. They sound great until you hear the same cut on a speaker that has the lower freq. done well.
I would say the TAD/Bel Canto room for overall realistic performance. The smaller rooms physically couldn't compete because of the limitations of the room. With that being said, however, I had to wonder why the guys with the smaller rooms didn't do more to make them sound better. For instance, every room had a mirror attached to the wall on the right side (as you were facing the speakers) which could not be taken down. A number of rooms had covered that mirror to avoid the earlier reflection it would cause but MANY more just left it uncovered - should be no surprise those rooms sounded bright. Other rooms had glass patio doors that weren't covered, listening chairs sitting 3-4 feet from the speakers, speakers sitting a couple inches from the side or front walls, etc. Its little things like that which drive me crazy. They are exhibiting equipment that costs tens of thousands of dollars but they won't take the time to demo it correctly! Anyway, I would say the new BlueCircle speakers were very good and Jim Salk's HT3s were very impressive as well. I mostly enjoy talking to the various "characters" in the hi-fi industry since the actual listening is so compromised.
As, on Audioasylum, I am odd man out. I spent some time in the Pioneer room but only got to hear the TADs, rather than the much better sounding, SX-1s, which were not even at the show. To my ears the TADs always sound slow and wooden.

I thought the MBLs sounded just okay as usual, especially as I remember when they were unlistenable a few years ago. I walked in and out of the Wilson suite. The Cogent suite showed the beautiful compression drivers again, but had no bass nor any impact, just liveless.

As usual there was little to listen to until Sunday as nearly everything was brand new on Thursday at earliest. I continually vow to attend only the last day of shows, but never do it.

Before Sunday only the Grand Veena suite sounded any good. On Sunday, the Feastrex suite, the LSA suite, and the Acapella suite sounded quite good--quite a range of prices.
I had to go to a wedding this year and wasn't able to attend. However, I'm surprised that no one liked the Soundings/Sumiko suite. I was mightily impressed in years past by good gear, properly setup. Were they there?

I've mentioned on a few different threads how much I liked the two rooms sponsored by Soundings. In fact, I've now done some business with them and am expecting a new pair of VA Strauss speakers to come rumbling up my driveway any day now. For all the bad sound blamed on the crappy hotel rooms, Soundings really made the most of what there was. The room with Primare electronics and the VA Beethovan Baby Grands was shockingly impressive for such a relatively modest system. The other room, featuring VA Mahlers and Rowland electronics was even more acoustically stunning. Not only did I get to meet and briefly speak to Jeff Rowland himself, but all the staff from Soundings and Sumiko were extremely knowledgeable and cheerful; despite, being stuck in hot demo rooms for several days.