Report from Rocky Mountain AudioFest

First day at fest...Heard some pretty good sound...speakers from PSB (new Symphony line), Tyler Audio, Acoustic Zen (new Crescendo is really good), Wilson Benesch were most memorable. Also appreciated chatting with reps from Audio Research, Acoustic Zen, PSB...and members of audio press (Jonathan Scull). BUT, overall, sound is WAY too loud for anyone who cares about his hearing or evaluating sound. And, there was a surprising amount of truly bad sound. Also, it seems like the only music being demo'd was percussion tracks and cuts by any number of women with an acoustic guitar. At the end of the day, my ears hurt and I had a headache and reaffirmed my feeling that the ONLY way to evaluate equipment is in my home...Maybe my impressions will be more favorable after a cocktail and some aspirin. Cheers to all!
I thought the Wilson Maxx sounded spacious and real. Does anybody find the Sophia 2 and Watt Puppy 8 boxed in?

I was surprised that I liked the sound of the Sophia 2, as I'd heard it before at a shop and did not like it at all in that setup. The Maxx2 did not grab me, though I don't recall whether it was sounding "boxed-in". It was one of those rooms that I did not spend much time in. My objection to a whole lot of the rooms is that they sounded overdamped...somewhat muted and restrained. This almost always was in systems using the short wall of the room, for some reason. Mike Sanders told me that there room started out being much to bright and lively and that they had to work to tame that. They were in one of the larger rooms which were in the minority. Two of the rooms I liked best, MBL and Sanders/Innersound, seemed to use little or no room treatment at all. The Sanders/Innersound system used very narrow speaker placement straddling one of the room corners. His speakers couldn't have been more than 4-5 feet apart yet they were imaging monsters frequently rendering images well beyond the outer edges of the speakers. The Proclaim also used a corner-straddling setup, as did a few others.

Yes, there was too much to hear and not enough time, I'd agree. A few other good rooms I'm reminded of by other's posts...and I'm sure I'm still leaving some others out:

Audiokinesis and Apogee both had me engaged and sitting more than just a minute and tapping my toes. Ralph Karsden (Atmasphere) was telling us about a new single-driver speaker from a Japanese manufacturer that had an active electromagnetic (hope I'm getting that right), ultra-efficient driver. We tried, but never found the room in the tower. Did anyone hear those speakers and or can recall the name? Ralph could not recall the name, but thought it was on the 10th floor. He seemed very impressed by the design as he'd been thinking of doing the same thing himself.

The impressions here are a good illustration of how subjective all this stuff really is. A room that may have one person completely engaged may send another turning tail for the next room. On more than one occasion I went into a room where someone was leaving commenting how great the room sounded, yet when I went in what I heard there did not thrill me at all.

Regarding the 'too loud' and 'bad sound' problems at the show, here's my take. Most speaker manufacturers, it seems, wanted to bring their flagship model. These are typically large. As in 'far too large for a tiny hotel room.' In general, I found the rooms that sounded really good were using speakers that were at least reasonably suited to the room size.

Standouts for me were Selah Audio, North Creek / Advanced Ribbon Technologies, Analysis Audio, and GamuT. The first two represented high value; the second two were higher performing, but far, FAR more expensive.

Underwhelmed by the MBL / Kharma room and the Acapella / Einstein room. Both had quite good sound, but when you consider the price, I was unimpressed. And both setups were in suitably large rooms and well-treated, leaving little room for the 'show conditions are difficult' defense.

Had fun at the Nordost cable demo, where different cables were swapped out to demonstrate the improvements as you move up in their line. As I've said before, any non-believers are deaf or lying. Whether $16,000 is best spent on a 1m set of interconnects or 1,000 CDs is an entirely different issue =)

My findings only, of course.....
Hey, anyone notice the two blind guys bumping around the hotel? One of them was me, the other was our friend Guidocorona. I was shocked by all the Wilson speakers in that I liked them a lot and had never before liked any I've heard at dealers. The Sophias, I thought, sounded great in the too-small Audio Research room. The Maxx and WP8s were nothing short of spectacular, IMHO.
Favorites for me were the Thiel 3.7s driven by Simaudio electronics and the two Soundings rooms with Vienna Acoustics speakers well setup. The Ask-the-Editors forum with the TAS crew was also fun. It was nice to meet them as nice, normal, if such can be said about audiophiles, guys.
Pscialli - I did notice one blind gentleman on Sunday, although I don't know who it was.

I too found the Wilsons to sound exceptional. Never really liked them much before, but the Maxx and Sophias were very impressive.
Did anyone hear Nick Doshi ALAAP preamp, presented by Paragon Audio, with ATC speakers and Once Analog TT?
I'd be curious to hear opinions?
Unfortunately, I couldn't attend myself.