RMAF 2009 Analog Report + Meet and Greet

I'm not sure what happened to the original thread started a few weeks ago but I'd like to set this up for an analog report on our experiences with analog related products at RMAF.

I also received an e-mail from Larry Howkins (Cello) today stating that there will be a meet and greet this year.

Meet and greet details:
Get together Saturday night @ 6 PM - Garcia's Restaurant. For you drinkers, Larry has worked out draft Beer and mix drinks at half price.

Looking forward to seeing you RMAF 2009 attendees at the get together.

You are free to post you attendance plans now and your analog experiences after the show.

I'm looking forward to meeting many of you at the show,
Hi Dre,

I am looking forward to meeting you too. I have heard so much about you. Don't worry, it's all good.
I'll be there. It should be fun.
See you all in Denver.
Haven't missed one yet! Look forward to chatting at Garcia's.
Below are some of the rooms I'm interested in visiting that have analog related items.

Jeff Catalono of High Water Sound will be showing the new Raven Black Knight and the new Raven .5 along with the rest of the Raven line.

Thom Mackris of Galibier Design will be showing the Gavia table with the Stelvio platter.

Peter Ledermann of Soundsmith, hopefully, will be showing the new Sussurro LOMI (low output moving iron) cartridge that I'm very interested in observing.

If past experience is any indication, the Artemis Labs room will be worth visiting as well for analog playback.

For ARC fans, there should be a Ref 2 phonostage somewhere at the show to listen to as well.

What are your analog related suggestions?

I'm on my way. See you in Denver.
Looking forward to the meet and greet.
RMAF 2009 is over and I'm still in Denver for a few more hours this Monday morning.

I'll say a few things now but will say more later.

First off the winner for friendliest analog representation and conversation goes to Thom Mackris of Galibier Design and Jeff Catalono of High Water Sound. Both guys are class acts and enjoy music immensely.

The meet and greet was a blast as well. Thanks to Larry Howkins (cello) for setting this up. My time was short because I couldn't pass up a live clarinet performance that started about 2 hours after the meet and greet. If I start naming names of all the guys I spoke with, I'll surely miss someone. Therefore I'll say it was a pleasure to put voices and faces to names.

Room wise I'll have very limited comments later but did see some interesting analog related items as well as a few well setup rooms.

Waking up this morning and thinking back on the past few days, has let me know that the annual event is a must do for music lovers and gear aficionados alike.

If you went to RMAF, what analog related items did you enjoy?

Best analog I saw at RMAF 2009 was in the two Tw-Acustic rooms. The Raven AC, the Raven One, and the new Black Knight were all pretty impressive.

Overall though I was a little disappointed in the gear presented at the show. Did like the new Wilson speaker, the Sasha and the new Vandersteen Model 7 (very pricey)...
was going, but could not do to other commitments. i must say, i reviewed the suppliers list, not that impressive. infact, now i am glad i did not go. it is a long and expensive treck from the east coast, better spending the money and time on new gear. maybe i am wrong, anyone out there impressed with the gear?
Were any of the following turntables or brands of turntables on display or on demo?:
Saskia, Spiral Groove, EAR, Transrotor, Caliburn, Grand Prix Monaco, direct-drive Teres, Thorens Reference, or any other true exotics. Any vintage tts in modified or upgraded form? Thanks.
Transrotor had the Dark Star and the Tourbillon (sp?)

Teres had the Certus 440 with a Soundsmith Sussuro cart in the Soundsmith room.

Bergmann had their 20k airbearing table/arm making nice music in the Ypsilon/Tidal room

A venerable Linn Sondek/Lyra Titan i combo played through an ARC front end and amp were making magic with the new Vandersteen 7s

for pure funky visuals, there was the Montegiro TT, which to me looked like a stack of zebra striped conga drums
There certainly is not much expression of elation or enthusiasm regarding the RMAF, either here or over at VA. I guess the vinyl gods were at rest, pretty much.
Lew, I did not hear as much outstanding vinyl as I would have liked at RMAF, but there was remarkably good sound on Bergmann and Hanss turntables.
I decided to go to Hershey this weekend instead, for the auto show and because I can drive there and back home on the same day and not have to stay in a hotel. Both hobbies tickle the same set of pleasure responses in me.
Soundsmiths vinyl playback was outstanding and to my ears the best of the show. Peter was very accommodating and genuine. Hearing vinyl spun on the musical surroundings setup was also a treat. There were many great vinyl setups.
Ok, RMAF 2009 is over and I’ve yet to comment on my observations. There were a few things that were of interest to me prior to the show that I was looking forward to observing: The Durand Talea tonearm, The Soundsmith Sussurro Cartridge, The TW Acustic Raven .5 and Black Knight turntable. Along with these things I knew about, I also spotted the Bergmann Sindre airbearing turntable and tonearm, The Artemis Labs’ Schroder designed tonearm and low output moving Iron cartridge similar to the Sussurro (both cartridges a collaboration between Soundsmith and Schroder).
First up, The Galibier (sounds like Guh-lih-bee-yay) room had the ALWAYS rock steady Gavia turntable with Stelvio platter designed by Thom Mackris hosting the new Durand Talea tonearm. This is a very unique Tonearm. A couple of its features are a very well CNC machined VTA tower and antiskate mechanism. The tonearm is a uni-pivot design. The arm itself is wood. The designer (Joel Durand) mentioned that the wood he chose (jatoba) was for its neutral properties based on listening and later some FEA (Finite Element Analysis). One of the most unique features of this arm is the azimuth adjustment. This adjustment can be done on-the-fly. Yes, I did Say on the fly. I witnessed several demonstrations of this adjustment during record playing. The sound produced was enjoyable with the ZYX UNIverse mounted on the Talea. The UNIverse with its higher compliance was at home in this arm and produced some of the better sound this cartridge is capable of creating.
Having read a blurb on the Soundsmith website, I was keenly interested in the Sussurro cartridge. According to Peter Ledermann, he was inspired by Frank Schroder to produce a low output moving iron cartridge. This appealed to me on many levels. One of the reasons was that I could use my low output moving coil phonostage which I really like. In the Soundsmith room, the cartridge was setup on two tables (A VPI and a Teres 440). I first listened to the Sussurro on the Teres 440. The 440 was a pre-production prototype. I did notice some horizontal and vertical eccentricity on the platter. The horizontal isn’t as important since the table is direct drive but the vertical eccentricity would be a problem. However as stated above, this was a preproduction prototype. The Sussuro, on the Teres 440 sounded pretty good. The phonostage was a tube based unit that was somewhat polite sounding with a bit of restraint on both macro and micro dynamics. Right after listening on the Teres, we asked Peter to play the same LP on the VPI. The Sussurro on the VPI was using one of the soundsmith (MCP2?) phonostages. Given the choice between the two phonostages, I would take the Soundsmith unit although neither phonostage would be my choice if I had the cartridge. Overall, there were no indications or sins of commission that I could tell on either setups. The Soundsmith room always has small bookshelf speakers so getting an idea of the large-scale weight and body of music is difficult but what could be heard is worth further review. I would love to listen to this cartridge in a well setup full range system or my own modest setup.
High Water sound was showing the TW Acustic turntables. Jeff Catalono, like Thom Mackris, is a pleasure to talk with. The two new models were the Raven .5 and the Black Night. The .5 is similar to the Raven One except it has a smaller base and platter. The arm pod is also different. The Black Knight turntable was being shown in the adjacent room. I thought the Black Knight would have taken up a larger footprint than the Raven AC3. I told Thomas that I was surprised at the clean look and size of the table in comparison to the AC3. Some of the features of this table are the three co-located motors, an AC charged DC battery powered motor controller, new platter construction, custom feet, and a new on-the-fly adjustable VTA arm pod for the tonearm with 0.05mm markings. I brought several LPs to play and ended up listening to about 3 or 4 of them in one sitting. The sound was enjoyable and easy to listen to while maintaining delicacy and dynamics (both micro and macro). As a joke, a friend asked Thomas to play a CD for us. The look on his face was priceless. The even funnier thing was the person that came into the room after I was finished playing my LPs actually wanted to play a CD!
The Bergmann Sindre airbearing turntable and Arm is an elegant design that is very appealing to the eye. It’s very much a form fits function look. The table and arm combination has great potential. I’d like to spend more time with this table to explore its capabilities.
The Artemis Labs room had two Schroder designed turntables on display. One of the turntables had the new Schroder designed tonearm to be produced by Artemis Labs along with the Schroder/Ledermann moving iron cartridge designed exclusively for the Artemis Labs turntable/arm/cartridge combo. Although the same (or similar) motor assembly, the body is different. Upon entering the room, I was graced with a Django tribute being played. The violinist sounded extremely familiar to me. After about a minute, I could restrain myself and blurted out (softly) Stephane Grappelli. After the song had ended, I went to check the album cover and sure enough it was he. Although the sound was less than full range what bandwidth it did capture was textural enough for me to pick out the playing of one of my favorite fiddlers on an unfamiliar system playing an unfamiliar song. I’d love to know what the name of that Django tribute album was. Frank?
I think I have more but don’t have my notes in from of me. Stay tuned…
Thanks for your thoughts Dre.
The LP you heard was Stephane Grappelli "Young Django"
Highly recommended.
Thanks Steve.

I have 5 Grappelli LPs. I'll have to add this one to the collection.


Great write up. If you like Grappelli and hot jazz I'd highly recommend Pearl Django (http://www.pearldjango.com/).
Thanks for sharing, Dre. If you don't have it already, pick up Hot Dawg. Grappelli, Grisman, and others.

Maybe next year. ;-)

Did anyone actually see and hear the Artemis/Schroeder turntable? Does anyone know the projected cost of this item? Thanks.
Mark, thanks for the tip on Pearl Django.

Dan, thanks for the Hot Dawg tip. The reason I keep going to RMAF is to meet the people and see what motivates the listeners and manufactures. It's really a blast and you won't regret going. I hope to see you next year.


I've listened to the SA-1 table for the past three years at RMAF. It's good. The MSRP is $7,800 USD.

The arm and cartridge were new this year. The cartridge is only available with the package do to the agreement with Soundsmith. I think the price for the cartridge is going to be around $2800 USD for the cartridge (someone correct me if I'm wrong). The price of the arm is unknown until the production costs are determined if I remember Frank and Sean's answer to my question.

Does that help?
Thanks, Dre. So I assume that the $7800 only gets you the turntable, without tonearm or cartridge. I am very surprised to learn that this product has been around for 3 years. I just heard about it in the last month or so. The design is very promising, but the price is a head-scratcher, to me anyway. They must use a fabulous bearing and platter. The plinth construction and materials might or might not be good choices. At about $3K to $4K or maybe even $5K sans tonearm, they would fly out the door.

That that is correct. The Artemis Labs web site lists the table at $7800 USD. I believe three years ago was the introduction of the table designed by Frank. This maybe part of the reason for the higher price. I'm not sure when the table was ready for production after that. You can read about it here: http://www.artemislabs.com/SA-1-Turntable.html
I'm not sure if that helps with the head scratching though.

I learned something more about the construction last night from a knowledgeable friend. Apparently the platter and bearing ARE pretty special; it's not just the Schroeder association that determines the cost. He also said that it is a great sounding table, FWIW. The fancy version with cocobola or zebrawood or some other endangered species of wood, that costs nearly $11,000 - now THAT one does seem overpriced.
Hi guys,
Just a couple of remarks regarding the Artemis SA-1 table. The wider based plinth version is more expensive due to the plinth material being three times more expensive(than the bamboo used on the small footprint deck) and more timeconsuming to finish. It is not made from an endangered species(and neither Cocobolo nor Zebrawood are anyway), but from a pressure treated palm plywood.
The motor on those tables costs us 250$. Try to find a table anywhere near that price that has a motor costing more than 50$...
The platter and bearing are manufactured to extremely tight tolerances(+/- 1/1000mm) in all dimensions by a company that usually works for NASA, Lockheed, etc...
Other features that you can't make out right away are the unique drive system, an eddy current brake acting on the platter, the possibility to correct for off center holed records and the armbase allowing for overhang changes.
There is a lot more, but this isn't going to become an ad.
Try it and hear if you like it :-)

And thanks to everyone who visited us at RMAF. Bring more of your own records next time!


Eddy current brake on the platter, Frank ... you been talkin' to Mark Kelly too, or is this one of those hundred monkey sort of things?

Thom @ Galibier
Sorry for my verbal (or written) excesses, Mr. Schroeder.
Thanks for the more detailed description. You guys ought to do more to get out the word(s) on this product, since it does seem special.
Hi Thom,
What's a "hundred monkey sort of thing"?
Never had the pleasure to talk to Mark Kelly, but did exchange a few mails about half a year ago. I was hoping he could make it to the RMAF, but as you know, he had to be elsewhere.


Hi Frank,

"Hundred Monkey" - a hundred monkeys pedaling bicycles attached to a turntable platter with no cogging ;-)

Actually, the "research" claims (largely discredited) that coincidental, spontaneous, quantum learning occurs in groups which separated by time and space.

You can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundredth-monkey_effect.

Yes, Mark is serving the greater good elsewhere at the moment.

Hi Thom,
Thanks for the link. But there is nothing paranormal about me telling colleagues like Chris Brady to try it after he introduced platters with a brass bottom section.
On the other hand, Micha Huber(Thales tonearm designer) implemented such a feature on the turntable he designed for a swedish company without prior exchange:
A very nice AND bright guy.


Thanks Frank,

Actually, I suspected that the real reason for the common thinking was even more direct - that since Mark Kelly hangs out on John Atwood's Clarsonus Blog, that a dialog ensued between the two of them at some point in time.

The hundredth monkey thing was a bit of American humor ... twisted though we might be on this side of the Pond ;-)

Sorry that it was obtuse to you. Sometimes, we forget the cross-cultural thing ...

Thom @ Galibierr
Well it's been 9 months since 2009 RMAF, I haven't acquired the "Young Dajango" LP yet. However, I have recently acquired Stephane Grappelli's "Homage To Dajango" double LP. Hot darn, I like it!

I'm beginning to start looking forward to this year’s show. It should be a blast as it has been the past three years for me. There may even be a few more big named analog designers making an appearance this year. I hope so as it increases awareness of this wonderful past and present time experience with vinyl.