I hope everyone who is attending RMAF today has a great time!
Parking is in a marked side lot. Don’t park in front of building materials. Gates will be open when you leave so parking will be free!
I attended all day Friday and half a day Saturday. This was my first RMAF. I have attended the last three AXPONAs in Chicago. I stayed at the venue hotel. Here are my impressions. The facilities were very nice but registration was a long hike from the rest of the action. And registration didn't open Friday until 30 minutes before the show was scheduled to begin. This produced a very long line of folks, many of whom were pre-registered to attend. The RMAF staff didn't show up at the registration table until 9:15am and didn't have an initial plan to have two lines: one for pre-registered folks and one who needed to buy tickets. Basically, pretty unorganized.Classic Album Sundays--This is a great idea! The room was the Jeff Rowland/Grand Prix Monaco TT/Vivid Kaya 90 set up. Great sound coming from this room IMO.Goebel/CH Precision/Nordost/Kronos--This room was over the top. I went both days. For whatever reason (insert your theories here), it sounded more cohesive bottom to top on day two. Day 1 the bass seemed a bit untamed.Joseph Audio/Doshi/Cardas--Let's face it, Jeff Joseph can make his speakers sound really good in any room. This is the first time I have seen Jeff significantly toe in Pearl 3s, but he had them in a small room. These Pearl 3s had the Graphene 2 in them and I believe the new name will be Pearl 20.20s. It appears the retail price is going to be around $36,900 or so. Jeff says he hasn't determined how much it will cost for current Pearl 3 owners to upgrade. (Full disclosure--I own Pearl 3s.)YG Acoustics/VTL/Nordost--This room had the Sonja 2.2 in it. Friday it sounded mediocre in my opinion. Saturday it sounded much better.University of Colorado Denver room--Nothing for sale in this room, just a demonstration that was worth the time. Jeff Merkel, a professor at UofC, was using a two channel signal sent to a ring of 16 speakers (I think) equidistantly spaced apart with 8 speakers at a lower level (I'm guessing 4-5 feet or so) and 8 more speakers on the same height pole but another 4-5 feet above them. The listening positions were placed in a ring facing towards the speakers. He then played a track and would move the lead instrument (in the track I heard, a cello) around the speakers in the circle so that the cello moved completely round the listening position. Hopefully folks made their way into this room. Smart people experimenting with musical presentation gives this hobby its lifeblood IMO.Finally, the weirdest room award goes to Wilson Audio. They debuted a static Chronosonic XVX right next to a static WAMM Chronomaster. The Chronomaster retails at $685,000 or so. The Chronosonic XVX is set to retail for $325K or so. So, picture two enormous speakers on static display in a small room off to your left with a professional photographer taking pictures and Daryl Wilson all dressed up, looking good smiling between them. There is champagne for all. In the listening room right beside all this there is a pair of Wilson Sasha DAWs with a pair of Wilson's smaller passive subwoofers playing digital files. One million dollars worth of static display with pictures and the bubbly while a $38K pair of speakers in a small crammed room sounded, well...pedestrian as it provided the soundtrack to the static display. BTW I have heard those DAWs sound very good at Audio Concepts being driven by Audio Research M160s with Transparent Cables, and AR's Ref 10 pre-amp. So it wasn't that the DAWs can't deliver. It just appeared more energy had been put into the unveiling of something we couldn't hear and little thought was put into what we were actually hearing.
my impressions were very similar to yours! I very much enjoyed Joseph Audio, as I always do, and Jeff Rowland as well. Pretty much the same experience at Wilson Audio! Thanks for al the details you added :-)
After driving for an hour and a half, I was not about to stand in that line for what looked like it was going to be 2 hours (and miss 25% of my show). That line was absolutely ridiculous. I went back and paid when no one was in line at noon. There was no excuse for that line. Super disorganized and slow and the workers weren’t expediting in a manner which reflected 500 (?) people in line. There were like 6 people working at a snails pace...
Apart from that, the Hotel / convention center are beautiful. I walked around the grounds after the show and before afterhours and the hotel is really pretty.
As for the show, Joseph Audio, Jeff Rowland and and Revel were the ones I loved! I may go back tomorrow now that I’m thinking about it...
are you a dallas guy? I’m always interested to meet more passionate audio fans locally. I have always been into high end as my father owned a production studio when I was young but I’ve only been building out my systems for about three years. Audio Concepts has been very helpful. My wife and I own a restaurant in university Park, across the street from SMU called “New York Sub” we’ve owned it for a little over three years. We took an old concept of a New York style deli and gave it a facelift, but now we buy all our meats from local independent ranchers and roast/smoke/cure in house. We make everything from the pickles to the sauce right in the shop and the neighborhood has responded very well (Not Wilson Audio well, but I can dream...) Anyway, you should come check it out and introduce yourself, I’ll be working slicer and my wife works cash... I’m the only guy there and she’s the pregnant 🤰 lady! I’d love to hear your system and show off mine.
I thought it was a very nice place to have the RMAF. I hope they have it there next year.
I only had a few hours before closing on Friday. A few of the things I heard that I really was happy with the way they sounded was, Tekton Moabs, Paradigm Persona 3F, Vandersteen Quints. Some very appealing things about each one yet in their own way.Then I tell myself things never sound the same at home as they do somewhere else. Some things sound much better and some not as good. It was a fun 3 hours for a 65 yr old guy.
Z reviews room was great! The whole Z review crew were there and just as nice, personable, and fun to be around as his you tube channel suggests.
The room was set-up fantastically. Zios would quickly and easily, play any music you requested on any speakers you wanted to hear.
His room was spot on. The set-up in the room must have been ridiculously complex. He’ll of course say otherwise, but thats the kind or response that you get when you ask someone who’s knowledgeable about something they are passionate about.
I really can’t say enough kind words about my experience in his room. He’s more of a perfectionist and audiophile than his channel will lead you to believe!
I heard the Audio Solutions Virtuoso M speakers paired with Vitus amplification gear. The source was the top of the line UHA reel to reel. I thought they sounded pretty good overall and very good with rock material. The bass was not dialed in, but candidly, that is true on almost all the hotel room or conference room set-ups. The star of that room was the UHA reel to reel IMO. I'm fairly certain that it will make anything downstream of it sound pretty darn good provided the recording is up to par. I was impressed that the highendbyoz guys running the room pushed rock tracks through the system--not exclusively, but enough to show they knew their system could take it and make the genre sound enjoyable in an audiophile setup.
I wasn’t that impressed by them (the sound) The people running the room were great though. They provided after hours from 8pm-?
I went but wasn’t that impressed. I have only done after hours at MBL and it is a completely different vibe. Everyone just gets lost in the music and it takes on a vibe like you are at a friends house. Everyone has a drink, lets the hair down and just get immersed in music.
Would of loved to have gone to this show, was hoping for more replies to hear about new amps/speakers etc. Anyone seen any good write ups on the hifi websites yet? noticed this: https://parttimeaudiophile.com/2019/09/08/saturdays-highlights-rmaf-2019/
I’ve read some things from Stereophile mainly but not a lot out there yet it seems.
IT looked like your typical show. The new venue seemed to go over well other than the cost of the rooms.
I have not read anything particularly new different or earth shattering so far. Mostly just more very expensive stuff that most cannot agree on and will never be able to afford.
I do hope to make it to Capital Audiofest yet again this year. I am usually able to find at least a few things at these shows that I am interested in and end up buying sooner or later. I give most 5 digit cost components a quick listen for anything new, different, or particularly good usually then just move on.
So take this for what it is, I heard Giyas before and they didn’t grab ahold of me. It may have been the associated equipment or maybe my tastes have changed a little, not sure.
The Kayas this year sounded really dang good. I do love Jeff Rowland equipment and it seems to always have a delicate, refined sound with plenty of guts. Rowland gear my is some of my favorite. This room was in my top 5.
I saw so many rooms, its hard to remember everything. I feel like I heard the Kayas in a room before Rowland and they sounded as good... were there Kayas in another room?
If I rated the rooms:
I missed some rooms though. Nola was one...
The Rowland room was really narrow but deep. The Vivids were pulled way out from the front wall pretty far. They had one of the deepest / most holographic soundstages I’ve experienced.
On a side note, the Paradigm Personas that I have loved since day 1 were falling short when compared to the above speakers... I have heard personas on many occasions with different equipment in many rooms and loved them. I guess I just needed some Joseph Audios for perspective, no pun intended.
Yeah, I forgot to mention Goebel. They sounded great as well.
There was a lot of good sounding rooms to me this year. I was pleasantly surprised by the all McIntosh room too. Those speakers sounded good to me as well.
I was actually offered to take the Goebels for free if I was able to move them out of the room by myself... I have a bad back so I wasn’t able to move them. I think they are close to 1,000lbs 😵
2019 Denver RMAF Short Report
Why did so many big names opt out of the show this year?
-The Airport venue location? A Gaylord hotel room is no larger than anywhere
else so sound quality is the same you get in any little room.
-The doubled exhibitor rates? Some makers sent products to be used by others
Magico for example. Fair enough but not a good look for the bigger companies
with no rep present. Others were complete product no shows-Spendor.
-The story I was told by exhibitors in a couple rooms in which speakers present but not
connected was that their room was an "Exhibition" room. Come in and look around.
Personally I can do that online. I came to hear sound!! Tannoy/Spendor
But "Something is Rotten in Denver" as the expression goes.
-The 2 hour line for prepaid attendees to pickup their
badges was ominous foreshadowing of what was to come.
The line to buy tickets was 1/4 the size. Boy Scouts lost that one.
-15-30 minute waits to be seated for lunch.
-No staff tending the main bar. Table service? Forget that. Go stand at the bar to order.
-The building is so oversized and out of scale with the environment. The
place needed moving sidewalks. The Hotel staff was very friendly.
If the event producers wanted to be near the Gateway Airport, then why
not hold it at the Westin? It is an integral part of Gateway. No cab required.
Airport menus pricesare nothing compared to GayLord's Resort
"Captive Audience" pricing.
End of "Rag, momma Rag!!"
Hegel- An older hippie dude gave a wonderful answer to my question "What makes
the Hegel's sound better than the competition" His answer ran about 3 minutes
and convinced me. The new $6k model 390 is the hot ticket.
Salk-Jim had his Top of the Line side mounted woofer models playing rock and roll. He introduced a
prototype-a beautifully finished smaller 2 way due out in 2020. A favorite stop. Jim is a
sweetheart. His room is always busy. His artwork is worth the wait.
Fyne- This newer company now has official USA distribution. This was their first "Show" as such.
This company is composed of a huge brain trust who left Tannoy after the 2015 takeover.
They had a huge corner suite with the entire line. About 8 different models as I recall
ranging from $500-$1000 stand mount speakers to 3 floor standers from $1,000-$2,500.
Capped off with a $10k model. They look like players going forward.
PS Audio- Knows how to display their booth. Great Merchandising. Even better the
speaker concept they have been playing with is actually starting to sound good.
Paul is a dedicated and stubborn dude.
Elac- Was playing a tiny desk top Speaker which listed about $1,000. Not bad sounding.
Innous- This company has added a separate Clocker piece. About $3,600. It does things I can't begin to
explain. These people believe that if you load your CDs in any of their machines for storage, the playback can be better than the original CD. $4,200 for model I covet.
These people are the undisputed leaders.
Sanders- Still the most moving, realistic sound I hear. Shutup about small sweet spots.
This is one spot worth sitting in.
Dali- They had speakers in two rooms. The Euphonia replacement at $20k was killer!! Even in a closet-sized room. Hooray to the Dali Boys of Denmark.
Tekton- Eric Anderson was playing his big Moabs in Blue. Very Tall and very flashy. The room was loaded with people.
Borresen- Okay I admit I am in love their $35k Floor standers. Lars Kristen Kristensen gave a very detailed 6 minute lecture on the technical build incorporated in their product.
Equipment was all Borresen as well. Check Youtube for a complete explanation.
NAD- Has a new Integrated with Dirac correction built in. $2,800 and it looks as good or better than the Naim product they modeled. Very Cool approximately 3" x 3" color screen on the front.
About 1/4 the size of traditional gear.
Vinnie Rossi-One of the few rooms that understands good sound can be enjoyed at 75db and lower.
Showed his new Integrated Tube Hybrid. Quite lovely. The $10k QLN Speakers are smooth.
Mr. Rossi is a gentleman and a scholar.
Schiit- Displayed the new $800 TT. Looks cool and they will sell a ton of them no doubt.
They were another check writing firm that couldn't make it to the show.
Disappointments-Sonus Faber, Vandersteen, Klipsch and ZU Audio.
Don't ask me why but those rooms sounded like crap.
I bought one of Mark Waldrep's DVD recordings. Beyond special what he does with a microphone. Acoustics Sounds also had many temptations as did the friendly lady who sells imported Chinese music employing some instruments you may find as captivating as I did.
Most tables had headphones so you could "listen before you buy".
Disclaimer: I did not go in every room. Opinions may vary.
@b_limo Thanks for the time to write your feedback. I have narrowed my speaker choice between the Persona 3F and a Vivid Kaya 45/90 (?). You are the second person who liked the Persona a lot but preferred the Kaya a little more. I have heard both but will do another long demo with the Kaya.
One thing that I have to do is place the speaker close to the front wall. The Kaya can accommodate that due to the tube inside the speaker cancelling out the back sound wave (or something like that). This was feedback from Vivid. Interesting that they had the speaker out in the room at RMAF.
FWIW, since the Kayas were mentioned: I've heard the Vivid Kaya numerous times in a nice set up. They have that "vivid" sound to be sure: super clear, clean and extended. A "right there" immediacy and clarity. And they can rock when turned loud too.
As it happens they didn't grab me musically. Mostly because I found their sound too analytical and lean in the midrange - missed the richness and organic tone I hear with some other speakers.
But if you want to hear evertyhing on the recording...
@prof... and everyone else, I do think that it’s much harder for me to get into a musical groove in most rooms at RMAF due to uninteresting music, people talking or those dang jingle bell lanyards everyone has on. Due to that, it’s difficult for me to say whether certain set-ups are “musical” or have good tone. Most of the time, detailed, clear “analytical” sound grabs me quickest at the shows. If it happens to be a great sounding set-up and they are playing good music, I’ll stay for 30 minutes or longer in a room. Thats happened to me with MBL, Alsyvox, Vapor.
I haven’t heard a speaker that used Seas Excel drivers that I didn’t like. I seem to like Accuton and Raal and plasma tweeters also.
@yyzsantabarbara, I hate to sway you from Personas because I do love them, but I don’t know if thats what I’d personally buy in that price range...
I haven’t heard a speaker that used Seas Excel drivers that I didn’t like.
And I'm wary of crediting too much sound to a driver, given all the variables involved in making a speaker. And yet, speakers I've heard featuring certain Seas drivers seem to have a similar smoothness that draws me in.
@prof I understand your point about the Vivid sound, except that the Vivid/Rowland/Grand Prix room at AXPONA 2019 and the Vivid/Rowland/Grand Prix room at RMAF 2019 translated in a different way to my ears. For whatever reason, IMO this combination on two occasions this year has walked the line of pleasing resolution without sacrificing "musicality." Because I know we both are partial to the Perspective/Pearl sound, I would have liked to have heard your take on those rooms. The Pearl 20.20s at RMAF were exhibiting greater clarity than Pearl3s without giving up any "musical" ground whatsoever (IMO).
I've attended two previous RMAFs. I am local, live in Littleton. Venue is to far out of town for me to go multiple days. 50 minutes each way. Venue was nice but difficult to find rooms, I'm sure many were missed. Much lower attendance by vendors than years past. Most of the rooms were not great sounding, mostly for poollr music choices and booming bass. Okay, rant done. Berreson sounded great, one of the best. United home with the reel to reels, YG was very good. New PS audio loudspeakers were very respectable. Nola is usually great but their enormous speakers overwhelmed the small room. Hope need yeast is much better
First audio show for me. I liked it a bunch although the wasted time for registration sucked.
I stayed at the venue and thought it was nice but “nice” price as well.
We were above the Z review room.
Didn't go there. Loved Revel but wanted to hear the bigger 328 but it wasn’t available.
Elac bookies were impressive.
The AlsyVox were very impressive as were the YG Acoustic.
Wanted to hear the Maggie’s, none there. Wanted to hear some Electrostatic, none available.
Dynaudio room listed, not there.
Disappointed, Magico and Zu Audio
My first time to RMAF. The venue was not really to our liking. Waits for the various restaurants were always 1-1.5hrs. Captive pricing was in full force and I found myself grabbing Ubers to get the heck out of there.
Also, the hotel thought it would be a good idea to do all the tear down on Sunday night 2am to 7am moving furniture and causing a ruckus. Not a good night’s rest for sure. One positive, the water slides were cool, but then they messed up our bill and so infuriated my wife we will likely not go back.
The show as good but spread out a lot. I also noticed Dynaudio was listed but not present. I had a hard time getting in the ATC room. They would lock door at random times during the event and not let folks in with no explanation.
Anyway, on to the good stuff. Pretty much visited every room a couple of times. Sunday was the best day in my opinion because there were less people and you could request music on the systems. Some rooms I probably didn’t like more because of the music they played and Sunday helped change that a bit.
Here are my picks for what its worth 🙂
I so badly want a pair of the Debut Reference, because it really should be the "standard" by which all bookshelves must compare themselves in terms of "minimum viable product". If your speaker is over $1,000 and it doesn't sound significantly better than the Debut Reference, then you can be certain you're paying for exotic veneers more than good design.
East Texas guy here. I was there all three days.
The YG room was just fantastic. Incredible imaging, clarity, dynamics, realistic sound.
The Revel room actually demoed the new F226Be, the smaller brother to the F228. Amazing the amount and quality of bass they get out of a relatively small tower, which seems to be the same size as the F206. I want the new F328Be!
Prana Fidelity. This was one of the best rooms in the show, fantastic sound, and I kept coming back to listen more. He was demoing a new powered tower speaker. Just, wow!
Salk demoed the new SS9.5, which sounded great to me. Great for full scale orchestral music, with its deep and impactful bass response.
The hotel is incredible, but expensive. I attended RMAF last year at the Tech Center and I thought the sound was noticeably better this year.
I attended all three days of RMAF, the venue is beautiful, as in very well appointed. I did not
stay at the hotel so I can't comment on pricing. I had no trouble eating lunch at the Mountain
Pass sports bar on premises, but I tend to eat early.
Have to agree with the OP of rooms to check out. The one that stood out to me was the
Bryston Room. Not exactly inexpensive, but sounded really good. The Goebel room was
the best as far as I'm concerned. At $225K those speakers should sound that good.
I also thought the Audio Research/Sonus Faber sounded excellent, they had no digital it
was all vinyl. Again $200K plus speakers.
The biggest disappointment was the Wilson room, seemed like a half-hearted attempt to
me. I'm not a Wilson fan, but this was really poor.
The PS Audio reveal of their next iteration of the AN3 speaker (still pre-production) was a
game changer for me. For a "paltry" ~$15K those speakers imaged so well I couldn't make
them stop imaging. Sounds a little crazy, but most speakers I listen to develop an image
that's gets better as I listen. These powered speakers (700w each) instantly create an
image and if I stare at one of them attempting to disrupt the image it just won't collapse.
No, I'm not a shill for PS Audio. They just hit a very sweet spot. Granted they had $50K of their gear running them. Too bad they are going with a direct sales approach, so the final design won't be available at a dealer for a demo.
Interesting to me is that both the PS Audio and the Bryston rooms were the only two that
were using all of their own equipment and both of them sounded excellent. I didn't go in the
Sony room, but I suspect they were using all Sony gear. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
I thought by far the PS Audio room was the best. Paul McGowan's new floor standing speakers were just incredible sounding. They really played neutral and the built in subwoofers were so articulate. They were not slightly boomy and the mids and highs sounded colorful but not over done. These are the kind of speakers you can sit and listen to all day without any fatigue. Paul really knows what he wants to hear and he knocked things out of the park this time.
The one thing I always noticed is how most systems are being played through $20,000 to $100,000 systems. Almost any speaker is going to sound when pushed with that much clean power. It would be nice for them to demo speakers hooked up to something most of us can afford like an affordable $3,000 to $5,000 integrated amplifier.
I was also really impressed was the Extreme Audio. The Sigma Accoustics MAAT Vector XAC floor standing speakers were breathtaking in sound. They were also one of the most efficient speakers at the show being driven by AGD Productions GaNTubeTM Sound Tube monoblocks. I couldn't believe these two tiny amplifiers could drive those enormous size speakers and make them sound so incredible. $15,000/pair for that sound was a real steal.
However, I was very frustrated with check in. Only two people there to check in. It took forever and they didn't know how to efficiently check in preregistered guests. They also should have marked the registration door with an arrow because I walked the full length of the hall and then had to walk all the way back to the registration table. They had a bunch of flags where the exit door was located, but no sign with an arrow pointed to registration entrance. Parking also cost me $18. My two day pass cost me $15. I was in shock and I thought this was in really bad taste. It in fact really ticked me off. They should have opened the gates for this show. Last year there was free parking. Won't attend next year if they charge for parking.
I'm really surprised by the positive reactions here to the PS Audio system. I've been saving up for a DirectStream DAC, but my time in that room caused me to rethink that. There was something very harsh about the sound of the system. I enjoyed their new speakers better at last year's RMAF when they were still being worked on. I'm going to assume that there was something awry during the time I visited the PS Audio room, because the reactions here don't match up at all with my experience there. I was really bummed.
On the plus side, the show convinced me that the amp that replaces my VTL ST-85 absolutely must be a Nelson Pass design.
Did parking really cost $30 for the day? I was so offended by that price that I parked offsite and walked to the hotel.