RMAF seems to get bigger and more enjoyable every year. The exhibit rooms have reasonable acoustics, and the power seems adequate enough to support hundreds of megawatt riggs pumping out the decibels. Another remarkable observation is that most systems sounded pretty good on the very first day (at many shows the exhibitors struggle with their sound for the entire show, barely satisfied by the last day). So we expect less-than-great sound at these shows - but there were truly a lot
of good sounding systems at this one.
In the past, we have recorded videos of some systems as they were playing music. We were surprised that one could actually hear differences between systems, given that the recording device was a camcorder, and the audio was stored within compressed video files played back on AudiogoN's YouTube channel
. We think it says a lot about the resolution and dynamics of the systems themselves, in that you could throw away roughly 80% of the data, yet the system's sound would still come through with personality intact.
So this year we tried to increase the resolution of captured sound with the use of a Sony PCM-D50
, a highly rated portable recorder with built-in microphones and 24/96 resolution. We tried to record in as many rooms as possible; we got about 70 in all, and we have included the sound sample within each room's page. Beware that I (Audiogon Arnie) am a complete amateur at live sound recording (or live reproduced sound?). Also, the Sony's built-in mics pick up more of the ROOM's sound than I prefer, but with an interesting result. It sounds as if it recorded the overall sound ENERGY in the room, which our ears apparently filter out.
What is remarkable though, as you will hear, is that it sounds as if the performer was IN the room performing, more so than a stereo system reproducing the performer. Even with a simple portable recorder, the resolution and dynamic capabilities of these systems become quite evident. You will hear it if playing through a decent computer system or on your big rig. If you have a USB dac to run through, definitely use it. If you have a volume control on your computer taskbar, turn it ALL the way up to prevent loss of dynamic range.
For those interested in the technical details, the Sony PCM-D50
records in .wav format onto MemoryStick cards. The built-in microphones are physically-adjustable and somewhat directional, so we pointed them directly at each speaker, and placed the recorder at listening height. We used Audacity
(open source audio editing software) in conjunction with the LAME
mp3 encoder (also open source) to edit and compress the files.
Below are some of the standout rooms, where the recording device, speakers, and room came together really well. There are many other rooms with recorded sound, just look for the black speaker icon when looking at a list of rooms in these shows. Please keep in mind that if a system sounds "weird", then it is mostly due to our inexperience at capturing live sound.
Complete RMAF coverage: Room by Room | By each Exhibitor
Some good examples:
Venture + FM Acoustics
Chord + Peak Consult
YG + Soulution
Evolution + darTZeel
Acoustic Zen + Triode