The Hub: AudiogoN's RMAF coverage is Online

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

Avatar Acoustics

Evolution + darTZeel

Acoustic Zen + Triode

That is really cool Arnie. You CAN hear alot about the resolution of various systems by listening. I wonder how much difference your position in the room makes, though. It would be cool to allow comments to be posted for each room. I was particularly impressed with the recording of the Acoustic Zen room. Thanks, Peter
Very nice thanks for sharing. I have to get to one of these events soon...
Awesome! Brilliant! Shabaash!(Bravo)

Very well done guys, this was a real surprise and a great treat!

Look forward to all the audio shows being covered this way.


Thank you very much. For one not having the opportunity to experience a show of this caliber, I greatly appreciate your effort in creating a virtual walk-through.
Kudos! By far the best coverage I have seen, next best thing for those who cannot go.
Agreed very cool! Can anyone tell me where to get the version of St.James Infirmary that the Venture/FM Acoustics room was playing during the soundbyte? I think it sounds awesome would love to have that track.
Nice work....and thanks for the "sound samples" !!!
Did the German Physiks loudspeakers there catch anyone's interest?
I have been looking for the version of St. James Infirmary as well. I've tried listening to various samples of Louis Armstrong, but none seem to be the same. Please reply if you know where I can find it.
I have found two possibilities for the recording of St. James Infirmary:

* Louis Armstrong Plays Oliver King
* Louis Armstrong Hello Dolly Live!

Neither appear to be available as CD format. The Hello Dolly Live! is available from Amazon as a MP3 download. With a little searching, I was able to find a FLAC version that someone did of a vinyl pressing. I haven't had a chance to listen to it on anything but computer speakers so I'm not sure how is the quality.
I agree with many of the positive comments posted here...a lot of hard work went into doing this. Thank you for taking the time for all of us who could not attend! And thank you also, as many of us will not have the opportunity to compare or even listen to many of these systems.

After 20 years of intensive listening, i would never say that listening to recordings this way is definitive...but i WILL say that before reading any comments from those who were actually there, i was stunned by the Evolution Acoustics room. i tried in each sound byte to get an initial impression...on lesser systems, i continually felt like i was listening to a stereo in someone's room.

with the evolution (and to a lesser degree with Avalon, and Soulution rooms...and a much lesser degree the Sonus Faber room)...i could have believed you if you'd said it was a recording of a live event being played direct-stream via internet. i was slightly stunned by that sound byte.

Again, not a "true" listening environment, but it does make me very, very interested in hearing Evolution Acoustics. Being in the UK, i do not know how. maybe i can email jonathan tinn and ask.

thanks again for all your hard work!!
Wow. What a cool idea! It opens up a whole vista of possibilities...binaural recordings of speakers available from on-line retailers -what a concept! The only suggestion I have would be to do the recordings binaurally and then listen over headphones. That might really put the listener "virtually" in the room with the speakers. Again, a great idea. Thanks!