If you've never flown into Denver before, the final descent over the desert might provoke a pang of panic. No city is in sight, and the sense is more that one is about to go MIA (missing in action), than DIA (Denver International Airport).
Those feelings pass as soon as the tires hit the tarmac and the engines begin to reverse. Phew. As one of the world's largest, busiest and most modern airports, Denver International excels at moving folks along, and sure enough, after a few relatively-painless polylingual exchanges, we're on our way to the seventh annual Rocky Mountain Audio Fest
Held once again at the pleasant, tree-shrouded Denver Marriott Tech Center
, RMAF has become the audio show of note in the United States, as an increasing number of exhibitors seek refuge from the declining ROI (return on investment)of CES. Led by the wonderfully-unflappable Marjorie Baumert and a throng of devoted volunteers, RMAF's attitude and vibe are unfailingly supportive and upbeat, in contrast to the infamous Vegas litany of "that'll be another $500".
If you think we're kidding about that, then you've clearly never worked in Vegas. Sheesh.
Enough bitterness. The important story here is how RMAF has something for everyone in the audio world, whether it's Old School, Noo Skool, or "We Don't Need No Stinkin' School". From fractional-watt spud amps to "Oh my God, what are they rolling down the hall?", you could see it and hear it here. From the funky handicrafts of Experience Music to the retro-nuevo of Oswalds Mill and the works of industrial art from Magico and others, it was here. Better still, you could talk to the men and women who design, build and sell the stuff, and get the straight scoop.
Presentations varied from a laid-back, "sure, why wouldn't we jump at the chance to play 'Enter Sandman' on a quarter-million dollar rig?" to informative, incredibly-polished, highly-professional demos as shown by MIT and others. Again: if you couldn't find a style that matched your needs and taste--well, you just weren't trying.
Seminars featured leading designers such as Paul S. Barton and Charlie Hansen, and press-legends such as Harry Pearson and John Atkinson. Edgiest of the presentations was Michael Mercer's "Embracing the Industry's Future" panel with Head-Fi's Jude Mansilla and Positive Feedback's Dave Clark, amongst others. The general sense of the group was that the industry's best days are ahead of it--and if you don't agree, quit whining and get the hell out of the way! Awesome stuff.
In days to come, Audiogon will present our high-def photographic coverage of EVERY ROOM at RMAF, along with our worldwide-exclusive audio clips. We may even have a bit of commentary from a tired blogger with bad feet.
RMAF 2010 was a call to action, a slap in the face of anyone in the audio world ready to roll over and die. It ain't gonna happen--not if any of THESE folks have anything to say about it!
If you weren't at the show: start planning for next year. Do it NOW.