What were the best and worst rooms at RMAF 2009?

Of course I have my picks, but what are yours?
My exposure was narrow, as I had only six hours and I was on a specific quest. However, these rooms made a positive impression:

Classic Audio Reproductions T1.3/Atma-Sphere M-60 (grand, lifelike sound)

Merlin/Joule (Bobby always has his room dialed in.
The small hotel rooms lend themselves to the Merlin speakers, IMO)

Audio Note (Both rooms. Rich, alive, dynamic room-filling sound)

Joseph Audio/Bel Canto (both the Pearl and monitor models. Musical as heck. And they look like jewels.)

Sonist Concerto 3/Glow Audio (Very, very good sound from this modestly priced system)

Von Schweikert Unifield 3/Moscode (The VS/Moscode combo has been proving itself optimal for several years)
Cost No Object:

Ypsilon Electronics/Bergman Table/Tidal Speakers

Upper-Mid Price:

Bel Canto Electronics/Joseph Audio Pearls

Luxman Electronics/Synergistic Cable/Vivid Speakers

Kimber/EMM Labs/TAD

Moderate Price:

Dehavilin/Wilson Benesch

AMR Electronics/Feikert Woodpecker Table/Rethm Speakers

Hegen Electronics/Dali

There were few other good rooms. These simply stood out to me. By in large, IMHO, the sound was very poor this year. A great many systems were poorly setup.
I echo TVAD's assessment of the fabulous Bel Canto room. . . incredibly engaging and refined.

My absolute preference in the hotel, regardless of price goes to the GamuT room with their big mono amps and the large GamuT towers. Performance of the Bach organ Toccata Adagio and Fugue in C minor was visceral, 3 dymensional, emotionally engrossing, and superbly listenable without a hint of fatigue.

If I include suites outside the hotel, my preference would go to the large showroom at Soundings Hifi across the parking lot: Boulder CDp, Boulder 2010 pre, Rowland 312 stereo amp, Vienna Die Muzick speakers. Similar to the Gamut room for staging, imaging, authority, extension, fantastic ease of listening. . . exceeding GamuT for low level detail and harmonic resolution. speakers in both rooms were set up by true masters of the craft. . . the designer of the GamuT speakers and Rod Tomson at Soundings. . . both Masters of the craft.

I was also delighted by the Belles/Usher/JPS room. . . what a graceful and revealing amp Belles makes. . . definitely the kind of amp I'd be proud to own and the Usher speakers are delicious. . . . but everything would not have worked if the wiring had been any less synergistic than the JPS wires.

I really wanted to hear the new Chapter electronics based on a very advanced class D design but they were not connected.

Cullen/Wired4Sound was quite delightful in the $2K price range fine imaging and speed and particularly fine treble resolution. W4S is working on a reference level amp that will include a user selectable tube/SS input section. . . very promising and I am very much looking forward to hearing it.

Perhaps the most Uber-Bestest room of them all was. . . the bar in the evenings. . . mixing with fellow audiophools is the most fun experience of the show!

Saluti e buone cose,


PS. The very worst rooms were very very very bad and are left. . . anonymous.
IMO GamuT had serious problems with muddy mid-bass. I don't get the buzz about Classic horns(w/Galibier and in several other rooms.)

Cost-no-object best of show was close between Janszen(w/Bryston & Wadia), Dynaudio Consequence(w/Octave & Wadia), The Lotus Group's Granada (Feastrex hybrid), Tidal(w/Bergman & Ypsilon). I heard several other Feastrexes and Lowthers-- none which came close to Granada. I wanted to like YG Anat(w/Solution Audio), but the demo was too quiet for critical evaluation.

In compact floorstanders I was impressed by how well the US/Canadian cottage industry is doing in the $5-$15K range-- some are direct-to-consumer with exceptional performance & value. Stand-outs were Merlin, Daedalus, Sonist, Vaughn, Bamberg, Silverline, Sentient, Eficion, and in small monitors, Green Mountain, Joseph(w/Bel Canto), Ref 3A(w/Naim), and Omega.

I like battery power. The stand-out in this regard was Veloce electronics with Gemme Katana ceramic speakers-- in an altogether different league(and price) from Dodd. Veloce also has the only hybrid Class D amp I can't find fault with.

Just getting familiar with the Hansen sound. The best match was Prince 2 with very expensive Silicon Arts Design electronics.

I heard only one truly awful room at the show and am not telling tales. However, the designer in that room introduced himself by saying that he makes "the best amplifier in the world."
Good to see another one who appreciated the Sonist and Vaughn rooms.

Those Joseph Audio monitors were exceptional, IMO.
My Favorite cost-no-object: Focal Grand Utopia/MBL
My Favorite Budget system: Focal+Micromega system at $8500

Audio Note Room: Wonderfully organic! But $51,000 for those little "Harbeth looking" speakers shocked me.. oh my..

The Luxman/DevilSound room was another wonderful sound. I spent a lot of time in that room with a smile.

The Nordost room sounded great also!

Not mentioning the wonderfully delicate sound of the VTL/Avatar room would be a crime. Loved the sound there as well.

The Technics Reel-To-Reel room had groovy lighting..

The ZU/Peachtree room was a lot of fun. Good vibe, happy people, lot's of fun to hang out an just "be".

The GamuT room was very impressive sounding. Lifelike organ reproduction for sure!

One room I disagree on is the Bel Canto room. I found the Bel Canto/Joseph Audio room to be one of the worst sounding rooms for the price. Very lean sounding and bright. Listening to their "pre-packaged" demo tracks sounded nice but when I put in a Fleetwood Mac CD which should have sounded wonderful (It has on many systems) it sounded lean and bright. This room was the most disappointing of the rooms I gave a serious listen to. I was considering a Bel Canto amp for myself until hearing this room. I don't understand how people could praise it.. This room sucked IMO.

I concur on the Vienna Die Muzick. I went to Soundings on Sunday after the show and they were playing for a client. I would have considered selling a kidney on the spot if propositioned to get these things. They are that spectacular! And Rod Tomson (The owner) is one of the nicest guys on the planet.

All and All a blast and fun had by all. A "must go" in 2010 for everyone on this site. Disneyland for adults!!
Tom92602, what day did you hear the Joseph Audio room? Are you talking about the room with the Pearl speakers, or the room with the monitors?

I remember a gentleman coming into the monitor room, and laying claim to the speakers as he hugged the right one and declared them, "Mine!"

I do wonder about the decision to use Bel Canto amplification, though. There are so many possibilities, including some beefy tube amps that would have been superb on the Pearls, IMO (they are easy to drive at 8 ohms nominal and 7 ohms minimum).
I went on Friday and Sunday. Open-to-Close.

I went to the Bel Canto room on Sunday about 1PM. I wanted to hear Bel Canto's "Class D" as Rowland did it so well in their gear.

This was the super large suit at the end of the hall. All Bel Canto gear leading into Josephs. The host was playing most of the tracks from a music server.

Incidentally I was there to buy after the show. (I live just four miles south of the show) By the end of the show I was pretty worn out but I was ready to buy a demo pair of Focals but they had too many surface damages.

I also liked the Ayon CD2 and Ayon Spirit amp but decided I want to stay with Solid State gear.

The Zu's grabbed at me as very "live" sounding for cheap money. What was everyone's take on the ZU's? They got a good review this month also. (As if you can put any trust in the reviewers from that magazine)

I don't think that it is fair for you to blame the Bel Canto amplifiers for your dislike of the sound you heard in their room with our Pearls. When I saw your posting on the Asylum I was puzzled until I looked at your system description.

According to that profile, your speakers are the Klipsch RF-82.

Under system goals you write "Trying to make Classic Rock sound warm and rich without loosing refinement and speed."

As you mentioned, the system sounded nice until you played your disc.

I do not share your goal of trying to make Classic Rock recordings sound warm and rich, *unless they were recorded that way in the first place*. I greatly prefer the purity of a natural, even balance that lets me hear what the recording actually sounds like rather than trying to goose up the upper bass to add false warmth. The nice thing about evenly balanced speakers is that you do still have the option of patching in an equalizer to adjust for harsh recordings, as opposed to trying to tame a system that is has errors "locked in" as part of the speaker design.

This hobby is about listening enjoyment, first and foremost. I am not trying to tell you what to enjoy for your personal listening. I just felt that some context and insight into why your perspective would differ from my own and the vast number of visitors like Tvad who were very pleased with how our systems performed at the show would be useful.

And you should not rule out Bel Canto for your system as you cannot predict how that combination might sound based on your audition with my speakers.
This was my first exposure to Audio Note--which IMO sounded surprisingly bland and lacking in depth and imaging. One of the best SET-oriented was the inexpensive Grant Fidelity room(Opera Consonance/Jungson/ShengYa/Shuguang.)
This is a fascinating thread.

It puts into perspective how we all have different priorities, likes, and dislikes.

Having come off many years of uber-resolution, boom and sizzle (in a good way), I find myself shifting away to a different presentation.

To me, the Audio Note rooms reminded me of why I loved playing records in the 70s. The sound just connected with me, for whatever reason, and I'm ready to admit that it may not be the "Absolute Sound", but I've been down that road and I'm looking for a new path...
Since I'm a panel/electrostatic kinda guy, I really liked the King’s Audio Electrostatics. Just wonderful!

I also liked the Bel Canto/Joseph Audio room.

The mbl room was also very well done and sounded good.

I concure also on the Vienna Die Muzick and Rod Tomson is a very cool dude indeed.

Those happen to be the speakers I use for home theater. I have 2 systems listed if you notice and I have been using different gear for Redbook and different gear for home theater.

I have been trying various speakers out for Redbook over the past year and haven't bothered to update my profile over on the asylum. This year I have owned a variety of speakers including Acoustic Zen Adagios and B&W's as well. I happen to like the sound of Focal as well and may end up buying a pair.

It's a shame you felt the need to go out of your way in an attempt to discredit what I heard at the show. Researching my id on another site to see what you could dig up in hopes to slander me based on system components seems lame and I am sure others will see it that way as well. And to be honest I went to that room to see the Bel Canto. I was fixating on the Bel Canto gear not your speakers. Perhaps the Bel Canto would have sounded better to me with different speakers. Hard to tell.

The track I played in the Bel Canto room was not recorded lean and in fact sounded quite warm on the Focals, Ushers, Legacys, and other speakers which I tried at the show. Of the speakers I tried with this track, the Bel Canto room was only bright and lean sound I heard when playing this track.

I liked many rooms at the show but not yours. Everyone has an opinion and mine was based upon what I heard using the same track on several systems.
In the same fashion people may wonder how I could have been so disappointed in the Bel Canto Room, I must admit that I am shocked someone could be disappointed with the "Audio Note" room.

When I was in the Audio Note room I heard Holographic images dancing about in the room that were absolutely spooky good. I couldn't believe all that was coming from those two smallish "Harbeth looking" speakers which sat in the corners of the room. To me, that was an extremely pleasurable (and fun) sounding room to visit and spend time in.

My intent was not to slander anyone. My point was that you have a different perspective on how a system should sound than I and many of the other posters do, and that is fine. When I saw the components you had listed and the comments you stated there (prior to your most recent edit), it made sense to me that you have the reaction you did. I'm frankly puzzled as to why you changed your system profile.

In any case, given that you don't like my speakers, how can you draw any firm conclusions about the sound of the Bel Canto?
To your point about fun, I much enjoyed the combo of Thiel 3.7, McIntosh 2301 monos, ARC Ref preamp, and PS Audio Perfect Wave stack. The synergy of this combo was an excellent compromise between full-bodied dynamics and neutrality & detail. IMO, among dynamic speakers with similar visceral impact, the Wilson Sashas and Hansens in various rooms didn't fare as well.
In any case, given that you don't like my speakers, how can you draw any firm conclusions about the sound of the Bel Canto?
Josephaud (Answers)
This is perhaps the most cogent point made thus far.

Unless one is very familiar with the speakers and electronics in a system, it's impossible to listen to an unfamiliar system in an unfamilar room and attribute specific sound contributions to any particular element of the system.

One can describe the sound of the system as a whole.

I changed my profile (today) to reflect that I am using B&W speakers which is true. At present I am using B&Ws since they work reasonably well for both home theater and Redbook playback.

I heard many many great sounding rooms which excelled for different reasons. I did not like the Bel Canto Room. It's that simple. I didn't even try to assess whether it was the speakers, the amplification, or the source which didn't agree with me.

I admit I was overly strong in my first post. It was my gut reaction to complete disbelief that several people really liked the sound of this room when in my mind I heard the contrary. I should have been more tactful and simply stated that the system sounded bright and lean when I heard it and left it at that. In this regard I was quite the animal and should have restrained myself. I am guilty on this account and admit it.

I also really wanted to hear NAIM at it's best. I have heard NAIM sound spectacular in the past and think NAIM is excellent gear for playing rock music. I was disappointed to hear it sound less than spectacular because I have heard it sound so much better.

Thanks for your explanation.

Best of luck to you in your pursuit of listening pleasure, wherever it takes you.

I was surprised how much I didn't like the Shelter Harmony. I've always thought that if one came up on Audiogon for half price I would jump on it. Glad now that it didn't come up.
On the other hand, I got to hear the new Shelter 901 mkII. The original 901 is my go-to right now, and wow! What nice improvements! Something I can afford is something I want. Go figure...
The Ascendo System F's, as usual, sounded magnificent. I'd never heard the Lotus Group's Granadas before. Open-baffled masterpieces, IMHO.
You Bel Canto guys didn't mention the CD player. I was pretty impressed with that little thing.
Jeff, your improvements to the Pearl are wonderful (I'm the guy who asked about upgrading the originals).
A couple of my favorite rooms were the Tri and Wavelength rooms. I also loved listening in the TW Acustic (sic) room. I tend to want to not be impressed at first. I want a system that I have to drag myself away from after hours of listening. I had to drag myself away from these rooms; whereas in a lot of other rooms that I was bowled over by (the sound) when I first walked in, I found myself saying to my audio cohort "OK, what's next?" after ten minutes.
The Wavelength room didn't have a component (not to mention cable!) that was $10,000.00, and yet it was one of the best listens I had. I made it a point to go back on Sunday and enjoy the feed from that great server system one last time. Still, that's maybe my biggest complaint about the show. The servers bar me from injecting my reference tracks into the process of evaluating the different systems/components. The thing that I like about these shows is that I get to hear what Joni Mitchell's "Court and Spark" sounds like in dozens of guys' (and gals'... Won't under appreciate you, Kara!) systems. Basically, I get to hear what different folks feel a hundred K should sound like.
Without reference tracks, I feel that's lost.

Was there a "best of show" at different price points?

Also I started a separate thread for posting "exceptional"
demo tracks. I heard some VERY powerful Orchestral tracks
that I would love to buy on CD if only I knew the composer
or Album name..
Hi Azaud,

Thanks for your comments and asking about the upgrades. We'll be offering an upgrade to the original Pearl, save for the cosmetic changes (no visible screws on the side panels)

The speakers would need to come back to the factory for the upgrades and we haven't worked out the details just yet.

My vote for #1 is a tie between MBL room. Much smaller display that past years and they picked a great ensemble to present. Balance of the tie was the Audio Research Ref 5 with the Wilson Sashas. Third I would say the Naim and Wilson Duettes produced remarkable sound. Worst first off I think the Legacy Audio was disapointing for the price range. The honerable mention was the chairs from I-Fi. Those were just too cool and would solve so many problems for a small apt. or condo.
I could have listened to the Wilson Benesch room all day
I had heard that the Gamut room didn't come to life until late in the show-then was amazing.
No mention of the Accuphase room??
Just back home and still jet-lagged.

Not as crowded this year (economy?) but that actually made it more manageable.

Was hoping to see David Gill's new stuff; sorry he couldn't make the show.

Room I want when I hit the Lotto: MBL. One can walk all around that room and it still images great. Heavy, black/gold tones to the electronics and those speakers! Sitting 5' from them and you think you would be shouted at, but it stays musical.

Agree that Bobby P. has his room, VSM's, and electronics dialed in as usual. Just a great sound for the $$'s, so much bigger than it should be. Merlins are alright.

I came away impressed by the Joseph floor standers. They have the impact of a Dynaudio C1 but better dispersal quality.
Went back twice on successive days to make sure I was hearing what I thought. May have to bite on these one day.

I liked the Wilson Benesch/de Havailland last year more due to the bigger salon. This is quality stuff and I also made 2 visits just 'cause I like the sound.

If I have any change left over from my big lottery winnings, I get the Wilson Sasha's. Never was a big fan of the Watt Puppy's, but these are immenently enjoyable, completely non fatiguing, and, at least in this setting, image beautifully with each note laid down perfectly. I sat in the front seat until the staff (politely) asked me if I had a room for the night or was I going to stay there, seated.

Wadia & Dynaudio are very good, but priced out of the common man's wallet. W's little IPod dock, however, is cheap and could find all kinds of uses in a 2nd-3rd, or office system.

Couldn't comment on horns, electrostatics, or analogue. Just don't know that much about it and didn't stay in the rooms that had these components since there was so much I did want to see.

Several rooms (no names) hit me wrong. I usually knew this when I walked in but often stayed for awhile just to see if I was being judgemental or prejudiced due to the music/looks/staff/??? I think one can get a visceral hint quickly that (like your first answer on a multiple choice test) tells you something ain't right. I'm not saying this is the way to judge equipment, but when faced with 6 floors of audio rooms, one has to make choices on what you want to hear/see.

I was hoping to get a basic primer in a seminar setting in setting up a Mac based music server system. You know, the nuts & bolts, what to hook to what, choices in backup, which connectiion (USB, firewire, etc) and the arguments of each, choices of dacs and why each one is the best (according to the manufacturers), etc. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge and talent at this meeting and dolts such as myself could use some "dummy-down" teaching.

Said enough, see you next year.
I don't wish to be detractive but I'm quite curious now given the contrasting statements made herein about specific demos. Further, as to notes posted here about particular items comprising only a part of the entire rigs being played too... CDPs, speakers, amps, etc.

I remember hearing this said to me early on, by both individuals, and makers of high end gear:

"Don't judge components from what you hear at a show."

Is this correct or have things changed?

I can imagine a number of reasons why it could well be true. But from the overwhelming positives posted here as to what was heard here and there abouts, maybe one should 'judge' only whole systems... as so many here have done just that so far... mostly. I can't see how any could do otherwise and have anything short of a speculative perspective or outright guess as to individual component performance (s).

I hope to get to one of these some day yet I feel what is demonstarted there could only be taken on the whole of things and nothing gained in part, by way of actual appraisal of specific items.

in any event, it's gotta be cool to meet those responsible for designing all the neat stuff... as well as other folks we talk to online yet seldom meet.
This was my second trip to RMAF (back to back). Both years, my friend and I thought that the Joseph Audio room had some of the best sound in the show. I would love to have a pair of his larger speakers but will have to shop used to buy.

Other very good speakers for reasonable prices I thought were the Bamberg Audio & Reference 3A Grand Veena.

At headphone room was very interesting. My friend bought the JH Audio top of the line in ear headphones. Moon Audio showed an electrostatic tube amp with Stax headphones that was awesome if you can foot the bill.

It was a great time - we had a number of people visit from the Houston Aduio Society and everyone really enjoyed it.
I heard the Vandy 7's and ARC setup on Friday and was nonplussed. I returned on Saturday and was much more impressed, but I thought they were hampered by the small room. I look forward to hearing that system again.

The YGA Kiphods were in my top five; huge soundstage and seemingly unlimited dynamic and frequency ranges; smooth and utterly palpable image.

What were those monitors in the Nordost demo room? I never heard a small speaker handle large orchestra at high volume (Stravinsky!) with such aplomb. Would have listened longer, but that's when the first power outage occurred and I didn't get a chance to return. I was just sitting down to hear the Thiel 3.7's when the power went out again, so I didn't hear them either.

I agree with the positive reviews of the Joseph Audio Pearl/Bel Canto setup, the VTL/Avalon system and the Bamberg Audio(?) speakers.

If I had someone else's checkbook, though, I would have written a check on the spot for the Boulder electronics/Vienna Die Musik setup at Soundings. For me, it was the very best among many good systems. Simply amazing.
DCSTEPs cautioning about the origin of the slight limitations of the Gamut room are absolutely on the money. The room was too alive and somewhat too large for optimal results, regardless of speaker setup. A handclap test I performed exposed a painfully high amount of uncontrolled slap-echo. In spite of room limitations, Lars of GamuT addressed the initial unspecificity in the mid bass by repeatedly tweaking the positioning of the speakers until the very final session on Sunday with results that in the end were very impressive. Dave and I played once again Bach's organ Toccata Adagio and Fugue in C-minor Sunday afternoon and the result was tremendous. No mid bass wobble could be detected at all. . . bass was deep, taught and as tuneful as I could expect from a top flight large system. As we did not repeat the playback of the piano and string quintet tracks by Dvorak, I do not know if low level resolution was in the end les/greater than the Vienna/Boulder/Rowland suite at Soundings. In the end room interactions may still have been a factor in my slight pref for the musicality of the latter.

Regarding the Bel Canto room in 589-590. . . yes, the sound of the room was not 'warm' to my ears. . . rather, I found it to be rather neutral with a very slight overpressure in the treble region, and a minor tendency to intermodulate in harmonically complex sostenuto passages in the upper treble. The overall gracefulness of the sound was perhaps that is one of the reasons why DCSTEP and I remained there for the better part of an hour or may be even more, in spite of a slight tendency to tippiness in the treble that made the sound suboptimal. As I am not even faintly familiar with the Joseph Audio house sound, I have no idea about its impact on the overall result. However, being quite familiar with the sound of the suite from last year, with Bel Canto Ref series sonic signature, and having found XLO somewhat tipped up for my preference over the years, I am inclined to impute some of the slight treble anomalies to the wiring.

Lastly, a generic recommendation for manufacturers to refrain from public electronic joustings with the customer set. The 'high road' may be found to be a more effective corporate markcom technique in the long run. G.
one of these days (at one of these shows), someone is going to set up a pair of old (pick any old classic speaker for under 500 bucks), a marantz receiver, and a dual turntable, and blow the house down. yes, i'm serious.
10-06-09: Jaybo
one of these days (at one of these shows), someone is going to set up a pair of old (pick any old classic speaker for under 500 bucks), a marantz receiver, and a dual turntable, and blow the house down.
Jaybo, please list five speakers (manufacturer and model) that you believe would qualify.

Yes, I'm serious, too.
Did anyone hear the Intuitive Design room?
spica tc50( or 60),Celestion 100, Large Advent, Dahlquist 905, Dynac A25, JBL 4312, Ohm E (or E2), Cabasse Sloop(or Clipper), Pink Triangle Ventrical, AR 302, altec Lansing 305, Allison 4,5(or cd7)...i can keep going, but I'll need time.... All of these sound great in an avg sized room and all can be had cheap...add your favorite lp (wine or pot are recommended options) and have a downright religious experience.

OHM E's (vintage entry model OHM box speakers, $200/pair 30 years ago) might be an interesting dirt cheap choice with a SET tube amp perhaps, at low to moderate SPLs, in the right room if low end extension is not a concern. I've never heard that combo though.

I don't know if I ever considered Es competitive with the likes of large Advents however, at least with most SS amps I have heard both with. Marantz would be a good choice for them however. the next step up the old OHM line, the Ls, were very hard to distinguish from the large Advents however and I personally always preferred the Ls (Es were "thinner" sounding in general).

I never thought of OHM Es as speakers that could "blow the house down" in general, but they are certainly good performers within their limits and might still be had for next to nothing.

I'd agree that it is not that hard to get very good sound out of many smaller quality vintage speakers at least in smaller rooms. Larger rooms are certainly a bigger challenge. I'd like to enter enter my vintage Dual 1264 table with Goldring cartridge running on a vintage Yamaha receiver in a blind sound test against much pricier modern rigs in a typical room and see what happens. It is surprisingly sounding way better than ever and highly competitive these days. I bought it back in 1981.
Best Rooms!

1. Soundsmith, with Strain Gauge cartridge set-up, VPI table, Tere's arm, Soundsmith solid state amp, Soundsmith tube pre and Soundsmith speakers. Nothing short of spectacular.

2. Tron Electric SET monoblocks with the TW-Acustic turntable, Miyabi 45 cartridge and the Horning hybrid loudspeakers. Most natural, elegant sound in show.

3. Blue Circle, with new tube pre, Accuphase cartridge tweeked by BENT I believe, Hybrid BC amps all displaying an extremely deep, wide soundstage. Sounded detailed with excellent texture and bass control.

4. Audio Note, Integrated in small room. Sounded best in it's catagory for 2k. Large room just ok, synergy was off in big room.Obviously set up was lacking and no phono. No phono in a high end Audio Note room is simply shameful.

5.De Havilland, Kara Chaffee with new monoblock push pulls sounded excellent. Not a big fan of Wilson Benesch speakers but they did fine. Would rather hear amps through Harbeth's, Tannoy's, Altecs or Classic Audio speakers.

6. Quicksilver room sounded excellent this year. Some big breakthroughs for Mike Saunders. He never seems too amaze at cost versus quality. One of my favorites in show. Big, textured, wide and deep soundstage with excellent dynamics and bass drive. Competed with the best this year.

This is not my complete list just a partial.

Were the speakers in the Blue Circle room their own Pennys?

If so the Walsh driver used would surely help account for a wide, deep soundstage more so than the amplification perhaps, but again one can only assess the system as a whole. Its hard to determine what the individual pieces alone might sound like otherwise.
Yeah, they were the Penny's. Perhaps that did play a role in the depth of field reproduction but quite honestly the sound was involving and balanced. I have a pair of BC 2's that have depth extraordinaire at a higher $ amount ( in it's day) than the system Gilbert was running, so needless to say I think BC has evolved in it's artistry to cost ratio.
Jaybo, I agree. A "Classic" Room at RMAF would be cool. A local audio society or even Audiogon or Audiokarma members could supply the equipment and time. Maybe small donations could be made, like a tip jar as people enter to help fund the room. A speaker, amp, turntable set up that could change every day or half-day.

Another approach would have vintage dealers or those that repair or sell replacement parts and refurbished equipment could share the costs of a room and showcase their work. I'd love to hear a Marantz 8b and 7c and some Tannoys or a Marantz 2325 receiver with double Advents.
Or, some vintage Accuphase, McIntosh, Western Electrics or Kondo's through Tannoy's, Altec's, JBl Paragons or exotic Klangfilm's. It would blow peoples minds how amazing vintage gear sounds to 90% of what is heard today.
almonduck,spl...it would definately keep things in perspective.
Hi Agear,
Ya, and after their (Intuitive Design) no-show last year, I was really looking forward to it. Two years ago I was blown away by the sound with those monster water-cooled muthas. When I heard them this year however, I was underwhelmed, to say the least. I'm not a fan of powered subs integrated into the design of speakers, and the amps that fit into those bases were MIA two years ago, and with just the monitors working, I thought they sounded magnificent. With that woolly, inorganic bass this year? No thank you.
All, I made a major factual mistake in my previous post, for which I apologize to all concerned: suite 589, where I listened to the excellent bel Canto Ref 500M mono amps, was completely wired with Cardas Clear, NOT with XLO. Hence any reference to XLO in my previous post is completely unwarranted and should be ignored

. The paragraph in question should have read:

* * *

Regarding the Bel Canto room in 589-590. . . yes, the sound of the room was not 'warm' to my ears. . . rather, I found it to be rather neutral with a very slight overpressure in the treble region, and a minor tendency to intermodulate in harmonically complex sostenuto passages in the upper treble. The overall gracefulness of the sound was one of the reasons why DCSTEP and I remained there for the better part of an hour or may be even more, in spite of a slight tendency to tippiness in the treble that made the sound suboptimal. As I am not even faintly familiar with the Joseph Audio house sound, nor with the Cardas Clear wires, I have no idea about their relative impact on the overall result. However, being quite familiar with the sound of the suite from last year, as well as with the extremely graceful Bel Canto Ref series sonic signature, I am inclined to exonerate completely the BC R500M from being the origin of the very slight treble anomalies, which may have been caused by something as simple as speaker placement issues.

* * *

PS. This morning I had requested via email that Audiogon staff nuke my previous post entirely, so I could resubmit it cleanly with the amendment above. Unfortunately, the duty administrator tersely declined my request, stating that removing posts is against policy. This of course is quite surprising in view of historical data. It is also a sad commentary about the apparent dualism still existing between the new and friendly image that Audiogon is fostering through its "Hub", and a much more basic reality persisting in the trenches, which makes me seriously consider alternate audiophilic climes.

Regards, G.
I can't remember what was what in most of the rooms we hit... mostly because I forgot to take notes of any kind and I forgot to bring music! However, I remember the benchmark room being one that I could sit and listen to all day without fatigue, I greatly enjoyed the Ayre/Wilson room (not the HT room, but the room using the sashas) most of the time I visited it (usually it was too crowded though). The Peachtree/Zu room was great fun and great budget sound and the iFi chairs were a hoot. We also enjoyed the MA recordings room with the Davone rithm speakers (plus I picked up a few fantastic recordings while I was there), the wavelength room and the TW room. The Nordost room sounded quite good considering I'd yet to hear a system cabled with nordost that I liked. For once they weren't overly bright, thin and bass light. Plus the demo was very entertaining.

My favorite room though, and my best of show, was the Luxman/Vivd/Synergistic Research room. Philip and Ted and crew were great company, the sound was outstanding and the demos were enlightening. I loved it so much in fact that every break during the show and after hours we had we seemed to end up sitting and enjoying the music.
Ah, so it was newlyweds I met at the Vivid/Luxman/Synergistic room? Don't go spending all your wedding gifts on the system! It's wonderful that you're getting involved in each other's interests. I hope auiophilia is a lifelong shared joy for you.
Lol! Yes.... :) All the wedding gift money and cards.. already spent. But I've been strongly hinting at several options for Christmas presents ;-P
The best at the show is almost a toss up between two IMO.
I hope Albert took a great picture of this with the huge 833 RCA TUBE. Each amp weighs 200 pounds and puts out 500 watts of heat,BUT THE SOUND WAS TO DIE FOR.The most magical tube mid band I have ever heard in my life by a substantial margin.
I was breathless listening to this room at hours at a time.
The other room was Dueland Audio with the Kawero Speakers
This had a huge wow factor as well.Just simply astounding transparency and realism.
I could not hear any bad sounds at the show.
Don C.
Iwill post some more as time permints.

I was helping to run the Intuitive room and you needed to know that there were no subs in the room. Just the Intuitive Gamma Summit speakers.

Also, the bass was only wooly if you were standing by the opening from the entrance because the cubical created by the lower ceiling and narrow width where the bathroom area was became one big bass tube.

After we put some plants in to break up the standing waves the sound on Sunday was stunning with very deep and fast bass that was exceptional by all standards.

Even Stereoiphile late Saturday afternoon thought it was the second best sound at the show.

We had several people walk in and before they gave them a chance on good music or music they knew turned around in 2 seconds and left. Not very open to discovery.

We started to stop people that walked in to the back of the room and told them to sit down and listen to music they liked. Every time they did they were floored and stayted for several songs.

Unfortunatly I did not hear many rooms so I only had others inputs to go on and everyone said we were either top 3 or the best. I have been to many trtade shows in the 29 years I have been in the high end buisness and it was the second best sound I ever heard right behind the Khartma speakers with LAMM Labs equipment at Vegas CES in 2002.

Keep in mind we have very modest high end electronics. The most expensive component being the Aesthetix pre-amp at $5k.

Hope you get another chance before you write them off. They are unusually speacial and I have owned a lot of legends in the past from Klyne, David Berning, Snell, Goetz, C.A.T. Audible Illusions, NRG, Unity Audio, Coda, Apex, FMS, Ayre, Von Schwiekurt, Bedini, Rogers, Celestion, Wharfidale, Accoustat, Aerial, Hales, Spectrum, Essence, Copland, AR, N.Y.A.L., Arcam, Parasound, VPI, Townsend Rock, Souther, Gale, Michealsin & Austin, ProAc, British Fidelity, Thore, Electrocompineit, Dynaudio, Micheal Gyrodeck, Rogue, Camber, Ampzilla, Roberts, Sequerra, Allison, Grace, Goldbug, Dynavector, Koetsu, Audioquest, McClaren, Perroux, Linn, Appogee, Sound Labs, Quick Silver, just to name a few.
This year RMAF was quite nice. I always attend on Sunday and the ’09 show was the least crowded of all the previous RMAF shows. As usual, every room representative was very friendly, informative and accommodating.

Highlights: Grand Veena room always has great sound. This year I wanted to take them home. Everything I look for in a speaker: detail, big image, engaging and thrilling. Everyone else in the room seemed to share this impression and no one wanted to leave. Only negative – their appearance.

Can’t believe the Accapela room has not been mentioned. Certainly, the Triolon has had its challenges in past years. This year the High Violon was mesmerizing. It filled the large room with incredible realism – every track felt like a live performance. My vote for the top room at any RMAF show. And, you can own this system for about $300K!

The Esoteric room was also special. Small footprint yet incredible dynamic range. Huge realism factor here. Associated electronics, cables, etc were $$$. May be the first $5 K phono cable I’ve heard.
"Can’t believe the Accapela room has not been mentioned. .... And, you can own this system for about $300K!"

I think you answered your own question.

For $300,000, I would expect an out-of-body, dreamlike experience, every time. Reality just doesn't seem like enough to ask for at that price.

How come an article I read on High Triolon indicates only a $30,000 USD price tag? That might be reasonable though still mostly unaffordable if true. Were there $270,000 worth of supporting electronics required to produce the results? I thought horn speakers are supposed to be easy to drive and make sing?