Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by bluesaddict, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. ronm

    ronm audiofreak

    Location:
    southern colo.
    I've went a few times in the last fifteen years. I'm done.
     
    vconsumer likes this.
  2. Blowby

    Blowby Static lp

    Location:
    Colorado
    Parking ticket can be validated if you eat at one of the two restaurants. Also I saw when the line leaving the lot gets out of control they just open the gate.
     
  3. Blue Gecko

    Blue Gecko Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Thanks for looking...

    BTW, my 30 Aug 2019 email from Zu stated, "Submission VI Coming Soon, Debuting at RMAF". Perhaps they were talking about the Druid VI, which perhaps makes more sense.
     
  4. Kal Rubinson

    Kal Rubinson Forum Resident

    I am not a fan of Zu speakers but I lover their names.
     
  5. Xarkkon

    Xarkkon Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Asia
    Ah, isn't this the one with the youtuber taking out a room to put in affordable systems? I'm curious as to how that turned out vis a vis the audio show's own affordable rooms.
     
  6. Eaglesfan9

    Eaglesfan9 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Huntsville Texas
    Day 3 Sunday.
    With a number of major rooms that I hadn’t even put a foot in I decided to be there as soon as the doors opened on Sunday morning.
    First port of call was the Wilson room where they were playing the Sasha speakers with VTL tube amps using streaming sources. I have always been totally underwhelmed by this brand to be honest. The Sashas look like the old WATT puppies and have 2 woofers that go with them (??). Not sure why very substantial sized speakers would need a pair of woofers in a hotel sized room. The lady in charge of the demo would (or perhaps could) only play music that was programmed into her playlist. After several long and dare I say tedious piano pieces I asked her for rock music. There really was none available. I feel sure that the only music being played was music that was approved for that system. How did it sound? In the front row the sound was all over the place. A bit better in the 3rd row but not at all what you would want or expect from a system costing that much money. If only they could have played some Deep Purple. Bad start.
    Moving onwards to the Focal room. Focal speakers have never really enthused me to be honest. The amplification was EMM ( not familiar with that brand). The demo was supposed to be run by the EMM guys but they hadn’t shown up at 10.30am so it was manned by a young man who worked for Kimber cable. I managed to get him to play some rock oriented music but he wouldn’t turn up the volume to the level that that music lives in. Too bad because the Focals were sounding pretty nice (as they should at $65,000 per pair).
    Feeling a bit frustrated I left the room and on the way out ( in a sort of outer room) listened to the Mr, Speakers Voce electrostatic headphones being driven by a blue hawaii electrostatic headphone amp. Wow. That is the best headphone listening that I have ever had. Absolutely stunning sound. The Stax top of the line cans were there also but (through that amp) were blown away by the Voces. At $3,000 for the headphones and $6,000 for the amp you would expect something pretty special but if you have limited space or are a total headphone geek then it would work for you.
    That was a real surprise (but not the biggest of the day). Neil Young’s “After the Goldrush” album has never sounded so good.
    Next stop was the NOLA room where enormous speakers were playing powered by VAC amps. The source was CD with “approved” music (I was starting to see a pattern). Having liked the NOLA sound in the past I thought that these big boys sounded a bit flat. No real life in the music (even the party piece organ bits). 20 minutes there and a polite goodbye.
    In (now desperate) search of some relaxing sound I made my way to the Bryston room and found it. Playing an all Bryston system (except cables of course) the music sounded well just right. The rock music moved you but didn’t slam you for effect and even the audiophile dross kept my interest (a bit anyway). At $45,000 for the whole system not cheap but then again you wouldn’t buy a whole system at once. They were playing monoblocks but the guy running the room told me that there was a one box version that was almost as good at a lot less money. Forgive me I am not very familiar with this brand and don’t know anything about the model numbers. After a refreshing 45 minutes I made my way to the Sugar Cube room to see what all that was about.
    Surely it couldn’t work as advertised could it?? I mean, take away the surface noise and leave the sound unblemished. I am a cynic about thing lol that. Following that demo and chat with both the sugar cube guys and a few guys running other rooms (the mofo guy for example) I am a very strong candidate to buy one of these things. The only issue of any kind that I have is that since it has to go between phono stage and preamp then you need another set of cables to make it work. That’s not much of an objection really. I have always had a problem listening to Classical music on vinyl because of the clicks and pops and just general noise level. This device will make my classical collection very listenable. Stunned I moved on.
    With time running out fast I went to the Macintosh “Laboratory” and was massively disappointed. There were enough tubes glowing to heat a small house and speakers with about 20 too many woofers playing. I wanted to like the sound but it was just horrible. Lou Reed doing “Walk on the wild side” was just painful to the ear. Maybe the room was wrong. Something was for sure.
    Final music of the entire show was a revisit to the MOFI room to hear the Falcon LS3/5a BBC designed speakers. A fabulous listen with all types of music. We played Santana abraxas and Blood on the tracks on that one step vinyl and Elvis and Dwight Yokum streaming (Qubuzz ?).
    Those little speakers sound as big as anything that I heard all weekend. They may not have the depth of bass that some require (and subs are not recommended apparently) but they are so musical that they just transport you to a better place. No higher praise. Price is $3,000 which might seem a lot for very small speakers but they have to be a bargain. You could buy Wilson Sashas or Magicos for 10 (or more) times the price and not get half as much satisfaction. If my big Quads ever break down then I’m buying in a heartbeat.
    Exhausted I dealt with the parking gate one more time and am headed back to Texas Monday.
    Was the show a success??? On reflection I think that it was. More exhibitors next year would make it better but I can’t complain.
    Enjoy the music guys. It’s what matters most.
     
    beowulf, Ulises, gov and 8 others like this.
  7. Catcher10

    Catcher10 I like records, and Prog...duh

    Man I am so done watching his walking videos!! Talk about a noob with a camera, he really needs to get one of those stabilizers rather than holding it as he does. Half his videos are of the floor or only half of the gear he is trying to record and he just moves around so much so fast you get sea sick trying to watch. I was watching his day 2 YT and had to turn it off I was getting a headache..........I watch tons of YT vids and he is the only one that gets me sea sick.
     
  8. Achn2b

    Achn2b Well-Known Member

    Location:
    N. Conway, NH
    Haven't watched them. I can't bring myself to sit there for an hour and a half watching that stuff.

    My reference to him was in regard to the well-known audio person making an ass of himself over the RL mastered Zeppelin, wondering if it was him. Or some other self-important audio snob putz. C'mon, who was the guy?
     
  9. Catcher10

    Catcher10 I like records, and Prog...duh

    I'm sure it was him.........
     
  10. ls35a

    ls35a Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, Idaho
    It's 2019 and LS3/5a's are still being played at shows and wowing people.

    Thirty five years ago I was at Hi-Fi sound in Mpls and Jeff, their salesman, was comparing KEF 101's to LS3/5a's and kept going on about how much better the 101's were. I thought he was crazy.

    Well, Jeff, wherever you are.... I guess I was right!
     
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  11. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    I haven't gone to a show in some years- I went to my first back in the '70s when they were still doing audio at McCormick Place during CES. The last show I attended was several years ago at the Waldorf in NYC- I found refuge (along with an assortment of reviewers) in Rob Wyatt's room playing old Quads and tape.
    I think it is hard to make serious "buy" evaluations at a show. Jeff C. from High Water Sound usually has a large pile of records to play. And at Munich one year (which I didn't attend), the guys who had those vintage WE horns were playing early Sabbath at ear crushing levels.
    Welcome back to Texas. :)
     
  12. Xarkkon

    Xarkkon Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Asia
    G
    Great reporting, thanks! Also loved the fact that the best room was probably one of the cheapest rooms of the day. Goes to show money can only go so far despite what the pro reviewers out there want us to believe. I'm jealous!
     
  13. Eaglesfan9

    Eaglesfan9 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Huntsville Texas
    Not naming any names but.........
     
  14. Black Elk

    Black Elk Music Lover

    Location:
    Bay Area, U.S.A.
    Saw them last night at The Warfield, SF! :)

    EMM Labs?

    EMM Labs

    The company of legendary designer Ed Meitner. I use one of their pre-amps and DACs.

    I've not heard the Voce with the Blue Hawaii, but have heard the Stax 009 with it and that is a stellar combination (though you need to add the cost of a good DAC to the total cost!). I use a Sonoma electrostatic system myself (listening to some Eberhard Weber on them as I type).

    Sadly, it seems RMAF is on a downward trajectory. AXPONA seems to have taken over in the US.
     
  15. Xarkkon

    Xarkkon Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Asia
    Sure seems that way. This thread ain't going anywhere within these forums unlike the Axpona one. If it were not for @Eaglesfan9 , there wouldn't have been anything at all to discuss! Heh.

    Enjoying @Archimago 's coverage so far on his blog. Glad to see that the hifi-guides room turned out well! I get that Zeos the youtuber can be really annoying, but I like that he's doing something different from all the rest with his room.
     
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  16. Knightrider7007

    Knightrider7007 Active Member

    Location:
    Canada
    Hey guys - new on here but done RMAF a few times in the passed. Was it really that bad this year? Couldn't make it because of the date change...
     
  17. Ulises

    Ulises Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    I’m a local and I went and enjoyed it. Given the venue change, I’d give them a chance to get up and running before announcing the show’s imminent decline.

    I found the venue far more appealing than the old one in the tech center. The facility is huge, but it has great views, ample parking, and it feels a lot more spacious and less crowded than the previous spot. Everyone I encountered was friendly, and I even got a lift on a golf cart with a few other excited enthusiasts after parking my car.

    I wasn’t very interested in the speaker rooms this year other than the Rossi room and some others, but I’ve been in the market for some new headphones and did really enjoy the “headroom” space. While it not being a can jam event reduced the vendor count, I loved that you could get a seat and actually spend time listening to different systems without feeling rushed. Great way to spend an afternoon.

    In particular, I wanted to hear the ZMF models in person before purchasing and compared the Aeolus, Auteur, and Verite at length. The folks at the booth, including Zach, the founder, were all passionate, knowledgeable, and down-to-earth. Ended up getting a demo pair of the mahogany Aeolus for a great price with warranty included—very pleased with them.

    My only critique: wish they’d do it later In the year (after biking/hiking/ fishing season and before ski season).
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019 at 10:45 AM
    Ham Sandwich likes this.
  18. Black Elk

    Black Elk Music Lover

    Location:
    Bay Area, U.S.A.
    I don't think anyone is predicting the decline just based on this year's show. RMAF's popularity has been steadily declining, and the debacle a few years ago with the hotel renovations didn't help. I heard from a well-connected friend based in Boulder that there was virtually no press present for the press day this year! The CanJam organizers opted not to be a part of RMAF too, and I notice that they will have their own event in Chicago in Oct. 2020, so that is going to have a knock-on effect next year.

    The fact remains that shows are expensive, and the competition is intense. The people behind AXPONA have done their homework, and, right now, they have the go-to event in the US.

    Zach and his wife, Bevin, are just great, great people, and deserve all the success that comes their way.

    Enjoy your new toy! :thumbsup:

    How does it compare to the Auteur which is the model of theirs that I am most familiar with?

    Well, it used to be in October, but got moved up for some reason.
     
  19. Ulises

    Ulises Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Thanks. I compared the three open-backed headphones for maybe 45 mins total. All three were amazing, but I preferred the signatures of the Aeolus and the Verite—esp. the addictive vocals and impact of the bass, but with resolution and a cleaner treble than my other headphones that possess these qualities.

    Auteur seemed a bit cleaner, but I missed the fun factor when switching back and forth. Truth be told, I liked the Verite best, but I felt the Aeolus had many of the same qualities I found so engaging at a less-punishing price level. I also prefer the slightly more reserved aesthetic if the Aeolus.

    Happy with where I landed and have had some epic listening sessions already. These things are addictive.

    P.S. you offer interesting insights on the competitiveness of the show landscape and I’m certainly just a casual observer. I do hope the show finds its mojo and sticks around for selfish reasons, even if in a smaller, more accessible form than the past.
     
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  20. jusbe

    jusbe Modern Melomaniac

    Location:
    North Yorkshire
    It was the same at the North West Audio show in the UK earlier this year. They make a strong case for a fit-and-forget item as any, a quality I increasingly welcome as I get older.
     
  21. Knightrider7007

    Knightrider7007 Active Member

    Location:
    Canada
    Yey, I guess we need to give them a chance. Last time I went the headphone but was jam packed but it made listening a chore - sounds like, for better or for worse, it was a great chance to do some decent listening. Thanks for the feedback. I need to do more shows. :cool::cool::cool:
     
    Ulises likes this.
  22. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    this thread (and stererophile's coverage) is really bumming me out that the next AXPONA won't be until November '20 ! (previously held in april).
     
  23. Kal Rubinson

    Kal Rubinson Forum Resident

    Where did you see that? AXPONA's website says:
    2020
    April 17 - 19, 2020
    Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center
    Schaumburg, IL
     
  24. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    I read that they were moving it to November to line up with the Holiday season. I heard it shortly after last April's show.
    AXPONA Moves 2020 Expo from April to November
     
  25. Black Elk

    Black Elk Music Lover

    Location:
    Bay Area, U.S.A.
    That 'report' is from last year. E-mail from AXPONA's Mark Freed on Sept. 3, 2019 confirms the dates given by Kal Rubinson.
     

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