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Rocky Mountain Audiofest thoughts

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  • Jim
    First, I want to thank the Colorado Audio Society for their help with the show. http://www.coloaudio.com/CAS/ These shows are always exciting, especially for
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 26, 2006
      First, I want to thank the Colorado Audio Society for their help with
      the show. http://www.coloaudio.com/CAS/

      These shows are always exciting, especially for audio nuts like me.
      Talk about audio as fine art, as audio jewelry. It was there. If the
      high-end audio industry has done nothing else, it has created some
      imaginative, artful eye candy. And much of it sounds good too!

      One gripe about these shows is the strange need for many exhibitors
      to play their systems way too loud. If I never have to hear a
      saxophone or brass instruments played louder than life, in a small
      hotel room, that will be just fine. Maybe I'm in the minority but I
      want to be drawn into the music, not blown over in my chair. Thank
      goodness there were also plenty of rooms playing good music at or
      close to comfortable listening levels. Human voice, classical, jazz,
      blues and country was all doing things right from a few well set up
      systems. Hotel rooms can be so problematic when "tuning" a system. In
      one or two days! The biggest, baddest JM Labs speakers ever made
      sounded thick and boomy this year. And it's not the speaker or the
      electronics, as I've heard this same gear sound "Grand" in the home
      of one of our very own FM Tuner members here in the Dallas area. So
      they can sound glorious. There were different problems with the Audio
      Note room. The room in Denver just sounded wrong. And I went back
      several times. Very strange as much of the same Audio Note gear
      sounded quite wonderful at the Great Plains Audiofest for the last
      two years running. With those Audio Note systems set up in two
      different rooms, no less. http://www.greatplainsaudiofest.com/

      Another shock, I thought, was the Harbeth speakers that sounded so
      fine last year but not this year. I say, I thought, because this time
      I heard them being driven through class D amps. I didn't hear any of
      these type amps produce what I consider good music in any of the
      rooms. Maybe a few generations from now? Maybe never, for my tastes.

      The McIntosh room with their array speakers weren't bad at all. At
      least from the first impression. The array type speaker is one of the
      reasons I went this year. I have several friends with great sounding
      arrays from companies like GR-Research, Dali and Selah. Those, one
      and all, have huge, wide and tall (and good) sound. I DO love my
      small JM Labs and Dynaudio Aries speaker systems. But every time I
      visit one of these guys, my system comes up, "plays up" short in
      size, if not in good sonics. As I expected, nothing affordable... of
      this type... on my retirement income... is out there. I need a paying

      Two small speaker systems that I found quite nice were the ACI
      speakers in room 1022 and some new home theater speakers called ERA
      speakers in room 2000. I won't go into tubes versus solid state, as
      the division didn't seem to jump out at me this year. Good sound came
      from both.

      On my FM tuner fetish, I didn't see any on display. Last year was
      better. There were music servers and the, quickly becoming, famous
      Slim Devices Squeezebox. I have a Squeezebox in my second system
      sitting on one of my tuners. Thank you Fred! It has internet music
      coming from my router/high speed cable and the computer's hard drive.
      I have compared several hard drive stored formats. Sent from my M-
      Audio card, digital out and hardwired into my main system DAC. For
      me, the sound quality measured up like this. EAC WAV files direct
      from CD as best. With WMA lossless and iTunes lossless about neck and
      neck second and downhill from there with iTunes and MP3. I bring this
      up because in the Evergreen Ballroom Salons, room A, there was some
      HUGE Wilson speakers driven by Halcro amps. The music was from a hard
      drive in WMA lossless format. The sound was OK but I did get the
      feeling it was from a "soft" format. Not what I normally hear from a
      pair of Wilson's on transistor or tube gear. I dare say one of our
      DIY members could have extracted better sound with a "real" CD in an
      $80 Panasonic DVD player as the transport and a nice moderately
      priced DAC. Just my opinions.

      On the final musical note. I enjoyed the music and talking to the
      people in the Quicksilver, ModWright, GR-Research, Welborne Labs,
      Atmosphere, Experience Music, Inc., Amber Wave Audio, Zu Audio,
      Hagerman Technology and Tyler Acoustic rooms. When reading the list,
      I'm sure my DIY bones must be showing. Love that music! 8:-) jim...

      If you've somehow missed it, Fred has about 55 photos of some of the
      more affordable and non-mainstream companies can be seen on the link

      So what's next? For me, it will be the Lone Star Audiofest in Dallas
      next May. Hope to see you there. jim...
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