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    The Computer Audiophile

    Off To Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2010

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    <img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/1013/rmaf-updates-125.jpg" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 5pt 5pt;" align="left">Hey computer audiophiles it's RMAF time. Based on the pre-show chatter RMAF is going to a completely new level this year. Not only are there more manufacturers, dealers, and attendees, but the level of presentations (excluding mine) is top notch. I have two final and very cool pre-show updates and one reminder before heading to the show. Read more for the juicy details :~)

    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] 

     

    <b>Updates</b>

    - The Musical Fidelity V-Link 24/96 Asynchronous USB to S/PDIF converter will be introduced to the world this weekend. Readers attending the show stop by room 1022 to hear it on a very nice Verity Audio / Musical Fidelity system. The V-Link MSRP will be between $149 and $169. Even better, it's coming home with me after the show :~)

     

    - I have an interview setup with one of the best recording and mixing Engineers in the business. We're not talking about Scottish nose whistle recordings. This Engineer has won Grammy awards for work on Steely Dan's Aja and Gaucho. His album credits include artists such as Marvin Gaye, Barbara Streisand, Mark Knopfler, Ringo Star, Neil Diamond, America, Boz Scaggs, Huey Lewis and the News, The Pointer Sisters, Chicago, Janis Ian, Whitney Houston, Miles Davis, Dire Straits, Billy joel, Vanessa Carlton, and even the Pussy Cat Dolls. His resume is impeccable and he has a new project involving 24/192 popular music. I can't wait to post the text of the interview here on CA.

     

     

     

    <b>Reminder</b>

    The Computer Audiophile Meet and Greet will take place Saturday, October 16, 2010 from 5 PM To 6 PM in the Evergreen Ballroom Salon A. Everyone from CA readers to CA skeptics is invited. I look forward to seeing every one at the show.

     

    P.S. Everyone attending the show is encouraged to publish their own show report or a few thoughts about the show here on CA. It's fun reading all the opinions and making those who couldn't attend jealous :~)

     

     

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    <br />

    wow, who knew there were so many engineers on Aja and Gaucho.<br />

    <br />

    As a Steely Dan fan back in those days, I only ever heard of Roger.<br />

    <br />

    Googling now - to confirm that my memory remains at least partially intact - I see that he also "produced" a rubidium clock.<br />

    <br />

    clay<br />

    <br />

    <br />

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    This has me drooling:<br />

    <br />

    "resume is impeccable and he has a new project involving 24/192 popular music." <br />

    <br />

    BTW, I'll be hanging out with my friends at PS Audios' room first thing on Friday. I assume they will be playing files with the PerfectWave DAC and Bridge, and using the prototype PerfectWave Amp. Hopefully they are bringing their full Maggie set up-it is pretty cool! If you are around when the show opens at noon, stop by PS' room for a listen.

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    Unfortunately, I can't make it to RMAF. If anyone has a chance, could they check out Maier Shadi's room and share their thoughts on the Merging Technologies Mykerinos card please. Would be really apprecitated.<br />

    <br />

    Cheers,<br />

    Mani.

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    Hi Keith, were Merging in London to have the <em>specific</em> version of the Mykerinos card that Chris has written about on this site, fitted in a totally silent server, connected to a PM Model Two, then I would be there in an instant. But I suspect there is only one place on the planet right now with this setup - RMAF!<br />

    <br />

    Mani.

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    You are correct Mani :~) <br />

    <br />

    I know Aaron the Merging representative here at the show. I'm going to talk to him about getting this version of the Mykerinos card back in my system :~)<br />

    <br />

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    Hi Chris,<br />

    <br />

    I have heard so much about audio cards with a digital playback system/server but have never had the opportunity to audition them in action. I use Ubuntu 10,04/ALSA via USB to my Benchmark dac and would like to know the advantages in going with a audio card (Lynx, etc). My real question concerning audio cards is, do they provide superior sound to a system like I have, given that they add considerable expense to a sound system? <br />

    <br />

    I have seriously considered building a music server, but until my question is answered, it is not likely to happen. Unfortunately, and unlike an audio component, digital boxes cannot be taken home for an audition, at least not where I live.<br />

    <br />

    Bill

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    Any chance you'll be able to get a listen to that? I would really like to hear some opinions on that device considering how highly regarded their Rhea phonostage is.

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    I would love to hear a quick rundown on the new Amarra products, particularly for the Mac. Couldn't make it, health, etc. Thanks so much<br />

    <br />

    Jim V.<br />

    San Carlos

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    <br />

    From the Press Release:<br />

    <br />

    "Another new product debuting at the show is Amarra Complete, a preconfigured music server solution for Apple Mac computers. Complete takes the comprehensive features of Amarra and makes computer music as easy as plug and listen. The Amarra Complete solution delivers a fully loaded music drive, pre–configured with licensed copies of Amarra and Mac OS 10.6, all optimized for music playback. Amarra Complete is an easy, Plug&Play solution for audiophiles who want to enjoy the sound of Amarra without having to learn how to set up and use a computer."<br />

    <br />

    clay

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    I visited the PS Audio room 1107 and was very disappointed in the sound. Very flat, dry sounding. Ryan said they had issues with the speakers. I will check back again before the end of the show.<br />

    ...Frank

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    I went back later on Saturday and it sounded better but not great. Seems the Genesis speakers were having issues. The PWT & PWD sounded really good in the YG Carmel room. I also observed several rooms running the PWT, but not the PWD. Heard only positive comments on the PWT.<br />

    <br />

    Chris said he had a PWT/PWD/Bridge being sent to him for review so I look forward to reading his impression.<br />

    <br />

    .....Frank<br />

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    <i>Unfortunately, I can't make it to RMAF. If anyone has a chance, could they check out Maier Shadi's room and share their thoughts on the Merging Technologies Mykerinos card please. Would be really appreciated.</i><br />

    <br />

    I am not sure which room was Maier Shadi's room, but I'm pretty sure the Magico room had a Mykerinos card feeding a Pacific Microsonics DAC. I was able to hear a high-rez direct to two track recording produced by Bill Schnee in that setup, and it sounded quite good (disregarding the speaker / room interaction problems anyway).<br />

    <br />

    Alan

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    at RMAF. Great show, as always.<br />

    <br />

    My main RMAF goals (meet or reconnect with forum/mfg/dealer friends; find out what are the new trends, if any; hear some good music and happen upon some surprisingly good sounding hotel rooms) were easily reached. Great people, great dinners, some new music and wonderful discussions.<br />

    <br />

    My favorite rooms (could spend all day listening to music) were TAD/Bel Canto, EAR/Marten, Sony/EMM Labs/Pass/Isotek, Concert Fidelity/Kaiser and Daedalus/First Sound. There were several others where I'd spend a couple hours if needed, and several that forced me to run out within seconds. The slight majority were ones where there was decent sound but nothing to write home about. Again, hotel rooms with 24 hours of prep...very difficult indeed.<br />

    <br />

    Flame war begin: I was less than impressed with the Magico room when I heard it. It very well might have been the loading factor; the demo (jazz instrumentals) was fairly loud and had the Q's overpowering that little room. I was underwhelmed. I also heard them at CES and they had some phase and amp issues to sort out, and never made it back to the room. I'm 0-for-2. <br />

    <br />

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    I was less impressed by the TAD- Bel Canto ball room than I was with the same TAD speakers driven by the Technical Brain gear on the 5th floor. Of course since the Be Canto's probably cost a 10th of the TB gear we shouldn't be surprised. <br />

    <br />

    I agree the Magico room was always crowded, always hot and when I was there playing way too much organ music. I need a other go around with those speakers.

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    I didn't hear the TAD room, but it had to be the electronics as I've heard those speakers before and they are breathtaking. I agree with the comments above on Magico speakers. I've heard them four or five times now, and they've never justified the reviewers' hype. Very good speakers, and they do everything well but I've just never been swept away. <br />

    <br />

    Yes, the PS Audio room was awful, but the Genesis speakers were prototypes, never produced, and I think anyone who heard them knows why.<br />

    <br />

    I thought one of the best sounding rooms, particularly for the money, was the Focal room on the first floor. They had Electra Be and 30th Anniversary speakers playing iTunes files sent wirelessly to a Micromega integrated amp/DAC using Crystal cables to the speakers. I don't know about the cables but the integrated was $5,000 and the 30th speakers were $3,500 and the sound was as good as $50,000+ systems I've heard. And better than the $300,00 ($500,000?) Magico room. Not a lot of acoustic room treatments either, although the room was fairly large. Yes, $8,500 is still a lot of money, but it sounded world-class.<br />

    <br />

    Focal speakers were also used in the Sonic Studios room, which had superb sound. The new Amarra Complete is just as Clay described -- an external USB driver pre-loaded with Mac OS and Amarra so your computer boots from that drive. I think it's for those who want good computer sound but don't want to invest the time to find the right hard drive, download the right software and then get it all running properly. <br />

    <br />

    I missed Chris's lectures, and, sadly, the meet and greet because there wasn't enough time to see everything my friends and I hoped to within the limited time. <br />

    <br />

    I thought the Can Jam room was wonderful, and I was surprised at how much I liked (loved) the Ultrasone Edition 8 headphones. For me, a little better (20%?) than the Denon 7000s with similar sound, and a lot better than the Sennheiser 800s. For those on a budget, the Denon 2000s at $215 are 80% of the sound of the 7000s, which cost $700. Crazy good deal. The 2000s with a CE DACport would provide audio heaven for cheap. And the Sennheiser 800s, to me, are the Magicos of the headphone world. <br />

    <br />

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    I also was not impressed by the TAD-Bel Canto room. The speakers seemed to beam and were unable to create a stereo image unless you were setting the last row of chairs in the middle. There were maybe 10 rooms that I thought things were setup correctly and sounding really good out of the 50 or so I visited Friday and Saturday. My list kinda goes like this:<br />

    <br />

    1.The $80,000/pair Acapella High Violoncello II's with Einstein tube electronics is my overall top pick of the show. They were as perfect as anything at the show. I heard this room on Friday morning but I have read that sometime Sunday that they blew out one of the ion tweeters.<br />

    2.The Avalon Transcendent speakers with Jeff Rowland electronics was probably the best sounding small room that I heard. This was one room that did not cost more than a 3-series BMW to own.<br />

    3.The suites on Mezzanine had many big dollar setups in the conference rooms but Dynaudio, Wadia, XLO room was the best balanced sounding setup. I think John Atkinson said he thought it was the best sound of the show.<br />

    4.Just down the hall on the Second floor from the Avalon/Rowland room was Audio by Van Alstine/Salk Speakers room. This is my favorite of all that I heard at the show mainly because it sounded as good as the insanely priced rooms and it is priced within my attainable budget. The Salk Veracity HT2-TL's had everything going for them, tonality, imaging, bass and focus when driven by Van Alstine's electronics. Also the real kicker was that their source was a Vortex music server(setting in the bathroom) over WiFi to a Logitech Squeezebox!<br />

    5.My second favorite in the attainable budget category was the Zu Speakers/Red Wine audio room. Nice warm sounding with good imaging and dynamics. The Zu's sounded way better in this room than down in one of the conference rooms that they shared with the PeachTree gear.<br />

    6.McIntosh was demoing their new music server and their new C50 preamp, MC302 power amp and their large multi-driver tower speakers. It was McIntosh, damn near perfect sounding.<br />

    7.The Classic Sound/Tri-Planer room was the best Turntable driven setup at the show. Those large horn speakers driven by Atma-Sphere amps were to die for.<br />

    8.I had to go see one oldest friends of mine, George Merrill. He is the man who got me hooked into this hobby over 25 years ago. He was showing off his new Turntable with Quad electronics and Quad speakers. Alright, maybe this was the best Turntable driven room at the show. <br />

    9.The Nola Metro Grand Reference speakers driven by Audio Research electronics just rocked. I could not believe the bass that these small tower speakers with 6.5 inch woofers could produce.<br />

    10.The last notable room on my list was the AudioKinesis and Atma-sphere room. This was an excellent example of a Horn/tube setup with the great warm mid-range sound. <br />

    There were some other good rooms and some horible rooms, but these stood out as my best pics for excellent sound that I heard at the show.

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