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RMAF 2009 feedback


audiozorro
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Okay guys, it been almost 2 days now since the show ended and we want hear the opinions of CA readers that attended. Chris is busy, his reviews will take some time and his posts are likely to be tempered.

 

I know everyone had a great time listening and fun socializing but where are the comments/impressions from the CA readers. From what I have heard or read elsewhere there seemed to be a lot of very expensive gear and some of the setups did not sound that good.

 

We all know that hotel rooms/suites are often hard to sound good. But where was all the room treatments and digital room correction systems I've heard about. It would seem to me if I had a room with components costing over $50K to $200K apiece, I would make sure the room acoustics were satisfactory.

 

Some of the feedback I've heard from friends was that their home systems sounded better for far less money. Of course the happiest group of friends were those from Head-Fi where room acoustics don't matter.

 

Just my 2 cents, but can't we do better at shows?

 

Anyway I was not there but I would love to hear comments, preferably on different things positive and negative about the show, like personal opinions of the best digital front end.

 

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Note worthy systems:

 

Odyssey, amazing sound, great sound stage and imaging, timbre was beautiful. I have heard Klaus's amps were good, but did not expect his speakers and preamp also to be stunning. So good, I ended up ordering a pair of his Stratos Monoblocks in SE trim.

 

Hansen speakers driven by Precision? electronics, life like tonal quality

 

MIT had an A/B demo of their DIY cables vs. their standard cables w/o electronics, cool, but I was impressed by

their system, Chapman speakers with McIntosh electronics, they had a real short room, but those speakers imaged so well, almost scary...

 

Audio Alternative of Ft. Collins, CO has a room with Vandersteen's driven by ARC electronics, we sat there for quite a while...

 

Ayre electronics (including the new Blu Ray showing a live concert) driving the new Avalon speakers, always great. I guess the Ayre BD player is now the true universal player.

 

Einstein electronics pushing a horned speaker (can't remember the name, Audio something), one of the pretties looking systems, and super detailed sound, although imagine and sound stage were not to my taste, I think the system was in the $200K plus range.

 

Beyerdynamic Headphones driven by their own headphone amp, great bass...

 

And yes, there were systems the cost more than my house, that didn't sound all that great, kudos to the guys that spent the time to get it right.

 

 

 

\"It would be a mistake to demonize any particular philosophy. To do so forces people into entrenched positions and encourages the adoption of unhelpful defensive reactions, thus missing the opportunity for constructive dialog\"[br] - Martin Colloms - stereophile.com

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Hi Audiozorro - Some of your comments are very valid and I personally said similar things to my friends at the show. There was a lot of very expensive gear at the show and I really like listening to that stuff as I can't hear it at a local dealer and shipping $100,000 speakers to Computer Audiophile isn't in the cards for most manufacturers. Yes, 99% of the rooms are far less than ideal for hearing what components can really do. However, the people setting up the rooms play the most critical role in the show. Great sound can be had in any room provided the people try to achieve great sound and know what they are doing. To be honest some rooms are setup so the components photograph well and the sound is a small piece of the puzzle. Other people measure the rooms meticulously while using software programs to provide general setup suggestions and using decades of experience to fine tune the setup. This separates the men from the boys and those who value appearance from those who value great sound and great music.

 

I configured a Mac G5 for a dealer who did extensive work, until 4am the day before the show, setting up his room. His room has already been mentioned in the traditional print magazines (website show reports) as a "marvel" and Best of Show. Since I cannot avoid a strong bias on this one I will not provide my opinion.

 

There were rooms with stratospherically priced gear that sounded terrible. The same people were in the same room for a couple years now and I thought they would have perfected the sound by now. I was hugely disappointed because I really wanted to like the sound.

 

One other factor most people don't think about is spending time in the rooms. It can take an hour with your own music and the representative to make a system really sing. Waiting for silence in the halls or even setting up time after show hours to put a systems through the paces. This is not possible for all the components at the show, but it can be done for a select few items one wants to critique.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Did anyone talk to Daniel Weiss about the INT202 Firewire Interface?

 

Or did anyone talk to Gordon Rankin about his WaveLink 24/96 asynchronous USB to S/PDIF Interface?

 

I look forward to any reviews of these new interfaces and how well they perform in lieu of the Lynx AES16e when connecting to the Berkeley Audio DAC.

 

Here are some interesting tidbits that just have me begging for more details:

 

Wavelength Audio – "keep tuned to our Streamlength iPod asynchronous digital products to come out in 2010"

 

Comment – finally something affordable and desirable for the masses?

 

Wavelength Audio – "Crimson 32-bit/192kHz high speed USB DAC available late 2009"

 

Comment – finally a 192kHz capable USB DAC (OS(X) or Windows 7)

 

 

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This was my first RMAF and I had a great time. "Kid in a candy shop" would describe it, though I'm surely no kid.

 

My favorite sound at the show was in the MBL room (both electronics and speakers). My friend and Symposium sponsor Maier Shadi did a great job in setting up that gorgeous equipment. We spent two evenings after the show shut down together with Chris listening to track after track of our favorites from his G5 , Chris' MacBook Pro and an external drive of my music. Beautiful stuff. Spectacular sound. We were invited by hotel security to shut it down at about midnight. If I hit the lottery, the first $150k or so is heading Maier's way.

 

I also liked the Marten speakers from Scandinavia played with EAR equipment. I was disappointed with the sound from the Focal Grand Utopias with MBL electronics. It must have been the room (top end harshness). At those prices I assume it was the room and setup, because it was practically unpleasant. I wanted to hear the Wilson Sasha's, and I did, first with Ayre and then with Audio Research, but neither room sounded good to me. I have the Vandersteen 5's and was anxious to hear the new 7's, but even with top end Audio Research electronics, they didn't blow me away. I expected magic. Again, I think it's very hard to make great sound in those little rooms. More kudos to Maier for having succeeded in that.

 

Lot's of iPod's in Wadia docks; a good number of computer music sources in the rooms, mostly Macs. Ammara was being used in a number of the rooms. Lots of vinyl as well. Had a nice chat with Daniel Weiss, a real gentleman.

 

I really enjoyed the CanJam section. I bought a pair of Jerry Harvey's (founder of Ultimate Ears) new JH-13's and had ear molds made right there. Sounded fantastic. I've been shopping for a good headphone amp for my main system and was blown away by the Ray Samuels stuff. I ordered the Raptor for the house and a P-51 for portable use. I was sorely tempted by the balanced B-52, but it was just more than I needed. I didn't hear the pre-amp, but the headphone output to an HD-800 was surely sweet.

 

The seminars were excellent: John Atkinson on compression; Steve Hoffman talking about his LP/CD/SACD remasters of Nat King Cole Capitol albums for Chad Kassem; Harry Pearson on the state and future of the business (Harry thinks the day of the esoteric audio salon is over, that the good stuff will only be sold by people working out of their homes); the Computer Audio panel with Chris, Gordon, Charlie Hansen and other experts, moderated by John Atkinson was informative and a little feisty. It got the best turnout of them all. More and more people seem to be into Computer Audio. I got a kick out of meeting Michael Fremer. Been reading him for so many years I felt like I knew him already. He couldn't have been more gracious.

 

Great toys, great music, good friends to hang with. Can't wait until next year. As they say in the magazines: "Highly recommended".

 

Jeff

 

 

 

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I want to thank everyone that came by our room. It was great to put a face to a name/moniker.

 

We got great feedback from everyone that listened to our mastered tracks in their native format. I think we were the only one's at the show playing DXD material and using the Playback Designs MPS-5 SACD/CD player.

 

A few pictures here:

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue45/rmaf_20094.htm

 

Scroll halfway down the page. We were in the Usher room.

 

 

Regards,

 

 

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