RMAF 2017: The Wrap

Themes. I do enjoy a good theme and for me there were 3 major themes woven through RMAF 2017; room setup (I know, not very sexy), DSP (I know, not very sexy), and fun (very sexy).

Room setup. Anyone can take any gear, irregardless of price, set it up in a hotel room, and make the result sound like shit. It's easy. What's not always easy is to make it sound fantastic. Some people, some of whom I've given a shout to in this report, know how to make their rooms sound fantastic because they have experience and they are professionals. While room setup isn't sexy, you can't even spend lots of money on it, it matters more than the gear.1

DSP has been around but it's coming of age in terms of inclusion. Systems, like the B&O, McIntosh, DEQX, Technics, and others employed room correction, and more, to great effect—mainly, they were able to minimize negative room interaction. You could view this as a new, processing-power version of room setup, and I would and wouldn't argue the point because some people out there in the real world cannot put their speakers where they sound best. DSP also offers things setup cannot do like intelligently/actively extend the range of a driver(s), eliminate room interaction, deliver near-flat frequency response in-room...And DSP looks so much better than room treatment ;-)

Fun is fun.

There was not a ton of new digital at RMAF 2017, let alone anything earth shattering. Rather what we're seeing is a slow and steady progression toward better. Whether that be more great-sounding affordable gear (yay!), better integration of multi-manufacturer products thanks to Roon, more access to more music thanks to streaming services like Tidal, it's getting better all the time.


Once again, a huge THANK YOU to Marjorie Baumert, the RMAF show director, and the entire RMAF crew for putting on a really big show.

For more extensive RMAF 2017 coverage, make sure to check out Stereophile and InnerFidelity for all things head-fi.

Worth repeating:
My Uber driver Noreddine on people complaining about the snow:

"Some people are unhappy but the ground is always happy."

1. If you counted the number of smaller rooms that set up their speakers on a diagonal and the number of smaller rooms that sounded good, you'd have a very close correlation.