RMAF 2012

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Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 05, 2012
Ansel Adams, Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2012 kicks off next Friday, October 12 and runs for just three days. I say just three days because there are 160 rooms filled with gear from over 300 companies. That's about eight minutes per room not counting hallway time, gab time, photo time, note-taking time and let me see what else...oh yea, listening to music. Of course one person cannot completely cover RMAF 2012 so I've decided to try a new approach.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
Also on silent display in the T+A/Dynaudio room was the diminutive T+A Cala multi-source UPnP/DLNA compact stereo receiver ($2,200) and matching CS Mini loudspeakers ($850 per pair). The Cala puts out 55 Watts into 4 Ohms and includes an FM tuner, a streaming client for Internet radio, network access (Ethernet and WLAN), and USB for flash drives and iOS devices plus a Bluetooth module. Supported file formats include MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, OGG-Vorbis, LPCM, WAV and the Cala can handle 24/192 music files.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 17, 2012
The system: Sonoma 32, EMM Labs CDSD, EMM Labs TSDX, EMM Labs XDS1, EMM Labs DAC6e, EMM Labs DAC2X, EMM Labs MA-1, EMM Labs MA-2, EMM Labs PRE2 x2, EMM Labs SWM3, Kimber Kable Select KS-1130, Pass Labs X350.5 x2, Sony SSAR-1 x 4, Kimber Select KS-1130 & 3038, and Kimber Palladian 14, 10 and PK 14G. System, price = $275,610.00.

But let me back up one minute and point out that Ray Kimber of Kimber Kable and IsoMike was responsible for bringing Fan-Ya Lin to RMAF and I forgot to point this out in my related post and I also forgot to thank him for bringing such wonder to weary listeners. Thank you!

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
Sonus Veritas was showing a full stack of their electronics including the Modena Reference Class A Differential DAC ($15,999) that includes 4 inputs (2x S/PDIF, 1x Toslink, and 1x USB) and optionally adds AES/EBU and I2S to its transformer-coupled tube output stage. Also in use was the Sonus Veritas Genoa Preamplifier ($15,999) and KT120 based Class A differential tube monoblock Florence Power Amplifier ($TBD) driving a pair of ProAc Response D40R ($12,000–$14,000/pair).
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
Boulder was featuring its 1021 Disc Player ($24,000) and the 150W/ch 865 Integrated Amplifier ($12,500) driving a pair of Vienna Acoustics Baby Grand Symphony Edition speakers ($4,500/pair). The 1021 Disc Player is more than a disc player as it includes an Ethernet connection for network/Internet-based playback and it supports file formats including FLAC, WAV, MP3, ALAC, OGG, AIFF up to 32-bit/192kHz. There's an AES3 output and 2 pairs of Balanced outputs that are adaptable to Unbalanced outputs and a front panel touch screen display.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
Simaudio was streaming some great tunes from through their Moon 180 MiND (Moon Intelligent Network Device) ($1,250). The MiND is a UPnP Renderer and DLNA compatible so you can stream from a NAS or the internet and play back WAV, FLAC, AIF, AAC, ALAC, OGG, and MP3 file formats up to 24/192 and there are Ethernet, Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), Toslink and AES/EBU inputs. There's also a custom MiND remote app for iOS and Android devices that can control multiple MiND zones.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
Antelope Audio was running some A/B Tests in Room 465:
PTE and Antelope Audio will be conducting a real time listening test between state of the art Analog and a state of the art digital copy—can you hear the difference?.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 14, 2012
Ayre Acoustics wins flat out, hands down, slam dunk, by a country mile AudioStream's Coolest Room Award. In fact the Ayre room was so cool, I didn't even know Audiostream had a Coolest Room Award until I saw it. Decked out in the best of mod design right down to the orange ashtrays and martini server setup, the guys at Ayre created a room to dream and enjoy music within. Bra-freaking-vo! We need more real life in hi-fi, imo of course, and it was a real treat to hang out in the Ayre room and listen to Neil Young. I felt like a teenager again until that pain in my lower back started to act up...
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
Sean Casey from Zu Audio in action

Speaking of good vibrations, I always stop in the Zu Audio room mainly because I know I'll hear some great music that I most likely have never heard before and like the guys from Wyred 4 Sound, the guys from Zu know how to have a good time which means they also know how to help you have good time if you are so inclined. I am and I did.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 17, 2012
People. Music. Enjoyment.

In my opinion, this is what our hi-fi hobby is all about. What's its not about is finding fault in a comparative or theoretical way. While differences and ideas are rampant, a hi-fi show smacks you upside your head with the fact that people make hi-fi gear and while theories and attitudes go into the mix, entering different rooms is like entering different worlds in terms how each person decides to approach reproducing music. In the end its people's enjoyment of music that is the deciding factor and even here we have nearly as many points of view as people. I know for some this notion of enjoyment is a constant source of frustration because they know they're right and everyone who disagrees with them is wrong. From my way of seeing and listening, the only positive outcome of this attitude is a lot of frown lines.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 13, 2012
How beautiful can music be? Or maybe the better question to ask in the context of a hi-fi show is do we sometimes forget that people make music for people? With all of our attention focused on hardware, I think we may at times lose sight of the point of all of our audiophiling but people like Fan-Ya Lin remind us in a not subtle at all way that the beauty of music lies in its making. And people are ultimately both the makers and receivers of this gift.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
B.M.C. was showing their line of components including the BDCD1.1 Belt Drive CD Player/Transport, BMC DAC1 DAC/Preamp ($4,700) and BMC AMP M1 monoblock amplifiers ($7,900/pair) while using the Antipodes Music Server ($2,300 2TB, $2,500 4TB) with a SOtM mBPS-d2s Intelligent Battery Power Supply ($400). The Antipodes Music Server includes a drive for ripping your CDs, comes in black or silver, and offers USB output to your DAC of choice.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 12, 2012
The i-Fi Micro line from Avatar Acoustics is brand spankin' new and comes to you courtesy of "trickle-down technology licensed from AMR and aimed primarily at the future, Computer Audio generation." Hey! That's us and we're here! While the i-Fi line was on silent display the iDAC ($299) tempted with its asynchronous USB input that can handle up to 24/192kHz source material, headphone amp, and analog volume control. You can add the optional iUSB Power Plant ($199) that offers "super regulated power with Isoearth and Isopower technology providing two USB outputs, one for power and another for audio/power."
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 16, 2012
That stealthy-black (and very difficult to photograph) slab is a prototype of MSBs new Analog DAC ($6,995 + $995 w/optional analog volume control which also adds a pair of analog RCA inputs). My timing was off with the Analog DAC's since every time I went in the room it was sitting silently on display. The inputs of the Analog DAC are modular and you can select from USB2, MSB ProI2S, standard AES/EBU and S/PDIF, RS232 and a MSB Network interface module that allows for firmware upgrades. The case is milled from a solid aluminum plate and next to where you see the illuminated volume level there's a flush-mounted rotary volume control and a push-button input selector. The Analog DAC can handle up to 32-bit/384kHz data as well as single and double rate DSD (64x and 128X DSD).
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 17, 2012
The Blue Light Audio room featured the Playback Designs MPS-3 CD player w/USB input ($8,500), the B.M.C. Audio AMP CS2 Integrated Stereo Amp ($8,400) driving the Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne Loudspeakers ($2,500/pair). Jonathan Tinn of Blue Light Audio was running the room while I was in it and he played me tape transfers he'd made using the Korg MR-2000S ($1,799). The interesting aspect of these transfers was two-fold—they were double rate DSD (128x DSD) files, and they were of Led Zeppelin and Bob Marley. Oh yea, and they sounded spectacular.