RMAF day 1

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I spent the long flight from Geneva to Denver trying to come up with an opening line that does not include "Rocky Mountain High". Denver is not really in the Rockies and does not stimulate that “high” magic at all. Denver is more like the "Gateway to the Rockies" or the "Gateway to the plains" depending on which direction you are going. I have gone both ways and both titles fit. Don’t get me wrong, Denver is a very nice place. Just not what anyone would call “in the Rockies”. Going west just a short distance up highway 70 are the Rockies with many places that elicit a "high": Aspen but not Vail, Ouray but not Silverton, Glenwood Springs but not Grand Junction, Telluride and nowhere else on Earth. That “high” feeling is a yen and once you feel it you never forget it. It is like the first time you kiss girl and then miss her when she is gone. It is a yen to stay in the mountains, to live near nature, to connect with the outdoors, to abandon the past.

I spent this past summer vacation right up here in the Rockies and that “high” came to me the moment we drove up into the mountains. My kids also got it the first day and both want to move here. I told them they could move here anytime. Just move out of *my* house, pack your car and leave. I might even throw in a $20 or two. I once did throw everything I owned into a car and moved here - many years ago. I lived in Aspen and washed dishes at night and skied every day. I even met Mr. “Rocky mountain high” himself. I dropped into a ski store to buy a pair of the red-white-and-blue sunglasses everyone was wearing and heard the unmistakable “Annie!” called in that nasal tone from the back of the store. That was a long time ago in a galaxy far away . . .

Right in the here and now and in this galaxy we have an audio show. I love RMAF. I love the energy just before the show opens with all the people milling about, some wanting to get into the rooms, others running about trying to solve some last minute problem. Some just re-aquainting. I like getting to the show on Friday so I can roam without a packed house. The estimate this show is about 4000 tickets sold so tomorrow will be busy.

I did get to a lot of rooms today but had to skip a lot. Many I just opened the door and unless something specific grabbed my attention I moved on. Many times simply playing the wrong music or music too loud kept me out. Sometimes there were a lot of people talking in the room and I skipped it. It must be very hard for the dealers to pick music and volume level that will not alienate someone. And they have to talk to the potential customers and that chases away others. Tough job.

I would say overall the quality of rooms has been higher this year than any other. Most of the rooms had decent sound and many have excellent sound. It also seemed this year the show is bigger than ever. There are rooms in two towers and all through the conference areas. There was a whole section behind the restaurant with maybe 5 large demo rooms I almost missed.

Hmm where to start? Again, I really only got a good listen in about 20 rooms so this by no means an all inclusive list.

I rolled through the large room with vinyl and SACD dealers. I have not seen anything interesting yet but the day is young. Vinyl just gets bigger and bigger. LPs are tempting but $50 for an LP is steep when I can get an SACD for less. Plus I have not gotten my TT set up to a point where I really like it. Every room had a TT and this year everyone is ready for vinyl action. Also this year almost every room was using some type of server software and there are a lot of iPads. I remember a few years back when it was just a few servers, then a few more. Now it is the standard.

Ray Kimber’s room is always interesting. He usually really pushes the envelope and tries something wild like the 12 10-foot electrostatic speakers a couple of years ago. Or the first version of the TAD speakers five years ago. This morning I wandered in and was immediately awed by the realism in the piano recording. It was just two speakers and solo piano. Ray was using his huge Pass Labs amps driving some Sony speakers set up in a very conventional fashion. I was surprised at how simple it was and I could not get over that these were Sony speakers. Amazing. I wondered out and ran into Ray who was explaining to John Atkinson the recording was his best ever and Robert Silverman was right there signing CDs. I don’t have a set of the Mozart sonatas so I took the plunge and bought the boxed set at $100. Got them signed too. This is a little steep for me but I know Ray gives all the proceeds to charity. So my first star-of-show goes to Ray’s recording on Sony speakers with Pass amplification.

The next star-of-show room I think is the Sonus Faber room up on the 8th floor. It was inviting right from the start and the guy running the show seemed to be having fun. I got to play my demo disk and he played a number of high resolution files from the server. The room sounded great and was a fun place to be.

I spent some time in the Linkwitz room. I know the guy running the room, Dan Berringer, as he lives near me. I listened to the Orion speakers at his home and they were for a long time the best speaker I have ever heard. Today in the hotel room here in Colorado they sounded pretty good but not up to the level I recall in Dan’s home. Hotel room acoustics can be brutal. But this room is still worth a visit. The sound is pretty good and Dan will play, if asked, one of his personal recordings that are very high quality and not compressed at all. Be sure and ask as it is an experience not to be missed.

I made a short stop in the Wilson Sophia room, still my all time favorite speaker. It just sounds right to me in every way.

I also made a quick stop in the Dynaudio room, another fabulous speaker that impresses me every time.

I made a stop in the Music Hall room just because I like to say hi to Roy. He has lots of toys are reasonable prices. I may need to go back to take advantage of a show special.

After the show was drinks in the bar and dinner. A lively place all evening and Harry Pearson et’ al was at the next table. It is interesting the number of people who have flown in for this show. I thought it was a more regional show but there are a lot of people in hotels and from far away places. I guess that is a good thing – drawing more people from a broader region.

That is it for me tonight, I have no idea what time my body thinks it is at this point. Geneva on Wednesday, Washington DC on Thursday and Denver Thursday night. All I know is that I am tired. More show tomorrow and I am psyched!
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Siegfried's latest:

jan didden
check out the vertical orientation of the woofers. Siegfried said that it isn't necessarily an official change yet. I told him I liked the look which was not only true, but apparently the right thing to have said!

They sounded the best that I have heard them at RMAF, but Linkwitz agreed that they should even better in a bigger room. (like the ones at Burning amp!)

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