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Rocky Mountain Audio Festival Show Report

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Day 2: Chris Groppi

Day 2 of the RMAF was a bit more relaxed, so I was able to listen more carefully in several rooms. I was surprised at how some of the big money systems disappointed me, but there were still many great sounding rooms.

TAD Pioneer CR-1s and Bel Canto electronics

These beautiful TAD CR-1's sounded fabulous driven by Bel Canto 500W monoblocks. The Bel Canto system used a prototype "virtual battery" DC power supply to provide power to the CD player and DAC. These speakers were not cheap, at about $30k, but really sounded excellent. I usually miss the bottom octave, but not with these.

Von Schweikert VR9SE

These Von Schweikert VR-9SEs were the most realistic drum presentation I heard at the show. Many demos tried the drum thing, but in my opinion, these did it best. These are some seriously big, massive speakers.

Acapella Triolon Excalibur

These $192,000 (!) Acapella Triolon Excalibur speakers sounded very alive and dynamic, but were also identifiably horn like. They did look cool (or goofy, depending on your tastes).

Golden Acoustics room treatments

If the Triolons were not goofy enough for you, these sure will be. These Golden Acoustics room treatments were in the same room as the Triolons. They are calculated and built for your specific room.

Studio Electric T3

These Studio Electric T3s ($7900/pair) were my favorite speaker of the day. They're only about waist high. The sound put many big money rooms to shame, with stupendous aliveness and dynamics, and great bass extension, down to 34 Hz.

Modwright room

The Studio Electric T3s were also put to great use in the Modwright room, with Modwright's electronics. They've been entirely building their own amps and preamps for 5 years now, as well as continuing mods of source components. This was definitely one of the best sounding rooms at the show, and was something like 20 times less expensive than the biggest money rooms.

Dodd audio

These 120W Dodd Audio monoblocks are built entirely by hand to order for a mere $4800 per pair. They were driving the AV123 X-Statik loudspeakers ($799/pair). This entire system costs less than $10k, and sounded ridiculously good.

Dodd Monoblocks

These Dodd monoblocks (280W, ~$30k) were powering the AV123 LS9s. These are some beautiful amps. The AV123 LS9s let you spend a bit more on your electronics.

AV123 LS6

These more reasonably sized AV123 LS6s might even fit into my room. At $4500, they're a steal. They were powered by Dusty Vawter's CIA D-500 class D monoblocks in the Channel Island Audio room.

EMM Labs multichannel

This EMM Labs multichannel system, using 4 big Soundlabs electrostatic panels, plus some bespoke Sony speakers imported from Japan, was the first multichannel system that has ever realy gotten my attention. The EMM Labs 6 channel in, 4 channel out preamps provide phantom center and rear channels.