Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2016 – Day 2 Coverage
Mark Levinson room
The lovely sounding Wilson Audio Yvette speakers powered by VTL tube electronics. Big, powerful, pricey, fun!
Nothing says “Audio Porn” like a room full of McIntosh equipment consorting with a pair Sonus Faber Il Cremonese loudspeakers. Scandalously good sounding!
McIntosh MHA 150 headphone amplifier/DAC with the MB 50, Play-Fi certified, streaming audio player. Tunes were piped through the MHP-1000 headphones produced in conjunction with Beyerdynamic.
Pricing is $4500.00 for the DAC/AMP, $2000.00 for the streamer and $2000.00 for the headset.
Audio Alchemy was sharing a room next door to ELAC. Owner, Peter Madnick was premiering his new DMP-1 Digital Music Player and PPA-1 Phono Preamp, both priced at $1795.00 each. ELAC, for it’s part, was showing off their pretty new turntable that premiered at the Munich Hi-Fi show. The source and electronics were being played through some lovely ELAC FS 507 VX-JET loudspeakers. We found out that the pairing of Audio Alchemy and ELAC in this room was more than just happenstance. Apparently, just a couple of days earlier, ELAC had completed the purchase of Audio Alchemy from Peter Madnick and brought him into ELAC as a development partner. It looks like some interesting things may be on the horizon with Peter, Andrew and Chris collaborating on upcoming product.
ELAC’s Andrew Jones takes us through the all ELAC system they were demonstrating at RMAF. It consisted of the Uni-Fi Slim Series Speakers and the Element Integrated Amplifier.
Chris Walker from ELAC demonstrates how the room correction system of the Element Integrated Amplifier works. Note: this is video 1 of 2.
Chris Walker from ELAC, part 2 of 2.
More pictures from the ELAC room. The Uni-Fi UF-5 towers that Andrew Jones was demonstrating were simply outstanding. An unbelievable amount of bass was coming out of those svelte little towers. The imaging and clarity in the mids and highs were also standouts in something of that price range. And they were being driven to pretty loud levels with the new little Element integrated amp. Another amazing sounding room.
Just for fun, here is a clip of how that Mark Levinson/Revel combination sounds…..once pumped through the internet of course!
Keven Voeks of Harman Luxury Audio Group walks us through some new Mark Levinson components played through the Revel Ultima Salon 2 speakers.
Dropped in to see Salk Sound, and got a listen to the new Song 3 loudspeakers which were being powered by Schitt Audio electronics and fed music by Salk’s Streamplayer Gen III. This set up qualified as one of my favorite sounding of the show as well. As a Salk speaker owner, I freely admit to being a little biased, but the Song 3s just sounded so musical and layered that I didn’t want to leave! Detail, dynamics and bass, check, check and check. Response extends down to 30 Hz and the prices start at $2895.00 per pair in a standard finish but Jim Salk will work with you to create almost any finish you want if you’re willing to spend the extra scratch.
Tube amplifier kit maker Elekit is based out of Japan and it’s North American distributor, VK Music was showing off a neat selection of kits. All are touted to be well thought out and moderately easy to assemble. Their big TU-8340 power amp kit can be configured with a variety of tubes, but puts out 41 watts/channel, class AB, in UL mode or 21watts/channel in Triode mode with the standard EL34 tubes. It also featured a novel, push button, auto biasing system. They even had some smaller kits in the $250.00 range that I thought might make a good building project to do with my teenage son.
Visiting the PS Audio room is always an experience to say the least! The speakers here are the Scaena “La Maitresse Ultime” priced at $125000.00 a pair. Makes an impression doesn’t it? PS Audio was also at other locations throughout the show with more affordable systems to be sure. I can’t honestly say that this room won me over on sound quality but, in terms of sheer spectacle? Boy did it ever!
Questyle had a handsome looking selection of headphone targeted components. The CMA600i was a tidy and particularly good sounding amp/DAC combination. It features the AKM AK4490 DAC and retails for $1299.00.
A few more pics from the HSU Research room. The new CCB-8 speakers were a real treat to listen to sounding very clean and balanced as you moved around the room. They are a constant directivity design using an 8″ poly mid-range driver and a 1″ compression driver mounted behind the dust cap. This has the effect of using the mid driver’s cone as a waveguide. Response is rated down to 65 Hz, they are easy to drive at 94 dB sensitivity, and can be flipped on it’s side for center channel use without crossover adjustments. Pricing is TBD, but count on them being on the affordable side. Five of these and a sub would make a killer sounding system in my opinion.
Tubes and turntables were everywhere you looked at RMAF. If you want to keep that vinyl sounding it’s best though, you’ll might want to look at this fully automatic Auto Desk System Vinyl Cleaner for $3895.00.
The Meitner MA-2 integrated playback system handles any CD or digital music file format you can throw at it. The EMM Labs DA2 Stereo DAC is billed as the “Worlds First 16x DSD Up-sampling DAC”. The EMM Labs PRE2-SE is a purely analog pre-amp. Listening to some digital tracks through headphones sounded quite swell! The build quality on all of these components was stunning…along with the prices. $25000.00 for the DAC, $15500.00 for the preamp, $11000.00 for the player. The “trick” braided headphone cable is there…just because.
JBL Everest loudspeakers. 90 grand for the pair. The Mark Levinson gear will add just a “wee” bit more to the cost!
The Giya G3 speakers from Vivid Audio made both a visual and sonic impression in the room they were in. A big, rich soundstage emanated forth from these organic, unorthodox looking shapes. The bass was also surprisingly potent. They were powered by gorgeous looking Luxman electronics, especially the big, pure Class-A power amp. The speakers retail for $40000.00 for the pair.
Here are some additional pictures from NAD and PSB yesterday. Included are some pictures of the Classic series that Piero outlined, the new Master series direct digital integrated amp and a cracker of a subwoofer from PSB called the Subseries-450.
The sub featured one 12″ woofer and two 10″ passives, a 1000 watt (dynamic) Hypex amp and some DSP wizardry. Price was $1400.00
A few more detail photos of the Auralic Polaris Wireless Streaming Amp and it’s control software.
Made it to the Seaton sound room where I was greeted by Mark Seaton and his unassuming looking speakers and subwoofer. But unassuming is NOT how they sounded! The Catalyst 8C loudspeakers had a wonderful clarity and effortlessness to them and the new F18+ subwoofer just shook the bejeezzus out of the room, but it was tight and almost powerful beyond reason. The Catalysts are internally tri-amplified and use a new 8″ coaxial driver in the center. The F18+ subwoofer uses a massive 18″ Nomex/glass fiber cone driver and a built-in 4000 watt Class D amplifier. The F18+ can also be expanded to drive up to an additional 3 passive F-18 slave units from the master’s amp. Price was $6,440.00 for the Catalyst pair, in standard black finish with the stands. The F-18+ is $2295.00 for the powered master and $1095.00 for a passive slave unit in standard black finish.
Adding on to Piero’s Bryston post, here are a few more pictures of the Mini T loudspeakers and the associated Bryston equipment. It was indeed one of the better sounding rooms of the show. Also making an appearance was Bryston’s new BLP-1 Turntable. MSRP: $3995.00
Andrew Jones having fun discussing his very affordable and nicely sounding floorstanding Debut F5.
The beautiful new 2-way Contour 20 priced at $5,000 for the pair has new features too numerous to mention. I’m struck by the beautiful design, nicely shaped compared to the typical boxier Dynaudio models. I didn’t wait long enough to hear it but I will go back. Dynaudio shared a room with Octave Audio.
I was warmly greeted by George and Carolyn Counnas of Zesto Audio. I loved listening to Nat King Cole through their Andros Tessera Vacuum phono stage, the Leto 1.5 vacuum tube preamp and their Eros 300 mono blocks, class A power amp. Playing vinyl on a Merrill Williams Audio REAL 101.2 turntable with dual Tri-planar U2 tone arms, through Marten Django L speakers. This is musicality with a capital M.
I was very happy to finally meet Massachusetts based Vinnie Rossi. Along with a pair of Harbeth Super HL5, an Acoustic Signature WOW XL turntable, Vinnie had his LIO Integrated amplifier running the show. This was an excellent sounding room.
Very struck by a wonderful sounding room, clarity, depth and a large soundstage, the $15,000 Moon 780D streaming DSD DAC and the $14,000 700i Integrated amplifier. I’d been dying to hear the new B&W 802 D3 speakers at $22,000 for the pair.
Kevin Voeck shows off not only the Levinson #519 but the reference Revel Salon 2. Track after track, I wanted to just stay and listen and enjoy!
The new Levinson #519 Audio Player which can be either wired or wirelessly controlled. It plays up to 32 bit, 192kHz PCM files. Music servers like Spotify and Tidal are built-in, a CD player and Bluetooth with aptX.
This fine looking rack of gear includes the new Classic Series C368 Digital Integrated Amplifier from NAD. Several features of note include the empty slots on the rear for future upgrades referred to as Modular Design Construction (MDC). As an example, install the Bluesound BluOS music management system and manage your music in your network from a smartphone or tablet. The new Integrated line includes additionally the lower priced C338 and the higher priced C388. The entire rack includes the new C568 CD player and on top, the C556 turntable. Music is heard through PSB’s Imagine Mini and SubSeries 450 subwoofer. This entire system is under $4,000!
I was happy to return to the Bryston room once they had the new turntable setup and playing! The new BLP-1 turntable developed with GoldNote in Italy, along with the BTP-1 power supply sounded great. The belt-driven BLP-1features a titanium tonearm and 35mm thick Delrin® platter.
The room sounded great! Powered by Bryston Cubed Series 7B monoblocks and through Mini T speakers.
This is the limited edition Grand Class SL-1200GAE classically Technics, direct-drive turntable. $3,300 will buy it, no wait, all 1,200 are sold out.
The VT-E vertical turntable is just interesting and almost seems to defy gravity. A mechanism keeps the aluminum tonearm and Ortofon OM5e cartridge tracking while the clamp keeps the record from falling off. Although stand mounted, it can actually be wall mounted.