DaveC's 2015 RMAF Photos and Reviews

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
2,216
9
38
#1
RMAF 2015 was a great time, attendance was down but we had a steady stream of folks through both rooms my gear was in. But compared to the old days maybe half as many attendees... I think CAS/RMAF should consider a big marketing push so the general public is more aware of the show. I certainly don't miss long lines to take elevators but we do need to see more folks attending imo.

One note, I didn't have as much time this year and often didn't ask to play my test tracks unless I was really interested... so many comments will be short, more pics than reviews this year...

On with the report! :D





ELAC... Great value here. I won't exaggerate and say it's better than many high buck systems but it was better than some. The most impressive thing was their upcoming Rune-based music server, the software is amazing. If they can combine it with good sound quality they will have an incredible product. Also, the subs can be tuned using a smartphone app, really neat DSP implementation here. Great presentation by Andrew and his crew, he even answered a couple questions about the Pioneer S-1EX speakers I acquired on Saturday. Thanks Joel! :thumb:

Oh yeah, the sound... it was well balanced and smooth, but if there's one thing you can't do cheap it's tweeters and the ELAC tweeter is fine but probably it's weakest point. For the under $1k/pair range it's not likely you'll do better though, I think these ELAC speakers will dominate the sub $1k price range, which is probably a huge market compared to the expensive stuff.





Zu, these guys continually improve their speakers and they are getting more refined over the years. I enjoyed my time in the room, these speakers are dynamic and a lot of fun to listen to.





Lansche, those plasma tweets are really cool and sound very good. Solid work...







Thrax, those smallish MTMs sounded really big, they were in a big room and had no problem filling it with quality bass. Nice system for sure.
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
2,216
9
38
#2








Daedalus was really good this year, better set-up, better system, better music. Best ever for these guys by a fairly large margin. The room was just full of beautiful gear, the new ModWright tube amps with Daedalus making the chassis are spectacular, the chassis are cost-no-object works of art. As usual, the speaker cabinets are incredible as well. The sound was hard to fault in any area, really world-class. Great dynamics, clarity and resolution here, the sound is refined and cohesive. Bass is especially good... detailed, damped just right, lots of impact.

I might have more pics of the MW 845 SET amps that appeared later in the show...



ML Monoliths, the name is fitting and the sound was great with the IsoMike recording being demo'd. I thought I had more pics of the massive amps, hmm... will add 'em if I find 'em.










dc10 audio / Audio Tekne / ZenWave Audio... of course I'm biased but I thought this room was one of the best in show. The size of the speakers was perfect for the room, no bass issues at all, but the room was a little on the live side. Some absorption was added via GIK art panels on Saturday, this did help. The dc10 Berlin R speakers are really good. The bass is amazing, it's cohesive, detailed, controlled and very realistic sounding. They were driven by Audio Tekne's new Yamoto monoblocks which use either 845 or 211 tubes in PP configuration. We got a lot of great feedback, it was fun! :green:










Vapor's Perfect Storm speakers, Resolution treatments, Lampi DAC/amps, Verastarr cables and ZenWave SurgeX... this came together to be another contender for best in show. The lack of distortion and perfect driver integration of the Perfect Strorm speakers was just awesome. They rank up there with anybody in terms of clarity and resolution, and there's no harshness. The Accuton drivers have been beaten into submission and don't exhibit any downsides, just smooth music with amazing resolution. The room treatments allowed the PS to be demo'd in close to ideal conditions and resulted in a great demo where you could really hear the system's potential. No excuses need be made. Vapor has always been good and an amazing value but honestly not quite up there with the best of the best, but now they are. When looking at the competition, the PS pricetag seems totally reasonable and the only issue they may run into is they are too cheap so people may assume other speakers in the 6-figure range are better, but it's not likely. The PS are among the best speakers in the world, no doubt... great job!
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
2,216
9
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#3






Cessaro, nice speakers but I can never get a good feel for how they sound with the setup and music they play at shows, they never have played attendee's music... It seemed like there was good potential though.





PranaFidelity, the vayu/fs floorstanders at $6500 are a deal for the price, it's really hard to fault them for much if anything, you get a big, full range speaker... very impressive.





Audiokenisis with some big stand-mount speakers on big stands, with a new ambiance system that is tuned to deliver more reverberant energy with the proper delay. This gives you the accuracy of directional speakers with reflections that don't take away from detail and soundstage. There are also multiple subs to even out bass modes, when I heard them there were still some bass issues, but later on that got sorted out. Show conditions are not easy... Anyway, this system gets better every year and this year was really good and the price of this system isn't over the top either. I love the accuracy, detail and soundstage of directional speakers, you also don't need to invest in so many room treatments. The tone was natural and believable, I really enjoyed this system. Maybe they would consider a higher end model with a top-end ($$$) compression driver and some fancy cabs too. ;)





PSA/YG... didn't play my test tracks but the sound in here was very good and enjoyable.





Ok, Vinni Rossi and Harbeth put on one of the best demos at the show and are certainly in the top few I heard. I used a live version of Bela Fleck's "A Moment So Close", which most systems can't reproduce without it being a muddy mess, but this system did it properly and is one of a small handful of systems that made this track sound excellent. There was no muddiness, good separation and definition, it was amazing. I've had some exhibitors turn it off after a very short time and give me a dirty look (CaughNOLAcaugh) and in some systems it just sounds horrible. This system is up there with a ~$300k TAD system in it's rendition of this particular track, I really had a hard time believing what I was hearing. Beyond that, it had decent bass impact, very good tone and is otherwise of of the best systems I heard this weekend. :thumb:
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
2,216
9
38
#4




Sakura, the best full range driver at the show imo, augmented in the lower frequencies like the Voxativ, but this system made Voxativ sound flat and boring in comparison, and I'd guess the price is far more reasonable.



JBL Everest. I really wanted to hear these but BOTH Harman vendors in the room engaged in conversation louder than the music. I went and turned the volume up considerably but instead of taking the hint they just talked louder. Now, I can see a small company making this mistake because they are so enthusiastic about their product but Harman is a big company and should hire folks that know better. Sorry, but this was unacceptable and I was disappointed.





KEF Blade 2... Wow, very nice. They are approaching TAD levels of fidelity but the bass is a bit loose and not as much impact. I hate to say it, but the design is flawed as far as not having any large woofers or ports firing forward to provide that impact. The concentric driver is great and overall I enjoyed hearing them.





Vapor Nimbus... Great looks, great performance and a reasonable price. For the money, $12-13k, you'll have a hard time doing better. Vapor is maturing and both the finish and sound of their speakers are at world class levels. Big :thumb:
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
2,216
9
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#5








Technics and more concentric drivers. These are good but they missed the boat in having a flat midrange cone around the tweeter, I think it would have been best to use the midrange cone to serve as a waveguide but whatever, they sound really nice. The smaller system is a deal at ~$5k, the larger Reference system is ~$55k, if I remember right those prices include amps and maybe sources too. The big amp is really pretty in a retro-modern sort of way. Sound was hard to fault, the concentric drivers are awesome, very cohesive and resolving without harshness. Volume in the room was a bit subdued for my taste but Technics is well worth checking out. Great debut IMO...





Avante Garde, awesome. I was enjoying the music playing and waiting for a break to ask to play my test tracks when some hipster with a waxed mustache walks in and starts talking over the music, gave the Vendor a disk and then took the sweet spot. Hipsters are very punch-able but I restrained myself. :lol: Anyway, super rude IMO but not the Vendor's fault. I wasn't going to sit around and listen to the horrendous music hipster brought, which wasn't really testing the system in any way, and left.







Soundings of Denver bringing in some Italian bling, gorgeous speakers that sounded great from Chario driven by Boulder Amplifier's gear. It's nice to see some B&M stores left to promote hifi, these days many people have never heard a good hifi system and if they don't know it exists they won't buy it. The little Chario speakers were a great match for the hotel room, together with a couple of small REL subs the bass was impressive and smooth, the tweeter was natural sounding and all together it was a very enjoyable system.



jtwrace's (from AC) demo disk... really good, well worth checking out. :thumb:
 
Apr 3, 2010
16,022
0
0
Seattle, WA
#6
JBL Everest. I really wanted to hear these but BOTH Harman vendors in the room engaged in conversation louder than the music. I went and turned the volume up considerably but instead of taking the hint they just talked louder. Now, I can see a small company making this mistake because they are so enthusiastic about their product but Harman is a big company and should hire folks that know better. Sorry, but this was unacceptable and I was disappointed.
Agree on both fronts. Both of these were dealers, independent of Harman. They did more damage by being there through these guys than not. One dealer was so opinionated, Michael and I could not get a word in edgewise. The other was not even playing anything on Salon 2s.
 

Jazzhead

VIP/Donor
Aug 26, 2012
1,379
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#7
Super pics , thanks for sharing . The Vapor speaker , does indeed look the part !
 

Elberoth

Member Sponsor
Dec 16, 2012
1,873
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Poland
#8
Technics and more concentric drivers. These are good but they missed the boat in having a flat midrange cone around the tweeter, I think it would have been best to use the midrange cone to serve as a waveguide but whatever, they sound really nice. The smaller system is a deal at ~$5k, the larger Reference system is ~$55k, if I remember right those prices include amps and maybe sources too. The big amp is really pretty in a retro-modern sort of way. Sound was hard to fault, the concentric drivers are awesome, very cohesive and resolving without harshness. Volume in the room was a bit subdued for my taste but Technics is well worth checking out. Great debut IMO...
Those are system prices.

Those small 2-way speakers cost ~ $1200 per pair.
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
2,216
9
38
#9
Those are system prices.

Those small 2-way speakers cost ~ $1200 per pair.
Yup, I said... "includes amps and maybe sources too". I left it vague because I don't remember the exact models of electronics that come with the system.
 

Hi-FiGuy

Member Sponsor
Feb 24, 2015
1,163
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#11
I was very impressed by the Pranna Speakers at THE Show Newport, I believe they are a tremendous value and a phenomenal performer.
 

BruceD

VIP/Donor
Dec 13, 2013
908
3
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#12
Yes Indeed Dave thank you for taking the trouble to post and add some comments--ha I noticed some GDR's under the Amps in one Pic-- interesting to see considering the detractors seem to outnumber the believers :)!

Appreciated your time

BruceD
 

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