Saturday, October 3, 2015

RMAF 2015 Day 1

Despite the apparent crushes for admission badges, the general human traffic seems low. I found myself the sole listener in seversal rooms this afternoon, with the good and bad that goes with that scenario. Here's some quick reactions from Day 1 -- with placeholders which I'll correct once I get all my notes organized.

 Picking up registration I walked around downstairs, taking a few mins in the Legacy ballroom where their large (very) V speakers, with correction device, threw a great soundstage, totally enveloping form the sweet spot, but a little shart on transients. This preceded a step into a large room (sorry, can't recall which) where a large Martin Logan Neoliths  pushed out live Frank Zappa in 'you-are-there' realism. Gave up this in the drum solo section (really, you want us to sit through a live album drum solo?) and moved into a pleasant sounding Naim, Focal monitor set up.  Sweet, but a switch from 96 to 192 sampling on the same song from an attendee's own recording revealed more space and more congestion -- the former on top, the latter in the middle. No free lunch so I can see why some people claim the greater sampling rate adds little to their enjoyment.

A stroll took me to the Atrium, and what best way to start than going to the 5th (top) floor there and working my way down the next two floors of exhibits. Stop one was the VSA room to hear a Von Schweikert VR55 with YFS and Constellation. Don't ask the price, this is the high end. Last year I thought this pairing was uber-crisp but not quite the best, this year it  set the early standard for me. Real soundstaging, real presence, and a solid,  controlled bass. Not hard to enjoy at all but it meant I wanted to really hear only other great stuff from here for comparison so changing plans a little, I found myself spending more time than usual listening to some expensive set ups in the Atrium area, home to dealers showing the large Focals, banks of VAC amps and gorgeous looking Trans Rotor turntable.

Now I sort of prefer the smaller Focals over the large Utopias but given the opportunity to sit right in the sweet spot of the towering Utopias, it was impossible to resist. - this is the type of listening experience you normally only get to read about.  Lots of vinyl being spun and the sense of envelopment was truly impressive. That said, the room and position is everything you are told it is. Listening to a fabulous Milt Jackson recording of Round Midnight, the bass was so vivid you could almost touch it, except in some registers where it started to boom, ruining the illusion. I had to move to the back of the room to remove this spoiler, which worked, but then the sheer intimacy was gone. Lesson for me, I could never own a room where these would work at volume. That's why there are smaller models, right!

In fact, the lesson of room size and speaker  fit was obvious over the next few days and should caution anyone who thinks more expense gets better sound -- it often gets you bigger cabinets and calamitously difficult issues with placement and bass. But before this, I drifted into a fine sound room set up by Vinni Rossi, with his new line of LIO amps driving some big (for them) Harbeths (the 40s?). Ah, now this sounded really fine, and right sized. A lover of the P3ESRs, I'd sort of not given too much more attention to the larger Harbeths but assuming they must be good. Well on the experience of this weekend where I ran into a couple of other rooms running various Harbeth models, I'd say this is one speaker company that talks to my tastes - enough frequency extension to represent the musical details, but a midrange that sounds human, with timbre and tone preserved. If you need more, be careful what you wish for.

More to come, but the lesson of the day was size matters, just not in the way you've been told. 

1 comment:

Eisener Bart said...

Good stuff, keep on, please!