Sunday, October 4, 2015

RMAF 2015 Day 3

Small window today due to travel so I decided to concentrate my efforts in revisiting a few places that left questions in my mind. Magico were not showing Sunday so no chance to revisit thus hauling self back to the Marriott, I had to make a visit to Prana Fidelity whose room captivated me last year. Set up on the long wall was a pair of floorstanders that were rocking the joint driven by Prana amplification and a Kuzma vinyl front end (as last year). Selections of vinyl inclued Yello, which had the drivers oscillating in and out before a note was heard, quite a sight, and an amazing recording of Fiona Apple as well as Vanessa Fernandez, all sounding very, very fine. Speaker price? $6950....I mean really, these guys can play with the biggest boys out there. A very cool, welcoming vibe in the room too. Main guy, Steve Norber, is a very special designer combining chops in amp and speaker design, really onto something. Maybe he should talk to the Synergistic guy about explaining those secrets of the physical universe.

Had to pop back into the Von Schweikert room since it was close by. It was even better than I remember. Host Damon kept the tunes moving through all genres, rock to symphony, ambient to jazz, I sat there while people came and went, very impressed by the VR55s driven by Constelllation, YFS and VSA's top cables. Small room, full range sonics, no boom at any volume, resolution assured. Yes, what I heard Friday was true, and if anything it was better today.

A segue sideways into a Devialet /B&W set up was disappointing. I know these speakers and I know people who love the Devialet, but this room sounded constrained and just lifeless. Midbass just choked and the music never flowed. Good deal to be had on the shiny piano black B&W's which were being blown off for $12k as a show special. I know they sound better than this...not sure what to blame.

Quick run over to the Tower, slowed only by the pesky elevators, I hit the 10th floor so I could recheck the Emia room (quasi Quads and idler drive table). Ladysmith live was spinning, but the music was just vague and sort of not there.Yes, vocals were articulate and spread across a soundstage but the whole sound was as I said yesterday. I even came back in after another room visit when I heard piano playing through the open door but nothing worked. This was a near six figure set up that just did not sound ready for the show. I guess the msytical Quad experience will have to wait for another time.

What did live up to memory was the German Physiks/Ayre/Merging Technologies room. Now I hogged the sweet spot and enjoyed another listen to that special violin recording they used. Magic. I know some folks might think there is an absence of bass in these but I suspect it only seems so in comparison to the floors of boom on display here at RMAF. A driving bass solo track reveals that the crossoverless German Physiks do bass just fine - tight, articulate, clear.  For those of us who crave timbre and out of the box sonics, these speakers (and let's be clear, some superb partnering gear and clever set up by Michael Broughton which had the speakers physically exposed but sonically invisible) brought something special to the room. A clear winner for me.

Wanted to hear the Revels again but time was just too tight and I enjoyed a couple of rooms so much I had probably used up capacity. Bumping into Eleanor McEvoy in the elevator as she hauled a couple of guitars down to her final live performance, I decided to end the weekend listening to her to purge the sonics of reproduced sounds.

Missed a few mentions of good things (the Vapor room had real quality, never heard Dark Side of the Moon quite like I did here in the sweet spot, but they were pricey; Well Rounded Sound offered a $5k speaker that could do justice to any music; AudioKinesis just do it differently and well), will get to them but am en route home. It's been fun but it's hectic. While it costs to travel and attend (no, I do not get paid for this), the lessons learned will pay for themselves several times over as I upgrade, if I upgrade. I have a real sense of what money thrown at the issue of audio reproduction cannot get you. More on this when I try to pull it all together.  Well done all who are involved in this show - it's a non-trivial undertaking.

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