Best of RMAF 2015

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. Read 11966 times.

Pez

Best of RMAF 2015
« on: 6 Oct 2015, 12:26 am »
We like to do this every year There are setups that stand out from the others for reasons and I think it's nice to highlight the ones that just got it right. I've drastically shortened this list because to be perfectly honest I think I've been too inclusive in years past. No star system this year, just my favorites then the top 4 that really are the cream of the crop. FYI I am not going to list every vendor or every piece of gear in these rooms. Check my coverage for more detail if you so desire.

Vinnie Rossi / Harbeth

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137678.msg1464728#msg1464728

This system just sang to me. Vinnie makes it on my list often and this year is no exception. I really enjoyed this setup and was surprised by the fact that they had a 3-way speaker working well near field! If you haven't already you owe it to yourself to check it out!


Technics

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137704.msg1464939#msg1464939

I really enjoyed this setup. I know Tyson did not and I feel like for that reason alone it's worth checking out their new line. Dynamic, clear, robust, awesome! Or as Tyson put it "things sound a bit flat and compressed, very surprising.  Yeah, just overall flat." Which makes me love this setup all the more.  :D

KEF / Wyred 4 Sound

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137704.msg1464939#msg1464939

Really really great room. Did everything well and nothing wrong IMO.

Grant Fidelity / Pure Audio Project

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137704.msg1464957#msg1464957
This is the room I had to revisit because I heard great tonality, dynamics, etc etc but had a hard time hearing the soundstage with what was being played. I'm glad I revisited it because when I heard it the second time it was mind-blowing.

Wavelegth Audio

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137704.msg1465023#msg1465023

Wow a plasma tweeter that actually sounds wonderful and detailed rather than just overly detailed and harsh. Plus dynamics and they sing with emotion!

Skogrand /Endeavor Audio

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137704.msg1465041#msg1465041
In a word this setup had texture. It hit the sweetspot for me of doing most things right while steering clear of sounding 'hifi'.

Daedalus / Purity


http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137722.msg1465273#msg1465273

In a word, wow! The Ulysses on the Purity amps was a match made in heaven! They just have a great synergy. I can't for the life of me figure out where my notes (or tyson's for that matter) on this room went and but obviously the room left an impression as it is my favorite Daedalus setup ever.

Mojo / Vapor

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137722.msg1465285#msg1465285

I loved the Nimbus when they were in a gigantic room on HUGE amps. This year they were dropped in this setup last minute and the room is the standard 13X19 yet they didn't overload the room and sounded really nice. Warm and inviting. Yet powerful! 

Top 4
For me these last 4 really represent the rare setups that I actually LUST after. Whether it be for their extraordinary detail and dynamics (see the first two) Incredible performance given the austere price point (number 3) or the fact that it was just all around the best of the best (4) These setups are the ones that left the biggest and longest lasting impression for me.

Alclair Audio Quads/iFi front end


http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137678.msg1464732#msg1464732
I didn't say anything in the write up we did at this booth because I was too damn busy just enjoying the hell out of these bad boys. When you can play Hok Man Yim's Poem of Chinese Drum at loud volume and FEEL the bass in your ears that is quite an experience.  The iFi gear running these IEMs did so with balls of steel. Truly a fantastic setup, one of the best I've heard in years.

JTR / JRiver
URL=http://s1216.photobucket.com/user/pezacolypse/media/RNAF%202015/9AF1FBB9-61DF-4CB5-A903-AF68DD0473DA_zpsvpcdbzu1.jpg.html][/URL]
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137722.msg1465233#msg1465233

Holy smokes... This wins hands down the most amazing DYNAMICS I have ever heard at the show period. So much control, so much BASS so much rock and roll it was obscene. If you enjoy it when you're neighbors make constant noise complaints, but then stay over and rock out with you to Tool BUY THESE SPEAKERS NOW.

Elac

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137722.msg1465250#msg1465250
I was dumbfounded that this kind of sound can be achieved by a speaker in this price point. When I found out that it was Andrew Jones calling the shots I was no longer dumbfounded. Andrew has made his way to the top of my best of so many years I've lost track. And Elac is going to become a household name inside of 3 years with performance like this. I am absolutely stoked for their new streaming/server product to come out around CES. More to come from me on that! SHHHhhhhh.  :wink:

Absolute Best of Show
Vapor / Lampizator / Resolution Acoustics


http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137722.msg1465226#msg1465226

This room blew my mind. Quite simply put This was the best overall room again for me. I make special mention of the room treatments by Resolution Acoustics because this room had the best bass control, image focus, and dynamics I have heard at RMAF and I know a big part of that is the detailed work Resolution put into the treatment of the room. Other rooms like JTR did a great job of bass management, but didn't quite hit the mark on imaging or other factors. The Vapor system just did everything right. And scale was TREMENDOUS. I really feel like Vapor is the only 'top of the heap' price point company actually doing it right. All the mags are doing their readership a disservice for not touting these for the last 4-5 years.

Tyson

Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #1 on: 6 Oct 2015, 12:26 am »
Tyson’s Subjective and Completely Unreliable and BIASED Best of RMAF[/u]

It was a crazy 3 days yet again this year.  I’m always amazed at how many vendors know and remember us every year.  And by how many show attendees we meet that know us and take the time to say ‘thanks’.  We might be harried and in a rush, but believe me, your kind words are ALWAYS appreciated!

I’ve got a new category, the Shame Award, for rooms that were particularly bad or were the most striking failures.  It seems better to start with them and then end on a positive note.

Shame award – Davialet and Kii



THIS is the speaker with all the hype?  Seriously?  Man it sounded like crap.  And it was even in a decent sized room with room to breath.  Flat, lifeless, meh.  I recommend that no one buy this speaker, ever.



These were even worse than the Davialets!  How is that even possible?  How can you be worse than the sound of mediocrity?  I generally like to hear stuff from new vendors, and reading up on them it seems like they do some cool engineering.  But they sounded like crap.  Seriously, does no one listen to this stuff before letting it out the front door?  Oh, and I should mention that this is another room where the vendor TALKED ALMOST THE ENTIRE TIME WE WERE THERE! 


Best in Show
Winner of best sound at show – the Kimber Room, can’t get better than a live pianist banging out the tunes on a concert grand piano!  Haha, that was awesome.  Too bad the live recordings and playback were pretty disappointing.



This year I’m doing things a little different – there were so many great rooms that I can’t really narrow it down to a Top 5.  So I’m only doing a #1 best in show award.  And of course there’s a tie!  One is an old favorite, the other is a brand new whippersnapper.  Without further ado:

BEST IN SHOW – OPEN BAFFLE – GRANT FIDELITY




I don’t believe Grant Fidelity has done a show in several years at RMAF, but this year the come back with a vengeance!  Using all Grant Fidelity gear and tubes along with speakers from the PureAudioProject, these speakers had it all – superb soundstage, perfect tonality, super open spacious sound that just destroys the walls in the room, all things that great open baffle speakers give you.  But, what set this system apart was the laser like focus and lack of “misty” presentation almost every OB speaker has.  Plus BASS SLAM.  I know you never thought you’d see the words bass slam and Open Baffle ever uttered together.  But there it is.  I am an OB lover, it’s what I’ve run in my home system for years and years and so I’m a bit jaded about them.  But this room raised the bar substantially over every other available OB system I’ve heard.  Massive congrats to them for this achievement.

BEST IN SHOW AND LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – BOX SPEAKER – VAPOR AUDIO



OK, I have 2 things I need to admit – the first is that I’m not really a fan of box speakers.  They always sound closed in and artificially forward in their presentation.  The second thing I need to admit is that I’m a big fan of Vapor.  “Wait, that doesn’t make any sense”, to which I respond “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”  Hat tip to W.W. 

To resolve this apparent contradiction I’ll offer this additional info – I hate the way MOST box loudspeakers sound, but Vapor is the exception to that rule.  Why?  I’ll quote from my room notes:

“Ryan and Co are one of the very few vendors we see that really and truly try to push the envelope for their products.  Separate bass cabinets, stacked ply construction, huge roundovers to avoid diffraction, acoustically asymmetric and optimized interiors, and clearly some of the best drivers in the world all add up to THE most consistent and best room at every show.  I’m giving Vapor my lifetime achievement award.  Yes, I just made that award up right now on the spot.  But dammit, they deserve it.”

No longer content with being precision instruments that merely reproduce music perfectly, they are going for a sound that is better than life.  Bigger, cleaner, grander.  Go big or go home.  Large speaker systems from other manufacturers have officially been embarrassed. 



Other notables.

Vinnie Rossie



Vinnie did Red Wine for a number of years and they were decent but never really good enough to get onto our best of list.  Last year he had a new company and a new product but I was sick with the flu and didn’t get a chance to really hear it.  This year I finally got to give it a whirl and boy was I impressed.  Man, let me tell you this place was a musical oasis in the middle of the cacophonous assault on the senses the rest of the show represents.  I cannot imagine a more dramatic demonstration of the value of being off the grid entirely than a show like RMAF where every other vendor is using (and polluting) the power at the hotel.  But not Vinnie’s room.  It was like a cool clear stream on a warm spring day.  Natural, beautiful, invigorating.  The LIO is the real deal and obviously a game changer.


Alclair



I love IEM’s, and in fact I use them almost every day, since I have a busy household and an 8 year old daughter.  But I have odd shaped ears that don’t allow me to get a good seal from any custom fit IEM’s.  Unfortunately all the best IEM’s are custom fit!  So I am stuck with these shitty ass universal jobbies like Etymotic or Shure or Ultimate Ears.  Which sucks, spending your life listening to subpar crap when you know that better stuff is available.  I saw that Alclair had a pair of IEM’s that worked like custom fitters but had a universal fit.  Popped them in at the booth and YES THANK YOU GOD FOR GIVING ME MY PRIVATE LISTENING BACK.  Bought them on the spot.  If you have any idea how tight I am with my money at these shows, you get some idea of how incredible these guys sound. 

Elac



Andrew Jones, for a guy that’s so reserved and generally low-key in person, seems to have a ton of recognition around the audio industry, I’ve noticed.  Maybe it’s because the guy is a flat out genius when it comes to speaker development.  He had already designed 2 of the best speakers in the world for TAD in the price no object arena.  After he left TAD I guess he didn’t want to do another set of “price no object speakers” with Elac.  I think his design goal was “Best speaker for Best Buy money you will ever hear”.  And he succeeded gloriously.  For $279 each, the F5 towers are stunning engineering achievements.  How he gets such amazing sound for so little lucre is unfathomable.  But he does it, and he makes it look easy.  Like I said before – “OK, now Andrew is just showing off!”

highfilter

Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #2 on: 6 Oct 2015, 12:55 am »
Great and entertaining coverage guys. Really appreciate all the work and time you put in!

Always look forward to the coverage as it's hard to hear any of this stuff sitting here in Canada.  :D

jtwrace

Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #3 on: 6 Oct 2015, 01:15 am »
I look forward to Andrew's flagship speaker that he spoke to me about.  Should be awesome and clean the whole house with it. 

roscoeiii

Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #4 on: 6 Oct 2015, 02:46 am »
I look forward to Andrew's flagship speaker that he spoke to me about.  Should be awesome and clean the whole house with it.

Go on....

Kishore

Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #5 on: 6 Oct 2015, 02:57 am »
Go on....

Make plans for Vegas and see..you know when :icon_lol:

Kishore

Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #6 on: 6 Oct 2015, 03:01 am »



These were even worse than the Davialets!  How is that even possible?  How can you be worse than the sound of mediocrity? 


 Oh well, I thought they would be killers  :dunno: Liked your comments :guns:

ACHiPo

Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #7 on: 6 Oct 2015, 01:05 pm »
Great coverage!  Thanks!

Pez

Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #8 on: 6 Oct 2015, 01:15 pm »
Make plans for Vegas and see..you know when :icon_lol:

That's also when they will be releasing the streamer/server. I'm incredibly excited for that. More so than any other product I saw at the show.

DaveC113

  • Industry Contributor
  • Posts: 3774
  • ZenWaveAudio.com
Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #9 on: 6 Oct 2015, 02:08 pm »
That's also when they will be releasing the streamer/server. I'm incredibly excited for that. More so than any other product I saw at the show.

I agree, but for $1k I wonder if great sq will accompany the great software...

Pez

Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #10 on: 6 Oct 2015, 02:11 pm »
According to the lead designer of the server the biggest hold up right now is that Andrew is not satisfied with the sound quality yet. I'm fairly confident it will be excellent. Luckily I'll know in December. They are sending me a test unit.  :thumb:

DaveC113

  • Industry Contributor
  • Posts: 3774
  • ZenWaveAudio.com
Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #11 on: 6 Oct 2015, 02:18 pm »
According to the lead designer of the server the biggest hold up right now is that Andrew is not satisfied with the sound quality yet. I'm fairly confident it will be excellent. Luckily I'll know in December. They are sending me a test unit.  :thumb:

Cool, definitely post up a review. The software is much better than my Sony but I am skeptical the ELAC will beat it in sq...

HAL

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 3696
Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #12 on: 6 Oct 2015, 02:28 pm »
They did say it has a coaxial digital output and analog.  An external DAC is possible.

Pez

Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #13 on: 6 Oct 2015, 05:10 pm »
Yep coax out and the thing can run up to four separate zones simultaneously.

Vinnie R.

  • Industry Contributor
  • Posts: 4606
    • http://www.vinnierossi.com
Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #14 on: 6 Oct 2015, 05:28 pm »
Hey Tyson and Pez,

Thank you for visiting our room all your great coverage!  As always, you covered a lot of ground
and worked like animals  :whip:

Hope to see you guys next year and not working so hard.   :beer:

Cheers!

Vinnie

tf121682

Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #15 on: 6 Oct 2015, 07:57 pm »
Thank you guys!!

Plus my grass is going to be better because of your visit  :thumb:

Pez

Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #16 on: 6 Oct 2015, 08:01 pm »
  :lol: :lol: :lol:
Scotts Green Max! 

BruceW

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 18
Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #17 on: 6 Oct 2015, 11:20 pm »
Great coverage guys!--also not afraid to blast those that spruce the best whatever in their marketing--like the Kiii's /etc.

BruceW

Geardaddy

Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #18 on: 6 Oct 2015, 11:45 pm »
We like to do this every year There are setups that stand out from the others for reasons and I think it's nice to highlight the ones that just got it right. I've drastically shortened this list because to be perfectly honest I think I've been too inclusive in years past. No star system this year, just my favorites then the top 4 that really are the cream of the crop. FYI I am not going to list every vendor or every piece of gear in these rooms. Check my coverage for more detail if you so desire.

Vinnie Rossi / Harbeth

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137678.msg1464728#msg1464728

This system just sang to me. Vinnie makes it on my list often and this year is no exception. I really enjoyed this setup and was surprised by the fact that they had a 3-way speaker working well near field! If you haven't already you owe it to yourself to check it out!


Technics

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137704.msg1464939#msg1464939

I really enjoyed this setup. I know Tyson did not and I feel like for that reason alone it's worth checking out their new line. Dynamic, clear, robust, awesome! Or as Tyson put it "things sound a bit flat and compressed, very surprising.  Yeah, just overall flat." Which makes me love this setup all the more.  :D

KEF / Wyred 4 Sound

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137704.msg1464939#msg1464939

Really really great room. Did everything well and nothing wrong IMO.

Grant Fidelity / Pure Audio Project

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137704.msg1464957#msg1464957
This is the room I had to revisit because I heard great tonality, dynamics, etc etc but had a hard time hearing the soundstage with what was being played. I'm glad I revisited it because when I heard it the second time it was mind-blowing.

Wavelegth Audio

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137704.msg1465023#msg1465023

Wow a plasma tweeter that actually sounds wonderful and detailed rather than just overly detailed and harsh. Plus dynamics and they sing with emotion!

Skogrand /Endeavor Audio

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137704.msg1465041#msg1465041
In a word this setup had texture. It hit the sweetspot for me of doing most things right while steering clear of sounding 'hifi'.

Daedalus / Purity


http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137722.msg1465273#msg1465273

In a word, wow! The Ulysses on the Purity amps was a match made in heaven! They just have a great synergy. I can't for the life of me figure out where my notes (or tyson's for that matter) on this room went and but obviously the room left an impression as it is my favorite Daedalus setup ever.

Mojo / Vapor

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137722.msg1465285#msg1465285

I loved the Nimbus when they were in a gigantic room on HUGE amps. This year they were dropped in this setup last minute and the room is the standard 13X19 yet they didn't overload the room and sounded really nice. Warm and inviting. Yet powerful! 

Top 4
For me these last 4 really represent the rare setups that I actually LUST after. Whether it be for their extraordinary detail and dynamics (see the first two) Incredible performance given the austere price point (number 3) or the fact that it was just all around the best of the best (4) These setups are the ones that left the biggest and longest lasting impression for me.

Alclair Audio Quads/iFi front end


http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137678.msg1464732#msg1464732
I didn't say anything in the write up we did at this booth because I was too damn busy just enjoying the hell out of these bad boys. When you can play Hok Man Yim's Poem of Chinese Drum at loud volume and FEEL the bass in your ears that is quite an experience.  The iFi gear running these IEMs did so with balls of steel. Truly a fantastic setup, one of the best I've heard in years.

JTR / JRiver
URL=http://s1216.photobucket.com/user/pezacolypse/media/RNAF%202015/9AF1FBB9-61DF-4CB5-A903-AF68DD0473DA_zpsvpcdbzu1.jpg.html][/URL]
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137722.msg1465233#msg1465233

Holy smokes... This wins hands down the most amazing DYNAMICS I have ever heard at the show period. So much control, so much BASS so much rock and roll it was obscene. If you enjoy it when you're neighbors make constant noise complaints, but then stay over and rock out with you to Tool BUY THESE SPEAKERS NOW.

Elac

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137722.msg1465250#msg1465250
I was dumbfounded that this kind of sound can be achieved by a speaker in this price point. When I found out that it was Andrew Jones calling the shots I was no longer dumbfounded. Andrew has made his way to the top of my best of so many years I've lost track. And Elac is going to become a household name inside of 3 years with performance like this. I am absolutely stoked for their new streaming/server product to come out around CES. More to come from me on that! SHHHhhhhh.  :wink:

Absolute Best of Show
Vapor / Lampizator / Resolution Acoustics


http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=137722.msg1465226#msg1465226

This room blew my mind. Quite simply put This was the best overall room again for me. I make special mention of the room treatments by Resolution Acoustics because this room had the best bass control, image focus, and dynamics I have heard at RMAF and I know a big part of that is the detailed work Resolution put into the treatment of the room. Other rooms like JTR did a great job of bass management, but didn't quite hit the mark on imaging or other factors. The Vapor system just did everything right. And scale was TREMENDOUS. I really feel like Vapor is the only 'top of the heap' price point company actually doing it right. All the mags are doing their readership a disservice for not touting these for the last 4-5 years.

Sometimes its hard for people to parse out the contributions for a given room.  Speakers hog the limelight.  The Vapor/Lampi room threw a lot of $ at the unsexy world of room treatments, and that obviously paid dividends.  People forget that the room is 75%+ of the final equation.  I have discovered that for myself....

ACHiPo

Re: Best of RMAF 2015
« Reply #19 on: 7 Oct 2015, 02:14 am »
Sometimes its hard for people to parse out the contributions for a given room.  Speakers hog the limelight.  The Vapor/Lampi room threw a lot of $ at the unsexy world of room treatments, and that obviously paid dividends.  People forget that the room is 75%+ of the final equation.  I have discovered that for myself....
I was just noticing that all of the systems have the electronics between the speakers, when folks say that moving racks to the side wall significantly improves sound.  Even the rooms that tame corners and first reflections still have a bunch of reflective surfaces where they shouldn't.  Is it just the "framing" of electronics that's expected?  Room limitations?