DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews

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DaveC113

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DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« on: 13 Oct 2014, 01:08 am »
This years RMAF ran smoothly and while it was smaller than last year it's still HUGE. There were tons of great systems on display. The show wasn't quite as grand as last year as the huge, high dollar mega-systems were absent or toned-down but it was still a lot of fun and well worth spending a few days.

I made a test track with 30 second to 1 minute clips of 7 different tracks from Rodrigo Y Gabriella, Hiromi, Thievery Corp, Bonobo, Beats Antique, Infected Mushroom and Billy Joel.

I started with Vapor, and also checked back in on Sunday as well. The setup sounded great with the Antipodes Music Server, Allnic amps and Verastarr cables driving the Vapor Joule Black speakers, which were stunning... the RAAL matched the midrange driver more seamlessly vs the Joule Whites and sounded more cohesive and musical. I think the Black version is overall a better speaker. The bass was just great. Last year was good but this year was a grand slam. They also get special mention for being one of the best values at the show, for under $15k you're getting a top-tier speaker, they could have charged $50k no problem. They handle every genre of music very well and can play loud.








Next up, Legacy. I'm not sure what happened but the bass was really muddy, to the point it made it hard to judge what was going on. They sounded like HUGE speakers, which they are... I've heard Legacy sounding pretty good before and I probably should have checked back but did not.






Focal with VAC gear... Awesome, definitely a candidate for best in show. I know some people think they're too hot but I think they are close to perfect.





Zu, they were spinning Vinyl and playing it loud. The speakers sounded really good, they have become more refined over the years.





Synergistic put on a very interesting demo of a tuning device that changes your perception of sound without actually effecting the sound in the room. It accomplishes this by broadcasting RF in different ways. You can choose different "scenes" on a tablet app, which changes spacial perception of the sound and probably other aspects, but soundstaging and spacial perception were the things I noticed. It's the black tower in the very center of the pic. I honestly have no idea how most of Synergistic stuff works and I'd bet it's beyond 99.99% of us. this makes it's easy to dismiss it... until you actually try it, because it works.



 

DaveC113

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Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #1 on: 13 Oct 2014, 01:37 am »
Polymer, they sounded great...





Deadalus sounded really good this year and the cabinet work was amazing as always. The hardwood cabinets contribute a bit of a feel to the music... It's hard to explain but it sounds good and works as well vs a super-damped cabinet, just a bit of a different presentation. These are big, efficient and very dynamic speakers that are a lot of fun to listen to.












To Be Continued...




DaveC113

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Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #2 on: 13 Oct 2014, 05:11 pm »
Acoustic Zen, what a nice name.  :green:  Nice speakers, too, the tweeter was a bit on the hot side for my personal tastes but I really enjoyed this system. The big Triode 845 amps are impressive too. It also has a super clean and detailed sound without any edge or harshness that is an attribute of UPOCC silver wiring, which was great... but it does nothing to smooth anything out which made the hot tweeter a bit more noticeable. Overall a very enjoyable system.








Goldmund. Sound seemed ok but my request to play my test track was declined in a fairly rude manner so it's hard to say. The Goldmund stuff is digital only, if you want to use a TT you must buy a "hub" which converts analog to digital, which is then broadcast wirelessly to the speaker's built-in DAC.

I think this arrangement is a fail. It reminds me of a Bose Lifestyle system, which suffers from the inability to make any changes. I don't know too many audio enthusiasts that are going to be happy with a system that can't be changed and is exclusively digital. People who don't really care that much about audio as a hobby but want good sound might find a system like this a good idea, but the price is FAR too high for a casual consumer. Finally, they are very ugly, I can't imagine anyone wanting this in their living space. I have no idea who the target audience is for a product like this, I'm not sure why they thought this was a good idea.





Endeavor E5. Overall great balance in this speaker and it is one of the better systems shown at RMAF this year imo. The big towers provide a large-scale soundstage.







YG, pretty good as always... a neutral choice that is "just right" in a lot of ways. they were playing vinyl and had a decent amount of visitors so I did not ask to play my test track.









Gamut, nice stuff... I wasn't expecting a lot going in but I really liked what I heard. I did not get to play my test track here either...







Pranafidelity, he was playing a reel-to-reel and a tt, so no test track here either, but I did ask to play it last year and it was awesome. Steve said there were some very minor changes since last year but otherwise the same system. And it is excellent, one of the best at RMAF this year for sure.





« Last Edit: 17 Oct 2014, 01:01 am by DaveC113 »

Wig

Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #3 on: 13 Oct 2014, 05:59 pm »
Dave,

Do you know what silver wiring Robert (Acoustic Zen) was using? I've never heard their ribbon horn tweeter to be bright since it's a little laid back. Maybe he's using the Silver for more bite, possibly...

Wig :thumb:

dpatters

Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #4 on: 13 Oct 2014, 06:00 pm »
Dave,

Thanks for the coverage and photos!  That pair of Vapor Joule Blacks is my build and will be shipped to me next.  I bought them without ever hearing a Vapor speaker and was just a tad nervous.  Hearing all of the comments on the Vapor room during the show has been really encouraging to say the least and I can't wait to get them in my room. 

I really like the D3 interconnect I got from you a while back!

Don

jonbee

Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #5 on: 13 Oct 2014, 06:06 pm »
That pair of Vapor Joule Blacks is my build and will be shipped to me next. 
Get a good disinfecting solution to use to wipe all the drool off them.

DaveC113

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Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #6 on: 13 Oct 2014, 06:27 pm »
Get a good disinfecting solution to use to wipe all the drool off them.

No doubt, they are some of the prettiest speakers at the show as well as some of the best sounding.

Wig, I'm pretty sure the AZ cables are UPOCC silver, and I also use all UPOCC conductors as well so the sound was recognizable to me. It is a very clear and detailed conductor with no harshness, but it won't smooth anything out either, which is a good thing IMO. The speakers weren't bright in a bad way, I think they are excellent speakers.

Don, good to hear it and I am absolutely sure you will be very happy with the Joule Blacks.  :thumb:

Big Red Machine

Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #7 on: 13 Oct 2014, 06:33 pm »
Get a good disinfecting solution to use to wipe all the drool off them.

I carvd my initials in them, sorry; didn't know they were claimed already! :oops:

DaveC113

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Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #8 on: 13 Oct 2014, 07:24 pm »
Linkwitz LX521... They are competent.






AK with another good showing, these speakers handled everything really well. They have a more laid back and relaxed sound while retaining high levels of resolution, not a typical HiFi sound. While I like a bit more forward presentation I'm sure a lot of people will love them for not frying their eardrums with aggressive highs. These speakers also image and soundstage really well, the LCS arrangement creates depth and spaciousness in a unique way, and it works really well. Overall I really enjoyed hearing these speakers.










Salk Exoticas, this is a new flavor and honestly reminded me a lot of the kind of presentation the AK speakers above have. I was not expecting that, but it is what I heard. The Exotica drivers use Alnico magnest and the overall presentation is laid back and relaxed... it takes your ears a minute to adjust to the non-"HiFi" sound these produce, but once you do all the fine detail and frequency extension is there. These speakers are easy to listen to and extremely non-fatiguing. Good job for sure!








Sonist, these combine high efficiency with ribbon tweeters and are a great alternative in the high efficiency niche. They remind me of mgalusha's speaker in the Tweak Geek room, but I liked Mike's speakers a bit better. Nevertheless, these are good sounding speakers.






Next up was Kingsound with full range electrostats. They have a more laid-back sound vs something like Sanders and sounded nice. They couldn't handle some of the crazy bass passages on the Infected Mushroom track, which to be fair are extremely demanding and highlight issues with low frequency reproduction, which the Kings do suffer from. they weren't playing extremely loud, but I heard a "whack!" from the drivers bottoming out. The rest of the tracks has no issues.







Someone help me, I forgot which speaker these are!  :oops:  (Induction Dynamics, thanks Maceo23)  In any case, I really liked them... they did a great job and sounded well balanced. I though there was a lot of too hot and also too laid back for my personal tastes, a few speakers got the balance right and these were one of them.







Emerald Physics speakers sounded very good this year, smooth and well balanced. The tweeter is mounted coax behind the dust cap of the midbass driver.







« Last Edit: 13 Oct 2014, 11:09 pm by DaveC113 »

gab

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Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #9 on: 13 Oct 2014, 07:59 pm »
Linkwitz Orions... I've heard them before, they are competent.

quote]

Actually they are LX521s not Orions FWIW

Art_Chicago

Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #10 on: 13 Oct 2014, 08:05 pm »
"Next up was Kingsound with full range electrostats. They have a more laid-back sound vs something like Sanders and sounded nice. They couldn't handle some of the crazy bass passages on the Infected Mushroom track, which to be fair are extremely demanding and highlight issues with low frequency reproduction, which the Kings do suffer from. they weren't playing extremely loud, but I heard a "whack!" from the drivers bottoming out. The rest of the tracks has no issues."

FWIW, that is exactly what my impression was at Axpona'13.  Not sure if these are the same speakers, but they did not reproduce  bass with a good dynamic range.

DaveC113

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Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #11 on: 13 Oct 2014, 08:09 pm »

Actually they are LX521s not Orions FWIW

Thanks! will edit...

sfox7076

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Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #12 on: 13 Oct 2014, 08:36 pm »
What do you mean by "non-' hifi'" sound in the few places you make that reference?

DaveC113

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Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #13 on: 13 Oct 2014, 08:55 pm »
What do you mean by "non-' hifi'" sound in the few places you make that reference?

Most modern HiFi is characterized by the best modern drivers, such as the ScanSpeak beryllium tweeter that was omnipresent this year, their Revelator woofers, Accuton ceramic drivers and some others. The result tends to be very detailed but some find the highs aggressive, and many of these designs also have great bass response so it gives the impression of "boom and sizzle" and some feel the midrange suffers. Vintage systems tended to be more rolled off at the frequency extremes which emphasize the midrange frequencies more...  this isn't necessarily the case with speakers that don't sound like mainstream modern HiFi, but for example the Salk Exotica and Audiokenisis Zephrins aren't deficient in the frequency extremes but they also aren't as emphasized in their presentation which give them a more relaxed presentation.


sfox7076

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Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #14 on: 13 Oct 2014, 09:00 pm »
Thanks for the explanation.

barrows

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Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #15 on: 13 Oct 2014, 09:08 pm »
Dave,

Thanks for the coverage and photos!  That pair of Vapor Joule Blacks is my build and will be shipped to me next.  I bought them without ever hearing a Vapor speaker and was just a tad nervous.  Hearing all of the comments on the Vapor room during the show has been really encouraging to say the least and I can't wait to get them in my room. 

I really like the D3 interconnect I got from you a while back!

Don

Don, you are going to be very happy, they are some of the best speakers I have ever heard, can scale to any kind of music, just amazing.  I really have heard nothing, at any price, which would challenge these speakers in a real world way.  They make music.  Please post your impressions once you have had some time to settle them in as I would love to hear how they work for you.

Maceo23

Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #16 on: 13 Oct 2014, 09:11 pm »
Those mystery speakers look like Induction Dynamics.

DaveC113

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Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #17 on: 13 Oct 2014, 11:10 pm »
Those mystery speakers look like Induction Dynamics.

YES! Thanks  :thumb:

Stercom

Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #18 on: 14 Oct 2014, 01:19 am »
Dave, great job! Thanks for the pics and the descriptions. Really got a flavor of what these systems must have sounded like this weekend! (You really should have been walking around with a pair of your D4s in your hand daring people to swap them out, probably wouldn't have gone over too well but......  8))

DaveC113

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Re: DaveC's 2014 RMAF Photos and Reviews
« Reply #19 on: 14 Oct 2014, 01:31 am »
Dave, great job! Thanks for the pics and the descriptions. Really got a flavor of what these systems must have sounded like this weekend! (You really should have been walking around with a pair of your D4s in your hand daring people to swap them out, probably wouldn't have gone over too well but......  8))

Thanks! There's more to come...

Yeah, most rooms had a cable vendor that probably paid to be there, I did not ask.  One room asked me to bring a few things to try, it went very well but we were up really late Friday night.  :green: