Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2

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Tyson

Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« on: 7 Oct 2018, 06:00 am »
OK, back for more!  Since I'm posting this at the end of the day, I can make a few comments right up front.  First, the show is bigger than ever, more vendors, more rooms, or at least it seemed that way to me.  And more cool stuff.  My rule today - only hit the cool rooms.  Which means that things like bookshelf speakers with a 6 inch midwoofer and a 1 inch dome tweeter are gonna get skipped.  However, a speaker with a 6 inch mid woofer and a horn loaded ribbon tweeter will definitely pique my interest.  I hooked up with Wayne and believe it or not we managed to hit every interesting room on every floor of the whole damn show.  Some sounded great, some sounded meh (or bad).  I'm only going to put up pics and comments of the rooms I liked the sound of. 

There were more good sounding (and fewer bad sounding) rooms this year than in recent memory.  Manufacturers are upping their game.  I think shows like RMAF allow vendors to cross-pollinate in a way that's not possible otherwise..

Enough rambling, time for pics!

NOU speakers and CI Audio - the CI audio gear always surprises me with how tiny it is.  Big sound, and the drivers in the NOU speakers are serious (and beautifully engineered):







Is it just me or do these speakers look like owls?  This was the first room today (but not the last) where I look at the equipment and think "there's no way that can sound good".  But then it does sound good.  Very very very good.  One of the best sounding rooms at the show.  And in a quirky, cool design:









ELAC.  Price to performance - off the charts.  Its' almost boring going into their room nowadays, they are so consistently excellent.  New year, new speaker, same incredible sound:







TUK, a company that wants to muscle into the price/performance area that ELAC has staked out the past few years.  These are self powered speakers and sounded better than they had any right to.  Better than ELAC?  Not IMO, but close.  Very close. 







Vaughan Loudspeakers and Wavelength Audio, always contenders for best sound at RMAF and this year was no exception.







So, the Owl speakers above were a bit of a surprise, but no where near as big a shock as the Klipsch Heritage audio room.  I've heard a ton of Klipsch speakers in my life and HOLY SHIT these Forte III speakers sounded AMAZING!!!  Smoooooth, and punchy.  Great mids and real soul.  Loved it!









Now for a little Danish flare.  These Borresen speakers might have been the deepest imaging box based speakers at the show.  And smooth/delicate highs.  Not sure I'd pay $66k for them though:









Tekton speakers.  File this under "that makes no damn sense", there's no way a speaker like this can sound good.  But yet it does.  In this room it did everything well except for being fairly sibilant.  I thought that a good tube amp and preamp would address this, so I'm mentioning it with a qualified endorsement based on what I think it'll sound like with different gear.







While we are on the topic of taming sibilance, here's an example - ceramic midrange Gershman acoustic speakers, tamed very nicely by the beautiful VAC tube amp.  Great sounding room.  And super cool looking too:









The TIDAL room - I forget the price of these speakers and gear, but I do remember that it was low.  Shockingly low for this level of quality.  We truly live in a golden age when freaking streaming digital can get this level of sound:







Maggies!  Love OB speakers, and these sounded so big and impressive and the value is off the charts.  Only nitpick is the bass sounded a bit hollow, especially compared to the spectacular midrange and highs:





Avantgarde room sounded amazing.  Best it's ever sounded at RMAF, I think because they finally got the smaller speakers dialed in (instead of bringing the Trios).  These are flat out beautiful in person.  And it's yet another horn based speaker that does not sound shouty at all:





So this room was good but not great sounding, but it was a lot of fun.  IMO this is a "Bose killer" lifestyle system and could be a 2nd system in a high traffic room that would just make you smile every time you heard it.  Big, bold, beautiful sound:







Here's that crazy speaker again, only this is the smaller version.  If anything, this sounded EVEN BETTER than the larger speaker.  Really first rate sound and I'm still shaking my head, because it looks so odd.  But the sound was stellar:







The Niam room.  I kept waiting for this speaker to do something wrong, but it never did.  It did everything extremely well, even managing to sound big.  I wish it were taller but overall it was a very refined great sounding speaker/room:







Cesaro Horn speakers.  These sound more like traditional horns.  Very lively, very dynamic but also fairly aggressive sounding.  The neat trick they pulled, though, was never getting shouty, even with the more aggressive upfront presentation.  Nicely done:







Sonus Faber speakers.  Static display, didn't get to hear them.  But I'm posting the pic because they are so damn beautiful:





The Vinnie Rossi room, a perennial favorite!  This year we got to hear the new L2 preamp/DAC and amps.  In previous years the sound with the Harbeths was excellent, but maybe a little soft.  This year?  Not soft at all.  Clear.  Super clear, see through transparency.  It takes the VR sound and ratchets it up several notches:











Didn't listen to this one either, but thought it was a fun way to display a cable:





Vanatoo - this was in the "good but not great" category, but it was also in the "wait, how cheap is it???" category too.  Really big sound out of these tiny, self powered speakers.







Spatial speakers and Vinnie Rossi electronics.  These are the self-powered bass speakers.  Best soundstage, best imaging and best bass at the show.  Easily.









AudioKinesis, another longtime favorite.  Loved this room.  Again, you look at a horn and think it'll be shouty.  Nope.  The opposite.  This might be the most refined speaker at the whole damn show.  And with the Swarm sub setup the integration into the room was top flight.  Loved this room.  There, I said it twice, because it deserves it:







JBL - I only went into this room because Wayne insisted that we go in.  Rolled my eyes.  JBL?  Give me f'ng break.  But they sounded good.  Really good.  Classic rock and roll sound, but no etch or shout or ear bleeding aggressiveness.  Clear, forward and punchy.  Really liked this setup:









PureAudioProject speakers.  Every year I like this room.  These are modular speakers.  Which means you can mix and match drivers in different sections to get the sound you want.  I'm not a fan of "full range" drivers and no tweeters.  But I'll be damned, they do it and they make it work.  And the bass!  May be the best upper bass slam of any OB speaker I've heard.  Having dual 15 inch woofers per side probably helps :D 

As I mentioned, you can pick different midrange drivers:





PBN Loudspeakers - Another horn speaker that sounded great, I think were seeing a theme here  :lol:  Wayne loved this room more than I did, but I actually liked it quite a bit.  Very dynamic sound, but also quite refined.  That's a neat trick to pull off:







The sound in this room was good but a bit colored toward the metallic side.  I'm still posting it because it is such a cool design, I love the look of it - reminds me of a Japanese room divider. 





Back to great sounding speakers.... The Falcon room was maybe the smoothest sounding room at the whole show.  The sound just invited you in it was soooo enticing.  Of course, when the bass hit, it would also punch you in the gut. 







Piega speakers.  Good sound but a bit aggressive and slightly overbearing highs.  But holy crap is that a cool looking speaker.  I've never seen anything like it:







Posting this just because it looks cool:





OK, last room that blows the doors off my preconceptions.  This was a Focal room.  And it sounded good.  What?  Wait, don't you hate Focal, Tyson?  Yes I do.  Until I heard these.  They replaced the midrange drivers.  Now they no longer rip my ears off.  They sounded good.  Refined.  Pleasant even!  Here I always thought it was the tweeters that were like icepicks in my ears.  But no, it must have been the midrange drivers.  Cause they sound great now.  And they look beautiful.  Best finish of any speaker at the show, easily.  Love the pop-art look of them.  Especially in the brighter colors:













TriPlanar room, sounding fabulous as always:







Last but not least I had to go back to CanJam and get another shot of my favorite headphone setup:
« Last Edit: 7 Oct 2018, 03:29 pm by Tyson »

SteveFord

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Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #1 on: 7 Oct 2018, 09:29 am »
Well done, thank you for doing this!

celebrat

Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #2 on: 7 Oct 2018, 11:54 am »
Hey Tyson
Seeing that you own Super Sevens, how did the speakers you liked compare to those? Maybe I assume wrong but no photos of GR Research...No Danny this year?

Also, I want to thank you for the time and effort you take every year (even when you promise not to) to bring this to Circle readers. Not half assed at all.  :thumb:

fredgarvin

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Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #3 on: 7 Oct 2018, 03:41 pm »
Great photos of my second favorite subject-speakers! I'm very glad you shared. Horn speakers have definitely been making a comeback the last few years. I got converted last year.

gold

Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #4 on: 7 Oct 2018, 03:42 pm »
Nice job!  Always like your posts and pics from RMAF.  Thanks for taking the time.  Looks like RMAF is back!

dflee

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Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #5 on: 7 Oct 2018, 03:50 pm »
Damn you Tyson!
Every time I think I'm out YOU drag me back in.
I thought I was going to get through this year without wasting so much time (enjoyably)
suffering through the pics and comments but nnnnno ya just had to do it didn't ya.
Now I find myself sitting here thinking the same thing I did last year and the year before that
and the year before that "there's always next year".
Thanks a lot  If I ever meet you there remind me to buy ya a beer. I won't have one so that way
I can feel like I'm home reading your posts.

Don

Mike B.

Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #6 on: 7 Oct 2018, 03:54 pm »
Great report Tyson. Thanks

Dieterle Tool

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Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #7 on: 7 Oct 2018, 04:21 pm »
Hey Tyson
Seeing that you own Super Sevens, how did the speakers you liked compare to those? Maybe I assume wrong but no photos of GR Research...No Danny this year?

Also, I want to thank you for the time and effort you take every year (even when you promise not to) to bring this to Circle readers. Not half assed at all.  :thumb:

This. +1

I have high esteem for your Super 7's and D. Richie's achievements... so comparing the show room's sound to your own sound (at home) has merit.
Thanks for the great review for those of us that can't make RMAF..

-Dieter

Tyson

Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #8 on: 7 Oct 2018, 04:36 pm »
This. +1

I have high esteem for your Super 7's and D. Richie's achievements... so comparing the show room's sound to your own sound (at home) has merit.
Thanks for the great review for those of us that can't make RMAF..

-Dieter

Oh, the Super 7's are easily better than anything I heard at the show this year (and every other year, really).  There's some great speakers at RMAF, but the Super 7s are truly special.  If you take the awesome bass of the Spatial speakers this year, combine it with the giant soundstage of the Maggies, add in the speed/resolution of the Avantgards, and the slightly sweet tonal balance of the Falcon speakers and combine that with the total coherence and easy room integration of the Audiokinesis and then you begin to get an idea of how good the Super 7s are.  IMO and IME and all that of course. 

Since the Super 7s are not manufactured any more, then I want to bring the focus back to the manufacturers highlighted here.  RMAF every year has the very best speakers and other audio equipment in the WORLD, and the rooms I posted above are literally the best of the best.  All of them, every damn one of them, has created something incredible that I'd be proud and very happy to own.  And in fact I'm kicking around the idea of buying an Azel for a 2nd system in my upstairs space.  Shhhhh, don't tell Duke :D

Zero

Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #9 on: 7 Oct 2018, 04:52 pm »
Tyson,

Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us.   Even after all these years, the bar you set has yet to be reached!  Meanwhile..  I'm f***ing kicking myself for not making it out this year.

Seriously though.  It's great to see RMAF doing so well.   Even as recently as last year, there were a number of flags that indicated RMAF's days were done.   Hell, I remember back in 16' when you, myself, and Jason hung out for a few hours.  Remember how sad and outright frustrating the whole thing was?

Your enthusiasm for the show and for what you're hearing is a complete 180, and that's a good thing.  Looking forward to next year.  Oh, and tell the Asian hermit I said hey. 

bluemeanies

Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #10 on: 7 Oct 2018, 05:25 pm »
Thanks for sharing..I only wish I was there. Those FOCAL emerald green speakers are sweet looking. The monitors you posted I would have loved to listen too along with the Harbeth

Thanks again

poseidonsvoice

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Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #11 on: 7 Oct 2018, 07:02 pm »
Tyson,

Thanks for the reviews!

That PBN room that Wayne liked is very interesting and I bet Duke would be interested in that room too. That’s a JBL M2 waveguide with JBL’s drivers I am assuming along with not one but two JBL 15 inch woofers!

Tricked out, wow!

Best,
Anand.

Wayne1

Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #12 on: 7 Oct 2018, 08:40 pm »
I do have a few things to add to Tyson's great report and pictures.

I talked to Dusty a bit in the NOU Audio room. They plan to focus on just making drivers and not completed speakers. He is thinking of offering the drivers through someone like Madisound. They will offer plans for cabinets. The most exciting thing was that they will also offer the ability for small runs of custom drivers. A small manufacturer or a group of DIY'ers can order a custom design in lots as small as 100.

The TUK speaker is offered by Kanto Audio. It has built in amps, phono pre-amp, DAC, USB input and Bluetooth. It uses an aluminum cone woofer and AMT for highs. It also has a headphone amp built in. They do sound very nice and for a small, simple system these could do the trick. Cost about $1000.

I can't agree more with Tyson's comments about the Klipsch Forte III. I did not see what amp was driving the speakers but that demo blew me away. That was quite honestly one of the best rooms I heard at the show and without a doubt the least expensive for that level of sound quality. At $3600 a pair, these are a bargain.

"The TIDAL room - I forget the price of these speakers and gear, but I do remember that it was low.  Shockingly low for this level of quality.  We truly live in a golden age when freaking streaming digital can get this level of sound:"
I guess this is all relative. The speakers are the VIMBERG Mino. These are TIDAL's "low end" brand. They use the same drivers and all Mundorf crossover components but "compromise" on the finish and certain parts of the cabinet build. The speakers are $29,000. While is "low" for TIDAL. The rest of the components are all TIDAL and add up to about $100,000 worth of electronics. This was one of my personal favorite sounds of the show. Unfortunately I will never be able to afford such gear.

The AvantGarde room was in my top three along with TIDAL and PBN. $25,000 a pair with built in woofer amps.

Tyson loves open baffle. I don't really care for them, which is probably why I liked the PBN more so. The PBN do use all JBL drivers. About $30,000 for a pair. They were driven with all PBN electronics and sources. Most likely close to the same price as the TIDAL gear.

There were a few rooms that were streaming QOBUZ and they sounded quite good. I hope QUBUZ and ROON are able to get together to offer QUBUZ as an alternative to tidal streaming.


OzarkTom

Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #13 on: 7 Oct 2018, 10:06 pm »
Bunch of five star reviews on the Forte III's here. Thanks Wayne and Tyson for the heads-up on these Klipsch's.

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_714FORTE3W/Klipsch-Forte-III-American-Walnut.html?tp=185

Tyson

Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #14 on: 7 Oct 2018, 11:02 pm »
Bunch of five star reviews on the Forte III's here. Thanks Wayne and Tyson for the heads-up on these Klipsch's.

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_714FORTE3W/Klipsch-Forte-III-American-Walnut.html?tp=185

Went back to the Klipsch room today and they had the La Scalas hooked up.  The Fortes were better. 

Tyson

Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #15 on: 7 Oct 2018, 11:46 pm »
Tyson,

Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us.   Even after all these years, the bar you set has yet to be reached!  Meanwhile..  I'm f***ing kicking myself for not making it out this year.

Seriously though.  It's great to see RMAF doing so well.   Even as recently as last year, there were a number of flags that indicated RMAF's days were done.   Hell, I remember back in 16' when you, myself, and Jason hung out for a few hours.  Remember how sad and outright frustrating the whole thing was?

Your enthusiasm for the show and for what you're hearing is a complete 180, and that's a good thing.  Looking forward to next year.  Oh, and tell the Asian hermit I said hey. 

I think attendance is permanently down, mostly because in the very early days of RMAF, it was the only major show in the middle of the country.  Now there's several other major regional shows and the people that used to fly to Denver now just attend their local shows.  One thing I have seen this year (and last year) is a large uptick in young people attending the show.  Mostly because of CanJam.  But you also see it with speaker makers too.  I think the changes at Focal are specifically to tap into the younger market, along with other companies like ELAC, Cantor and TUK. 

Tyson,

Thanks for the reviews!

That PBN room that Wayne liked is very interesting and I bet Duke would be interested in that room too. That’s a JBL M2 waveguide with JBL’s drivers I am assuming along with not one but two JBL 15 inch woofers!

Tricked out, wow!

Best,
Anand.

Unfortunately the PBN speakers didn't sound as good on Sunday with slightly different music as they had on Saturday.  OTOH, Duke's room sounded even better on Sunday than it had on Saturday, again with wildly different music. 

And, best part of the day - getting to hang out with Wayne, who I'd not really seen for more than a few minutes over the past few years.  Cheers!

ArthurDent

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Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #16 on: 8 Oct 2018, 12:03 am »
Thanks again for the pics, and reviews/thoughts, well done as always.

Tomy2Tone

Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #17 on: 8 Oct 2018, 12:51 am »
Bunch of five star reviews on the Forte III's here. Thanks Wayne and Tyson for the heads-up on these Klipsch's.

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_714FORTE3W/Klipsch-Forte-III-American-Walnut.html?tp=185

Surprised you haven’t heard about these Tom. I think they came out in July of last year but I’ve only read about them. I did get to hear the much more affordable Heresy III recently and they’re awesome. The most natural tone and timbre of any speaker I’ve heard with incredible dynamics. I had no idea the Heritage line was this good.

OzarkTom

Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #18 on: 8 Oct 2018, 01:34 am »
Surprised you haven’t heard about these Tom. I think they came out in July of last year but I’ve only read about them. I did get to hear the much more affordable Heresy III recently and they’re awesome. The most natural tone and timbre of any speaker I’ve heard with incredible dynamics. I had no idea the Heritage line was this good.

One of the best part is 98db efficiency. 1 watt is all I would ever need. And 100% made in Hope Ark.  I use to drive through Hope all the time when I was in the army at Ft. Polk, La.

milpai

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Re: Tyson's half-assed RMAF Coverage Day 2
« Reply #19 on: 8 Oct 2018, 02:26 am »
Tyson,
Thank You VERY MUCH for posting all the pictures.
Very cool and nice descriptions!