I got there Saturday afternoon with my 8 year old daughter in tow. We went straight to Salk room as I was very interested in listening to the SoundScape. They were few folks in there listening to Song Tower which sounded pretty good and lively in that room. I waited patiently and looked around to get a sense of the place. Finally the folks left (I sure hope they ordered the Song Tower) and I asked to hear the SoundScape. I didn't bring any music as I was really baby sitting and didn't think I would have time to sit down and critically listen. I asked Jim and Dennis for variety of music and came away impressed. I can understand Ric's disappointment as I also had difficult time with the tones. The cavernous and hard room just wasn't going to give you smooth and warm tones. We are not talking horrible sound folks. It is only wanting because you want great stuff from a pair of $10K speakers. What I did get was holographic sound stage with good rhythm, pace and extension. The organ music shook the room. I would like to hear them in my room. I bet I can get some sweet tones out with my 80 triode watt mono block and vinyl as source.
I was so lost in listening to the speakers and totally forgot about my daughter.
No worries though as I found Rachel deep in conversation with Mary who was very, very nice to her. My daughter really liked Mary and Salk room and wanted to say bye when we were leaving, but they had already packed up as the room was being set up for a concert.
Jim, would you tell Mary that Rachel says good bye. I will bring her again if you do this next year. I also wanted to chat with Dennis about the rooms he found interesting but I will have to do it here. Jim and Dennis are good people. You don't talk to them and come away feeling like you just talked to salesmen. They talk to you like a fellow audiophile who truly enjoys this hobby.
North Creek/Fibonacci Ribbon room was interesting. You can see the ribbons move in and out. I am not convinced that they are are good from 80 Hz up. I think they have uneven response and I think they are more efficient up top then lower range. What I heard was great mids accompanied with bright highs. It's possible they sound better with tube amps but I saw SS Belles (?) amp driving them. The sub enclosure had active driver and passive one facing out. They sounded more appropriate for HT then 2 channel to me. The room was set up for 5.1 but I only heard the 2.1. I think the ribbons would have been better if they were filtered to separate the mids and the highs.
Grapevine audio featured SS Class AB amp driving really neat looking Odeon (Elektra?) speakers. 50 watts seemed to be an overkill for the horn speakers but the room sounded good. We had a good discussion on a new DAC that is being developed by them.
The Border Patrol room with Parallel SET 300B amps with separate tube rectified PS on each block sounded really good driving Living Voice speakers. Nice synergy. Vocals were great as expected but I also heard one of the best PRAT on any speakers driven by 300B SET amps. Is it the British speakers or his amps? Gary Dews attributed his unique PS for this and he may have something here. I should check his stuff out as he is local.
What is an audiofest if there is no used vinyl to peruse and buy?
I picked up a Callas Carmen she recorded in '63 in excellent shape. By this time her voice was cracking but she could still do mezzo. She does a passionate Carmen that I always wanted in vinyl and I got it for $4. That is $1.33 per record.
All in all, we had a great time. My daughter is growing up and acquiring discerning taste in sound quality. We stopped at Sweetwater Tavern and got crab cakes and fillets. She had a Shirley Temple and I had a good IPA (their wine list doesn't meet my standard). Mom was out on a girl's night out just in case anyone was wondering.