A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011

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woodsyi

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A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« on: 21 Oct 2011, 03:09 pm »
My goal this year at RMAF was fairly simple.  I was going to canvass the field to see what digital front ends were being used by the vendors.  I wanted to observe what approach was the most user-friendly and what sounded the best.  Comparing absolute sound quality is impossible since ancillary gear including the room acoustics (treatment or lack thereof) is so different from room to room.  There is also this very subjective and selfish insistence on my part that I like the sound.  What was it that Socrates said, “know thyself?”  Seems like a good advice.

I love vocals, preferably in Operatic productions.  My ideal of a good sound is to reproduce the live sounds at Opera houses and concert halls.  Even the largest orchestras playing Wagnerian climactic scenes do not boom.  I know the natural sounds of woodwinds, strings, brass horns and percussions orchestrated by a maestro in a good acoustic venue.  No single instrument ever shouts out.   I want that sound in my room.  I also know that I like creamier voices more than more steely ones.  Let’s just say that I would be in the Renata Tebaldi camp over that of Maria Callas if it were the 50’s.  FYI, they were portrayed as professional enemies by the press.  What this all means is that I like live sounding sound with a silky midrange and wide macro dynamics to reproduce the orchestral dynamics.  But wait a minute.  I also like small ensemble in a cozy environment and sultry divas up close.  I want that intimate presence in my room too. 

I confess that I am a vinyl fool because the analog recording on vinyl sounds to me more like a live acoustic (unamplified) music I prefer.  But this high resolution digital material has my interest.  I can currently play up to 24/96 with my Northstar 192 DAC/Empirical Audio Pace Car/Tascam gizmo off FLAC files stored in my server.  I use PC and Foobar.  This is 2 years old stuff which is like light years in the ever developing digital world.  What I have glimpsed of the 24/96 recordings compared to 16/44 Redbook inspired me to look further into this high-rez that Ted Brady talks of incessantly.   Maybe he is onto something. :wink:  So I came prepared with a thumb drive with choice selections of both resolutions to the show.  Of all the rooms I have tried to play my music off the thumb drive, can you believe that only 3 rooms let me play them?  Some didn’t want to bother and some couldn’t.  Only 3!  :duh:  They were....

To be continued.
« Last Edit: 21 Oct 2011, 06:47 pm by woodsyi »

TONEPUB

Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #1 on: 21 Oct 2011, 05:03 pm »
Why are you surprised?  Almost no one uses a thumb drive to play music...

 

bpape

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Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #2 on: 21 Oct 2011, 05:04 pm »
Actually, for a server based system, that's the easiest and quickest way to do it.  We played music by transferring from thumb drives to the Mac Mini all 3 days.  CD's require an external drive though it can be done.

Bryan

Pez

Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #3 on: 21 Oct 2011, 05:11 pm »
My guess, Empirical room, Daeadlus room and ???

Also Rim, it's not like you're asking for much with the requirements you posted.  :duh:  :lol:

ted_b

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Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #4 on: 21 Oct 2011, 05:32 pm »
My guess:  Channel D (dCS, Pure Music, etc), Bryston and ??

I only talk of it incessantly cuz half if it (hirez) is gorgeous, the other half is faux, and requires lots of 'splainin.  :)

*Scotty*

Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #5 on: 21 Oct 2011, 05:42 pm »
Woodsyi, it looks like you are a little ahead of the curve in regards to what kind music playback medium vendors are prepared to deal with.
 It does seem kind of strange that only three had the capability to playback music from a flash drive.
If they were playing back files from their hard drive it should have been possible to point their software at the external drive and playback music from it. 
 It may be a case where they just didn't have enough familiarity with computers and their playback software to easily accommodate your request. I can understand not wanting to open up a can of worms that could screw up their capability to playback files from their own hard-drive and render them tuneless until they get a geeksquad intervention.
Jeff, I must be the odd man out because I play back all of my music files from flash drives that are plugged into a dedicated netbook running LINUX.
I get the benefit of play back from solid-state memory without the investment in a SSD.
Scotty

woodsyi

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Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #6 on: 21 Oct 2011, 06:23 pm »
They were Salk/AVA, Bryston and Channel D (Pure Music and Pure Vinyl).  Jim Salk and Robert Robinson both downloaded to play but Bryston played right off my plugged in drive.  Funny thing was the guy in charge initially refused because he didn't want to get out of his playlist.  Only after I reminded him that one of the selling point of Bryston was the ease of use with a flash drive, did he relent and played a couple of songs.  It was all in good humor. 

Now to be fair, I didn’t ask in some rooms only because there never was an opportunity to ask.  Every time I was in the Emprical/YG/Balanced Power/GIK room, Steve was occupied with someone for considerable durations.   When I was there for the after-hour Vapor speaker demo, I was asked not to mess with the playlist.  Unfortunately, Steve and I must have different taste because I didn’t see much that I recognize.  I also have to admit that I did not hit all the rooms.  I didn’t make a list of rooms to hit like Tyson and Pez.  This is a hobby for me and I figured to enjoy myself from room to room at my own pace.  I got “stuck” in the all TAD room where Andrew Jones was putting on his show.  I really enjoyed all the music and explanations he gave.  All TAD gear included a Mac/DAC interface that did 24/192.  Spanish Harlem, anyone?  It was wonderful but I never asked to play mine because I can’t afford TAD and Andrew was on a roll.  I am sure it would have been no problem.   He exuded a quiet confidence of a man who knows that his stuff is good, and that makes me trust TAD gear.  And, of course, hearing it is believing it.  I ended up spending close to an hour in the room without meaning to.  I just went with the flow, so to speak.  As a result, I didn’t get to some rooms I wanted to like PS Audio with the Perfect Wave setup.  My personal bias againt PS Audio may have contributed.  PS Audio always seems to be at the forefront of every new trend but never become the authority – Jack of all trades, master of none is my impression of this company. 

Did I mention that this is a hobby?  I enjoy listening to music and playing with audio toys but what I really enjoy is meeting old friends and making new friends who share the same passion for music and gear.   This is why I am an Audio Circle Junkie.  Add my penchant for wine and food and you have a perfect guy’s retreat in RMAF.   I am going to stay sort of chronological with my technical “coverage” of the show with vignettes of social interludes here and there.  It will show personal sides of fellow Audio Circle members.   I tried to cover all the rooms with AC connections.   So how is that for a short preamble?

Friday events coming soon.
« Last Edit: 21 Oct 2011, 08:16 pm by woodsyi »

Daedalus Audio

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Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #7 on: 21 Oct 2011, 07:07 pm »
I recall that, and we were having a hard time getting files through the Mac/HD/Squeezbox, at that point I was a bit frustrated by the system for getting new files. I did try to put on a choral piece for you though.  after the dust settles if you can offer and suggestions for easier access to thumbdrives, I'm open. we will definitely address this at the next show.

thanks,
lou

martyo

Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #8 on: 21 Oct 2011, 07:34 pm »
Looking forward to your next installment. 8)

Big Red Machine

Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #9 on: 21 Oct 2011, 07:54 pm »
Put down that glass and get typing! :whip:

bpape

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Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #10 on: 21 Oct 2011, 07:58 pm »
Sorry Woodsyi.  The room was pretty busy most of the weekend.  Make sure to stop by early one day next year. We'll be happy to play what you bring.

Bryan

woodsyi

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Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #11 on: 21 Oct 2011, 09:36 pm »
Put down that glass and get typing! :whip:

You are just jealous because you couldn't be there.  Have fun this weekend though.

I got to the show around 5 PM after sort of putting in a half day’s work in DC.  I only reserved a 2 day pass  but the ladies at the desk were very jovial and said I was free to attend the rest of the Friday afternoon which was scheduled to end at 6.  One thing I got to enjoy this year was all the  extra curricular activities after hours.  I got a lot more out of attending these “after hours” events than going to rooms during the scheduled hours.  My room shared with Scott Dazzle,  who lives minutes from me in Vienna, was on the 5th floor in the tower section.  So I went straight up to the 11th floor after depositing my luggage in my room because it’s easier to work my way down via the stairs as elevators are so slow.

First was Galibier room featuring his TT and Daedalus speakers.  I have chatted with Tom MacKris before and he is a nice guy.  He was going to get me a Shroeder arm but I ended up with a Graham.  Plus, Paul Kaplan (Occam) had his cables in this room.  Now the Kaplan cables were in many rooms this year.  I understand the Ulysses speakers were updated this year to the latest spec unlike last year and I was eager to hear them.  The tonality was really excellent but I noticed a bit of softness in the attack.  Later I found out that the SET amp used was putting out very low wattage.  This room had tones to die for but lacked speed and precision.  I went down to the 10th floor and went to the Daedalus/Bolder room to see if Tyson and Pez were there.  I ran into Laura (vinyl lady)  who has been to my house many times when she comes to DC for business.  Of course, I said hello to Wayne (Bolder Cable) and Lou (Daedalus Speakers).  The Ulysses driven by Modwright 150SE showed what these speakers are capable of -- fast and punchy and still retaining the gorgeous tones.  Wayne’s active crossover used to bring in the subs helped too.  I noticed that the subs were hardly working (to my touch) and still putting out bass.  Lou explained that he uses special surrounds (non-rubber) and his drivers are short throw design to be fast.  They were fast.  The speakers were driven by one amp although he had 2 150’s because one for some reason could not be bridged into mono.  One amp in stereo mode was doing just fine.  I would imagine mono blocks with twice power and totally separate power supply sections would give even better stereo separation and head room for demanding passages.  Imaging was superb as they were.  Upper middle range might have been tad rough but only because I love silkiness here.  I liked the overall presentation here better than that from the Galibier room even though the midrange was silkier upstairs. 

I ran into Paul Kaplan in the hallways and he was enjoying a Martini.  He was in a happy mood.  Why shouldn’t he be?  He had cables everywhere at the show, or at least it seemed so.  He pointed me to FritzSpeakers room for the Martini.  It was Swedish vodka with crackled pepper.  I got me some and it hit the spot – perfect time for a happy hour.   As anyone whoever meets John Fritz Heiler will tell you, he is one of the nicest people, period.  And his Carbon speakers are damned good and he should be pricing them higher than $1795 (he raised it all of $45 this year,  woo hoo).  Modwright  KWA 100SE and Dan’s famed modded Oppo front end was doing a great job of putting out clean music.  As good as the sound was I was a bit preoccupied as I was busy meeting WyWires and Zesto Audio who had an intriguing tube phono stage.  It was a pleasure talking to them and I had me some more Martini.  Then it was time to hit the Lift Bar. 

Meeting MaxCast....

Keoma

Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #12 on: 22 Oct 2011, 12:33 am »
Woodsyi, don't feel bad. I had the exact same problem. I brought along a 16GB USB drive, thinking that sort of option would be omnipresent, and was only able to play a few songs in one single place: the Sumiko / Wadia / Pro-Ject / Sonus Faber room at the mezzanine. I used a prototype of the Pro-Ject Streambox, which is a similar unit to the Musical Fidelity CLiC. Was not too impressed by it, though.

Pez

Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #13 on: 22 Oct 2011, 01:03 am »
Wow Rim, did you have to upstage me by having actual substance to your room reviews.  :o  :thumb: great stuff.

WGH

Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #14 on: 22 Oct 2011, 01:25 am »
I ran into Paul Kaplan in the hallways and he was enjoying a Martini.  He was in a happy mood.  Why shouldn’t he be?  He had cables everywhere at the show, or at least it seemed so.  He pointed me to FritzSpeakers room for the Martini.  It was Swedish vodka with crackled pepper.  I got me some and it hit the spot – perfect time for a happy hour.

I was wondering how you found Fritz's Happy Hour so quick after your arrival. I thought you had radar.  :lol:
Nice to meet you, too bad I missed the table dancing.

Wayne

audio2addict

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Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #15 on: 23 Oct 2011, 08:41 pm »
Interesting discussion.  I brought along two USB flash drives and was not able to to have anything played.

I was at the late Friday evening Vaporsound demo as well as the earlier Fritz / WyWires cocktail get together.

etcarroll

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Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #16 on: 24 Oct 2011, 12:27 am »
You shared a room with Scot???????????????

Good God, I hope you had a lot of wine!  :wink:

woodsyi

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Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #17 on: 24 Oct 2011, 07:13 pm »
I was to meet up with my roomie, Scott Dazzle, at the bar.   He and I met through AC.  Then we discovered that we live like 4 miles apart.  We have done a lot of listening and going to shows together in the last few years.   He just retired this year and is having fun coaching and commishing Babe Ruth League baseball.  We play racquetball together and generally manage to see each other every other week.  He may be getting back into selling audio gear, which he used to do as a young man years ago, as he is signing up to be an associate with Modwright.   Rich (MaxCast) and I met on AC as well.   Obviously we had conversations on line but  we also have talked a lot on the phone stemming from my involvement on the Steering Committee and various other posts on AC.  We discussed things concerning Audio Circle, but also chatted about many other things and developed a great rapport.  Rich had been and still is an Admin on Audio Circle who is like the Rock of Gibraltar – steady and permanent.   I have the utmost respect for Rich as a person and count him as a good friend.  So, it was going to be a special moment to see him in person. 

I get to the bar and it was a pleasure to meet up with Chris (Lonewolf) and Jeff (Captain Humble).  It wasn’t the same last year without them.  It was Chris (who knows and is known by everyone) who introduced me to Rich.  After a handshake and a hug we were off chatting and drinking together as if we had been friends forever.  It was like this last year too with Tyson, Pez and the Chairguy.  We make great friends on AC and it’s more than cyber, I tell you.  After a few beers we moved over to a table and had dinner together.  Whenever any of you get a chance, have a dinner with Chris and Jeff:  Chris always has Rave CD to give out and Jeff has got fascinating stories to tell.  This time we made fun of the mad German, Klaus Bunge and his (mis)adventure in a quest to buy an SUV -- all in good fun.  Well, all good things must come to an end and we broke up after dinner as Scott was feeling the late hours by Eastern Time.

As I was leaving I ran into Joe Jurzec, Bill Baker and Hugh Nguyen.  Joe offered a beer and who was I to turned down a free beer.  I sat down and met Hugh (Angel City Audio) for the first time.  I was talked into going up to the Purity Audio and VSA room for a listen.  They told me there were more beers up in the room.  What was I supposed to do?  Anyway, I wanted to see what the Dueland caps looked like in the Ultra GT preamp and who can turn down privately auditioning the world premier of new VSA speakers.  So off we went....

lonewolfny42

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Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #18 on: 2 Nov 2011, 04:09 am »
Quote
So off we went....

I that it Rim ?

End of story..... :scratch:


etcarroll

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Re: A Portrait of an Audio Circle Junkie at RMAF 2011
« Reply #19 on: 2 Nov 2011, 10:29 am »
It's all he'll admit to publicly.

What did you do to him Chris??? :o