Rocky Mountain Audio Festival Show Report


This year was the first time at the Rocky Mountain Audio Festival for secrets writers Chris Groppi and Rick Schmidt. Unlike many of the other trade focused shows, the RMAF is open to the public. Both manufacturers and retailers show products here, and displays are focused on listening demonstrations. This year, there were more than 160 display rooms each usually showing equipment from several manufacturers. Rooms were from both retailers as well as manufacturers and distributors, with a wide range of equipment from around the world. All the big hitters were here, plus many companies I had never heard of.

In addtion to the rooms, seminars on topics ranging from turntable setup to digital recording technologies are offered. This is an intimate show, focused on 2 channel audio, and everyone has a chance to see every room. The show was great fun for both of us!

Day 1: Chris Groppi

My first day at the Rocky Mountain Audio Festival has been a whirlwind. I've gone quickly through all the floors to see what's here, and made a point to stop in rooms run by our friends at Secrets. Here's a sampling of what I saw.

Bamberg Audio Series 5 TMW with Emotiva XPA-2s

These beautiful Bamberg Audio Series 5 TMWs were being driven by Emotiva's new XPA-2, now being reviewed by Secrets. Emotiva is one of my favorite manufacturers, and they sounded fantastic. More fantastic that many much more expensive setups!

Headroom Desktop System

This Headroom desktop listening system uses Tannoy minimontors driven by Headroom's Desktop power amps. You can run either the speakers or headphones.

The Headroom Max balanced amp with Denon AH-D7000 headphones

I am a big fan of headphones. My first Hifi system was a headroom classic amp with a pair of Sennheiser HD580s. This is the ultimate evolution of that! The Headroom balanced max amp, fed by a Wadia CD player, driving Denon's new Flagship AH-D7000 headphones ($999). These two pairs are the only two in the united states. They are some of the finest pieces of audio craftsmanship I've ever seen. Denon was represented by none other than Alvino Raigoza, who sold me my first audio equipment when I was in high school. Small world!

Headroom Desktop Amp

Here is the more moderately priced ($1599) headroom Ultra Desktop amp driving the Denon AH-D5000 headphones. This would look (and sound) pretty good on my office desk at work!

Avid Diva turntable

This is Avid's Diva entry level turntable, at $2400, without the arm. It is a very well made turntable for the price. Unlike Avid's higher priced offerings, this unit is not spring suspended. I'd be happy to replace my old Linn LP-12 (vintage 1984) with one of these.

AV123 LS9 line source loudspeaker

I finally got to hear the gargantuan AV 123 LS9 line source loudspeaker. They are HUGE! At $5999, they're not hugely expensive, though. The sound was extraordinarily large and dynamic. If I only had a room large enough to fit them...

ELT525 system

Mark Schiffer of AV123 was most proud of this ELT525 surround system. $999 buys you all 5 of these speakers, including delivery. Let me tell you, I have seen 5 channel systems costing 3 times more that were not built as well. These are real wood veneer, no vinyl. I guarantee you'll see these reviewed at Secrets, along with Mark's killer new MFW-15 subwoofer.

DEQ-X, Halcro and Acoustic Zen

My vote for jaw drop of the show. Acoustic Zen Maestro loudspeakers 
driven by 6, count-'em 6 Halcro DM-88 monoblocks. This system uses the 
fabulous DEQX HDP-3 DSP system to perform driver correction, driver 
correction, time alignment, and room correction. The crossovers in the 
custom Acoustic Zen Maestro speakers are totally bypassed. Each driver 
type (tweeter, mid and woofer) are driven by their own Halcro DM-88. 
The source was a Qsonic Q110 music manager (a high performance digital
jukebox system). This system's MSRP is approaching the cost of my