The flight aback from Denver aloof landed, and while I couldn’t absorb a accomplished lot of time at 2018’s Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF), I do accept a few hot takes from the appearance for those of you who didn’t accomplish it.
This was the aftermost year the appearance will be captivated at the actual annoyed Denver Marriott Tech Center hotel. My auto ride from DIA was $120 and my Uber aback to DIA the aing day was over $130. A capital round-trip admission from LAX to DIA and aback was about $550 to put the drive into perspective. In affective to an airport hotel, time and money will be adored and hopefully RMAF will be able to action a cleaner, added avant-garde and accordant amplitude for exhibits in means that added finer competes with AXPONA in Chicago. If they can’t, at atomic they can advice the Free Masons bind audiophiles at DIA (read the actual cabal theory that I aloof abstruse about apropos the DIA airport here.
I saw Mike Levy from Alta Audio and Walter Schofield from Krell accomplishing a affirmation for academy kids in their room. I’ve continued been calling for this blazon of outreach. Kudos to them for acumen that you can’t accomplish a acceptable active in audio affairs yet addition $10,000 preamp to 70-year-old Baby Boomers forever. Sorry, it’s aloof fact. This amusement needs a new bearing of supporters.
Gauges don’t affect the complete of electronics, but God abuse are they cool, and I saw them ample at the show. The super-y Anthem STR accessory (reviews awaiting after in 2018) I saw on the attic looked amazing powering Paradigm’s advertence Persona bookshelf speakers. D’agostino Audio’s steam-punk automated architecture comes with conceivably the industry’s coolest and best big-ticket gauge. Classé Audio is aback and their gauges are authentic agenda . Others had air-conditioned screens and gauges, including Naim Audio and abounding others. I know, I know, the “sound is all that matters” army will poo-poo my focus on aesthetics, but they amount because air-conditioned agency makes me appetite to cull out the Platinum card. And assurance me, friends–at RMAF, abounding of the articles crave the affairs ability of a Platinum Agenda and maybe alike some low-interest, abiding costs to go with it.
More apartment were alms refreshments for appearance attendees. Paradigm had an complete bar, snacks, bonbon and bottles of water. I saw abundant good-level, Costco-sized bonbon that I anticipation I was activity to ask addition for a syringe of insulin to accord with acting diabetes from all of the little Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that I swiped from allowance to room. Nevertheless, it’s acceptable to accomplish bodies feel accustomed aback they admission your room.
I didn’t get to apprehend the results, but I like that MQA was recording and arena aback (on a all-embracing Focal rig) music recorded on the spot. I admired this aback Sonus faber did the aforementioned at their accident this summer in Kansas City, and I admired it actuality at RMAF. Giving audio enthusiasts an central attending at the recording action makes them added a consumers and hobbyist.
More apartment were application acceptable acoustical treatments to accord with less-than-perfect allowance conditions. GoldenEar, B&W, Classé, Paradigm, MartinLogan & D’agostino, Focal, Tekton, Wilson’s dealer–who was assuming their new bookshelfy apostle for $10,000 a pair–and so abounding others. Accumulate up the acceptable work. Audio enthusiasts apperceive that that auberge apartment tend to complete ass-y compared to a acceptable retailer’s admirers allowance or alike your alert allowance at home, but the allurement of audition so abundant audio in one abode makes these audio shows compelling. Fixing allowance maladies aloof makes the audio apple a bigger place.
RMAF is a 100 percent sausage affair in agreement of demographics. The abandoned women there were wives abject to the appearance by their audiophile husbands–and abounding looked bored. RMAF should aim to acquisition a way to appoint new attendees that accept two X chromosomes.
I apperceive I mentioned this already, but the Denver Tech Center Marriott area is absolutely tired, and alike adversity this area for one aftermost year was a downer. I mean, c’mon–you can’t burden the Marriott to apprehension out a few cans of acrylic for the hallways and the stairwells because that’s how abounding bodies acquaintance the appearance acknowledgment to actual awash elevators? Some beginning carpeting could accept gone a continued way, too. Stacking a bed anatomy in one of the hallways on one of the floors was aloof complete dangerous. The new auberge hopefully (almost certainly) will be better. God advice me, if I accept to alarm the Illuminati to accomplish things better, I will. I apprehend said Illuminati accept abstruse offices at DIA now, which is nice.
As compared with added commensurable shows, the music I heard as I was walking about RMAF was aloof terrible. Let’s be honest with ourselves: audiophile music . It consistently has and consistently will, no amount how acceptable the recording is. I accurately adored apartment arena RIAA Platinum-selling, alarmingly acclaimed music. I absolved accomplished endless others arena abstruse or clichéd advance from the brand of Rebecca Pidgeon and Livingston Taylor. I did apprehend a acceptable arrangement of “Red House” and “Out on the Tiles” in apartment that I would accept never entered otherwise, and I concluded up in there spending added time than expected.
When will audiophiles apprentice that vinyl is an inferior format? Relying on a concrete bowl with aerial baloney and 65 dB activating ambit is like architecture a boss building of agreeable playback on quicksand. But you apperceive what? Vinyl was everywhere at RMAF. The Denver Audiophile Society needs to alpha admonition about the actuality that an audiophile can beck high-res audio with about complete admission to every allusive recording anytime fabricated for $20 from two altered sources (upstart Qobzz and Tidal). Or that you can buy 24-bit HD music for about $20 an anthology and comedy it aback from a growing cardinal of accomplished music players/streamers that are absolutely affordable.
Ferraris don’t run bigger on 50 octane gas, and audiophile systems don’t complete bigger on vinyl, alike if the architecture holds cornball ability over the elders of the amusement who action annihilation new.
I couldn’t acquisition any allusive video anywhere at RMAF. Real-world buyers are aloof as acceptable (if not added likely) to buy a $4,500 65-inch Sony Master Series OLED TV as a brace of acceptable audiophile speakers apprenticed by accomplished electronics. Bodies with the money to buy audiophile accessory acceptable additionally watch movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu in 4K. To accumulate these two worlds afar shows RMAF’s abridgement of eyes about a) who can absolutely acquiesce big-ticket audio accessory and b) the awaiting approaching of the hobby/business.
Another effective announcement to the Denver Audiophile Society would be to admonish them that, in 2018, the video d industry does added business than the complete music industry and all of Hollywood combined. Kids are acceptable $250,000 playing Fortnite. They adulation aerial achievement equipment. What’s actuality done to accompany that booming admirers to advice alteration the amusement from 60- and 70-year-olds? At this year’s show? Not a thing.
When Bill Curtis endemic Stereophile and Home Amphitheater Magazine, he threw an accident in Orange Country that was like aggregate he has anytime done: aboriginal class. Not abandoned did the appearance embrace the complete best in audiophile systems, but it had killer, never-seen-before home amphitheater and video setups. But what Bill did that none of these added shows do accurately is that his appearance had media partners. I am not talking about Stereophile, TAS, or alike HomeTheaterReview.com. I am talking about, in Bill’s case, The Orange County Register. He pumped flush bodies from all over the sun-drenched area of the OC into his show. Retailers did their best to woo said Bentley-driving abeyant buyers. What if RMAF aggregate $5 per admission with The Denver Post to advice advance the appearance in September and aboriginal October in acknowledgment for promotional considerations? What about adopting admission prices $5 per day to acquiesce for a account for radio and television promotion? We charge new claret in this amusement and annihilation is actuality done, admitting the accomplished success of boilerplate business for specialty AV shows.
Overall, RMAF 2018 had a lot for the audiophile to enjoy. It didn’t change any stereotypes or norms but it absolutely offered the already-initiated the adventitious to acquaintance the world’s better stereo abundance at a time aback stereo food are dying faster than 1980s pop stars. And for that acumen alone, it was account the flight out from Los Angeles. Hopefully, the new area will action a big improvement. Alike added hopefully, the Denver Audiophile Society will booty the effective comments aloft to affection and apprehend that they comedy an important role in the approaching (or abridgement thereof) of this hobby.
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