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RMAF 2018 Wrapup and Best Sound Around

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  • RMAF 2018 Wrapup and Best Sound Around

    Some quick observations about this year’s show:

    Show turnout (exhibitors and audiophiles) seemed about the same as last year. Still, RMAF is one of two best US shows with more than enough rooms to occupy audiophile’s attention for three days. Exhibitors are on the whole very relaxed and ready to chat with show attendees.

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    An hour was added to Saturday show hours.

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    There were decidedly less exhibitors in the Marketplace this year. Old standbys Elusive Disc, Acoustic Sounds and Bob’s Devices were there as always.

    Headphones booths are always packed.

    “All roads lead to Rome” holds true for high-end audio based on based on the multitude of good sounding rooms.

    Speakers of all shapes, sizes and varieties including horns, planar magnetic, electrostatic, hybrids, omni-directional, active and dynamic persuasion were well represented at RMAF.

    Exhibitors covered all the bases using CDs, high rez digital, tape and records.

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    Turntables were more than capably represented by AMG, Clearaudio, VPI, TW Acustic, Holbo, Thales, Dobbins, PBN, Verdier, Kronos, Transrotor, Feickert, EAT, Kuzma, Merrill-Williams, Thorens (new and vintage), Constellation, Music-Hall, Triangle Arts, Technics, TechDas, Oracle, ELAC, Acoustic Signature, SME, Pear Audio, etc. (wow, that was a mouthful!) Apologies to anyone inadvertently omitted from the list.

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    Reel-to-reel machines seen at RMAF included units from Nagra, Studer, UHA, Technics, Sonorus and Revox.

    There seems to be a slowing down of new audiophile LP reissues.
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART300 40th Anniversary monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 and Thoress Mk. 2 phonostages; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/12-inch Fat Boy, SAT LM-12 arm, Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, SPod Magico feet, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

  • #2
    Top Ten Show Sounds:

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    1. DeVore Fidelity (DeVore Fidelity/Air Tight Electronics/Brinkmann turntable and Air Tight Opus cartridge) John Devore unveiled his first attack on state-of-the-art sound and hit out of the park. An immersive musical experience with the wonderful Air Tight electronics from Japan rarely experienced with most audio systems. Extraordinary dynamic ease.

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    2. High Water Sound (Cessaro Speakers/Tron Electronics/Holbo Turntable and Miyajima Cartridge) It’s no coincidence that the top two systems used small tube amplifiers and highly efficient speakers. I had almost forgotten how magical linear tracking arms can sound until encountering the Holbo turntable from Serbia. Incredible resolution. Could have ranked a touch higher in a bigger room.

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    3. Zesto Audio (Marten Django Speakers/Zesto Electronics/Merrill Turntable, Tri-Planar arm and Dynavector XX-2 Cartridge) “Modern” tube magic and a little more. Low coloration and a midrange to die for. Palpability that you could wrap a ribbon around. I’d love to see what Zesto could do with a better cartridge.

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    4. Constellation (Rockport Avior II Speakers/Constellation Electronics/Constellation Turntable, Viper Arm and Ortofon A95 Cartridge) Constellation’s sound has consistently improved each year at RMAF culminating with the new Rockport speakers this year. Great soundstaging, imaging and midrange resolution. Again, I can’t help but think what could this system do with the new Ortofon Century cartridge?

    5. MBL (MBL 101 Speakers/MBL Electronics/UHA Ultimate 4 Tape deck) There’s some magical about the sound of properly setup MBLs and tape that was on display to great effect at this year’s RMAF. The sound seemed to come from everywhere. Vocals were warm and rich, and the sense of space brought recordings to life.

    6. Joseph Audio/Doshi Electronics (Joseph Audio Speakers, Doshi Electronics/Studer 810 tape machine and Doshi V3.0 tapestage) Nick and Jeff form a formidable team at shows and this year was no exception. The JA Perspectives definitely perform way over their grade class! The system’s dynamics and midrange presence continued to open up over the course of the show. Nick’s stereo amplifier goes against the grain with a solid-state input and tube output but the results speak for themselves. With 50 of 75 watts in Class A.

    7. Tidal (Tidal Speakers/Tidal Electronics/TW-Acustic Turntable and Transfiguration Proteus Cartridge) I loved the new Vimberg line and this room could have scored a touch higher with a little more robust midrange. The tweeter on the new Tidal’s was exception resolving information didn’t know was on the recordingl

    8. Musical Surroundings (Sonus Faber Aida 2 Speakers/Audio Research Electronics/AMG or Clearaudio turntables and either Hana or DSAudio cartridge’s) Another room where I could park my butt and listen to all day long. And why not with three tables, multiple arm and cartridges and the amazing new Audio Research M160 amplifiers? These amplifiers have an uncanny ability to control the Aidas as well as resolve the smallest microdetails on recordings.

    9. VTL/Vandersteen (Vandersteen Speakers/VTL Electronics/Brinkmann Turntable and Atlas cartridge) There was a lot to like here but the room suffered a touch in comparison to the lofty sound they achieved at last year’s RMAF. There was just a little magic, in particular the air the system captured, missing from last year.

    10. Nagra (Rockport Cygnus Speakers/Nagra Electronics/Nagra IV-s tape machine) Tape or quad-DSD. Take your choice. Another outstanding room with Rockport speakers. (that haven’t been seen much at shows lately.Welcome back.) Great full range sound.

    Honorable Mention:

    Alta Audio speakers/Krell electronics
    American Sound/Avantgarde speakers/Phasemation electronics
    VAC electronics/von Schweikert speakers
    AudioArts: Zellaton speakers/Ensemble electronics
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART300 40th Anniversary monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 and Thoress Mk. 2 phonostages; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/12-inch Fat Boy, SAT LM-12 arm, Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, SPod Magico feet, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

    Comment


    • #3
      Finally, the individual awards:

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      Audiophile Eye Candy: Air Force 3 Turntable in black; Tidal Vimberg Speakers; Analysis Plus (Ferrari Red finish)




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      New Product Debuts: $7500 Holbo Air bearing Turntable; $27,950 Zellaton Legacy speakers; $150K VAC Statement 450 iQ integrated amplifier; Doshi Audio stereo amplifier


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      New Budget Product Debut (budget): $1200 Hana ML cartridge

      Best sound, new exhibitor: AudioArts

      Most improved sound at show: American Audio Avantgarde Uno Fino speakers, Phasemation electronics


      New Software:

      Acoustic Sounds: UHQR Hendrix Bold as Love and other titles. An all-out attempt on the state-of-the-art in record production. Hand stamped, clear Clarity vinyl and low noise.


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      Zavalinka Records: New 15-ips reel-to-reel tape recordings from Russia. Found in practically all rooms playing tape (and there were quite a few).


      Last but not least:


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      Product (s) Like to Bring Home (tie): United Home Audio (UHA) Ultimate 4 tape deck; Constellation Taurus monoblock amplifiers: Mutech Kanda cartridge
      Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
      Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
      ________________________________________

      Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART300 40th Anniversary monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 and Thoress Mk. 2 phonostages; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/12-inch Fat Boy, SAT LM-12 arm, Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, SPod Magico feet, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
        Top Ten Show Sounds:

        Click image for larger version  Name:	DSC_0216.JPG Views:	1 Size:	2.47 MB ID:	99376

        1. DeVore Fidelity (DeVore Fidelity/Air Tight Electronics/Brinkmann turntable and Air Tight Opus cartridge) John Devore unveiled his first attack on state-of-the-art sound and hit out of the park. An immersive musical experience with the wonderful Air Tight electronics from Japan rarely experienced with most audio systems. Extraordinary dynamic ease.




        Jana Dagdagan (formerly of Stereophile) made a wonderful binaural recording of John's latest creation for her new Youtube channel:

        How Do You Beat Audiophile Nervosa?

        Step Number 1: Upgrade your music collection first. If you do it correctly that should keep you busy in perpetuity.

        Comment


        • #5
          Very nice report with a nice balance of photos and narrative. Just curious whether you heard the EMM Labs st up?
          Rockport Sirius turntable, Lyra Atlas SL cartridge, Ypsilon Phono stage, Audio Note M10 (Signature) linestage, EMM Labs TX2/DA2 digital, Audio Note Balanced Kegon amps, EMM Labs MTRX amps, Acapella Triolons, Jorma Prime and Odin 2 cables, Stage 3 Kraken power cords, HB Marble Powerslave, Finite Elemente Pagode Reference stands and Cerabases, Halcyonics active isolation bases, Loricraft and Audiodesk vinyl cleaners, Yamaha CT7000 Tuner.

          Comment


          • MylesBAstor
            MylesBAstor commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes but it was like listening in an auditorium.

        • #6
          Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
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          New Budget Product Debut (budget): $1200 Hana cartridge





          non audio related: what's Garth's secret? I've known him for 30+ years, clearly he's found the fountain of youth because he doesn't look a day older than when we first met. I do see Sake on the table, that's it! drink more SAKE!! The Hana cartridge boxes do resemble the box-like Masu (wooden Sake cups). Clever.
          How Do You Beat Audiophile Nervosa?

          Step Number 1: Upgrade your music collection first. If you do it correctly that should keep you busy in perpetuity.

          Comment


          • #7
            Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

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            Product (s) Like to Bring Home (tie): United Home Audio (UHA) Ultimate 4 tape deck; Constellation Taurus monoblock amplifiers: Mutech Kanda cartridge




            The Kanda's are sublime, I've been listening to one for the last 2+ years, well before they found a US dist. If you like Transfigs you'll love Mutechs.
            How Do You Beat Audiophile Nervosa?

            Step Number 1: Upgrade your music collection first. If you do it correctly that should keep you busy in perpetuity.

            Comment


            • #8
              Great wrap up Myles! Really appreciate your insights and pictures.

              Putting the daily summaries and the show wrap up together is tedious and time consuming. For those of us that were not able to attend, this is great info and very helpful.

              Comment


              • Jmwick
                Jmwick commented
                Editing a comment
                Ditto

              • Letsmakeadeal
                Letsmakeadeal commented
                Editing a comment
                +1 Geatly appreciated

            • #9
              Originally posted by Ritmo View Post
              Great wrap up Myles! Really appreciate your insights and pictures.

              Putting the daily summaries and the show wrap up together is tedious and time consuming. For those of us that were not able to attend, this is great info and very helpful.
              Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
              Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
              ________________________________________

              Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART300 40th Anniversary monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 and Thoress Mk. 2 phonostages; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/12-inch Fat Boy, SAT LM-12 arm, Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, SPod Magico feet, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

              Comment


              • #10
                Great job

                Comment


                • #11
                  Thanks for the great summary, Myles. The best I’ve seen among audiophile sites! Any electrostatics you liked?

                  Comment


                  • Rob
                    Rob commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Rob, I'm gong to stop you right there. you already own the best 'stat that ever was (Quad 57s--high five)

                • #12
                  HI Myles, It was great to see you (as always) and thank you for your kind words and for giving High Water Sound's room one of your top picks of the show. I really wanted to showcase a much more affordable and simple system. Yes, the Cessaro Wagner are a bit more dear and actually cost more than the total of everything else in the system but, this was by design. With the Cessaro Wagner and their open and transparent nature, the audience could truly hear how amazing the affordable Tron gear is being driven by the incredible and also affordable Hobo linear tracking/air bearing turntable system. As a side note, Holbo is made by Bostjan Holoc in Slovenia and not in Serbia. All and all, I was extremely pleased by what we at High Water Sound presented and judging by our room always being full and all the incredible feedback we got from our audience and now with your gracious comments, RMAF 18 proved to be a great personal and professional success.

                  Comment


                  • Tango
                    Tango commented
                    Editing a comment
                    The Wagner is magical.

                  • topoxforddoc
                    topoxforddoc commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Jeff, having heard the TRON Atlantic and Convergence with Cessaros at Graham Tricker's place, I am stunned at how good these are at the price - better than many "Statement" products

                • #13
                  Originally posted by High Water Sound View Post
                  HI Myles, It was great to see you (as always) and thank you for your kind words and for giving High Water Sound's room one of your top picks of the show. I really wanted to showcase a much more affordable and simple system. Yes, the Cessaro Wagner are a bit more dear and actually cost more than the total of everything else in the system but, this was by design. With the Cessaro Wagner and their open and transparent nature, the audience could truly hear how amazing the affordable Tron gear is being driven by the incredible and also affordable Hobo linear tracking/air bearing turntable system. As a side note, Holbo is made by Bostjan Holoc in Slovenia and not in Serbia. All and all, I was extremely pleased by what we at High Water Sound presented and judging by our room always being full and all the incredible feedback we got from our audience and now with your gracious comments, RMAF 18 proved to be a great personal and professional success.
                  Thanks as always great to see you!

                  I’ll edit that mistake.

                  Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                  Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                  ________________________________________

                  Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART300 40th Anniversary monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 and Thoress Mk. 2 phonostages; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/12-inch Fat Boy, SAT LM-12 arm, Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, SPod Magico feet, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                  Comment


                  • #14
                    Zesto. I like that amp.

                    I went to a shop in San Francisco to hear a name brand. I'm so guilty. I hear people in other threads saying mags and press have no bearing on their buying. I think that's rubbish. I was all inflated on how great a name brand was suppose to be. While there I heard the name brand, and the Zesto. Both my wife and I loved the Zesto. But the store and press were behind the name brand so I took the name brand demo home. I sent it back 2 days later and bought the Altec. If I had followed my ears and brought home the zesto I might have bought it instead of the Altec. I would have a lot less headache now too. Not having to recap, as well as other fixes to bring a 25 year old Altec back up to snuff. Actually a 50 year old Altec, rebuilt 25 years ago.

                    Pure Audio Project Trio 10/Voxativ, Transition Audio 811A Triode monoblocks, First Sound Audio Mark 3SI, Custom TT with Vertere tone arm, Allnic H1201, Denon 103R Midas Saphire with line contact diamond. Mojo Audio CAT Server with remote Illuminati power supply, Mojo Audio Mystique V3 DAC. Akiko Corelli, Custom power strip direct wired to panel with OFC copper wire. Inakustik Ref Air 2404 Speaker cable. Genesis and Inakustik NF2404 Air Interconnects.

                    Comment


                    • Rob
                      Rob commented
                      Editing a comment
                      You're referring to the phono stage? I had a Andros 1.0 I liked it fine, but i had a half dozen other phono pres here at the same time and it fell somewhere in the middle. You really have to take this stuff home to try it out. dealer in-store demos are great and all but its nearly always different from your own hardware/gear/room configuration.

                    • Kingrex
                      Kingrex commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Not the phono, the stereo amp.

                  • #15
                    Originally posted by Rob View Post
                    The Kanda's are sublime, I've been listening to one for the last 2+ years, well before they found a US dist. If you like Transfigs you'll love Mutechs.
                    Are the Mutechs any easier to set up than the Transfigurations?

                    Comment


                    • Rob
                      Rob commented
                      Editing a comment
                      if you've set up a Proteus the Kanda is very similar. The cantilevers on both are on the shorter side of the spectrum.

                    • jonathanb
                      jonathanb commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I have a Phoenix, so the same short cantilever.
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