RMAF 2015 Day 1 Show Report
One of the things I wanted to accomplish with this trip was to find a good cheap preamp with a remote. Well I don't know about good, and I have not even checked the price, but these guys have a product they are willing to sell that fits the bill. I'm going to be in contact with them in the coming months to see about getting a demo unit. Also, it's available as a kit for those that want to save a few more dollars.
I flipped my name tag around to hide my identity before I entered the Audioengine room. As such they were friendly and showed me a brand new product. This one is a new top of the line unit that is targeted for general use instead of the desktop specifically. So of course it has a blutooth receiver built in.
The speaker has a new woofer and larger tweeter in a new waveguide. I only listened for a few minutes, but I did not hear anything that stood out as bad over the obvious blutooth compression. Take that with a grain of salt, because I'm operating on limited sleep and a minor hang over from high altitude drinking.
The back of the speaker shows off the new amp unit and inputs. Yes the antenna was visible from the listening position, but it can be tilted around to hide it.
Audioengine brought all of their other junk as well, but none of it was hooked up.
DEQX challenge time! Magnipan 1.7s, with JBL Fathom Sub, and massive Parasound monoblocks, or is it the little speakers in the back? Wait, what are those speakers...
Sweet Jesus, two Bose Wave Radio's operating as left and right in a two channel setup. I'll tell you this right now, they sounded amazing after the full DEQX DSP treatment.
Devialet is the talk of the town with the tiny speaker that plays loud and deep and a new vocabulary of buzzwords to describe how they accomplished this.
These guys are French as hell and the speaker looks the part like some over done art project that escaped the Louvre.
The problem I have with the speaker outside of the very silly asking price is that they have the audacity to suggest it be used as a mono device. This right here is where I draw the line, if you can't make your speakers in pairs at the price point you want you don't sell them one at a time, that's just silly.
The sound I heard was not impressive, but only had a few minutes to listen in a unfamiliar environment.
Rico from ESS brought a bunch of speakers, and they all looked very nice. These are still made in the U.S.A., and after 40 years of the business they still have something unique.
Fancy, and I was supprised to see how efficient these speakers are rated.
This prototype MTM was playing at the show, and although it did not have much bass punch it did sound pretty sweet.
I had no intention of checking out the Exasound room, but I was intent on finding some of the new Magnipan Speakers at the show to listen to. This guy was selling a DAC that he assured me was big shit, but I was more interested in the associated gear. A big Pass Lab amp and a pair of Maggies is something of a treat.
The sounds was pretty good, and highly directional. One of the nice things about panel speakers is that you don't have the normal cone breakup that you get with all cone and dome based systems.
It would be cruel to not at least share a photo of the little boxes Exasound sells. The one on the top right is a new model that does streaming.
Boom goes the dynamite! Hamon brought out the big guns this year in two small rooms. This one had the Everest DD67000 placed on the long wall. The placement did these monsters right, and even at low volumes there was a tactile sensation. Very impressive!
From what I gather this is the only pair made in gloss black. Very pretty stuff.
Tracked down the Little KEF room, this one had the Reference Ones and the LS50's. When I went the Reference Ones were just getting setup.
The sound here was a little peaky. I would say that I did not like it, and would not recommend it as a reference.
Time for Bruno's wild ride!
Bruno Putzey from Hypex is one of the few people in the industry that I put on a pedestal. His amps break all of the rules, and still sound amazing. This year he is pawning off a pair of speakers of his own design. He claims, without much debate that he solved the amp problem, having made the perfect amp and is moving on to speakers.
These little stand mount speakers use 6 amp channels and are supposed to have directional bass, a trick achieved by wrapping the sides and back with woofers and via some very fancy time(phase) based trickery that changes over the frequency band to work together to make a forward moving sound.
I guess even active speakers need a full rack.
Rear shot of the Kii speakers
Had a very nice conversation with Bruno about the ins and outs of the design, which actually works. It has a very unique sound that energizes the room modes differently than anything I've heard. While in deep discussion the room was suddenly filled with full volume Kraftwerk after the quietly recorded symphony piece ended. Bruno let it ride and the speakers held up great and pushed out over 100dB for the length of the track. I would say that the design is a very unique piece, and while the speakers do mid and upper bass differently the deep bass(which is omni) needed support in my opinion.
Never heard of these guys, but while waiting for a few of the big names to setup I heard drums. Big massive Japanise type drums blasting down the hall way... So I went to see what all the ruckus was about.
Never seen anything like these speakers before. That big horn loaded thing on the top is an electro stat super tweeter.
The bottom half of the speaker looks pretty normal. The driver integration here seemed good and the bass coming from these little boxes was impressive.
This is it, the top of the top. The Revel Salon Ultima 2 powered by big Mark Levinson Monoblocks.
Honestly the best sound at the show so far, very smooth more warm than I expected and the only down side is that they are too tall for my room. You really need to be at least 10 feet back to listen to these properly.
That other speaker is the Revel F208 which is a proper sized little brother to the Ultimas, but sadly was not hooked up.
Visited the Tekton room and it was a mess while they were setting up. Not only that they were only using vinyl only, so I could not get a good indication of tone.
This tripple nipple tweeter is here because the photo I took of the Pendragon towers came out like shit. I'd like to review the Pendragon or other type speaker from these guys, so I'll probably hit them up again before the end of the show to see if that's in the cards.
I was looking forward to meeting with the Vanatoo Boys, they are the ones that got me started on this journey 3 years ago. They sent me a pair of Vanatoo Transparent Ones to review based on a post on Reddit. These little powerhouses are still the best desktop speaker I've heard.
Finally get to see inside the box... damn that's stuffed!
The XBL woofer was on display as well.
These guys are fine American engineers with the guts to dive into the speaker market with thier retirement savings. I'm sure that we will have more great products to hear from them in the future.
Well Rounded Sound
Well Rounded Sound is a new player in the desktop game, I checked out the WRS RDM 2 which provided punchy bass with an AMT that seemed pretty well integrated. These speakers were pushed by a very clean digital setup running off of a phone as the source.
These somewhat comical full range singe driver speakers where not hooked up for auditioning, only for display.
These prices are low for the show.
I was invited to be a panelist to directly compare a two channel system from GamuT with top of the line Westone W60s. They gave me a sandwich and a beer sat me next to 5 other "journalists," and in return I was honest. The in-ear's were lacking in detail, they sounded muffled with a massive hump in the midbass, and not much top end or deep bass to speak of.
On the other hand the GamuT speakers sounded amazing. This is a top down system from them and I'm sure it was high dollar as it was running the same midrange I have as my ash tray holder at home. The best in the business, the Scanspeak Revelator 7 inch. The tweeter was another Scanspeak piece, a Illuminator ring radiator. Sounds was smooth and damn near as good as the Revel Ultimas.
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