Report

 

Tower:   9 10 11 2          Main   1 Mezzanine        Atrium 4 5a   5b

       

 

 

Floor 9
RMAF 2008
Denver
October 2008

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Copyright Audio Federation, Inc.. All rights reserved.
All pictures in this report are freely copyable and distributable
if attribution is given but may not be included in multi-room show reports without written permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 
 

 
Our room. Day photos. Night photos. Sunday night photos.

Marten Coltrane Supreme loudspeakers.

Lamm ML3 Signature amplifiers and L2 Reference linestage and LP2 phono

Emm Labs TSD1 and DAC2 transport and DAC.

Nordost ODIN and Valhalla, Jorma Design Prime and No. 1 cables. ODIN, ELROD and Acrolink powercords.

Harmonic Resolutions MXR and SXR equipment racks and M3 Isolation Bases.

Brinkmann Balance turntable with Lyra Titan cartridge

Any questions?

 

Best of breed speakers, amplification, digital, cables, equipment rack.... For people interested in the very high-end.

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Filled 10 foot truck. Inches from roof. 3-dimensional game of Tetris with heavy ultra-expensive gear.

Left spare tubes at home. Only hour away. Actually, 3-hour round trip. Pickup large shipment of equipment at airport. Another 3 hours. System not up until 2:30am night before show.

Friday morning. 10am. Show starts in two hours. Really crank system for first time. Sibilance. Evil, evil sibilance. Restore system to exact mirror of home system. At home there is no sibilance or hardness. No threat of hardness.

Sill sibilance. At 100dB sibilance. Neli expresses frustration with hearing same track 100 times at 100dB. I stand firm.  Shaves a few more years off the marriage. But need easily reproducible failure to work from. Test case in last 5 seconds of 3-minute track [1st track of Radiohead]. Brain kicks in for one second. We start using TSD1 fast-forward and reverse.

Mike Latvis of HRS has ideas. Neli has ideas. Mike has ideas. Kevin has ideas. Move speakers slightly forward of last years position. Maybe a lot more forward. Disagreement. But 99% of hardness gone. It is two hours after the show has started. We finally open the door. Perfection might take several more hours. Hope settling of system will remove final touch of hardness.

Last day. Residual hardness mostly gone. But not entirely. Some diminution of mid-bass energy as well. Think to move main towers 1/2 inch back. Change attack angle of main tower by a degree or so. Fix all this. But show is over.

Never caught breath. Personal hygiene was at most risk since college. No show report dailies uploaded - first muckup in last 4 or 5 years.

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The Lamm ML3 amps preformed spectacularly. Much more macro dynamics than at home. Likely due to HRS under Marten crossover and solidity of floor.

The ML3 is the pinnacle of the audiophile amplifier. It does all those audiophile things. Unlikely to be challenged for a decade or more. Solid-state approaches the ideal but controlling the note waveform well-enough to imitate music is not/may not ever be on the agenda. Audio Note is taking a different approach altogether [energy transfer] focusing on musicality, happy to sacrifice uber resolution and imaging when necessary. WAVAC is going for something, unknown, but unfortunately not harmonics and correct decay. Kondo, in my opinion, was going for spiritual essence. Who else is there?

About average equipment, one describes what they do well.

About excellent equipment one describes what they do not do well.

But the Lamm ML3 doesn't really do anything unexcellent. I can contrast and compare to the Audio Note Kegon Balanced and Ongaku... but, really, for the audiophile who is searching for that sound - that instantiation of everything audiophiles have been striving for in the last few decades - this is it. The exact, expected amount of harmonics [between Joule and WAVAC. OK, everybody is between Joule and WAVAC, But...], superb linearity [linearity in the harmonic content, micro- midi- and macro-dynamics up and down the frequency spectrum], resolution that has not been seen in an amplifier before, control of the microforms of each note never before seen in an amplifier, ... More later. And we were just starting to learn about this amp. Great amps take years to understand.

What will probably shock :-) the Lamms, who play Jazz and mostly Classical music, is that these amps... or at least this system with the ML3s, love Hendrix-style guitar. We talked about how these sounded great on Stevie Ray Vaughan's Tin Pan Alley. How it captured the slow guitar picks with such exquisite care that we just felt honored to be able to finally experience Stevie's talent in our living room. For all these years, I never knew how good he was. Sure, we heard the LP many times. But to hear how he was laying the pick across the strings, and how he was moving the strings around to get the exact sound - and to HEAR the exact sound he was going for....

And at the show, someone brought in a copy of the Woodstock LP, they gave it to Neli and I was out of the room at the beginning - but during the song, and into the Star Spangled Banner - it was just so colorful and rich and each layer of sound was rendered so accurately and firmly. Jimi's rendition never sounded so damned excruciatingly BEAUTIFUL before. Yeah, it is was and still is an in-your-face we-are-here noisy shout of rebellion from the youth to the old stodgy class who always seem to be trying to stop everyone from having fun, no matter which decade it is. But there seemed to be a lot more there, that the ML3 was able to extract how much effort Jimi put in, how much love and anguish and anger and caring about America he put into each of his notes. Perhaps I was reading too much into his technique - but this was really intense.

Neli tells me that she has had similar experiences with solo violin and operettas. That the ML3's capture the riveting nature of a soloist - just like a live performance. [Neli: It's not like the complexity of the orchestral background is lost -- in fact, there is a real sense, say, of individual violins in the string section -- but the listener's attention is drawn to the beauty and power of the soloists performance -- just like what happens IMO at a live show. At each level everything is rendered in perfect proportion.].

Thinking about it now - it is apparent that the system itself, even this system, in support of the Lamms, was a limiting factor.  For example, we used a 10 meter run of Valhalla, which, although sounding better at longer lengths, still should be ODIN. Well, not should be, but it would sure be nice. Another example: Nordost was kind enough to lend us a ODIN power cord, but how we wished for a PAIR; we would have put them on the ML3s. Another example: The ML3s were all on HRS M3 bases, which are the best vibration isolation available today. But the M3s were on the carpet, and putting the M3 on SXR amp stands would add another little extra boost in performance, The point is that with these amps, the system can evolve and continue to be upgraded for a very long time and you will just hear more and more of what the amps can REALLY do.

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Hard to say much about how the Emm Labs TSD1 and DAC2 sounding, in absolute terms. There was a software update at the start of the show, so we'll have to do another shootout with the CDSD SE and DCC2 SE at home after the show.

I will say that I had no preference at the show of LP over CD - they are becoming different but equal. Digital will never sound like analog - but I think it is now just about as satisfying for most of us who are not Complete Vinyl ADDICTS. Neli is becoming a Vinyl Addict.

We also ran a laptop through the Emm Lab's DAC2's USB inputs. Hardly ever used it during the day - but after hours we used it a lot. My opinion is that for a song or two it isn't too bad, but over time the slight compression of dynamics, what sounded like slightly overly exuberant note decay on some transients, and blanching of the harmonics becomes tiring. Why didn't the PC sound as good as the transport? Couldn't tell you. Same DAC, USB cable carried digital packets that should be immune from cabling effects, we used uncompressed WAV and FLAC files... Hmmmm... maybe the USB input needs to be broken in separately from the optical inputs? It WAS kind of like the sound of something not broken in.

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We got to try the ODIN power cord at the show - and took home a sample to try it on other pieces of equipment. We put it, in series to that it stretched about 9 feet, with an ELROD power cord, on the front end of the system [everything on the racks]. What it did that was most obvious was to reduce compression. Someone called it 'letting things breathe better'. We noticed the same things with the ODIN interconnects. That everything is somehow being compressed by all our stupid cables, that the components are not the only ones keeping the dynamics from sounding 'LIVE'.

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We'd like to thank everyone for stopping by, and especially to Steve and Kevin for helping out with the room, and setup, and takedown, and so much more. Also to Shahin and Mike for their support. And finally, to the Lamms, Meitners, and Vin, Joe and Michael of Nordost for lending us equipment for the show. Thanks everybody!

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This was probably the last year, for awhile, that we go whole hog like this and setup what are essentially the Best Systems Ever. Sure, the Mixibitors can also make Best Systems Ever, but most of us don't get to hear THEIR transient systems. And we really enjoy every single person who visits the room, whether they want to dissect the sound or enjoy it. But it is a lot of work. If only people at the show and visitors to this website know about our room - then perhaps they should just visit us up here in Boulder to hear the same system, at their leisure, picking the songs THEY want to hear, relaxing, having a nice chat, a glass of wine or whatever.

It was the lack of 'official' press interest in most exhibitor's rooms that sparked these [almost] exhaustive show reports in the first place. So that exhibitor efforts would not just disappear - as if they, like in Back to The Future, "...never existed". Well, because of this and other frustrations everyone is having with the current State Of Things, we plan on expanding our efforts to bring to the attention of audiophiles everywhere the efforts and achievements of manufacturers and dealers, large and small, new and old, expensive and not so expensive. Stay tuned.

As far as our room next year goes - the current plan is to put an all Audio Note U.K. system in the large room, and a small hybrid system [for example: Marten Coltrane or Kharma Mini Exquisite speaker on Audio Note Ongaku integrated amp with a Emmlabs CDSA CD player. Or maybe the ML2.1s. Such wonderful systems - and small - and light :-)]  in at least one smaller room. Don't think that anyone has exhibited an Audio Note system in a large room in the U.S., and playing music from Heavy Metal to Jazz and Norah Jones.

Well that's it for now.

Back to the Audio Noir...

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 
 
First time heard the kits. Not bad. Like EL34 tube sound. However all EL34 limited. Hash up top. Want to build one. Two. Whatever. Want ability to fix own amps. Want to give finger to FedEx shipping costs. Want to give finger to bad tubes blowing up amp. Want to give finger to second rate parts in expensive amps. Finger is gonna be tired.

[Neli (not the Noir voice): BTW, those aren't Kit speakers, they're our factory built AN-E SPe HE, in Apple, nicely driven by the cool Kit amps.]

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Welcome to our 100% Audio Note room. Kegon Balanced amp with open top. Titanium grip. Real dynamics. Brand new M9 Phono preamp. AN/E SEC Signature speakers in traditional U.K. setup configuration. Mister Dave Cope your guide. Many levels of enjoyment. Harmonic. Dynamic. Musical. Setup reinforces bass response. Not so much soundstage depth. Not so much midrange separation. Work on hybrid setup. Get best of everything. Maybe fix economy too.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Blu Note is a new local dealer.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
Audio Alternative is a local dealer.

 

 

 

 
 

 

Audio Alternative is a local dealer.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
 
Turntable took over camera. Took many pictures before able to wrest back control. Sound not memorable. Maybe too much photographing and not enough listening. Number two on list of discombobulating show reporting distractions.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 
Music not engaging. Cool cutaway attracts attention. Dave and Carol take similar photo. Conclude many people curious about speaker guts. A crazy with a chainsaw could answer many questions for us all. But maybe many are boring simple stupid boxes. Resulting depression could stretch Denver psychiatric community to limits.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Sounded better at CEDIA. Or tougher competition put sound in rightful place. suggest change amps. Change front end. Change something. Reflecting. Perhaps about style, not music. Then should use impressive looking amp. Levinson. Krell. Bigger fatter cables. Or hide cables.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

Musical. Friendly people. Like sound. System needs theme. A story. Marketing secret. Red Wine has story. Odyssey sounds good and has story. Srajan made story for Zu.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Memory lapse. Do not want to pick on individual systems. Show report overview will reveal Alan Kafton wisdom. Save brain for show detective duties and writing stupid report.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
People do not like name. But they keep name. Why do they keep name. Perhaps secret sauce. Must investigate name further.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 
 
Like speakers. Not favorite amp for speakers. Not titanium grip.

Different amp each show. Good to show range of sound of speakers. Shows confidence in sound of speakers. Speakers reflect much of amp sound. Very good. Gershmans very nice couple. Lucky nothing bad to say about sound. Saying bad things about sound in good people's rooms requires massive self-medication. Not in current budget.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
TweekGeek is a local dealer.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 
Love previous AM speakers. Probably these too. Sound in room compressed and lacking harmonics. The associated equipment are known to be compressed and harmonically challenged. Other harmful effects numerous but not uncommon for popular economical gear. Think maybe next show try Audio Note and other stuff Mike and Neli leave lying around gathering dust and spiders during shows.

 

 

 

 
 

 

Sounded like typical home theater store except for highs. Photo shows attempting something different. Conventional appearance shocked and distracted from and terminated further in-room investigations.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good sound. One of best at show. Perhaps because of mysterious qualities. Warrants further investigation. Tonal qualities very good. Dynamics good but not excellent. Purity - whatever - was excellent. Sound  better than other Feastrex room. Consensus is of same conclusion.

 

 

 
 

 

 
Do not understand purpose of system. Note dynamic envelope wrong. Harmonics not evenly distributed throughout note envelope. Dynamics not evenly distributed throughout frequency range. Problems similar to last year. Perhaps put these drivers in other room's speaker cabinets. Yes. Make them larger first so they fit.

 

 

 

 

Copyright Audio Federation, Inc.. All rights reserved.
All pictures in this report are freely copyable and distributable
if attribution is given but may not be included in multi-room show reports without written permission.

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