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Audio Federation High-Fidelity Audio Blog

RMAF 2021 Cancelled… Forever

That RMAF 2021 is cancelled comes as no surprise. Stereophile, the largest and, one could say, most level-headed trade magazine, bowing out last week and announcing that they were not going to be able to cover RMAF this year due to the continued surge in COVID was a sign that we weren’t the only ones looking with alarm at the news of hospitalizations and the graphs tracking the infection rates. Indoor shows being cancelled like this is smart – it is a barrier that protects good people from the ravages of the biological civil war being waged out there.

The “forever” though? But perhaps not so surprising either. As I understand it, the Denver Tech Center Marriott, where the show was held at up until the last show, was not as hospitable after their yet-another-remodel as before. And, knowing Marjorie, the Hyatt next door, which served overflow exhibits in years past, must have also not been as welcoming as they could have been. The current hotel, being much more expensive, way the heck out of Denver at DIA, with the exhibit rooms being so spread out, was, by all accounts, an imperfect solution in 2019. All to say, RMAF didn’t have a real home (hotel) these last few years.

But “forever forever”? I fully expect the gauntlet to be picked up by another industry stalwart and RMAF to live again… someday. I am sure that the RMAF-to-be will have the support and benefit from the significant experience of everyone who was involved with the RMAF-that-is-no-more. Including us.

Audio Federation grew up with RMAF. We exhibited at the first 9 shows or so, usually in one of the larger rooms upstairs. Little ole us, exhibitors! We met many lifelong friends those first few years. It was the first and only show we had exhibited at for many years [only later to exhibit at T.H.E. Show and CES, etc etc etc]. Part of us, Neli and I, dies along with the end of Al and Marjorie’s show. As we all age, we all see landmarks of our childhood disappear in a poof of “what was” smoke. We can both relish and treasure the memories and mourn their passing at the same time. No, the memories weren’t all rosy, but they were all certainly passionate and exciting and heartfelt expressions of that Audiophile Craziness.

Thank you, Marjorie, for carrying on the show after Al. It must have been simultaneously wonderful and hellish and so many other things those first few years. But you kept the tenuous local community together and became one of the best people in the world at running these kinds of shows and one of the most important people in the evolution of our little Industry [ such as it is 🙂 ].  Neli and I wish you our very best – and hope to see you lurking at the shows again…. after this awful Storm passes.

We are deeply saddened to report the following from RMAF: A year and a half ago, our hearts were aching as we made the hard decision to cancel our 2020 show. Back then, we somehow imagined that as a country, we could band together and transcend COVID-19, and our lives could return to normal. We hoped we could ride out a year in isolation and emerge healthy and ready to gather again. Here at RMAF, we spent the year improving our business by producing new room layouts with all the outlets marked, and created a handbook to guide exhibitors as they learned yet again to navigate their exhibitor accounts. We imagined ourselves enthusiastically greeting our audio industry friends in a few weeks, and we’ve held onto that dream in spite of our nervous fears and scary news reports.

Even though some parts of the United States are fully open, the number of people contracting the virus, and the number of deaths attributed to it are still rising, and the CDC is projecting an even more deadly Lambda wave this fall. We are frightened on behalf of our friends in the audio industry on many levels. The very worst thing that we can envision is for someone to fall ill because they came to our show, whether as an exhibitor, a journalist, an attendee, or a volunteer. Good health is a precious gift, and we are learning that although recovery is possible, the residual effects of COVID-19 and its variants can be profound, and we are unwilling to risk even one case. Up until now, we have held onto the possibility that our October show could be produced as planned. After reading and listening to the news concerning the Coronavirus pandemic, and watching the cancellation of numerous other shows, we no longer hold that hope. In spite of our initial optimism, we have read and listened to all of your thoughtful comments and then looked at the numbers and made the difficult decision to cancel RMAF 2021.

As is our policy, RMAF will be issuing refunds to those exhibitors who have made payments for their rooms. We understand that in times such as these, finances can be a delicate balance, so you may expect to see your refund within the next 7 to 10 business days.

This has been a wrenching decision, and along with it comes the added impact of deciding that we are no longer able to envision RMAF as our hearts delight. RMAF was our founder Al Stiefel’s dream, and we’ve done our best to nurture his vision for 12 years, along with help from the Colorado Audio Society and all our volunteers from around the world. Now, we are off to new adventures! And so it is with both sadness and anticipation for the future, we announce that the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest as we have all known it will be no more. It has been our very great pleasure to have served this community of audio professionals. We have learned so much from you! Thank you for 17 years of friendship and support. It has meant more than you can possibly imagine. 

We offer you our heartiest wishes for good health and great happiness.

Your Friends,
Marjorie Baumert and Marcie Miller
Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest

Show News: RMAF and Capital Audiofest 2021 a go; Seattle and Munich cancelled

As of this moment in time:

We will be showing, with Audio Note U.K. and Peter Qvortrup, at RMAF: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2021 in Denver, CO OCTOBER 8, 2021 – OCTOBER 10, 2021

We will be showing at Capital Audio Fest in Washington D.C. 2021 November 5th – 7th, 2021 — with Acapella Audio Arts, and Hermann Winters.

We will NOT be showing at T.H.E. Show, Los Angeles next month: June 11-13 in Long Beach. We think it is still too soon. About 1% of the typical audiophile-aged American population has died of COVID [let us never forget] and for a significant percentage of people, that still looms large enough to sway them from attending a hifi show with crowded [in the best(?) case], stuffy [the ventilation turned off because it is too noisy] hotel rooms. [and, practically speaking, the associated return on investment may be even less than the average, near-zero ROI of the typical show ;-/. Then again, this may be the same argument used by those exhibiting – the ROI is usually so close to zero, anyway, why worry about it? :-). [many of us go just because it is fun, we get to meet many friends, and to try and expose the general public and new audiophiles to much-better-than-average high-quality music reproduction].

Pacific Audio Fest [a late surge in COVID in Seattle at the last minute during planning and scheduling] and Munich HighEnd have both been cancelled for 2021 – but both are good to go next year, 2022.

We are so happy things are getting back to normal…!

 

Pacific Audio Fest – Seattle July 30 – August 1, 2021 (Cancelled)

Got our (first) jabs [10M+ people and hardly anyone died here (compared with most areas, percentage-wise) with one of the most serious lockdowns anywhere (a lot of smart people here in Silicon Valley) – but we think we are one of the last on the vaccine lists because… almost no one died here].

So, finally, we’re signed up for the new audio show set up by Lou Hinkley (Daedalus Audio) and Gary Gill (Capital Audiofest).

“The Pacific Audio Fest is the first major audio show promoted by exhibitors and music lovers for music Lovers and exhibitors!”

Neli and I met Lou back in the early days of RMAF in 2004, 2005. We’d be unloading, or loading, our audio-laden overloaded vehicles together at the Denver Marriott… or listening to each other party until the wee hours as he had the exhibit room right above ours [and we had the room right below his :-)]

And Gary Gill has been running CAF for a few years and has one of the most amazingly welcoming and friendly (to audiophiles and exhibitors, both) vibes for any show at any times.

Promises to be a great show. And we’ve never been to Seattle, so that will be fun too.

[No one seems to be able to make a decision whether the word[s] Audio Fest has a space in it or not. So we won’t either :-)].

Happy New Year 2021

Can we have a less crazy year this time? And with fewer crazies? Pleaseeeee…?

We have all heard about cranking it up to 11… to drown out the world outside. But we are about to need a ’12’ … 🙂

 

Happy New Year everyone!

-Mike and Neli

 

Audio Note M9 RIAA Signature Phono Stage (photos)

We have a ton (100s) of Audio Note M9 RIAA Signature Phono Stage photos. Some made it into the awesome Fred Crowder review over on Dagogo: Audio Note M9 RIAA Signature phono stage Review.

A lot didn’t…

I am going to spread them out a little. Sometimes something awesome looking gets to be overwhelming when presented all at once. At least, that is how it is for me!

 

 

Too bad the edges got cutoff – but this is the best photo that shows the inside of the two boxes side-by-side with their labels still being visible

Audio Note U.K. Belt-driven CD transport

Audio Note U.K. Belt-driven CD transports are in the works and reports are of significant improvements over the previous level 6 transport [we have the level 5 CDT-five transport, which is amazing…].

Some photos have been posted and we thought they were worth sharing here – because they show the immense lengths and out-of-the-box thinking that goes on at Audio Note [maybe this is why they sound better than what we have heard anywhere else – and cost more too :-)]

The ‘wood’ is panzerholz (which is bulletproof. You know, just in case. But seriously measurements and listening tests show that panzerholz ranks among the very best regarding its acoustical damping characteristics -see Google for more audiophile scuttlebutt). Called Permali at Audio Note because the former name is apparently trademarked.

 

Audio Note S9 Phono Step-up Transformer: the photos

Audio Note S9 Phono Step-up Transformer with integral (brown) PALLAS interconnect.

Thanksgiving is traditionally a day for over-eating… and now… over-photographing [if that is possible :-)].

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

The S9 is Audio Note U.K.’s top-of-the-line step up – [it helps increase the output of those uber high-end phono cartridges enough to feed a standard full-function preamp or dedicated phono-stage].

Fred Crowder has reviewed this phono step up in comparison with more pedestrian brands on Dagogo at: Audio Note S9 Phono Step-up Transformer Review .

For my part, once I heard the S9, I would never willingly go back to anything else – not to say that the AN S4 on a small system isn’t entirely wonderful and, of course, much more appropriate – and we hear it regularly in this context.

Thinking about it now – my appetite for audiophile description of sonic differences is currently near-zero – now that I require my music to have powerful quasi-medicinal capabilities to relax and assuage a worried and angry mind.

 

 

CES 2021 complimentary registration Dec. 1- 11

The 100% digital (online) conference lives on. Although Neli tells me Ray Kimber (KimberKable) is setting up an exhibition this year – CES is certainly dead with respect to high-end audio in my opinion and what I want to get out of an audio show.

Munich – a real show for audiophiles – is scheduled for September next year as a show you-can-actually-attend – but Neli tells me there is talk that this may have to be put off again and delayed until 2022.

The Keynote speakers, below, for CES 2021 are sure – boring? I think that is too nice of a word… How about shockingly uninteresting?

I might sign up for grins – just to see what Ray’s booth looks like from my office… 🙂

New device puts music in your head

We’ve been trying to reproduce the original sound field using 2 (or more) speakers for a long time. Here is anther way… (link to AP news story) (link to RollingStone story)

LONDON (AP) — Imagine a world where you move around in your own personal sound bubble. You listen to your favorite tunes, play loud computer games, watch a movie or get navigation directions in your car — all without disturbing those around you.

That’s

the possibility presented by “sound beaming,” a new futuristic audio technology from Noveto Systems, an Israeli company. On Friday it will debut a desktop device that beams sound directly to a listener without the need for headphones.

But this is a little discouraging…

 

The listening sensation is straight out of a sci-fi movie. The 3-D sound is so close it feels like it’s inside your ears while also in front, above and behind them.

The ‘inside the head’ effect has always seemed to me to be quite ‘unreal’ and takes away from the enjoyment of headphones. The above technology, however, seems like it could put the holographic soundfield between the head and wherever we want the sound to be coming from – right?

I guess if there was wall of these transducers, we might conceivably be able to do something quite realistic…

From the Noveto Systems website [why do none of the major sites link to the source of the tech they are talking about? What a bunch of SEO cowards].

SoundBeaming works using ultrasonic waves and beamforming to place sound just outside the ears. The waves are generated using Noveto-developed proprietary DSP algorithms and pushed into the air via a custom-designed transducer array. From the inside it may look like a small speaker, but you won’t hear anything coming out.

 

The Israeli company ‘patented’ the tech, so we’ll see what happens with it, if anything [besides beaming ads directly into our head why we are out and about – scary thought. Hey, a dystopian world gives rise to dystopian thoughts].

Resistor Mag added to the Audiophile’s Guide

Rafe Arnott of Part-Time Audiophile fame, and Managing Editor in charge of AudioStream, and InnerFidelity fame, has started his own magazine: Resistor Mag.

Rafe is one of the powerhouses of energy in our business and hopefully has some of that energy left [ unlike the rest of us, 🙂 ] for his new endeavor.

Not that new, apparently started this April and launched July. It has been added to the, now venerable,  Audiophile’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Magazines section.

On the about page:

“Resistor Mag favors cultural over commercial impact; handbuilt craftsmanship over effective branding. We will remain fairly indifferent about measurements and specifications, while placing a premium on the more enduring aspects of arts, culture and the musicality of playback from hi-fi.

We realize that design and architecture are about more than just aesthetics. We are more inclined to venerate the things we love than to disparage those we do not.

More specifically, think of Resistor Mag as the tape on a reel-to-reel for laying down the tracks of writers, photographers, artists, musicians and entrepreneurs who are resisting the temptation to be basic and will work towards a shared goal of being interesting, inspiring and humorous.”

Neli and I wish Rafe the best of luck.

Check it out if you get the chance…!