People at RMAF

These shows can be viewed as one big party [because that is what it is. But don’t tell anybody].

Not much drinking at these parties. [During the day, I mean. After hours people congregate in various rooms, crank up the tunes they REALLY want to listen to, and then try to talk to each other over the music… except for when everyone stops to listen]

During the day, people wander from room to room, running into friends, talking about what happened since the last time you saw them [often at the last show].

First person we run into each year seems to be Lou (Daedalus). We are unloading buddies: he is always unloading his vehicle about the same time as we [start] unloading ours. Daedalus has the suite right above us, and Lou likes to play the music loud, but the floors are so solid, we rarely ever hear them up there [except Saturday night. A little before midnight, I was uploading photos to the dailies, and Neli had gone to sleep, and the strains of either The Wall, or DSOTM, came wafting though the cement. Two of my favorite albums of All Time. My thought, at the time, silly me, was that he was going to get himself in trouble with the hotel management – and how cool it was that he was able to get away with this for as long as he did. (there is a 90dB rule at the show, which we certainly do not pay much attention to during the day, but… ].

Anyway, we get to know Lou better each year, and next we are invited to go upstairs and get falling down drunk and blast tunes. Not sure we will make it, but, well, maybe for one song. 🙂

Next we see Ray Kimber and crew. In fact, we usually see him several times. We wave, we say hi. Ray tells us a joke. Ray, Ray says things with a straight face, and it could be a joke, it could be satire, it could be anything. Me, I do not know him too well, so, during conversations, I have to look at him several times, is several different ways, trying to figure out what is going on – is he serious, is he joking, is he asking me what I think… ? Ray is embarrassingly kind, but sometimes I must look like an idiot [hey, for you jokers out there, usually I hide it better than that].

This year we ran into Marjorie, the show’s organizer, before we had started unloading – and she looked amazingly calm for someone whose party for 3700 people plus 500 exhibitors was about to start in a day or so. I mean, she was calmer than Neli and I. With how well the show came off, and in bad times like these even, RMAF is going to be here for a long, long time. We also were greeted by the Tech Center Marriott director of conventions, or whatever, whose name I forget but who has been helpful several times in the past.

After we got our room set up [with only 3 working tubes we just warmed up one amp for several hours, then the other, back and forth], I set out to take photos of people setting up their rooms. I mean, I was curious about how they did it, and figured that many other people would be as well. Ray Kimber let me photograph their room, while showing me a tweak that was – I think – supposed to be both ironic [young people do not know that we had to rewind tapes – so the idea of rewinding CDs, to them, makes even less sense than it might to us olders] and humorous [audiophiles will buy anything if it has a chance of increasing their system’s performance]. Or is that satire?

Mike Latvis of HRS and Richard Vandersteen and several other guys were setting up room treatments – and I photographed them doing it. I asked them before hand – but no one was willing to speak for the group, so I snapped their photo anyway. Nobody has yelled at me yet, so… good.

Dan Meinwald [EAR, Marten, Jorma] had borrowed one of our wheeled carts and I was assigned the task [any husbands out there know what I mean] to retrieve it. There I met and photographed Dan and Joe Kubala [who is still irked at me for giving a negative report of his room at last years RMAF. You can look at the system and see what you think it would sound like, but the bizarre thing is that several ‘show reporters’ said it was great. But you all must know by now what I think of most of those guys – and this is supposed to be a fun post, so…].

Many of the people at the show were a little miffed [and I sugar coat it] at one person or another because of all the rapid change that is happening in our industry. Importers are dropping lines and/or having them ‘stolen’ like there is no tomorrow [and there may not be]. Manufacturers are dropping and adding dealers – trying to get a better balance.

But we did get to see several combinations of equipment that we have not seen before.

Everybody is really quite friendly – to me anyway. I am sure some do not like my show reports much, but usually I just get one exhibitor each year who tells me so [maybe he is elected spokesperson for the rest?]

I met several people for the first time. Rachel Zhang of Grant Fidelity was very nice and one of the most … entrepreneurially astute and upbeat people at the show. In a building full of entrepreneurs, and in this economy, that is saying something [one of the things I truly love about this industry is that 90-95% of the people are entrepreneurial. In the software industry, it is more like 5%]. I can see why Grant Fidelity has been taking off [and their room was a runner up for best of show – but I just didn’t have enough confidence because of my very short time there spent listening (sometimes I do not listen while taking photos, though I did listen SOME and it was quite musical)]

We met Ken, who posts on the blog sometimes. He and his friend were a blast – so much energy and passion and humor, what this hobby is all about. Tom Frederick [Performance Acoustics Labs] who is helping contaminate us with the ‘listening rooms need audiophile-grade acoustical treatment’ meme.

It was great seeing Thom and Joan (Galibier). Yes they live here but no, we hardly ever see them outside of shows. Sucks, because they are such fun people [and because they like Blows Against the Empire as much as I do], but we fill up life with things to do and then find it is oh so hard to stop doing any of those things even when life becomes overflowing with ‘things to do’. Their table, just by surviving all these years, becomes more and more mainstream [that’s a good thing, guys and gals. Audiophiles – they either want it hot off the presses, or it has to have been around for a decade or two].

We got to see Wes Bender [helping out in the Galibier room. Call us, Wes, when you get the chance], Daniel Barnum [after hours, a most enjoyable conversation], Steven Norber [of Edge. Great to see Steven – who needs to eat more chocolate 🙂 So everyone, send Steven chocolate. Kelly, his wife, I did not get to see this year. No wonder the show kinda sucked. Add the rest who were missing: Lawrence Blair (Avantgarde) and Jody (Uh. That’s OK. There are a lot of ‘uh’ affiliations this year) and Eli Gershman and his wife – and yeah, this show really sucked eggs. Oh, back to the list of who we did see…], Shahin [Emm Labs, great fun touring rooms with, though we only got to do 2 or so. Just remembering the expression on his face leaving some of the rooms – makes me crack up even now], Joe and Vin of Nordost [so kind of them to take a break to visit our room – and its been several shows now since Vin has been at one of these shows], and Neli got to see often different people, when I was out snapping photos and she was playing music.

Special thanks to Kevin – who helped Neli out in the room, especially on Sunday when Steve [also a special thanks] and I conquered floors 4 and 5.

Thanks also to Mario [Audio Note] for sharing some of his knowledge about how Audio Note has set up speakers in large rooms at other shows, and for being kind about the [albeit killer] non-Audio Note equipment.

Thanks to Fred Crowder and Paul for helping lend two sets of ears on the first day of setup. Even though we later changed the setup radically [to engage the room more – mostly to counter-balance the presumed expectation that these small speakers would sound small. They. Did. Not.] , there was some aspects of the sound of this first setup that were more… audiophile-like(?). It lent a great deal of confidence that we could do pretty darn good sound in that large room with those small 2-way speakers. We relied on that confidence when we later moved the speakers closer and closer to the corners, eventually ending up there.

Oh, and the Ray Lombardi (ex Audio Note distributor) and Rob King (ex Colorado Springs dealer) duo were apparently AWOL (:-)) this year, but I did get to chat with Darrin and his dad Gene a few times (Audio Limits dealers in Colorado Springs) and Bill Parish (GTT Audio), which I always enjoy.

And, finally, thanks to all our friends for stopping by. Too many to name [and excruciatingly embarrassing if I forget somebody – which is a serious risk in this post already]