RMAF 2014 Best of Show

The RMAF 2014 Best of Show [the featured photo is of the Zu Audio room and my left pinky]

Bad me, doing yet another facetious Best of Show report.

Have to admit, this show I really wasn’t paying attention to each and every room like I usually do [even though I was actually in 98.5% of the rooms this year].

First we were on a mission to tell people about our Website Development business for high-end audio websites [know a dealer or manufacturer whose website suc… uh … could be better? Let them know about us :-)]

Then we unexpectedly took over duties as Audio Note UK exhibitors. So that occupied Neli 100% of the day [but, yeah, she loved it].

So my mission became, for the most part, doing one of our old fashioned balls-to-the-wall show reports, inspired somewhat by Leo Yeh and My-Hiend.com [who, I think, was inspired by our old show reports. :-)].

We even indexed this show report: RMAF 2014 Show Report Index

So, where was I?

Oh, yeah. Not paying much attention.

So this meant that something had to be really good to distract me from my photography duties.

RMAF 2014 - PS Audio and Infinity IRS Beta speakers
RMAF 2014 – PS Audio Sprout

1. PS Audio and the Infinity IRS Beta speakers

Seems like even lame show reporters are getting this one right.

The planer tower was not all that obviously a planer speaker. Which is good, it sounded more like music than most planers do.

The woofer tower was deep and powerful, communicating emotion, and not missing that much resolution while doing it.

A little discontinuity between the towers, especially when the bass was called upon to do something serious.

The planers were a bit under-driven, making them a little laid back.

But, wow, good separation, good musicality and continuity. There was nothing blatant, in 3 visits to this room, except perhaps the slight under-driven planers, that conveyed that this was not a mega-buck front end instead of the modest, typically reasonably-priced PS Audio gear.

Ted, your DAC sounds pretty darned good. 🙂

For me, this raised PS Audio from middle-of-the-road mass-market gear to a real contender that probably should be replacing some of the big 10 brands in some of your old-style dealerships.

I know this is a leap. I tried to ground myself by getting opinions from other people whose ears I understand well. I took Kevin here but never got to hear what he thought [he will be up here next week, and I’ll update this if I need to]. Neli was unable to find time to get by this room [only about 50 feet from our ANUK room, BTW 😛 ]

These are great speakers and I wish they were still being made.

RMAF 2014 - Thrax and Polymer speakers
RMAF 2014 – Polymer speakers, Thrax, EnKlein, Weiss, HiFi Imports

2. Thrax and Polymer speakers

They seem to struggle with taming the bass each show – though they seem to be getting better and better at it.

For me, there still seemed to be a sameness to the bass, from track to track, when it should be different from track to track – but it could have been the room.

Otherwise, I think these are some of the best speakers on the market [and I hope Francois bought a pair].

I think I might have liked them better with FM Acoustics at the Newport Show, compared to the 200 watt Thrax hybrid that they had on them Sunday, but it was close.

Special Mention

I know. Every show. But I liked the Prana Fidelity, the Acoustic Zen and Odyssey Audio rooms. As always. [just what the heck were you playing there Klaus? One of the refrains was “If I only had a brain” (one of my favorite songs – and often my mantra.). I also thought the speakers in the MG Audio Design room had potential, but the brand of the speakers is still not known to me.

RMAF 2014 - PranaFidelity
RMAF 2014 – PranaFidelity

RMAF 2014 - Acoustic Zen, Triode Corporation
RMAF 2014 – Triode Corporation, Acoustic Zen, Twin Audio Video, Black Ravioli

RMAF 2014 - Odyssey Audio, GIK Acoustics
RMAF 2014 – Odyssey Audio, GIK Acoustics

Kevin and several other people mentioned that they liked the Ryan speakers room, so I am passing that on here [I did not stop to listen, or they were not playing music, or… in any case, I did not get to consciously hear them, myself].
RMAF 2014 - Ryan Speakers
RMAF 2014 – Ryan Speakers

RMAF 2014 - Peachtree, Zu Audio
RMAF 2014 – Peachtree, Zu Audio

Zu Audio / Peachtree Audio

If I was young this is what I’d get.

A little grainy [especially when the Peachtree is called upon to fill a GIANT room like that] but not excessively so for that price range.

Dynamic. Alive. Passionate. Musical.

It is such a joy to be in this room.

A very simple system [they had their subwoofer here, and were using a turntable as source when I was there]

RMAF 2014 - Audio Note U.K.
RMAF 2014 – Audio Note U.K.

Audio Note UK

Neli wonders if we are becoming Audio Note addicts.

This year the room featured the little $4K Audio Note J/D speakers.

Each day, I would go into about 80 rooms. Hear 80 different stereo systems. Some good. Some better. Most not at all awful.

Then I would come back to the Audio Note room. See if Neli needed something, coffee, whatever.

The sound here is just so different. It is like in this room we are listening to music and all the other rooms are making dinka-dinka-dink sounds.

Sorry if that offends some people.

And, truth be told, if you would offer me a choice between this and the PS Audio and the Infinity IRS Beta speakers system or the Thrax and Polymer speakers system I would take them, in a heartbeat. I like playing with gear and exploring the different ways music can sound. I LOVE hearing different soundscapes and hearing ever deeper into the music.

But, you know, I wonder if most of this gear we play with isn’t really making music more real. That we are just playing with music, ‘photoshopping’ music. Like photoshopping a picture of the beach, instead of BEING AT the beach. The photoshopped picture can actually be made to look better than the real beach. But it still isn’t the beach.

Addicts? Yeah, I wonder too.