Show Report Updates

At this time the current plan is to duplicate all of our past show reports and convert them to the new website look and feel.

The first one we did is of the most recent show, RMAF 2011,

This is all brand spanking new, so please be patient with the little gremlins…

This also commences the start of the creation of our Show Photo Database – something I have wanted to do for many years [but got talked out of it for some reason each time :-)].

Show Photo Database

Only 50 photos have been indexed so far, and we have at least 30,000, so there is a ways to go.

Speaking of which, we will be adding better navigation tools for the Show Photo Database as well as the show reports – to more easily jump around in the galleries.

Our plan, for CES 2012 anyway, and at this moment in time :-), is to do the show reports both here on the blog and in the show galleries.

RMAF 2001 – Audiocircle Show Report

[Hi Pez :-)]

Uh oh. Someone is expressing opinions in a show report:

Pez on Audiocircle: RMAF 2011

Luckily we never do that around here. 🙂

I’d like to address the ‘room treatment cures all’ philosophy later, first, and I quote:

‘”the ______ aren’t fully broken in so there’s a bit of glare” Absolute dumbest thing you can say as a manufacturer. ‘


I am sure I have written this exact kind of thing in one of our show reports. So now I will take the time to elaborate on why my very similar statement back then was not as perceptive as I would have wished it to be.

It is indeed indicative of a lack of communication between the exhibitor [who wants well broken in happy happy speakers] and the manufacturer/importer [who was not able to get the brand-spanking new model of this or that out the door until the last minute – just as they did last year, and the year before that, and …]. Shows are THE place to debut brand new gear. That is just the way that spacetime works – not much we can do about it.

Audio Note electronics are the only things I have yet seen or heard of that sound good brand new and cold out of the box [makes me feel like giggling madly].

But the point that I want to make is that are a lot of subtle messages being passed to the listener here:

1. Yes, I can hear the glare too. I am not an idiot.
2. Yes, I respect you enough that I am not writing you off as a fan boy/girl/reviewer and that you can actually hear the glare
3. I am making a big assumption here that you do not like glare [some people have learned to expect it, and it is not high-end without it, poor souls]
4. If you like the sound of the speaker except for the glare part [and likely associated compression/constrained dynamics artifacts] then maybe you want to consider this speaker: if you are ever in the market/if you see it again sometime/not to be a piece of trash
5. Feel sorry for me, my life sucks
6. I am going to shoot the manufacturer if I live through this [but then again, I got this as a loaner, and they do help pay for the room, and the speakers will in fact sound great in, like, a month or two… so maybe not]

They are really asking you to do them a favor, to ‘listen around’ the glare – to use your mind to blot it out. Try it. Is there else anything interesting about the system? Maybe not. And this ‘listening around’ something takes a bit of effort that is hard to expend on all 160 rooms at a show… but be choosy… sometimes it will be really worth it.

On the other hand, some rooms are just for show – often everything is new out of the box. Sometimes they just consider their room to be a store front and intend to sell it all at bargain demo prices. These rooms are not for listening to [though they will be upset if you say so, especially in show reports :-)] and woe to the poor show attendee who gets confused about this.


Our Traditional Report on Jonanthan Valin's RMAF 2001 Report

His report is over at: JV’s RMAF 2011 Report.

I hadn’t gone over to check out his report until now – thinking that this high-end show that was not really high-end might not have enough interesting rooms for him to review, and his report would be as short as mine. But lo and behold, speakers above $20K is actually a broad enough category to include quite a few rooms.

JV’s report this year seemed very polite to me, saying nice things about rooms with sound that had serious problems, always finding some nice things to say about SOMETHING or another, just like the Stereophile reports.

In fact, JV’s reporting seem quite uneven this year. For one, he relies too much on the idea that he does not like gemütlich, by which he seems to mean warm sounding systems by virtue of the fact that they are not ‘real’ enough for his taste. We can take him at his word, but all too often if he does not like a system’s performance in some area, any area, he blames it on being too ‘as you like it’, another phrase he assigns to systems that are not ‘cold as ice’ [my words :-)]. In my opinion, these systems have flaws because they have no separation and blur notes together, or because the harmonic color has been removed, or the tonality is all wrong, or because the imaging is non-existent or too precise…, not because they are too polite or beatific or wonderful sounding.


JV is a reviewer so he got special treatment [but check out the Audiocircle reports – which we will get to later – boy oh boy they earned themselves some real enmity amongst the people who will actually pay real money for their amps]. He heard it before the show, I heard it the last hour of the show. It was certainly the best I have heard VTL sound – though still missing micro-dynamics, realistic harmonic color, continuousness, linear dynamics as things went from sssssoft to lllloud, etc. But given all this, at this show, it was my choice for best big system.

Magico Q1

JV has a way better description of what I heard than what I wrote 🙂 [I was annoyed they did not bring the Q5]. JV still gave it a runner up position in his top rooms of the show – presumably the sound got improved.

Let’s just say that on Saturday, I believe it was, it did not sound as good as your everyday ordinary high-end audio monitor [and not as good as the old Magico Mini, which several of our customers ended up buying, some many times :-)]. I figured it was trying to be too ambitious with such a small speaker in that large a room. JV apparently thought it was upstream electronics – doesn’t really matter. We report on the sound and move on…


Skipping several rooms because I just did not find them interesting… [and too much marketing-speak for my taste, JV, eeewwwww!!!].., some confusion between Acapella and Lansche with the Lansche room review [to, no doubt, both companies chagrin. Need to throw in Avantgarde next :-)]. Sorry I missed the new MBLs.

YG Acoustics Anat Reference Professional II Signatures

[Best speaker in the world AND longest name too ;-)].

OK. JV says Tenor [he does not like Tenor] makes everything sound [too] beautiful. Well, for one, this system sound was not beautiful. Just because he found it hard to get a handle on these ANATs, he decides to blame it on being too listenable [essentially]. Well, I did not find this especially listenable.

I also had a hard time getting a handle on these speakers – in fact I never did figure them out, even knowing the Tenor sound to some degree. I blamed it on the source – the computer audio playback.

The problem for me was that the notes sounded OK by themselves, as far as I could tell, but they were so separate from each other, my brain could not string them together into music and then run pattern matching against other music on other systems I have heard before. It was just ‘single note’ followed by ‘single note’ and on and on.

Schimmel Voxativ Ampeggio

I liked this room too, although in my opinion I liked it because it was so very listenable, very Enjoyable, to the point of being even a little Druglike. This should be the opposite of what JV likes. Anyway, we both agree, I think, that we want to hear them again. Hopefully I will be able to spend more time analyzing what they do at CES.

Cessaro Affascinate I SE

I was much unhappier about the severe lack of integration here. JV said it was very coherent but the slightest bit discontinuous? Seems like we are going to disagree on this one. I know these can sound good, so they were a disappointment but I would still go see them next show.

Estelon XA Diamond

These sounded OK, and JV seemed to like them. They also seem popular with people, the look or something striking a chord. To me, though I like them there seems to be something missing, some midrange energy or dynamic structure or something – not sure what it is but I find it off-putting and do not stay all that long in this room [I get like a double personality here – I want to stay but I want to go].

Skipping… skipping … skipping the Venture Grand Ultimates room but I do not think JV and I heard the same system here. Then JV plays nicey nicey with system sounds that are so far from real that, well, let’s just call an end to this “Review of the JV Review”.

Hopefully CES will *rock* [so to speak] and we will have a lot to talk about. We plan on doing a traditional hugemongous show report and the pursuit of the Ultimate [ultimate] Music [music] Experiences [experiences]. 😉