Number 9 Number 9
Rocky Mountain Audio Fest

Sunday October 12th, 2007

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All pictures in this report are freely copyable and distributable.

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This was our room this year. Funny thing, we take less photos of our room than I do most other rooms. Which just illustrates the... quirk ... that makes photographing something we have photographed many times in the past... boring. So if we didn't take a lot of photos of something - perhaps we took a slew of them at a previous show. Or we own it and there are a slew on our website somewhere. It can sometimes be hard to find things on our site, especially in the 10,000s of show photos, so try Google... perhaps searching for, say, "continuum federation", but without the quotes.



The new HRS* (Harmonic Resolution Systems) SXR equipment rack in a side-by-side, 3-shelf configuration. You can start with one shelf and build up to this (or a lot larger) over time, step by step. It is completely modular. The HRS M3 Isolation bases serve as shelves in this rack, just like their top-of-the-line MXR rack. Cool, huh?





The Brinkmann* Balance turntable with Lyra* Titan cartridge, the Emm Labs* CDSD Signature transport and the ever awesome Lamm* LP2 all sitting on a Harmonic Resolutions Systems SXR 3-shelf side-by-side equipment rack and M3 Isolation Bases.  Cabling on this side of the room  was Nordost Valhalla interconnects and Acrolink and Elrod power cords.





System description:

For our room this year, we ran the Brinkmann Balance turntable into the Lamm LP2 then through 10 meters of Nordost Valhalla interconnect into the Emm Labs DCC2 DAC analog inputs.

Similarly we ran the Emm Labs CDSD transport through 10 meters of optical cable into the DCC2,

Then, using the DCC2 linestage as a switching box only, we ran the signal out the analog outputs - NOT  the preamp outputs. This signal went into the big Marten active crossover / bass  amplifier box. This box allowed us to both control the bass using a volume control on the back, and sent the signal to the Audio Note U.K. Ongaku - which is an integrated amplifier, with is own volume control, which we used for the main towers (all frequencies above 100Hz).

This configuration allowed us to use just two lengths of Jorma Design Prime interconnects for digital playback - one of the best cables in the world, and a bargain at $7K / meter. Did this make digital better than analog, which had to travel down a 10 meter Valhalla cable from the other side of the room? No.... but it helped make it very, very close.


Ok, enough of that.

We'll talk more about this on the Blog, but the upshot is that we learned a lot about how bass affects the sound of the other frequencies.

On the first day, the system was a little too lean, and too loud. (thanks Mike, and Rob and Ray for helping point this out).

The next day we controlled the volume much better - analog was 3 clicks softer than digital, and we kept more or less within a reasonable SPL range all day. We also turned up the bass which filled out the sound some, and added some color. Sometimes it was a little too much bass, but hey, it is a show and most people want a little too much bass [this is not 'too much bass' like Wilson or JM Lab bass, it is just a tad more than what real instruments would have at the volume we were playing the music at]. Then there is the Patricia Barber track that one person brought in that just sets off our room nodes like nothing else we have played there - the smaller Marten Coltranes had the same problem with that track.

The last day we played with adjusting the bass a little more often - so some songs were a little lean, and some had a little too much bass (most people probably did not notice, or rather, did not care overly much that it was slightly off, though it drove Neli and Steve crazy, I think) and some were P-E-R-F-E-C-T. In the last hours we got a little bolder with the bass adjuster and learned to recognize perfect and what it could do. Again, see the blog as we try to describe this so perhaps other people can play with it a bit - though being able to adjust the bass is not something all systems can do, unfortunately.

The real question will be, do some CDs (songs?!) like a certain bass setting and others like another bass setting? Are CDs like LPs where each recording studio has a little bit different expectation for how much bass the listener's system will be using? Please no.















This year we brought a reasonably priced Audio Note system - in the $15K - 19K range with cables (excluding the S4 step-up transformer for the turntable and the Acoustic Dreams equipment rack).

We have Dave Cope to thank for lending his expertise, music, and laptop for this room again this year. Thanks Dave!

This system had the new Audio Note DAC 0.1x with a USB port that most modern computers can plug into. Then it is just a simple matter to  download tunes and play them using this DAC on your  system. Perhaps Dave will share with us what software he used and how he felt the sound quality compared to that from the CD2.1x Mk II CD player - either on the blog or his website at: Triode & Co.















The new Audio Note DAC 0.1x which has support for USB input - i.e. music from a computer. We'll have better photos on our website after the show. Black things at shows. A curse is what they are. A curse.





The new Audio Note CDT Zero Mk II We'll have better photos on our website after the show.





A final look at the room.










Next as we travel down floor number 9 is the EAR room. This year they were showing their new speakers at about $7K the pair.

The sound, especially in the midrange, was very dynamic, like a horn or high-efficiency speaker, even though they happen to be of only average efficiency. I like the midrange  to have realistic dynamics and liked these speaker's sound - that is when the system was below 11 on the ole volume dial. :-)





The awesome-looking EAR turntable. Of course, many  turntables are awesome looking. Just think if manufacturers were to go crazy like this with preamps, and amps and CD players, and speakers (well maybe they already do with speakers :-)).






























Audio Alternative is a local dealer in Fort Collins.










Looks like a Redpoint turntable in gold. Cool.










An ORANGE Wilson Audio MAXX II.










































































































































































Mr. Joseph asked me to stop taking photos after about 5 or 6 photos, expressing concern that I was disturbing the listener. Or maybe he recognized me, me who has not liked Joseph speakers all that much in previous reports, I don't know.

In any case, my camera IS darn loud. The Canon Rebel XT I had previously was a lot quieter than the 20D  I have now  And not just noise, the flash is also distracting when one is listening closely. It bothers me that I am bothering people trying to listen.

But each time I remind myself that there are literally 1000s, and sometimes 10,000s of people who could not make it to the show who visit our show report, and if they could make it they would be making a little noise, elbowing for the sweet spot, asking questions, etc. So each SNAP of the camera I think of as these absentee show goers  saying "take a picture of that ... oh! and that over there too!"





Almost a 'sign of the times'... we need a keyboard, a turntable, and a CD player in the same photo to show the wealth of options (and support equipment!) today's audiophile has available to them.























































This was a room which was rapidly evolving.. With the Lamm* L2 preamp and ML2 amplifier, which we have lived with for several years, the sonic contribution of the speakers can be more precisely cornered. I heard they built the speakers the day before the show. And on my second visit, they looked quite a bit different from this.

Sonically, there were cabinet resonances and some interesting  timbre problems with female operatic voices. I would have to hear these drivers in a different cabinet before being convinced that these were the next best thing. After watching Cogent  struggle with speaker enclosures  - some of which I LOVE and some I definitely do not - it has become obvious to this slow witted show reporter that it takes more than a good driver to make a good speaker.














Copyright Audio Federation, Inc.. All rights reserved.
All pictures in this report are freely copyable and distributable.

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