This year dawned with plenty of questions facing the high-end audio industry. The most pressing were: Would the U.S. economy hold up, allowing manufacturers and retailers to stay afloat? Would vinyl continue its revival, possibly enticing young people into a hobby that’s in danger of aging out? And, would the recent growth in the show circuit create too much of a good thing?
That third question was still hanging in the air as September arrived and the last two of the record seven major domestic gatherings for 2017 were scheduled to go off within weeks of each other, putting a strain on the finances and staff of audio companies and creating decisions for potential out-of-town attendees.… Read the full article
At first glance, the Lone Star Audio rig at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest looked fairly conventional. There was a handsome wood rack filled with Constellation Audio electronics, flanked by floor-standing Magico speakers. But what was that tall, black post doing in front of the gear?
The beam was rectangular, about 4.5 feet tall and a few inches wide on each side. It was fixed to a triangular base. On top of the post was a small, circular feature with perforations.… Read the full article
I first auditioned a pair of Wilson Benesch speakers about a decade ago at a Dallas dealer. I had come in primarily to listen to a tube amp I fancied, but the sight of the large floorstanders got me curious.
I had read positive reviews on the company’s products. Seeing them up close was intriguing, as the woodwork – in this case, a gorgeous cherry – was beautiful. What I remember was that I came away impressed by their sound, too, especially the detailed high frequencies.… Read the full article
Each year at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, Peachtree Audio and Zu Audio take a large corner room on the mezzanine level of the Marriott Denver Tech Center. First-time visitors likely are surprised by what they find there, which is less a structured product demo, and more a nonstop party.
The master of ceremonies typically is Peachtree’s David Solomon, who stands in the near-darkness armed with an iPad filled with kickin’ tunes. He enthusiastically introduces each with stories about what the track means to him, how it was recorded or its rarity.… Read the full article
I found myself getting short of breath at RMAF not long after I entered room 1030 at the Marriott Denver Tech Center. I put most of the blame on my general middle-aged poor health, combined with the altitude. But I also might have been hyperventilating from hearing $200K worth of impeccable electronics playing some classic blues records on the new Wilson Audio Alexia 2s.
I’d only sunk into a chair for a short time when my oxygen-starved brain began to process the sounds coming out of the new Alexias ($57,900 USD).… Read the full article
Robert Lee tends to exhibit his well-regarded Acoustic Zen speakers at shows with an ever-changing list of electronics partners. Despite the diverse group of components — tubes, solid-state, Class A, Class D — he never fails to make a good sound.
Lee paired his flagship Maestro speakers ($43,000/pair USD) with a rack of gear from Wyred that included no fewer than four new products.… Read the full article
Like Bogie and Bacall, Batman and Robin or gin and tonic, PSB and NAD have been together for a long time. Both companies are now owned by the Canada-based Lenbrook Group, and many dealers carry both brands and show them together.
The speaker-maker and electronics firm continued their affair at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. Denver-based national retailer ListenUp brought the pair to the show, along with Bluesound, another Lenbrook holding.
ListenUp chose models from near the entry-level of those brands to assemble one of the most affordable systems in the Marriott Denver Tech Centre.… Read the full article
Veteran manufacturer Esoteric had not one, but two, major product introductions at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. Reflecting general trends in the industry, one new piece of gear is aimed at vinyl fans, while the other is for those embracing digital-file playback.
The Esoteric E-2 phono preamplifier ($9,500 USD) improves on the E-1, which has been on the market for eight years, adding balanced operation and enhanced circuitry for MC cartridges. The unit has one XLR input and output, as well as one RCA in and out.… Read the full article
I’ve learned to allocate a little extra time when I see the Accent Speaker Technology Ltd. sign in the hallway at a show. Inside the room, I know I’m going to find a set of Nola speakers running on tubes and producing a mammoth soundstage. Once I get into the sweet-spot chair, it’s difficult to not want to luxuriate in that aural illusion for hours.
Typically, Accent president Carl Marchisotto is showing one of his floor-stander models, which have an unusual, open-top “bell tower” design.… Read the full article