Rocky Mountain Audio Festival, Part 1

by | Nov 24, 2018 | Component Reviews, Special Features | 0 comments

Memories of RMAF 2018 (Rocky Mountain Audio Festival) 

Well, it’s been about a month since RMAF had concluded and most of the review sites have thoroughly whipped up and baked their cakes with every ingredient to put in the mixture of coverage. Best Sound, Best Room, Best Presenters, Best New Look, Best Groomed Designers, etc. Reviewers mention every component and nut and bolt in the display rooms. Good for the review sites/magazines to drum up advertising revenue for mentions. Hey, Audiophile Audition relies on advertising too; we just are not in the game of producing hundreds of pages of pabulum and eye candy in order to satisfy paying a huge staff of writers, along with the overhead of keeping a juggernaut of a mast head published in a magazine. Here at Aud Aud, you get a balanced diet of opinion and reporting.

This edition is called memories of RMAF, because as time goes by, the mind remembers experiences that are “memorable”. It’s like when you go into a HiFi shop and audition multitudes of gear, then go home and dream about the stand out performers. This is exactly what happed with my experience covering RMAF. I had set out to conquer every floor and room at the show, like drafting a Big Rig truck on the highway. Well, I have tons of photo’s and listening notes to describe every audio amoeba in the hotel! However, waiting for the long lasting memories, called for me to become patient and restrained, without regurgitating meaningless boilerplate descriptive terms from the audio dictionary and thesaurus.

So, I decided to follow my compass and remark on issues that I had put forth in my show preview and cover the three most memorable systems and/or components along with the three significant trends in the industry.

Mega System All Out 

RMAF 2018 Von Schweikert

Von Schweikert Ultra 9 Loudspeaker VAC 450iQ Integrated Tube Amplifier

Wow! Just to think, twenty years ago Albert Von Schweikert and me, then with Spica Speakers shared the same cabinet builder, Ernie. Ernie skipped on us took the money and split to Mexico! Things have changed on a macro scale. Albert is now designer Emeritus with the company and they have birthed the Ultra 9 speaker, employing technology beyond the realm of earthly physics. Its $200,000.00 and not even their top of the line speaker!

Each channel of the ULTRA 9 loudspeaker system is physically time-aligned and consists of a 1,000-watt powered 15″ sealed subwoofer, twin 9″ reinforced ceramic mid-bass drivers, a 7″ reinforced ceramic midrange, a beryllium tweeter, and two 5″ aluminum ribbon super tweeters, one rear firing as part of the ambient retrieval system. The system range goes from: 16 Hz to 45KHz.

RMAF 2018 Von Schweikert System Amplifier

Von Schweikert Ultra 9 Integrated Tube Amplifier

Powering the Ultra 9’s was the VAC 450iQ integrated amplifier. I think this must be the most expensive integrated amp I’ve ever seen. It is a standing tower that can produce bountiful amounts of shade in your living room. VAC says the vertical alignment offers better logistical performance of circuit behavior. It uses a flock full of KT 88’s. I did not get the output power rating, but who cares when you hear music floating from a billowy soft cloud in your sound space. It’s priced at $150,000.00.

Notice the tubes are placed sideways on the chassis. Must be a challenge to re-tube the unit? There is also a sensor that indicates when you need to change the tubes. Why not install a sensor that tells you when you need to change your lifestyle too?

Sound impressions were immediate with the system. There were many other gizmos in the system, but you know these two components were the stars of the room. My wandering eyes went directly to them. The fit and finish of the speakers were like a Ferrari sports car. The system was in a large room with plenty of separation between the speakers. Sound was floating around in the room with no discernable point of reference, just as you would hear live music in a large  venue. I was looking to see if there were, forgive me, surround speakers, on the sidewalls! The system was effortless in producing the illusion of live music being played. It only took a few minuets to get the full dose of audiophile elixir from that system. They truly were instruments of music reproduction and had ceased to be audio gear.

—Ric  Mancuso

RMAF 2018 Audiophile Audition Review Team

Audiophile Audition’s Review Crew…




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