Once again, Denver's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest turned out to be a wonderful show. Although the attendance may have seemed a tad light in terms of room traffic and compared to previous years, it was still exciting to see so many exhibitors here again - especially when showing off new and exciting products! Once again, the show's organizers made getting through a relative breeze despite the early Friday afternoon crowd that seemed to swarm the front desk. Ah, avid showgoers. I arrived on Thursday late-night (11:00 PM), and got the rest I needed in a very nice hotel room right there inside the newly renovated Denver Marriott hotel which is also home to the annual RMAF.
CanJam, the personal computer/headset segment of the high-end audio industry has shown steady growth over the past few years. The RMAF is home to this event as I do not see it much elsewhere. However, I did get a chance to see many new manufacturers that were showing some nifty new DACS, headphones and other personal accessories.
Legendary US importer Victor Goldstein was also at this year's RMAF and spoke quite excitedly about the new brand of loudspeakers in the JERN monitors from Denmark.
Of course, when I first glanced at these, I thought Victor had gone mad. But I was cool and just sat and gave them a chance. Made from a single cut of some low resonance material (feels like aluminum), these little JERN monitors produced a soundstage that was quite impressive. Moreover, the bass (that included a dedicated sub located in the center of the room), gave these little table-top mini-monitors more weight and heft than I would have ever believed possible. Most impressive of all however was when Ole Lund Christensen showed me the source of all this fantastic music: a damn iPhone! If I remember correctly, the price is going to be around $5k which isn't peanuts but I have to admit, these things image and throw a HUGE sounstage. Impressive!
Another impressive demo was in the Carver Audio suite where the man - Bob Carver himself - appeared in the flesh. Though the room was small, so were these slender line source loudspeakers. I think this made a nice fit and a great disappearing act for such a small space (yes, those upstairs rooms are quite small). However, using Bob Carver's amazing series electronics, the sound was quite impressive I must admit.
Roger Sanders is seen (above right) explaining how his amplifiers and loudspeakers work in harmony. His company, Sanders Sound are electrostatic specialists that have been in business for over a decade now. Those nicely made electrostatic loudspeakers are his latest greatest along with his Magtech ESL amplifiers which, at 500 watts per side and capable of handling difficult loads - which is usually the case with regard to electrostats. Electrostats stand alone when it comes to transparency and truth of timbre. On the other hand, they can lack dynamic oomph and bass. You don't care for the latter, then you owe it to yourself to give these a listen. Moreover, owning a system like this for under $20k (yes, that includes the amplifier), is an absolute steal.