Rocky Mountain Audio Fest: Why More Dealers Must Attend
During the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver, Thiel Audio showed its new CS2.7 loudspeaker and Aragon debuted its Iridium monoblock amplifier.
Before anyone dismisses RMAF as a Star Trek convention for audiophiles, installers should thank this loyal group. Audiophiles persevered for many years while other markets received a lion’s share of attention. With the commodization of the video and home network categories, the lack of general automation/control acceptance among consumers, the public’s lack of desire to invest into whole-house entertainment, and the shift away from dedicated theaters into media rooms, two-channel audio now stands alone in the consumer electronics market as the industry’s shining star.
Many installers are now benefitting from the audio category’s new-found popularity through increased sales of 2.1 systems, speaker upgrades, the rediscovery of vinyl and the burgeoning growth of the computer audio market. Installers who attend RMAF will see the latest products in these categories and, because of the casual nature of the event, have almost unprecedented access to the exhibiting manufacturers.
The show’s relaxed attitude and location, the outskirts of Denver, also provide a backdrop that is much different than a standard industry show. It’s easy to move from room to room or floor to floor to see everything from popular manufacturers and small enthusiast companies people may not know.
The Leisurely life of an Audiophile
Excluding the system demos CE Pro recorded, there were many highlights, including the no-holds barred Simaudio system that was mated to a pair of Sonus faber’s Elipsa loudspeakers. This system was the pinnacle of audiophile dreams, and I’m sure it had everyone talking.
On the other end of the price spectrum, Cary Audio’s Audio Electronics brand Constellation preamp and Hercules amp was featured in a small system with a computer as a source component and a set of passive Adam Audio Classic MKII compact monitors. This system sounded big and airy and considering its compromised room placement and hookup (3.5mm cable from the computer), this system showed what can be done through a smart investment of time and money.
A couple of popular manufacturers that were making product debuts worked together to form a great system demo. Thiel Audio’s follow up to its CS2.4 loudspeaker, the newly launched CS2.7 was formally introduced at Rocky Mountain and driving the CS2.7s was the new Aragon Iridium 400-watt monoblock solid-state amplifier. This system threw a wide soundstage and it delivered a sense of power without overwhelming the listener with any type of coloration or hardness.
HiFiMan showed a number of new products, including its HM-901 high resolution music player and its Songbird ear buds. According to the company, the HM-901 employs HiFi Man’s second-generation software and a pair Sabre ESS-9018 DACs (one per channel) that help the unit to playback everything from low-resolution MP3s to high resolution 24-bit/192kHz audio files. The Songbird ear buds utilize a “double mushroom” earpiece design along with a titanium driver and balanced output to satisfy audiophiles that prefer the convenience of ear buds.
It has been fun seeing and hearing the latest audio products at RMAF the last couple years. I admire the enthusiasm audiophiles have for this show and their hobby. This enthusiasm could further help electronics professionals grow their sales in the industry’s most profitable category. I hope more dealers attend the show and find that enthusiasm contagious.