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October 30th, 2013 0 Comments

RMAF 2013 – Steve Clay’s Stray Observations

You might think that a company’s president going off the grid during trade shows would be troubling for his employees, but when it comes to original Audiogoner Steve Clay at an audio show, we look forward to his stray observations.

Cary Audio and ADAM Audio

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“Maybe the nicest guy in the business and a great friend, I visited Billy Wright to listen to his components paired up with ADAM Audio’s home speaker line. The CAD-211FE mono block amps are looking and sounding good.  ADAM Audio is primarily known for their Pro Audio, and more recently, use in home theater set-ups; but they’ve come out with a complete line-up of audiophile speakers.  Roger Fortier is President of ADAM-Audio USA.  I get the distinct feeling that he is a fun loving person such as myself, and consequently I look forward to getting to know him better in the future. The speaker used in the Cary room is their Column Mk3 which uses an X-Art tweeter (a refinement of the original Heil tweeter).  I’ve heard Cary paired with a lot of great speakers, but with the ADAM speakers it’s a magical combination in my opinion.”

Apex Audio

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“Anyone who wonders about the state of the high-end audio industry needs to visit Apex Audio.  Carl Jerritts runs an exceptional store in Denver.  He brought out a Bentley Mulsanne equipped with a Naim audio system that really took your breath away. Sticker price is $335,000.00.  I don’t know about our readers but I might have to put this baby on time payments.”

 

 

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Acoustic Sounds

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“Chad Kassem’s recently-launched SuperHiRez.com site really takes the digital bull by the horns, so-to-speak.  I attended a seminar at RMAF and sitting in Chad’s room for quite a while, I’m becoming a download convert.  He told me he’s getting more and more access to original master tapes and he uses those in his new record factory.  When he’s pressing a record, he’s using the same stream simultaneously to put them into DSD downloadable format, which is essentially SACD  resolution.

As part of his alliance with Sony, Kassem was showcasing DSDs through Sony’s new HAP-Z1ES conversion box, which converts everything to analog, on Sony speakers.  I would love to get my hands on one of those boxes. HAP-Z1ES For anyone who thinks Sony’s have to be god-awful, you’re wrong.  These speakers were quite pleasant to listen to.  Hearing the Beach Boys in this format on that set-up was absolutely the best I’d ever heard them, and I saw them live way back in my much younger days.  Kassem’s an interesting guy – he started by collecting records, then selling them out of his basement, and it just grew from there.  It’s amazing what can be accomplished in the middle of nowhere in Salina, Kansas.”

Malinda Smith with Core Audio Technology

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“Let’s be honest, this industry is still dominated by males, so when a youthful female appears at a show, it gives us all hope that the hobby won’t die with us old guys.  Malinda is a bright and entertaining asset to Core Audio Technology.  She was attracting a crowd as she cruised around the main floor, so naturally I did the right thing and swooped in to save her from the crush of admirers.  I’m joking, I just wanted a picture with her…  (thanks Malinda.)”

 Recording artist Lyn Stanley

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“I met Lyn while chatting with Steve Davis of AXPONA and then heard her perform later that evening.  She’s extremely impressive and I’m very much looking forward to listening to her double LP.  She’s going to perform at CES next January as well, so don’t miss the opportunity to see her if you have it.”

Aaudio Imports

Audiogon Founder and President Steve Clay with Brian Ackerman of Aaudio Imports

“Brian Ackerman had been telling me I absolutely had to see the new Lansche 8.2’s, so I did.  At eight feet tall, they are monsters. But talk about dynamics – they are incredible. This speaker doesn’t just shake rooms though – it is very musical and pleasantly listenable.  Brian is the king of esoteric; if it’s unusual, expensive and sounds great, he will find it.”

German Physik

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“I had met Michael Broughton the evening before with Robert Kelly  of German Physiks. They are both interesting gentlemen and suggested that I would be impressed with their room.  I did visit and either their skills in setting up a hotel room for listening are beyond compare, or it’s their speakers that are beyond compare.  Perhaps it’s a combination,  but I have fallen deeply in love again. (How do I approach this subject with my wife??)  They use a DDD driver – essentially a cone set on its face in a vertical position – which creates an omnidirectional wave pattern. According to Michael, the result is “the tyranny of the sweet spot” disappears.  Michael is one of those guys whom you meet and later say, ‘I wish I was that clever.’

The other incredible thing is that this driver covers the frequency range from 24000 kHz down to 200 kHz, so you don’t have any crossover ledge between the  treble range to midrange.  They are perfectly seamless down to 200 and then crossed over with aplomb to the bass woofer.The cabinets are expertly built and solid.  I could wax poetic about the German Physik speakers forever, but yes, oh yes, I will have a pair.”

Paragon Sight and Sound

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“Larry Marcus was displaying Doshi Audio, an elegant system that seems to mate very well with the Wilsons.  To me, Wilsons are generally pretty shrill, but they’re a great combo with the Doshi. Larry Marcus has been a great guy to be around in Ann Arbor and we appreciate his suggestions and unflagging support.

Dupuy Acoustique

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“Dupuy introduced some very, very interesting new technology.  Rudy Dupuy is quite the gentleman; very smart, very approachable.  He and his two partners have developed a panel that sits between two speakers and performs the timing alignment for the drivers.  I have to admit that it works.  It creates a very cohesive soundstage.  You don’t hear the drivers’ crossovers at all, so it’s definitely a product worth exploring.  The photos just don’t do it justice.”

Raven Audio

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“I wish I’d had more time to visit Raven’s room.  Not only was it buzzed about during the show, our photographer did go in there and took some pictures that just leave you panting.  In fact, I was showing pictures to my wife after getting back from the show and she asked if we could get some Raven gear to put in the living room.  She’d never seen any audio equipment so pretty, and believe me, she is not an audiophile. Kudos to Raven for coming out with such great looking gear, but now I have to figure out a way to go listen to it.”

Rutherford Audio

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“I ran into Rob Neimann up on the tenth floor who told me that he had an art gallery in his room. I couldn’t tell initially if he was serious or just that in love with how his Burmester and Thorens components looked, but it turned out that there was a real art gallery.  The owner of Roksan, one of the lines Rob carries, is a collector of  artist Jay Paul Apodaca, and has commissioned certain works to be printed in an anodized technique on top of their media server.  Now, before you say, “dumb idea,” it actually looks really cool.  I even bought one of the prints for the Audiogon headquarters.”

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Volti Audio

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“Greg Roberts of Volti Audio is a scrappy young speaker maker from Maine.  I swear I see him in every room I visit. He’s probably one of the most eager-to-learn designers out there. It’s pretty common to find him in another room speaking to another manufacturer.  In my opinion, he’s clearly open-minded about his design process and very dedicated to his craft.  I think we all should give his speakers a listen when available.”

The Mobile App Cocktail Hour

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“Our COO, Lindsey Schulz, decided that we should give attendees a sneak preview of our mobile app via iPad stations at our booth, which went very well.  She also felt that we could gather a few more beta test volunteers by holding a cocktail hour.  We’d provide a drink ticket and ostensibly be demonstrating the app.  What I discovered, however, is at the end of a long day, people are more interested in getting free drinks than critiquing a mobile app.  Good thing she had us use the iPads at the booth because we received a lot of feedback there!  In all seriousness though, it was a great time and gave us the opportunity to show our love for the community.”

The Booth

We're still going strong on day 3!

“Okay, so I wasn’t at the booth very often. But thanks to Alex Clay and Tonya Hendricks, we were able to demonstrate the app for folks, solve account issues quickly, and really get out from behind the computer screen to chat with our Members.  I have to hand it to Sarah Sperlbaum, who stepped in for Lindsey when she wasn’t able to make it, and handled everything like a pro.  I finally gave in to Anna Verdier’s incessant requests to have Audiogon swag available, so she had pens made and t-shirts printed with the winning audiophile slogans from our bumper sticker contest, which went like hotcakes. All in all, RMAF 2013 was a great experience and I can’t wait to go back next year.”

Looking ahead to AXPONA 2014

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“In the picture above you can see Steve Davis telling me how I could run Audiogon better if I had even a modicum of management skills.  I suggested he could come aboard and help me but he said AXPONA is ready to rock.  Seriously, he and his wife Carmen have done a remarkable job as a two-man band but now he has a staff of twenty to execute his plans for expansion.

He just announced that JDEvents has purchased his company and left him with the task of growing the company into a major player.  I’ve known Steve since the early days of Audiogon and he has always been a take no prisoners kind of guy.  We will watch with great interest  to see what place AXPONA establishes for itself in the Audio Event business.”