Rocky Mountain Audio Fest: The Best of the Best

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Talking of seriously orange speakers, you don’t get much more orange than the Magico S5s deployed by Nordost. We were expecting good sound in the Nordost room: I wasn’t expecting the best sound they’ve ever made at RMAF. Okay, so they deployed a seriously heavyweight system to achieve it, but the Rowland Chorus, Aeris and massive 925 twin-chassis mono-blocs didn’t disappoint. Best of all, they were using a twin-arm VPI Avenger up front (along with a prototype Rowland phono-stage) to demonstrate their new internal arm cable against the standard VPI option. Results on this (and the power cord demos they were also running) left us with new-found respect for the S5 and underlined the potent capabilities of the new Odin 2, a cable that was everywhere at RMAF and seems to have even the sceptics wavering.

AudioQuest dodged the whole room acoustics issue by operating the ultimate downsizing policy and going all table-top on us. That didn’t stop their array of demonstrations featuring the new $200 Beetle DAC, the brilliant $50 Jitterbug USB jitter reduction device and the Nighthawk headphones delivering spectacularly good (and remarkably comfortable) musical results. There’s more than one way to bang the audio drum and Audioquest are especially inventive – and successful – in this regard.

RATA are another iconoclastic company that can be counted on to deliver. Their five-minute, $500 second-hand system/$1,000 cable upgrade demo might be familiar to UK show-goers but it left plenty of US citizens in a state of shock. Bewildered audiophiles were seen, weaving unsteadily out of the RATA room, clutching on to literature and the last vestiges of their shattered reality. Good stuff that should (but never seems to) be a lesson to both the audiophile community and exhibitors in particular…

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