More coverage from the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019…

Rega, Fyne Audio, Bryston, Kii, ProAc and Chord Cables

Great to see the Fyne Audio guys making the trip over from Scotland with their speakers making all the right noises in their new USA Distributor, The Sound Organisation’s room. The Bryston ProAc partnership was a powerful combination.

The turntable is the all-new Planar 10 from Rega and which features the new RB3000 tonearm, ceramic top brace, completely re-engineered central hub bearing and the latest PL10 PSU, housed in a custom case, to match their latest range of electronics. More Fyne in later coverage too…

Andover Audio

This is the Andover Audio all-in-one record player which harks back to the music centre of old. You get the Carbon Debut turntable shipped with the Ortofon Silver cartridge and the amplified unit can be used with a sub or as a standalone unit. Price is $2600. I can see these being popular but can’t help thinking the price is a little on the steep side for what you are getting – YMMV.

Lu Kang Audio, COS Engineering, MusiChi, VAC, and Sanctus Cable

The standout in this room for me was the great sound coming out of the speakers that I had never heard before but which are apparently very popular in Asia. Full kit list in the room is the Spoey 230 loudspeakers, Cos Engineering D10 DAC and Pre, MusicChi SRV01 music server and the VAC 200iQ power amplifier.

The speakers have only three components in their crossover and the DAC has completely separate analogue and digital sections. The D10 was in prototype at Rocky Mountain but readers can expect the units to hit the shelves in November.

The streamer does only music streaming and nothing else, with the idea that this further improves sound quality as does the onboard USB “cleaner”.

This was a big sounding room with a clean and precise presentation. I enjoyed it a lot, perhaps all the more as it was mainly made up of new-to-me products and brands.

Sonore, Avid, and Briscati

This was an interesting sounding combination of components with my interest being drawn to the Sonore Signature Rendu SE. It takes an optical Ethernet audio stream and renders it to a perfect, ultra-low noise USB feed to a USB DAC. Preamp/DAC and amps were the Briscati M21 and M25. Briscati may be a new name to many but are a well-known name in the US and in studios. The M25 is a dual mono transformer design, essentially creating a hybrid of the traditional single transformer M15 stereo amplifier and its larger M28 mono-block sibling. The M25 is rated at 150 W / 300 W / 600 W per channel into 8ohms, 4ohms and 2ohm loads respectively. The M21 has three independent and user-selectable digital to analogue signal paths. All digital input types are supported, with direct output or hard-wire bypass of the analogue attenuator.

Cables by Cardas.

Wavelength and Vaughn

Linette has written at more length about this room in her article about Rocky Mountain Audio Fest with her commenting “The Wavelength brand both looks and sounds the part, with a well designed, tactile combination of metal and wood cases for the valve amps and DACs. Gordon Rankin (Wavelength) wasn’t afraid of trying different music and, armed with Qobuz, he treated us to Hardfloor’s ‘Acperience 1 ‘ from the Hifi Pig playlist. The Vaughan Zinfandel line array loudspeakers, with their plasma tweeters worked very well in this system and we were treated to a very lively and open sound with all the swirling 303 energy that you want to hear in the Hardfloor track…it can be way too much for an inferior system but here it sounded perfect. Most enjoyable. More info here on the individual gear used in the room. “  

The Vaughn speakers were a very interesting proposition and sported a plasma tweeter. This was a very organic sounding room with a distinctly analogue feel to it whilst playing Hardfloor’s Acperience 1 from our official Hifi Pig Qobuz playlist.  

Endow Audio

You just know that when you run a news item about a particular product that it is likely to wildly split opinion, and here we have just such a product in the form of the FS 301 speakers. Ok, it looks a damned weird set up and has a $45k price tag but this speaker system sounded simply fantastic with superb imaging in the room and being powered by Hegal electronics. Bass response was fast and nimble and my notes tell me these are “very much my kind of speaker”. Nine full-range drivers combine to give a point source effect and there is an onboard passive processor. The sub is only below 100Hz with everything else being in a sealed chamber of the weird-looking pod.

This is what Endow have to say about their speaker:
“Innovative technology assures no crossover in the critical frequency range of 200 Hz to 5,000 Hz. Enabled by patent-pending Active Loading technology: Active Loading technology is superior to conventional sealed and vented loading methods. A single 8” driver actively loads the multiple radiating drivers so that they are well behaved near their resonant frequency range, allowing them to play down to 100 Hz.

Crossovers inherently impede imaging and transparency since different driver types reproduce different frequencies. This phenomenon is particularly noticeable when a note’s fundamental frequency is played by one driver type below the crossover, and that same note’s harmonics are played by a different driver type above the crossover. When the harmonics change, the character of the note changes. Active Loading enables a very low crossover which is below the critical listening frequency range.

Through patent-pending technology:

Drivers arranged tightly in a hemisphere create a point source sonic wave.

Middle drivers are reversed to mitigate non-linear cone movement distortion and control dispersion.

Voltage magnitude and timing are uniquely controlled as a function of frequency for each driver position to enhance the sonic wave.” So there you have it!

Whatever, I thoroughly enjoyed these.

Boulder, Soundings, AMG, ClearAudio, Vienna Acoustics, and REL

Ok, this was always going to be a good sounding room but in reality, it really did blow me away with its visceral bass delivery courtesy of the all-new and stacked REL subs behind the Vienna Acoustic speakers. All the electronics were from Colorado-based Boulder who we visited a few days prior to the show – full report imminent.

In the back room we were treated to a sneaky peek of the all-new integrated from Boulder, of which more very soon. This specific prototype model will make its playing debut at the Paris show later in the year. The 2120 DAC from Boulder was a thing to marvel at too.

MC Audiotech etc…

What an interesting room this was with the MC Audiotech Forty-10 loudspeakers taking centre-stage with a suporting cast of: Pass Labs XP 22 pre, XA25 power (for the array on the speakers) and X250.8 on the bass. The VPI turntable is the Prime Signature with JWM arm and an Airtight PC-1 cartridge into a Luminous Audio Arion phonostage. PS audio supplied the DSD DAC and there is also a Wolf Audio Systems Alpha 3 Music server.

The speakers cost $35K a pair and come with an electronic crossover. The Forty-10 is a two-way design consisting of MC Audiotech’s in-house designed and built proprietary transducers mounted in a double-curved spaced array™ along with a totally separate folded cube™ low-frequency enclosure. Essentially this speaker is a dipole from top to bottom with the bending wave drivers atop 2 x 18 inch woofers.

Sonically what we had here was a beautifully liquid mid-range that was detailed even at very low volume levels. I really enjoyed these a lot!

Vandersteen Audio, AudioQuest, VTL, Aurender, and AMG

Vandersteen had their all-new M5-HPA monoblocs playing ar Rocky Mountain. They are a (from) $15800 pair of amps featuring ten different power supplies and 300 Watts into 4 Ohms. They are a scaled-down version of the company’s M7-HPA and designed to work with a wider variety of loudspeakers. Whereas the M7 HPA has its high-pass filter fixed at 100Hz, the M5 HPA has an adjustable (20, 40, 80, 100, and 200Hz) high-pass.

A high-end sounding room that was very nice.

The Music Room

Great sounding secondhand kit from Colorado’s own The Music Room. That Line Magnetic pre is a thing of wonder and awe!

PrimaLuna, Pathos, Tannoy, SBooster, Feliks, and Kiseki

Just a couple of snaps in this room as there was no music playing, just chatting.


Here we had a couple of rooms featuring Klipsch speakers. The first room features Cambridge Audio electronics along with more budget offerings from this iconic brand, whilst the second room had Heresys playing Tool when we went in there. Great sounding speakers in my honest opinion with the Heresys certainly being a pair I could live with.

Part One

Part Two

Bird’s Eye View

Headfi and Static Stands

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