The Hub: Numbers unclear, but strongest RMAF yet!

If you've never flown into Denver before, the final descent over the desert might provoke a pang of panic. No city is in sight, and the sense is more that one is about to go MIA (missing in action), than DIA (Denver International Airport).

Those feelings pass as soon as the tires hit the tarmac and the engines begin to reverse. Phew. As one of the world's largest, busiest and most modern airports, Denver International excels at moving folks along, and sure enough, after a few relatively-painless polylingual exchanges, we're on our way to the seventh annual Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.

Held once again at the pleasant, tree-shrouded Denver Marriott Tech Center, RMAF has become the audio show of note in the United States, as an increasing number of exhibitors seek refuge from the declining ROI (return on investment)of CES. Led by the wonderfully-unflappable Marjorie Baumert and a throng of devoted volunteers, RMAF's attitude and vibe are unfailingly supportive and upbeat, in contrast to the infamous Vegas litany of "that'll be another $500".

If you think we're kidding about that, then you've clearly never worked in Vegas. Sheesh.

Enough bitterness. The important story here is how RMAF has something for everyone in the audio world, whether it's Old School, Noo Skool, or "We Don't Need No Stinkin' School". From fractional-watt spud amps to "Oh my God, what are they rolling down the hall?", you could see it and hear it here. From the funky handicrafts of Experience Music to the retro-nuevo of Oswalds Mill and the works of industrial art from Magico and others, it was here. Better still, you could talk to the men and women who design, build and sell the stuff, and get the straight scoop.

Presentations varied from a laid-back, "sure, why wouldn't we jump at the chance to play 'Enter Sandman' on a quarter-million dollar rig?" to informative, incredibly-polished, highly-professional demos as shown by MIT and others. Again: if you couldn't find a style that matched your needs and taste--well, you just weren't trying.

Seminars featured leading designers such as Paul S. Barton and Charlie Hansen, and press-legends such as Harry Pearson and John Atkinson. Edgiest of the presentations was Michael Mercer's "Embracing the Industry's Future" panel with Head-Fi's Jude Mansilla and Positive Feedback's Dave Clark, amongst others. The general sense of the group was that the industry's best days are ahead of it--and if you don't agree, quit whining and get the hell out of the way! Awesome stuff.

In days to come, Audiogon will present our high-def photographic coverage of EVERY ROOM at RMAF, along with our worldwide-exclusive audio clips. We may even have a bit of commentary from a tired blogger with bad feet.

RMAF 2010 was a call to action, a slap in the face of anyone in the audio world ready to roll over and die. It ain't gonna happen--not if any of THESE folks have anything to say about it!

If you weren't at the show: start planning for next year. Do it NOW.
Edgiest of the presentations was Michael Mercer's "Embracing the Industry's Future" panel with Head-Fi's Jude Mansilla and Positive Feedback's Dave Clark, amongst others. The general sense of the group was that the industry's best days are ahead of it--and if you don't agree, quit whining and get the hell out of the way!
I seem to agree with Mechans that the computer audio road is one road that our hobby is going to take. It certainly seems to be drawing a lot of attention & a lot of the newer/younger generation of audiophiles into it, which is all good. This path/road is not the only road that our hobby should be taking - we already see a huge resurgence in vinyl which was left for dead & considered low-fi due to CD's very large S/R with even 16-bits. Clearly vinyl, CD/SACD, reel-reel tape, cassette tape will not draw in as many of the newer generation audiophile but to tell the folks not (entirely) subsrcibing to the computer audio model to
get the hell out of the way!
would be sending a very wrong message. It would be very good to remember (very clearly) that it is these older/traditional audiophiles who have carried this audio hobby this far & that many of them have stuck with this hobby thru much industry & personal turmoil. It might be a (very) bad thing to lose the patronage of such dedicated members.


I heard there might be something occuring in Orange County. Would you have information, perhaps in another thread?

My spouse and I were unavailable for this year's RMAF, but I would have made a point of seeing and hearing the BAT REX power amplifier (my understanding is BAT was an exhibitor at this year's show).

Nhocti: Thanks for the kind words, and it was a pleasure to meet you, as well.

Bwp: Thanks for getting it. I'm not saying everything must go in our biz, but come ON guys, wake up and smell the coffee. Nostalgia is SO overrated!

Mech: Where we are right now has been detailed in numerous pieces right here in The Hub. Never have we suggested that analog should disappear; indeed, many of our readers have suggested that we've devoted an unhealthy number of pixels to the continuing development of turntables and LPs. Similarly, tube amps as a class are in many ways better than ever. Also note that Michael's panel discussion had a far broader scope than just computer audio (and shame on me for not making that point crystal-clear), as it also dealt with a range of downloaded/streamed/stored/distributed technologies.

What we ARE saying is that new technologies will allow a broad new range of listeners to experience remarkable fidelity with an ease of use and transportability that would be impossible to achieve with "old tech". Okay?

Smer: Just to clarify for everyone else, THE has announced a show in Newport Beach on June 3-5, 2011.

Bombay: See preceding response to Mech. Not telling anyone to get lost, but you are correct in referring to "older/traditional audiophiles"--many of whom, sad to say, are dying or are simplifying their lives by eliminating elaborate systems. In order to continue as a viable industry, the high end needs to adapt. Simple. That's all we're saying.

C1: No news on the OC. BAT did show in a couple rooms at RMAF--our full pictorial coverage should be up in a few days.

Thanks to all of you for your comments!

Thanks for the info...I expect Albert is working tirelessly and efficiently to make the highest quality pics available from RMAF 2010!
This is good news indeed, at least a positive light at the end of the tunnel. It appears during this down turn in the economy, many companies are shifting their focus to products for the future, for when the economy rebounds.

Of course the brain trust in DC has reported the recession is over and what we now have is our new reality. I pray they have once again miss judged the economic outlook.