Rocky Mountain Audio Fest – Friday, Part 2
The crowds were lighter than I expected on Friday. As a result, I covered more ground than expected, but with each room, my notes and publishing backlog grew. I’m expecting today to be actually busy, so that should give me time to catch up a little. The day was full of surprises, there were a few rooms that I was expecting to sound great that, sadly, didn’t (you won’t be hearing about those from me, Mom said, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”). There were others that I thought would be decent but ended up being completely delightful. There were products that I didn’t know existed that are now on my “must evaluate” list–a few both personally and professionally.
ESS is no stranger to anyone in this industry. Their innovative Heil Air-Motion Transformer™ was impressive when it appeared on the scene 45 or so years ago, but what most people don’t know is that, after a thirteen-year hiatus, ESS is back and continuing to innovate under the leadership of Ricky Caudillo. His new products have better cabinets, treated paper cone woofers, and he says that they don’t require topflight amplification to sound great. I was impressed by what I heard and look forward to revisiting room 538 later this weekend.
I didn’t quite know what to expect when I walked into Paul Morrison’s room (8013)…why two pairs of loudspeakers and subs at different heights? After a brief demo, it all made a lot more sense. The left two speakers are simply spiked to the carpet using manufacturer provided supports while the right pair is supported using isoACOUSTICS isolation system. Same goes for the subs. The result was a surprising increase in soundstage width, depth. The explanation is that without isolation, energy reflects from the floor back into the loudspeaker cabinets, causing the soundstage to collapse a bit. Like lowering the noise floor in your listening room, the impact of these reflections is something that you won’t notice until they are gone. Fascinating!
The Paradigm room (9007) was graced with their Persona loudspeakers that really do sound as good as they look. The top end is airy and lite and should complement most listening rooms well, although all of that energy up top could be a little much for rooms lacking carpeted surfaces and diffusive surfaces. I’m looking forward to giving them another listen today.