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RMAF – 2018

Galibier Design - RMAF 2018RMAF 2018 – a time to meet up with old and new friends.

With the exception of the Devore speaker and the photo I took of Lynn Olson, all photos were taken by Lynn.  Click photos for a full screen view.

Shown here are the ESD Dragon horns. 

Some random thoughts and photos follow …

Imagine … shipping a 5-way horn system along with all of its supporting electronics (field coil power supplies for all of the drivers, active analog crossovers, along with power amps) across an ocean, uncrating and loading it into an unknown room and then setting it up for audition – all under show conditions and within a 16 hour time window.  

It’s rare that someone can pull of such good driver integration in a statement system in a permanent installation, let alone under show conditions.

Maybe it’s time to talk to your architect?  Well done, guys (and gals)!

A disclaimer …

When I’m not exhibiting, I invariably find myself roaming the halls with customers who are interested in my opinion (or who just want to visit and catch up).  When all is said and done, I realize there were rooms I targeted but which I missed.

A few perennially great rooms which immediately come to mind are Kevin Hayes’ VAC room and the Audio Alternative room run by Rick Duplisea – the latter which features Vandersteen speakers.  Dan Wright’s Modwright room has never failed either.

The following impressions are just that – a limited snapshot.   With that disclaimer, enjoy the pictures.

About demo music:

Expect an upcoming rant about music servers and the people who use to the exclusion of (dare I say?) vinyl.

Galibier Design - RMAF 2018Frank Schröder was supporting the Troy Audio room which included a turntable he builds for his friends, along with the Hellena – a 3-way (3.5-way?) speaker system based on Great Plains Audio (Altec) and Fostex drivers, coupled with a parallel push-pull 300B amplifer (50 watts).

Galibier Design - RMAF 2018I absolutely loved the Altec bass from both of the 15″ drivers.  There’s a harmonic richness (without sacrificing nuance and detail) that I’ve not heard in most other drivers.

The Fostex bullet tweeter continues to impress in every application I’ve heard it (a viable substitute for plasma?)

The 604 coax has undergone changes, and while much improved, it’s still a bit too tipped up for my taste. In its current state, I could not live with this.  No doubt, others will differ and the usual YMMV disclaimer applies.

You need to hear what these speakers do right however, if only to set your compass and expectations as to what’s possible.

Considering they come in at a neat $125K, this is all the more reason to kick off Lynn’s “Beyond the Ariel” project. 

Galibier Design - RMAF 2018Bill Hanuschak and his son, manning the Great Plains Audio  booth.  The world would be an uglier place without Bill’s passion keeping this legacy alive.

The coax 604 driver in the foreground was used in the Troy Audio loudspeakers.  I’m not certain which bass driver they used.

Lynn has targeted a pair of alnico 515s and ceramic 416s for his “Beyond the Ariel” project the project.  After hearing Gary Dahl’s first build, I have to agree.

Every time I hear Altec bass, there’s a certain je ne sais quois that I can’t get out of my head.

Galibier Design RMAF 2018Shown here are the PBN Audio M2!5 speakers.

The drivers are JBLs:  2235H woofers and a 2430H compression driver.  Incredible attention to detail was paid to the crossover (DC biased capacitors, anyone?).

Considering the parts quality, they come in at a very righteous $14,500.  My guess is that they’ll soon double in price.  You can’t sustainably run a company for too long with such a tight pricing model.

This was another case (for me) of a slightly bright upper mid/low treble.  I could not live with this, but no doubt others will differ.  In any case, they deserve to be watched, and if they can tame the brightness, they’ll have a winner.

JBL bass?  Well, I much prefer the harmonic density of Altec bass, but again, everyone is different and there are a lot of JBL fans.  I’d give these a listen if you get a chance.

Galibier Design - RMAF 2018Insert your caption here …

Galibier Design - RMAF 2018I wish Voxative exhibited with an anlaog front end.

I can never get a handle on these speakers with either their selected source components or program material.

They don’t have the whizzer cone “bite” which is typical of most full-range drivers, and I’d like to hear them in a more familiar setting.

Galibier Design - RMAF 2018The first year I heard Vaughn’s Plasma Signature  (plasma tweeters), I was spellbound.

The past two years (since the hotel was remodeled), they’ve had trouble integrating their speakers in the rooms.

A planned trip through the Midwest may take me by their place, and I’m looking forward to auditioning them in their native habitat – ideally with the NiWatts.

Galibier Design - Devore Fidelity O96This blog entry wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention the  Devore Orangutan Reference – a 4 box system.

We didn’t have photos of this room because we were too busy enjoying the presentation.

Shown here is a photo of the O96 from the Devore website.

I’m coming to understand why so many of my customers are gravitating to this company.

If someone held a gun to my head and forced me to choose one speaker from this year’s show, the Orangutan Reference would be that speaker.  Truly great work, John!

Galibier Design - RMAF 2018One of the joys of this show lies in all of the after hours activities. 

When we were exhibiting at RMAF, we hosted an after hours get together on Saturday evenings.

This year, we had a gathering chez Galibier – on Friday.  A few folks who stayed in town dropped by on Sunday evening as well.

Galibier Design - RMAF 2018I can’t remember the joke (and obviously only a couple of folks got it).

Galibier Design - RMAF 2018Had I known Lynn Olson would be giving a dissertation on speaker design, I would have broken out the white board.

Lynn is an animated speaker and used lots of hand motion to describe response curves, notches and other driver behavior.

Bring your notepad.

Galibier Design - RMAF 2018Hard to remember what I was conjuring up, but trust me … I wasn’t planning on playing any metal.

The Savoie prototype is behind my right hip, and a customer’s turntable I’m servicing is on your left.

The final prototype NiWatts are at floor level.

Galibier Design - RMAF 2018On Monday, we gathered at the home of the good doctor (Steve Kaufman).

What do audiophiles do after 3 intensive days of audio?  Watch a video on a smart phone … of course!

Steve is showing me and Andre Jennings a video he took of the dynamometer test being run on his rebuilt/blueprinted Corvette engine.

Galibier Design - RMAF 2018Whoever says that Germans don’t have a sense of humor, has never spent time with Frank.

Galibier Design - RMAF 2018Surely, something must be broken, otherwise, we wouldn’t have an excuse to open it up and fix it.

Andre, along with Rumen Artarski of Trax Audio (mfg. of the Schröder CB arm and Döhmann turntable).

I’ll be working with Rumen to supply the CB arm to all of you.

Galibier Design - RMAF 2018Deep thoughts from Steve, and the three of us ruminating.

Refurbished Commonwealth (idler drive) turntable in the background – one of the very few ‘tables other than my Galibiers I’d be happy with.