RMAF-2019 Impressions

Galibier Design - Gaylord Rockies Hotel

This was a transitional year for the Rocky Mountain Audiofest – a new, larger venue along with an earlier date.

Upon first first-siting of the massive, Gaylord Hotel (the photo doesn’t convey the scale of this place), I experienced sensory overload, and visions of ‘Vegas swirled through my head, and with that, Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro’s masterful performances in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”.

Vinyl Cleaning Seminar

While vacuum tubes and aspirational turntables were poorly represented at the show, Michael Fremer hosted representatives from some seven companies who sell vinyl cleaning products. The seminar had a tongue in cheek title: “Record Cleaning Made Difficult”.

Lynn Olson (not knowing the seminar’s title), commented to me that if there ever were a case to be made against spinning records, this seminar would be exhibit-A. It doesn’t have to be so …

We’re a bit biased here as you may gather from our recent commitment to the Audiodesk Vinyl Cleaner Pro. We won’t repeat ourselves, save to note that the best cleaning system is worthless if the task becomes drudgery and you don’t use it. Not surprisingly, Robert Stein (the distributor for Audiodesk) raised this point.

Fremer did his best to “control” Charles Kirmuss, but if you’ve seen any videos featuring him, you’ll realize the onerous nature of this task. To his credit, he was the only one who came prepared (with a Powerpoint presentation). This had the unfortunate effect however of allowing him to dominate the discussion further.

There were very few takeaways. The experienced vinyl collector learned nothing new, and the newbie was likely scared away. I’ll leave it to you to view the video.

Prana Fidelity

Disclaimer:  we know and like Steve Norber – the principle behind Prana Fidelity.  Of course, you know us to be triode/high efficiency guys (and gals), but at the end of the day, it’s about the music, and Steve is in a small group of designers who gets it.

The music is always front and center with his designs, and I highly recommend your checking out his new speakers (not yet on the website).  Steve installs them and equalizes them to your room.


After visiting the Klipsch room, it was game over.  I visited perhaps a half-dozen more rooms after visiting the Klipsch room, at which point I completely lost interest.  Everything else sounded like a toy. This was unfortunate, because I missed one room from my short list – the Troy Audio room.  Reports are that they made good sound this year.

I look at effortless dynamics as being non-negotiable.  By no means will I accept colorations in order to achieve this, and this is where the Cornwall comes into play.

I’m coming to the opinion that Paul Klipsch is the Leo Fender of the Hi-Fi industry.

The 4th generation Cornwalls are a remarkable creation.  At $6,000, I can’t think of a high efficiency speaker within four times its price that does the job better.  Completely stress-free midrange and treble presentation with fairly pedestrian supporting components (Cary push-pull amplifier, modest turntable and digital front end).  I can only imagine what a NiWatt can do for these speakers.

With his permission, I’m quoting Lynn Olson.  His extended commentary will be posted in Positive Feedback in a few days (click link):

The unexpected hit of the show was Klipsch’s debut of their new Heritage Series speaker, the Cornwall 4th Edition.

A little bit of backstory; this model goes back to the late Fifties, and has been in continuous production ever since.  As I see it (Klipsch fans might disagree), the classic Klipsch speakers come in three families: the Heresy, the Cornwall, and the LaScala/Belle Klipsch/Klipschorn. The last three are all-horn speakers, while the Heresy and the Cornwall are direct-radiator bass with horn mid and high-frequency drivers. I’m never been a big fan of the Heresy, so let’s set that aside … although the current series model is worlds better than the original.

I’ve always felt the somewhat neglected middle-of-the-line Cornwall never got the attention it deserved, either from Klipsch fans, or mainstream audiophiles. My personal opinion is this model has always been Klipsch’s most natural-sounding speaker, while retaining the spectacular Klipsch dynamics and super-vivid tone colors. Well, the new model is really something else, and in my view is not only the best speaker Klipsch has ever made, but I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s the best-sounding horn speaker you can buy … at any price.

Horn coloration is very low, particularly in the critical midrange, and the speaker uses sophisticated Linkwitz-Riley 4th-order (acoustic) crossovers. I believe this is a first for any horn speaker, although I’m not familiar with the new Klipschorn (which also sounded very, very good indeed).  The constant-directivity modified-Tractrix horns work as advertised, and deliver a stable image and very low coloration. No horn shout here.

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