An equally good-sounding setup was found in the large room next door. Here the big Focal Utopia Grandes were on duty to please anyone.

Every year at the RMAF, Ray Kimber is trying -- and succeeding -- to come up with something surprising. Just like last year, he hauled a massive amount of Soundlab electrostatic 'walls' into the room. But, this time the spacing between the four semi-circles of speakers was smaller, creating a more intimate environment. Once in the sweet spot, the combined effects of his IsoMike recordings and huge radiating areas were very realistic. In front of the Soundlab ESLs, there were more conventional Sony speakers, though not playing at the time. We wonder if Ray was experimenting with a form of layered sound?

More big stuff here with the AH! Horns and their Cogent compression drivers on active display.

Classic Audio Reproductions can resurrect that feeling in us of when we first encountered hifi back in the 50s at some fortunate relatives. The revived classic horn designs were driven by plenty of Atma-Sphere amplifiers.

When visiting and enjoying RMAF over a couple of years, one sees marriages come and go. Marriages in this respect are incidents where exhibitors teams up with others to share a room and their equipment. Some of these alliances are very successful and sustained over the years, others fail and new liaisons are formed. One longer-standing cooperation is that of Wilson Benesch loudspeakers and DeHavilland amplifiers - same room as last year, same darkness and blue lights, same great sound.

Over in the atrium of the Marriott, Zu's Adam Decaria was having a quick bite after setting up the PA system. This year Zu decided not to have a room like all the others but concentrate on a series of live performances. More on this later.

In the Usher room, the Dancer BE-10 loudspeaker played wonders.

Another room that used behold's "keep it digital as long as possible" equipment was Analysis Audio. A huge Orion 4-panel full range ribbon system formed the back end. Look at that beautiful Arcici rack.

Up until this year, we had a love-hate relation with the German Acapella horns. There are no doubts about their looks nor about the quality of their ion tweeter which we experienced in previous setups. At RMAF 2007, we were finally more than pleased. The big system with the Triolon Excalibur speakers was set up in a room that was acoustically treated with great success. We have to confess that at first we thought the odd-shaped objects seemingly haphazardly placed in the room were the speakers' flight cases. We thought it a bit messy not to have them stored away. How wrong we were! The odd-shaped things were Golden Acoustics' acoustic tuning panels. The company until now has been mainly active in the professional area. They've treated studios, theaters, arenas(!), restaurants and what have you. Now they are approaching the high-end audio community. Their way of handling the interactions of sound waves and room boundaries is based on "mathematics found in nature".

With the findings from those formulae, Golden Acoustics manufactures panels of ultra high-density polymerized gypsum. One striking detail is that the panels do not betray any simple repetitive patterns but a more fractal type of appearance. We think a large portion of the great sound in this room was due to this treatment. Only now the horns could show their true colors and they did. As users of the 'other' spherical horns, we know the strengths and weaknesses of these types of speakers. It takes considerable efforts to get them right. Here they were right. Too bad we had to move on.

In another room they had the smaller Acapella Campanile playing. This room was not acoustically treated and the difference was striking. After these two experiences, the only thing to get your musical receptors back on track is to listen to some live music.

Artemis Labs used their upcoming turntable with Schroeder tone arm. Artemis Labs found a new way to have the drive belt make more contact with the platter than in more conventional designs.

Sunny Lo of Sunny Cable brought his H3W12 3-way system to Denver. These bass-reflex cabinets are fitted with a midrange horn that weighs 10Kg on its own. At the back is fitted a compression driver with a 4" voice coil. A super tweeter with an Alnico magnet delivers the highest frequencies. Sunny invented a time-accurate cable design and that principle has been applied to the internal wiring. The result is a very natural-sounding coherence.

The new Moscode 402 is an update of the original 401 HR with changes to the grounding scheme, different power regulation on the front board and an avoidance of lead to comply with RoHS. Where the 401 sported the addition of HR as a tribute to the late great Harvey Rosenberg in its nomenclature, the 402 is just the 402. Just like the previous model, the 402 is extremely happy when mated with -- among others -- hard-to-control ESLs. For the show, Moscode's George Kaye used some heavily tweaked Quad 988s. On the visual side, the 988s were mounted on a solid stand. Hidden underneath the speakers' cloth were further tweaks, not mere electric modifications by George but also a few of a mechanical nature. The result is a 988 - that is, the smaller version of the 989 -- which now has bass, real bass and a very delicate mid and upper range. Owners of these often neglected Quads should contact George and find out what treasures remain hidden in this small ESL. The 402 has that same OTL quality as the 401 HR and with the Esoteric CDP and Placette passive attenuator ahead of it, there was a lot of music in the room. Of course we played some of our CD and with George a bass player himself, he had fun with the Cohen and Musica Nuda tracks.

Always a musical pleasure are Robert Lee and his Acoustic Zen products. We had a chance to listen to his new big Adagio loudspeakers. We don't know how but every new speaker which Robert dreams up is a further step up on the musical ladder. Where the smaller Adagios impressed with their slam, the new ones impressed with balance and resolution. Halcro handled the rest.

When we entered the Reimyo/Combak room, we found Mr. Kazuo Kiuchi sitting in front of the system with a big smile on his friendly face. No wonder as we came to know - he was listening to his latest product, the XRCD Masterpiece by Mario Suzuki. Kiuchi-san is the producer of the issue and he explained with pride how the recording had been made on a Studer A820 half inch 30ips console fed by B&K 4003 microphones. Mastering was done on a JVC analog console, then digitized with the JVC 24bit K2 A/D converter. Mario Suzuki is a story of his own by the way. He is probably the only Japanese who has specialized in the typical South American tradition of Folklore Guitarra. It is not flamenco or tango but a true new form of modern popular music. Listening to some tracks on the full Reimyo system, we learned that not only is the music very attractive but that the AAD-on-XRCD24 process results in very good sound. It is more open and detailed than CD, with more air than SACD. We liked it. When we left the room, Kiuchi-san presented us with a copy.

Albert van Schweikert demonstrated the new VR-4A loudspeaker. These are designed for smaller rooms but use the same cabinet as the VR-4JR. A new and simpler crossover is used for the European-made drivers. The 'A' in the name of the speaker stands for anniversary since the loudspeaker company celebrates its 30th birthday.