Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2009 Show Report
Can you find the speaker in this picture?
No, that contraption on the left is not a lamp, it is a new omnidirectional speaker with a small woofer. Yes, there are two of them for a stereo pair, the other not pictured.
The two cylinders contain 4 small midrange drivers firing up and down. The cylinder on the floor, two 6.5" "woofers" for a claimed response of 45Hz–50kHz.
The speaker's rather long name is Raal Solaja Audio Constellation.
But there are more surprises in this small package. The microphone stand -like arm has tiny lights imbedded in three colors adjustable for color and intensity which we couldn't see in the bright room, but he said they could be used for "music therapy".
Also, there is an active Class D amp with digital crossover for the system.
The biggest surprise was hiding between the two silver cans - a 3" Raal ribbon tweeter with waveguide that disperses the highs around the two structures.
When we asked the price, Mladen Starvic said, "It depends on how many we make. We just finished them last night. For the parts cost, the more we make the less the price. It could be as low as $4,000."
Could these things possibly sound any good?
Yes. Surprisingly good. The soundstage was huge and clean. There was really no resonance or cabinet vibrations to distort things, no sense of speakers at all. And there was no sweet spot at all, just room filling music. As we were about to leave, he said, "Wait. Look here." He folded the arm down, again just like a mic stand and said, "See? You can put it away when not listening!".
Linda liked that. It definitely has a big wife acceptance factor. Not sure about the "music therapy", though...
As you probably know, Stereomojo was the first in North America to review any TW Acustic turntable and the first in the world to review the vaulted Raven One,
which became Darby's reference table. On the review, he dubbed the top-of-the-line Raven AC (above) "The Mothership" which has stuck.
James Darby's reference table - the Raven One - still only $6,500
One of the two new models is the Raven Black Knight, the new $40,000 reference. It features a 60mm aluminium outboard motor with ceramic bead blasted and silk matt black anodized finish in identical shape to the table but 60% smaller. 4 height-adjustable feet on the outer corners. 3 motors arranged in an arrow formation, pointing towards the platter. Drive belt is guided through the drive pulleys and around the circumference of the platter.
Motor control contains two built-in power supplies - one is exclusively used to charge the batteries. In normal operation the motors run from the battery supply alone, controlled by a microcontroller. Switching between battery and mains supplies occurs automatically without interrupting operation, as does battery charging. A remaining charge indicator is included on the front panel.
Up to FOUR ARMS can be mounted on the table. Designer Thomas Woschnick has developed an armboard that allows VTA to be safely and accurately adjusted during operation. There are many other features, but if you want one, you'll have to wait; even at 40 grand, it's sold out for now.
The other new table is the entry level .5 or "point five" . At $4,000, it has the soul of the bigger models, including it's "Swing" , according to analog maven Jeffrey Catalano.
Last year we awarded Grant Audio "Best Full Line at Show" because they have everything from cables to speakers to amps and yes, even turntables.
Canada based Grant Fidelity is essentially Ian Grant, a 25 year veteran of the audio and music biz and Rachel Zhang, originally from Beijing and has a Master of Business Administration from University of Toronto Though the company is based in The Great White North, Grant’s products are all made in China under very strict supervision and specifications.
Grant represents 3 out of the 5 major Chinese audio brands - Jungson, Shengya and Opera- to distribute their products in North America either under their own brands or under Grant Fidelity brand. They also source products from other factories such as Yaqin which is smaller but has been producing solid quality products for over 15 years. Rachel told us that Grant Fidelity exists to provide value between manufacturers and consumers, as all distributors do. We take all the tedious logistics work out of your purchasing experience - source great products and send them right to your door for you to enjoy. We navigate the complex Chinese customs system, make ocean and air shipping arrangements with logistics professionals and deal with North American customs authorities to safely and economically bring quality products to consumers at the most reasonable price. You as a consumer get to enjoy some of the world's finest high fidelity audio made in Asia at your home in North America, just as if you are purchasing "Made-in-North America" products.
Ian added, "We make your purchase of "Made-in-China" products a real Peace-of-Mind. You don't need to worry about that you may get a 'lemon' from an unauthorized seller and being left on your own without any warranty”.
In Grant is holding Stereomojo's award for 2009 Tube Integrated of the Year for the Grant A543B ($1,700) our Mike Peshkin reviewed this year.
These are two massive integrated amps, on the left a tube model with a solid state version on the right.
The pictures don't do them justice - they are gorgeous in person.
This is the Consonace "Forbidden City" table that with a sophisticated arm sells for $3,500. We have just finished the listen portion of it's review. In fact, this is the very same table we sent back to them. Everything Grant sells includes shipping - that can be very big.
Speakers, too. The one on the left looks very Sonus Faber-ish. The other is a British Ls3/5a interpretation "without the British hump" Ian told us.
They also import tubes from Shuguang and TJ Full Music tubes. We have heard the Shuguang "Black Bottle" 300B's and they are magnificent at a bargain price.
Out of all those things, Ian told he might be most excited this little tube DAC. It has 5 different inputs, a by-passable volume and even a separate headphone output.
Ian bragged more about this things than anything else in the packed room. Why? "It sounds insanely good and it only sells for $390. But right now there's an introductory price of only $300!
We're selling them like hotcakes." Seems Ian gets excited over high performance, low price just like we do. Looks for lots more reviews from Grant.
This is pretty cool!
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