RMAF: Day 1

This is a really great audio show. It must have something to do with the crisp mountain air or the approaching cold weather, but it’s been a really good day. The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest is a comfortable affair…the staff is helpful and friendly, the attendees seem genuinely interested in what you have to say, and more than a few customers walked away with a serious number of my recordings. I didn’t bring enough.

I arrived in Denver yesterday in the late afternoon. Drove my Chevy rental car to the Denver Tech Center Marriott and dropped off my two large suitcases at my booth location. As I was about to leave, I noticed my friend Ray Kimber standing outside the large ballroom at the end of the lobby. The RMAF is a show that Ray does right. His demo room is 60 x 60 with another equally large room with tables and a grand piano in the middle. He’s holding concerts after hours.

Ray partnered with MartinLogan and EMM Labs. When I walked in they were setting up 4 very big Martin Logan Electro Static speakers…I mean really large. This is new model called the Neolith and the bright red ones that I saw are beautiful to look at. Looking at their website, the frequency range spec is 23–22,000 Hz ±3dB. In the world of high-resolution logos and such…they couldn’t wear the JAS Hi-Res Audio logo but that probably doesn’t matter.

Power for the MartinLogans is being delivered by four new EMM Labs amplifiers…I think I saw an MTK on the signs as I visited the room today. Last evening the guys told me they were $130,000 for a stereo setup. Ray’s room was demonstrating the high end of the marketplace. And I’m sure that his cables were equally pricey.

I went in to the room this afternoon to hear the system and recognized Stravinsky’s “Firebird” playing. It was being performed by a Wind Symphony/Marching Band and was recorded using Ray’s unique “IsoMike” technology. Here’s a picture of the elaborate baffling system that he’s developed.


Figure 1 – A picture of the IsoMike hanging in front of a stage.

The “Firebird” recording was done outside. Ray’s got some serious pull with the university in Utah where he often records. The police shut down roads, the HVAC system for the entire campus is turned off, and even the local airport advises general aviation to avoid the stadium area. The performance was good…and it sounded like a very good sonic documentary of the band. The percussion was especially powerful and direct.

I applaud Ray for keeping up the fight for surround recordings. I’m not a huge fan of the IsoMike because I personally prefer a closer sound but he manages to pull off some big productions. I wish I had the resources to continue producing new recordings.

It was great to meet some regular readers of the blog and all of the usual audiophile folks…Peter McGrath, Jonathan Reichbach of Amarra, Bob Hodas, and Rory Rall from Benchmark. Now I have to pry myself away from my tables and visit the rooms in the towers.


The “Music and Audio Guide” campaign is still running although it has slowed down over the past 48 hours, which is to be expected. I approached Ray about contributing an interview about cable design and he told me, “I’m definitely not saying no.” That’s Ray. And Jonathan Reichbach told me he’s happy to do an interview. He’s got his fingers in a bunch of things including MQA…so that will be interesting. Stop by the Kickstarter “Music and Audio” page if you’re interested in backing the book and Blu-ray production.


Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

8 thoughts on “RMAF: Day 1

  • Camilo Rodriguez

    Hi Mark,

    I was going to make it to RMAF this year, but too many things piled up and in the end I had to prioritize. Too bad, as I really wanted to ne there. I was especially upset this morning, when I discovered that Audeze just released their new LCD-4s. These headphones are HRA capable according to preliminary specs, and they promise to outperform any heaphone available on tbe market. Although at a stunning 4K. I think you would be the ideal candidate to try them out with your own recordings and hopefully frim your Benchmark DAC2.

    I was also very interested in listening to Siegfried Linkwitz’ latest creation, but those don’t do HRA. They are nevertheless great and innovative speakers. The other true HRA components are Bruno Putseyz’s MolaMola Audio kaluga monoblocks; the only rivals of the AHB2. But that will all depend on what speakers and D/A converter they pair them with.

    I don’t know if Sennheiser will be there with their new headphone flagship, but that would certainly also be an interesting novelty to check out.

    Anyhow, I could go on oyt of just frustration from not being able to attend. Have a great time and do report back on the goodies you can find, as well as the impressions that the attending publuc will probably give you regarding your KS campaign.


    • I did go by the Audeze booth and sat listened to three or four tunes from there server…the guy didn’t know what high-res music is. The sound of the music they played was dull, no sparkle. I don’t think it was about the phones but more about the music. I’m just used to listening to my own stuff.

      • Camilo Rodriguez

        Hi Mark,

        That was my guess, and why I thought it best to listen to your own music and from your DAC2, but I also guess they wouldn’t let you do that.

        It’s only and purely detrimental to the equipment being promoted when they play all the audiophile nonsense one usually has to withstand during these shows, and especially now, when I’m guessing many are playing old recordings in big buckets, thinking somehow they will sound better. Things would be different if they played well recorded music and really showed the true potential of the gear on display.

        Let’s hope you have better luck with other manufacturers.


      • Dave Griffin

        4k for a pair of headphones.. That dullness you heard was the “Audeze Dark Sound”. You just disrobed the emperor.

        • I’m sure they are great phones…but I really needed to listen to something I knew would challenge them.

        • Camilo Rodriguez

          I think the first generation Audezes before the fazor tech were definitely dull and unconvincing, especially at their price. But I think the LCD-Xs are very good headphones and more accurate than the LCD-3 fazors. I own a pair, and I thought maybe the new LCD-4s would further improve the LCD-Xs and approach the detail and imaging of my HD800s. I also think the Amp it was paired with, Audeze’s new King Amp that is being launched on indiegogo, did the LCD-4s a bad favor. That’s another 4K, and in my opinion unjustifiable for the Amp they are promoting. The prices for “prenium” headphones have gone really wild lately, and if Amps follow the pricing of Audeze’s new flagship Amp, the market is going to get as ridiculously overpriced as the rest of the hifi components being pushed by unreliable manufacturers and audiophile magazines. Not that headphones aren’t already overpriced, but a leap from 2K to 4K is completely unjustifiable and frankly ridiculous.
          There are other planar-magnetic cans that go for over 5K, and electrostatic ones that are near 5K, butit seems prices have recently and confidently been climbing to unprecedented and unjustifiable figures.

  • Jeff Starr

    Mark, if you need money for some new recordings, why not use the same fund raising site as you are for the book?
    Smaller donations, but potentially many more. Find an artist that really could use at least one decent recording. There are some artists/bands that never get good results in the studio. Just think what you could do for them. Maybe greatest hits revisited, with a number of bands, make it a series. My guess is getting the releases and all that would be prohibitive, but I am not knowledgeable when it comes to the business side of what you do.

    I’d invest in that, if I had the money. It has been a bad month, that is why I haven’t jumped on the book. I was lucky enough to assemble my system, before my finances took a dump. Most of my added music is now coming from a friends LP collection, recorded to the PC. Not hi-rez, but hi-enjoyment.

    • I think this current campaign will open up the door on some crowd sourced projects.


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