The Audio Cynic

RMAF: Lucky 13

I promise to step away from the topic of audio shows after this. I can imagine that for non-attendees, reading about audio shows must be a little like reading a review of a concert, albeit with more photos of gear and fewer cries of “Play ‘Free Bird’!!”

To recap: the 13th edition of the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest faced some serious challenges, due to unfinished renovations at the host venue, the Denver Tech Center Marriott. The large auditorium which traditionally held the CanJam headphone area was not ready for use…at all. Likewise, the standard rooms on the Atrium end of the hotel—the rooms with the balconies overlooking the restaurant and bar—were unfinished.  The auditorium where seminars have been presented? You guessed it. Not ready.

What to do, what to do?  Nearly all the sleeping rooms booked for the show were farmed out to nearby hotels like the Hyatt. There was some grumbling from those whose hotels were waaaay  farther out, but so it goes. Moving out the sleeping rooms allowed there to be exhibit rooms on every floor of the Tower. Seminars were held in trailer “pods” out front of the hotel, next to a big top which housed the majority of CanJam exhibitors. The remaining CanJammers were in Tower ballrooms that have traditionally held Kimber Kable’s demos;  Ray Kimber graciously released those rooms for the greater good.

How did it go? Surprisingly well. As you can imagine, the Tower elevators were challenged. In the past, traffic has been spread across the entire hotel, but this time the Tower was the primary destination for almost everyone.  The standard operating procedure was to ride to the top, 11th floor, then walk down floor by floor.

Having spent most of the show in an exhibit room on 11 directly opposite the elevators, I can verify that 11th floor exhibitors won the lottery. Traffic was uniformly heavy, waxing and waning somewhat as the elevators loaded and unloaded.

I’m happy to report that the general standard of decorum was better than at most shows in the recent past. I’m also happy to report that there were a great many women in attendance, along with young adults, teens, kids, and even toddlers (few of whom were allowed to go free-range, thankfully).

Being an audio show, there were of course some examples of, umm, quirky behavior.  Most notable for me was the gentleman who stood at the next urinal in the men’s room and began quizzing me about my company’s products. Yeah…no.

As if that weren’t  creepy enough, the same guy showed up in our room on multiple occasions (STALKER!!  skreet skreet skreet), then followed me to the elevator to complain in a petulant and highly-aggrieved manner about a product hiccup. When I said I didn’t have the technical chops to handle his issue, and directed him to the designer and CEO—both of whom were in the room—he sneered, did a pivot-turn and vanished. Ooo-kay.

The focus of another attendee amused me: Imagine a room with massive, chrome speakers costing an eighth of a million bucks, accompanied by a massive stack of electronics. Most folks stepped off the elevator, spotted this and began laughing in delight and disbelief or uttering exclamations of “HOLY @#&*!”

Not Dude.  Dude walks in to the room, gives the system a once-over, and stares at the speaker cables (which admittedly were flat and wide and obvious). Not the big, shiny speakers, not the mountain of gear… the speaker cables. He looked at me, then at the cables, then back at me.

“That’s the most ridiculous goddamned thing I’ve ever seen,” he said, pointing at the speaker cables. Not the megabuck lautsprechers. Not the gear.

The. Speaker. Cables.

I said, “I assure you, if they didn’t make a difference, we wouldn’t use them,” which is the utter truth. Guess what he did? Yep: sneer, pivot-turn, vanish. Oh, well. Gotta admire his (obsessive, relentless, picayune) attention to details.

Those of us who’ve been to RMAF year after year noticed the issues and the changes and may have tsk-tsked at some of them. Was anyone really disappointed or angry? Not that I heard. Would a first-timer have even known something was askew? I’m not sure. They might have found the tent thing kinda cool…and indeed, it was, though the dim lighting gave me pause.

Thanks to organizer/den mother Marjorie Baumert and her entire crew: in spite of the challenges and fears and obsessive speculation —so typical of our little community— it was a great show. And next year, with a big new restaurant and more fresh new rooms, it’ll be even better.

What more could you ask for in these perilous times…than hope?