Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019 Pictures and Impressions

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019 has wrapped! This year it took place at the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center. It’s a huge facility with some very nice rooms. The facility is so large, the rooms were rather spread out over 8 floors as well as the convention area, so lots of walking and elevator action. The upshot is you did not as much of an issue where sound from one room interferes with demos in another room, an issue at more “crowded” shows.

I posted many images directly to the forum, as well as some minimalist commentary. There’s also posts from other attendees to check out so follow this link to see it all.

My main motivation for making the trip was  the debut of the new Polk Audio flagship, the Legend Series L800 towers with SDR (Stereo Dimensional Array) technology. This is a return to the roots of what makes Polk special, a design that cancels out interaural crosstalk (which degrades stereo imaging). One look and you know the speakers mean business! Plus the massive enclosures provide plenty of space to build out the bass section, making these speakers the “full package”.


Polk L800 SDR speakers. Highlight of the show, IMO.

Although much of the show was dominated by decidedly high-end gear, my favorite experiences occurred with some well-known brands around these parts… brands like Polk, SVS, KLH, ELAC, Klipsch that are normally not found in audio show hallways stood out, mainly for offering listening experiences that easily kept up with (or beat) pricier boutique offerings. I heard a lot of positive feedback from attendees that heard the KLH systems (Albany bookshelf, Kendall towers), for example.

And those Polk SDA L800s? Holy Sh__ uhhh I mean holy cow!!! Yes, I heard the regular” demo but I also snuck into an after-hours session where we stretched Polk’s new flagships with tracks streaming from Tidal including tracks from Sounds from the Ground, Schoolboy Q, and a crazily mixed track from Sevdaliza, Human, which put vocals so far to the left of the left speaker it sounded like magic; nothing else at the show imaged like that.

Andrew Jones delivered a “wow factor” with his $500/pair Debut Reference bookshelf speakers. They are attractive and sound phenomenal, with bass that’s like a tower speaker, plus neutral and clear midrange plus treble. These speakers use the same drivers as the Debut 2.0 (economy of scale, folks) but sound better because of improvements in the motor basket (now cast not stamped) and tweeter (new waveguide) and the crossover, and the cabinet (now with a front slotted port).

The Z Reviews room was a real highlight, it’s where you got to hear how good some very affordable bookshelf speakers sound, and how you can use miniDSP devices, SVS SB3000 subs and Crown amps to make rigs that kick serious butt for a tiny fraction of what some other systems at the show cost.

Anyhow, be sure to check out the forum thread to get a glimpse of what RMAF 2019 was about.