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Speakers

The coolest sounds rock Denver audio show

The Audiophiliac reports on a dazzling array of affordable and high-end audio from Denver.

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Naim mu-so music system Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest is two shows in one --there's the traditional two-channel audiophile show, which focuses on speakers, amps, turntables, digital gear, etc. -- and CanJam, which covers headphones and headphone amplifiers. RMAF took place last weekend at the Marriott Tech Center in Denver, Colo.

Linkwitz Lab's radically innovative kit design, the LXmini, looks like no other speaker. Basically, it's a thin PVC tube, with a woofer at the top, and a pair of small drivers. The massive soundstage floated completely free from the speakers, while projecting a highly detailed, sharply focused stereo image. There's one big catch, the LXmini is sold as a kit. The price is a small fraction of what I assumed it would be based on the speakers' sound quality.

Then I heard the little Scansonic HD MB-1 monitor speakers, this is a far more conventional, and much higher-priced design, but again, the sheer scale of the presentation was far beyond what I thought was possible from a small, 12.2-inch tall (312mm) speaker.

The best sounding system at the show featured Wilson Audio Sasha II speakers, mated with a dCS digital playback system, Spiral Groove 1.1 turntable, and VTL electronics. The Sasha IIs cost as much as a BMW 228i; the GoldenEar Technology Triton One speakers produced the best sound for an affordable price, by high-end standards, at the show.

V-Moda's Val Kolton was on hand to provide a sneak preview of couple of in-ear and full-size headphones that departed from the company's signature full sound, and moving to a more accurate audiophile tonal balance. One headphone featured an aluminum ear piece, and the sound was scary good. Uber clarity, tight bass, wide-open soundstage. Kolton promised I would be among the first to get production headphones early next year.

Then I was treated to a bunch of new Sony products including the made in Japan MDR-Z7 headphones, and they were plugged into the Sony PHA-3 portable headphone amplifier and digital converter. The sound was easily the best I've heard from Sony in years!

There's a lot more mind boggling audio to see in the Gallery.