These high-end audio devices take sound to another level

The Audiophiliac finds so many high-end audio goodies at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver.

Steve Guttenberg
1 of 17 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

A feast for your eyes and ears

I've attended nearly every Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver, Colorado since 2008, but this year's show had more spring in its step. Lots of cool gear of course, but the show goers' excitement was palpable. High-end audio is alive and well!

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Manley Labs Absolute Headphone Amplifier

The look is amazing and so is the sound of the Absolute! The tube amp's Variable Feedback control allows you to control the amount of overall negative feedback applied to the amplifier from 0dB, to 10dB. The Absolute can also be used a stereo preamp. 

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Tekton Double Impact

I've followed Tekton for years and favorably reviewed their speakers, but the Double Impact has radically boosted Tekton's popularity. Audiophiles rave about the sound of their polygon-oriented, triple-ring radiator high frequency array's imaging and transparency, and the power exuded by the Double Impact's woofers.

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Sony IER-Z1R

Sony IER-Z1R headphones feature an HD hybrid driver system consisting of three newly developed Sony-designed drivers. I'd say the work paid off, the IER-Z1R sounds flat out amazing and I hope to get this little jewel in for review. 

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Joseph Audio Perspective

I never heard a bad demo from Joseph Audio, and these apartment friendly size towers didn't break the spell. Sweet sound with a lot of soul. 

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Jern’s heavy metal speaker

The Jern14 DS speaker is made from cast iron! Jern's vibration absorbing cast iron "cabinet" is said to reduce vibrations up to 100 times better than aluminum. Who knew an iron speaker could sound this light and clear!

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Music Hall mmf-9.3

This handsome Music Hall turntable isolates the platter, main bearing, tonearm and cartridge on the top platform, from the adjustable tip-toe feet are mounted on the bottom platform. Sorbothane hemispheres separate each of the three platforms and provide additional suspension and vibration damping.

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Vinnie Rossi and his new electronics

That's Vinnie with his latest gear, the L2 Signature tube preamp and Class AB L2 Signature Monoblock amplifiers.

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Avantgarde Uno Fino Edition

This ultra high sensitivity horn speaker delivers powerful dynamics in a relatively compact design.

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JBL L100 Classic

The original L100 definitely qualified as a classic and now it's back! The new L100 Classic was sounding even better than the original model as I remember it. 

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Abyss Diana Phi

The best sounding headphone at Rocky was this one, the latest from Abyss. The Diana Phi is so clear, so open, so natural. A truly disarming sound. 

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Chord Hugo TT 2

Chord's digital converters have caught the attention of audiophiles the world over, this is their brand new Hugo TT 2. It was sounding especially wonderful over a pair of Spendor A7 tower speakers.

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ModWright Instruments PH 9.0

The PH 9.0 tube phono preamp happily works with moving-magnet and moving-coil cartridges. For the latter type the preamp utilizes Lundahl MC step-up transformers.

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RAAL’s Alex Radisavljevic with his ribbon headphone

Coming out of Serbia is something I've never seen or heard before, a full-range ribbon headphone! The clarity and openness of RAAL's upcoming headphone were extraordinary. Hope to get this headphone in for review.  

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Soundkaos Liberation

Yes, it's a rather odd looking speaker, but its sound totally pulled me in. I love speakers that "disappear" as sources of sound, and the Liberation does exactly that. There's an effortless quality to the sound that seduces the ear.

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German Physiks Borderland IV

The Borderland was originally introduced in 1992 and it was German Physiks' first flagship model. Now in its Mk IV form, and this omni-directional speaker produces exceptionally life-like stereo imaging.

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Bryston Mini T Active

The Mini T Active Bookshelf Loudspeaker looks understated, but it's a fully tri-amped design and requires the Bryston BAX-1 Active DSP Crossover and three amplifier channels per speaker. 

Thanks for checking out this tour of the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2018 show!

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