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Headphones

Audio show runs the gamut from budget to insanely priced gear

The Audiophiliac's highlights from the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver.

Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Last weekend's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2015 at the Denver Marriott Tech Center brought together the world's very best audiophile gear. The vibe was very upbeat as I chatted with audiophiles ogling the gear, and listening to speakers, headphones, electronics, digital converters and turntables.

I'm no fan of wireless speakers, but I have to admit Dynaudio's spectacular Focus 600 XD wireless tower speakers that can play from your phone or tablet made a believer out of me. For once I was treated to genuine high-end sound quality from a pair of wireless speakers. Dynaudio also offers a smaller tower, the Focus 400 XD and stand-mount Focus 200 XD speakers.

All of the high-end, electrostatic headphones from Stax were sounding especially good, but their brand new SR-L700 headphone was ultra transparent and remarkably spacious.

The seriously curvy Vivid Giya G3s were the best speakers I heard at the show. The sound was a perfect balance of uber-resolution, natural midrange, and tuneful bass. And the statuesque German Physiks Carbon Mk IV speakers project a 360-degree, omni-directional sound field. These big speakers disappeared as sound sources, and I didn't have to sit centered between the speakers to hear accurate stereo imaging.

Listening to a Miles Davis LP over the made-in-Brooklyn DeVore Fidelity Gibbon X speakers made me smile. There was something about the sound of Davis' trumpet that really connected with me, probably because trumpets rarely sound this natural over speakers.

Another Brooklyn based manufacturer, Mytek, introduced a brilliant new ultra-high resolution digital converter, which they call "Brooklyn," and it was especially clear, and still had an analog-like sound quality. The Brooklyn is a combination digital converter, headphone amplifier, and stereo preamplifier, that also includes a phono input for turntables.

Audeze was showing their ravishingly beautiful LCD4 headphones, and a prototype of The King headphone amplifier. Audeze headphones are always on my best-of lists, but the LCD4 catapults the sound to the next level. That headphone, teamed with the King upped the audio ecstasy yet again. LCD4 and the King will be available soon.

Audioengine rarely introduces new speakers, so I was pleased to see and hear their HD6, self-powered monitor speaker (it's due out in November). It has a bigger, more room-filling sound than their slightly smaller A5+ speakers.

ELAC's new very affordable Debut speakers were the talk of the show, and the company's Chris Walker gave me a sneak look at their upcoming ELAC integrated, 100 watt per channel stereo amp, which features a newly devised auto calibration system for 2.1 channel, speaker/subwoofer stereo systems. The ELAC amp is due later this year.

Fostex was showing a wide range of headphones, including their newly revised, entry-level T50RP Mk3 planar magnetic headphones, I expect to review these guys in the coming months.

Speaking of affordable, there were three rooms at the show that featured a range of sweet sounding, complete stereo systems, priced from $450 to $1,500!