My RMAF Survival Kit


Tomorrow I leave for Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. As usual I get to drive about 45 minutes instead of flying. And while that makes the actual trip far more pleasant, it doesn't make packing any easier. As a public service I'm going to list my essentials for the show.

Music - I used to bring 12 CDs in a cloth case to shows; that's about 6 GBs of music. Now I bring 24 GBs on Thumb drives. Some of is standard 44.1/16 files, but most are either 96/24 or 192/24. I also bring my iPod Classic 160, fully loaded, coupled to a Fiio E-17 DAC for listening to headphones in the CAN JAM room. I also bring ONE CD for the luddite rooms. LPs? Sorry, there are none in my traveling music arsenal...

Cameras - I'll use my Trusty Panasonic G3 micro 4/3ds format camera. It's light and small and with the addition of a flash and a power pack I'm prepared to deal with even the darkest rooms. I can't tell you how many times looking at the photographs of rooms after the show has jogged my memory while writing my show reports.

Headphones - I'll have three pairs of headphones with me to check out all the newly-issued headphone amplifiers. The three I'll be carrying are the Audio-Technica ATH-W3000ANV, Grado RS-1, and Ultimate Ears in-ear reference monitors.

iPod Touch with multiple SPL meters installed - The only way to get an even vaguely level playing field when you evaluate systems at RMAF is to have them playing at the same volume level. I use AudioTools SPL level meter to check volume levels during demos. Any SPL level meter will do and there are several free ones to choose from at the Apple Store.

Clothing - I've been told it's rude to attend the RMAF in the buff, so I've got polo shirts (including several with The Absolute Sound logo) and a lightweight jacket to throw on for the rooms that aren't heated up past 80 degrees by glowing tubes. I strongly recommend the layered approach to dressing at RMAF since you will be going from one room to the next AND the temperatures between rooms can vary as much as 20 degrees (no kidding.)

Shoes - Never attend a hi-fi show with only one pair of shoes. And make sure the two pairs have very different "pressure points." I'll never forget the year I got a blister on the first day of  CES and all my shoes were from the same manufacturer so they all fit the same way. Four days of constant pain reinforced the concept of different types of shoes...

A notebook and working pens - Sure, a lot of scribes go around shows jotting stuff into iPads or notebook computers, but I prefer the old-school and non-linear paper notebook method. I can find stuff faster in a notebook than I can through any computer text search. Also I can use my own variety of chicken scratch shorthand, for which there is still no known cyber-alternative...



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