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My Thoughts About Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2016

Hey Kids! Let’s put on an audio show!

Yesterday I returned from RMAF 2016. Due to the fact that the Marriott hotel did not finish their promised refurb projects before the show, instead of a whole hotel filled to the brim with audiophiles and demonstration rooms RMAF had half a hotel to work with. Naturally that required extensive rejiggering of both display rooms and sleeping rooms. 

AR-rmaf2016-1-small.jpgI had originally booked a room through RMAF press accommodations but because I’m the nervous type and I know that things happen I also booked a room at the Hilton Garden Inn nearby. When my press accommodation room was moved to another nearby hotel I cancelled that one, I figured that I would be staying at the Hilton. About a week before the show I discovered that The Absolute Sound had booked a sleeping room for me in the Marriott on one of the exhibition floors, which despite the potential all-night noise issues, was a much better option for a guy who really needs to take a break every four hours or so to be fully effective. I ended up in a room on the 5th floor, in the center of the action, but due to strict noise restrictions – no subwoofer break-in after 10:00 PM – it was one of the quietest hotel stays I’ve ever had, with no drunks slamming doors at 3:00 AM. And the newly redone room was fine. I only had to call the hotel’s engineer twice. First time was to get the room’s refrigerator working. Second time was to raise the hot water’s top temperature from 96 degrees to 110. 

AR-rmaf2016-2-small-2.jpgIn prior years most of the RMAF display rooms were divided between two sections of the hotel. The tower section had five floors while the Atrium section had two large floors. Getting from one section to the other required walking the length of the hotel lobby, usually multiple times. This year the atrium section did not exist and all the displays that had been there were relocated to the tower. So instead of only four floors, this year the tower had eleven floors of displays. From the onset I had a CES Deja-Vu moment – covering the main show meant going up to the 11th floor and then doing each floor and walking down the stairs, just like at the Venetian in Vegas. 

Personally, I much preferred having almost all the demo rooms in one tower (there were a few demo rooms in meeting rooms on the mezzanine and lobby) instead of being spread out throughout the hotel. As a reviewer it was more efficient and there was less chance to miss someone’s room. Another advantage was that there seemed to be more steady foot traffic on every floor. I hope that next year when the atrium section is finished the display rooms remain in the tower and the atrium section relegated to sleeping rooms only. 

AR-rmaf2016-2-small.jpgCANJAM, which usually resides in a large meeting room roughly the size of a large high-school basketball court was moved to a large outdoor pavilion which in many ways resembled a large circus tent without, of course, the elephants. Unfortunately for the photographers on-scene the light levels within the pavilion were quite low and efforts to increase the light level also would have caused the temperature inside to spike since the light sources were all “hot lights” and the ventilation inside was not the best – as is when I went inside the pavilion it was like going from Colorado to Florida. I felt like Gene Wilder, “I’m hot and I’m sticky. And I’m wet!” 

The seminar on high resolution digital that Oliver Masciarotte and I presented on Sunday morning was not exactly SRO. Part of that was undoubtably the hour, but the venue probably also had something to do with it. Instead of the usual location in the hotel the seminars were moved to an external pod structure. The pod was not as easy to find as I would have liked, but once inside it served its purpose nicely. 

AR-rmaf2016-3.jpgMany people had dire predictions for RMAF 2016. Some manufacturers even dropped out. As somebody who poked their head into every room and at least passed by, if not stopped at, every booth in CANJAM, I considered this year’s RMAF 2106 a rousing success; for which I am grateful for the herculean effort of everyone from Marjorie Baumert on down. They did a great job. And for those who demured from attending this year’s event. You missed a good one…







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