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Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - 2004
by Roger S. Gordon

Before I discuss the rooms that made a favorable impression on me, let me give my standard disclaimer. If I don’t mention your favorite room, don’t flame me. While I attempted to get to all exhibit rooms, some rooms were so crowded whenever I dropped by that I could not get a chance to play my own music. I find it impossible to evaluate the sound of an audio system without using my own music, CD or vinyl, as a reference.

The rooms that I found with worth mentioning, in alphabetical order:

deHavilland/Spendor/Prana Wire - The little floor standing Spendor 5e at $1,650 was one of the most surprising finds at the Fest. Driven with the new deHavilland 27 wpc Ios stereo 845 SET amp, the new Mercury deHavilland preamp, and a Quad CD player, the sound was excellent. The speakers are so short that the best sound was achieve while sitting on the floor, but the much more expensive electronics and cabling upstream were put to very good use. The larger and more expensive Spendor 8e also sound very good. However, at its price point, the 5e was a real winner.








Overkill Audio - The Overkill room was a captive system; i.e. the CD Player, amps, cables, and speakers are sold as a complete system. The Ovation speakers, which are a truncated pyramid, use the Manger driver for most of their frequency range (80 - 20,000Hz) and were bi-amped by four modified deHavilland GM70 SET amps. In an untreated room the sound was very musical. Early Sunday morning I had a chance to play quite a few tracks from my audition CDs. On quiet vocals the sound was very intimate (Iz Kamakawiwo’ole - Facing Future (BBCD 5901) and Lisa Garrard - The Mirror Pool (4AD 9 45916-2). On orchestral works (Barber - Violin Concerto, Hilary Hahn (Sony SK 89029) and Vangelis - Mythodea (Sony SK89191)) the orchestra filled the room. On rock (Rammstein - Mutter (Universal/Republic 314 549 639-2)), the system really came alive—it played loud without overdriving the room. Unfortunately, the system is not cheap. The amps alone cost $40,000. At the CES 2005 they said they would have a more affordable system. I look forward to hearing it.















Complete Report at