The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest is the show with the most appropriate name, period. It is a fest. Just getting there is the hard part. For us at least. Where the other two shows we attended prior to the RMAF are easy accessible by a 1.5 or 4-hour drive from Rotterdam, it takes us a total of 4 hours driving and 14 hours flying to make it to Denver. With our accumulated airline miles, we do manage to sit upfront whenever we plan well enough ahead. That makes things a little easier and we always follow the pilot's advice of sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the flight (what the hell else can you do anyway). The flying part of the journey is quite relaxing. The worst part is security. You are required to be at the airport 3 hours in advance. Security! You are not allowed to carry any fluids, semi fluids or gels in containers larger than 3oz or about 100ml in your carry-on bags. You have to pack them in quarter-sized zipper bags and remove then from your carry-on luggage to present them.

Security! You have to take off your shoes to get them x-rayed while you walk barefoot or on socks over floors where you never ever want to know what's on 'em. Security. One person once snuck something up his - um, shoes that might be construed to do harm and now millions of travelers have to endure shoe screening. Ditto for the fluid restrictions. Someone might have had plans to turn liquids into explosives once on board. Now millions of passengers cannot even carry their own bottle of water. Luckily the alleged evildoers didn't follow chemistry 101 to discover far more fun ways of mixing nitroglycerin. That said - no wait, in one of our bags we found a nice note from the TSA that they had opened and inspected it (you're not allowed to lock luggage or they'll break it open). There went our carefully packed vacuum-sealed stuff. Now that security is off our aggravated chests, let's get to the RMAF 2006!

We arrived a day early so we could catch up with the 8-hour time difference and relax our ears. The Mile-High City of Denver enjoys relatively clean air so we enjoyed a little of it. Contrary to many other shows, the RMAF is not just home of the show but most exhibitors book their bedrooms in the same hotel. You'll meet them throughout the building of the hosting Marriott before and after hours. We cannot thank Al and Marjorie Stiefel enough for putting so much energy and time into organizing this event together with their friends.

From the efficient registration desk -- take note of the new logo in the back -- one chooses either to go to the 5th floor in the lower atrium building or start in the Towers at a high floor. We started on the Atrium floor.

Here the first room we entered was Bel Canto. In a 38° angled speaker setup -- where do we know that from? -- they combined Pioneer loudspeakers with TAD genes with their own gear. These S-1EX loudspeakers were the first surprise of the show for us. For kicking off a show visit, there could not have been a better one.

Pleasantly warmed up, we entered Soundsmith's room next. Second room, second surprise. The surprise here were not only the Mantis loudspeakers but the Strain Gauge cartridge in use. Is it a coincident that Gage Rommel of Moscode was in same the room? Within the cartridge a blue light shines when the system is on and the technique Peter Ledermann developed enables one to have visual feedback of all cartridge parameters. Impressive.

Rusty Hilliard of Amber Wave was next to demonstrate the biggest tube amplifier in Denver and surroundings. He uses two huge 304TL triodes in PP mode to generate a healthy 200wpc. Where you would expect this kind of tube artillery to double as block heaters, the Amber runs remarkable cool in fact.

Furgerson Hill is known for its large clear horns and accompanying subwoofer. Now that we have entered the iPod Age, they retort with a Lilliputanian version specially suited to the iPod. Perfectly scaled back and miniaturized, they sounded even more remarkable. Mini Tannoys, mini Furgerson Hill -- we have seen mini Avantgardes -- where are we going from here? It sure is fun.

Pure Vinyl enables the restoring of vinyl or simple transferring to hard disc for archival purposes. Its inventive graphical interface is shown here on the bigger Mac screen. Everything you've ever wanted to do to the information extracted from an LP is now possible. This was innovative to say the least and is important to preserve valuable recordings.

George Kay and Gage Rommel teamed up with Joseph loudspeakers for their wonderful Moscode 401 HR hybrid amplifier (Harvey Rosenberg's initials). We know this amp by heart now as we have one in for review. Hold on for that as we combine the 401 with five different speakers. The Joseph Audio speakers revealed that special Moscode quality we've come to recognize perfectly.

When things can go wrong, they do. We felt sorry for Bill Woods from Canada's AH when he picked the shortest straw and his equipment got lost in transit.

Beauty, sheer beauty. Studio Electric's David McPherson wanted something Art Deco-ish for his own listening pleasure. In Josh Stippich of Electronluv, he found the right man for the job and the result is just as the pictures show. In a room devoid of chairs, these beauties weren't just lookers, they had brains too. Musical brains that is.

Taking notes at Clark Williams' while he was putting up some new vinyl on a Funk Firm turntable..

The Wiener Lautsprecher Manufaktur WLM from Austria makes the Diva and just like the ones we heard in Paris, they had a very special quality emitting from its big dual-concentric driver.

Attending Denver for the first time, Kharma's Charles van Oosterum had one big smile. His distributor's room not only sounded great, it was busy as well. His combination with mbl amplifiers was not a bad choice.

Einstein now has a phono stage where the load can be adjusted via interchangeable modules. The Eventus speakers performed well with the Einstein amplifiers.