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Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2018 Official Show Report

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tesseract

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From the Denver Marriott Tech Center in Denver, CO, AV NIRVANA reporter, Dennis Young, will be bringing you live coverage of the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, featuring the some of the best home audio from around the world! The show thread is closed, please feel free to join the commentary in the Official Discussion Thread.

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tesseract

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Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
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The show has not yet started, but press is allowed to roam around pre-show. I kicked off with DSD 256 w/sample rate 11.2 mHz. IsoMike multi-channel recording, used to cut an as of yet unreleased vinyl record, which I was handed a copy of. Sweet! The surround sound effect was sweet, too, with no sound from the side speakers apparent at the listening position. I had to get up and walk over to a surround speaker to check it for output, which there was, of course. Notice the main listening position is laid out precisely.

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tesseract

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Sony BDP S590 & Pioneer DV-610AV
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JTR NOESIS 210 RT - L/R mains
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Chase SHO-10 - Center
Surround Speakers
Chase PRO-10 - Surrounds
Subwoofers
Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
Video Display Device
Vizio E550VL
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h/k TC35C/Ortofon Super OM10/Pro-Ject Phono Box S
I have yet to hear a Richard Vandersteen room that is not top-notch and this one is no exception. Say what you will about vinyl, but the demo was dynamic and engaging. This system is a winner.

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tesseract

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JTR NOESIS 210 RT - L/R mains
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Chase SHO-10 - Center
Surround Speakers
Chase PRO-10 - Surrounds
Subwoofers
Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
Video Display Device
Vizio E550VL
Other Equipment
h/k TC35C/Ortofon Super OM10/Pro-Ject Phono Box S
Segueing into another Big Dog heavy-hitting audio company, I made my way into one of the Martin Logan rooms, this one featuring the massive Neolith hybrid ESL panels. The gorgeous Dan D'Agostino amps barely having to work, the needles way down low most of the time, but ticking the 300 watt mark on peaks of the demanding London Grammar "Hey Now" track.

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tesseract

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Chase SHO-10 - Center
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Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
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Vizio E550VL
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Cambridge Audio auditioned a pre-production, direct drive turntable, the Alva TT, with built-in phono preamp which outputs a Bluetooth APTX HD signal, a first in the industry that I am aware of. The Beach Boys sounded pretty good, the B&W 803 D3 pair throwing up a nice soundstage, sound totally detached from the speakers.

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tesseract

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Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
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I have a soft spot for MBL, their speakers have a big, full natural sound and the amps are seemingly limitless in reserve. I could spend the rest of the day in this room. The 101 E MKII Radialstrahler is a dream for me and at $70,500 will remain that way.

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tesseract

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Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
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Oh, boy! A chance to compare the various Klipsch lines, starting with a comparison between the RP-8000 F and the RF 7 III. Both sounded pretty decent but I much preferred the RF 7's compression driver over that of the other's dome. Overall, more relaxed with a fuller bottom end, although sound was not detached from the speakers like it should be. I am gonna blame the room, it was small and listening positions were up against a wall, as was the gear.

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Onto the Heritage room...

I arrived just in time for a closed-door press-only audition of the latest La Scalla. Even standing well off-axis, the sound was vastly improved over the lesser models. I did manage to move in for a sweet spot listen and the focus snapped in as expected. Bass augmentation was supplied by dual 10" C-310 ASWi subwoofers, crossed over low at 40 Hz. Heritage for the win!

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Pivoting around for a listen to the Forte III, I was left with the impression that these are a worthwhile entry into the Heritage sound.

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I missed out on getting fed (so hungry!) as it was getting late, but the all-at-once comparison was well worth it.
 

tesseract

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Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
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Good morning, AV NIRVANA! Starting off the day with Dominc Miller and Chicago Philharmonic.

This system comprised of Wilson Benesch Resolution loudspeakers with "infrasonic generator", Aurender music server, Ypsilon signal control and amplification and various exotic cables is one of the best systems I've heard this far and a great way to start the day. The large room was served well by this collection of fine gear, both giving an absolute scale to the sound.

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tesseract

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Chase SHO-10 - Center
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Chase PRO-10 - Surrounds
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Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
Video Display Device
Vizio E550VL
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h/k TC35C/Ortofon Super OM10/Pro-Ject Phono Box S
Speaking of "big" sound, the visual of this room bowled me over when I walked in. Sitting down and having a listen furthered that "big" impression, continuing that theme this show morning.

ESD Acoustic is from China and makes everything seen here. While the soundstage and imaging was a bit over blown, it was tonally correct. We are in a medium-sized conference room, but I suspect a bigger room and/or some additional acoustic treatments (there were 12" or so rolls of foam along the back floor, not big enough to actually trap bass frequencies). would help bring down the scale to a realistic size.

Music impressions from Chin Tsai and Lyle Lovett's "Friend of the Devil". Simply amazing to look at and listen to! The Chinese tea was a nice treat, as well.

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tesseract

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Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
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Proof that show conditions are not necessarily an optimal way to hear gear, the Kyron Audio room, even though the room dimensions seemed OK, the fabulous DEQX correction was employed, and a cool visual was up front to draw the listener's attention forward, audio focus was lacking. No real central imaging, sound not detached from the speakers like we like to hear.

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tesseract

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Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
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I was on the way to my car and stopped by here for a quick listen that turned extended.

"Bardot" by Dave Douglas gave a spectacular, mid-hall seating perspective, the horn player etched into place, conveying each percussion hit as the instrumentalist worked his way around the kit.

Moving on to Billy Cobham "Taurian Matador" brought me "closer" to the stage for a front row perspective the sound now extending beyond the left/right speakers just a bit, while retaining focus inbetween.

Rockport Technology speakers, aided by Constellation Audio electronics and the Continuum TT, is everything you've heard about.

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tesseract

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JTR NOESIS 210 RT - L/R mains
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Chase SHO-10 - Center
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Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
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Vizio E550VL
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h/k TC35C/Ortofon Super OM10/Pro-Ject Phono Box S
The latest iteration of the venerable 600 Series, this being the 607 monitor, was shown in the B&W/Rotel room. Apple iTunes lossless served the $1500 RA-1570 integrated amplifier. Listening to a couple of tracks revealed the 600-signature bite in the upper mids with nice heft in the lower registers.

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tesseract

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Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
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The Amphion Loudspeakers/Benchmark Media room had a nice smooth sound, small in scale, good for nearfield listening.

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tesseract

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I love simplicity in a 2 channel system, which is exactly what we get here. Hegel CD player and integrated amplifier into the Triton Reference loudspeakers. Add some well-placed room treatments and BINGO, high fidelity realized!

While the entire system is simple, the Triton Reference with multiple drivers is not. Few people can homogenize drivers into one cohesive speaker like Sandy Gross can. Well done!

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tesseract

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Front Speakers
JTR NOESIS 210 RT - L/R mains
Center Channel Speaker
Chase SHO-10 - Center
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Chase PRO-10 - Surrounds
Subwoofers
Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
Video Display Device
Vizio E550VL
Other Equipment
h/k TC35C/Ortofon Super OM10/Pro-Ject Phono Box S
Walking by this room, the bass coming from within stopped me in my tracks. I popped in for a quick listen, surprised by the Dali Callisto speaker's toe-out (which more people should know can actually help in some cases). I had to ask if there was a subwoofer, such was the bass from these small, powered towers. When I asked, the exhibitor swiped his finger across the top of the right speaker, reducing the volume. He then tapped the front middle and paused the music. Amazing! You can control the Dali Sound Hub from the speaker this way, through the front panel, the remote or a phone app. Entire system cost is $5750.

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tesseract

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Chase SHO-10 - Center
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Chase PRO-10 - Surrounds
Subwoofers
Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
Video Display Device
Vizio E550VL
Other Equipment
h/k TC35C/Ortofon Super OM10/Pro-Ject Phono Box S
Simple is good, a continuing theme with the best sounding systems. Here we have BMS 281 and coaxial 5CN160 drivers with Marani 2-way plate amps loaded into Magpie Soeakers cabinets, BMS 12N630 subwoofer and PDF-500P plate, also loaded into a Magpie cabinet. An excellent, cohesive nearfield system.

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tesseract

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Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
Video Display Device
Vizio E550VL
Other Equipment
h/k TC35C/Ortofon Super OM10/Pro-Ject Phono Box S
I have not been a big fan of McIntosh arrays in the past. The electronics, sure, but not the speakers. Well, these speakers are a major improvement over the old with a better sense of scale. Still a bit large on the image sizes but it is a small room and I was sitting close. I do like these, the XRT 1.1 prototypes. The room correction system is fairly simple, it uses 120 filters, 12 per octave, and pulls down the peaks. It works, this is one the best sounding 2018 RMAF rooms I've been in.

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tesseract

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Dayton SA1000
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Sony BDP S590 & Pioneer DV-610AV
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JTR NOESIS 210 RT - L/R mains
Center Channel Speaker
Chase SHO-10 - Center
Surround Speakers
Chase PRO-10 - Surrounds
Subwoofers
Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
Video Display Device
Vizio E550VL
Other Equipment
h/k TC35C/Ortofon Super OM10/Pro-Ject Phono Box S
The ATC room was playing Tool "Vicarious", which drew me down the hall and into a chair. I got the Boss Chair soon after. I can see why ATC is a recording industry stalwart, hyper-detailed, as the following, well-recorded Fleetwood Mac track attested to.

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tesseract

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Dayton SA1000
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Sony BDP S590 & Pioneer DV-610AV
Front Speakers
JTR NOESIS 210 RT - L/R mains
Center Channel Speaker
Chase SHO-10 - Center
Surround Speakers
Chase PRO-10 - Surrounds
Subwoofers
Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
Video Display Device
Vizio E550VL
Other Equipment
h/k TC35C/Ortofon Super OM10/Pro-Ject Phono Box S
Whoa, OK! We got a new midrange monster in the Voxativ 9.87. Female vocals were jaw-dropping, riveting me to the chair.

The next song's male vocals were slightly strident, a recording artifact? I do not know, but the voice carved out its place in the soundfield, for sure, a good thing. The stringed instruments were well placed and tonally rendered. I'll say it again, Midrange Monsters!

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This midrange moxie was proven again across the hall in the Lyric-Audio room with the Voxativ The Zeth towers w/dual outboard woofers (included as part of the system), driven by the Lyric Ti 200 single-ended Class A integrated tube amp and Bryston BCD-3 disc spinner.

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tesseract

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Dayton SA1000
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Sony BDP S590 & Pioneer DV-610AV
Front Speakers
JTR NOESIS 210 RT - L/R mains
Center Channel Speaker
Chase SHO-10 - Center
Surround Speakers
Chase PRO-10 - Surrounds
Subwoofers
Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
Video Display Device
Vizio E550VL
Other Equipment
h/k TC35C/Ortofon Super OM10/Pro-Ject Phono Box S
I did not get an optimal seat here, full room and it was the end of the show day, but man, what a room-filling sound. This system got down and jammed hard. Those monitors get loud and have the presence of floorstanders.

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tesseract

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Messages
1,057
Location
Lincoln, NE
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Emotiva XMC-1
Main Amp
Emotiva XPA-2 Gen 2
Additional Amp
Emotiva XPA-3 Gen 2
Other Amp
Dayton SA1000
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Sony BDP S590 & Pioneer DV-610AV
Front Speakers
JTR NOESIS 210 RT - L/R mains
Center Channel Speaker
Chase SHO-10 - Center
Surround Speakers
Chase PRO-10 - Surrounds
Subwoofers
Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
Video Display Device
Vizio E550VL
Other Equipment
h/k TC35C/Ortofon Super OM10/Pro-Ject Phono Box S
Good morning, AV NIRVANA! We'll kick off the last day of the show with an exhibit by Dragonfire Acoustics.

The system comprises of a 4 channel amplifier, planar magnetic satellites and an 8" subwoofer. Nice, detailed sound, these will make great tools for producing music and would be a grand desktop music system.

These guys were smart enough the utilize a miniDSP UMIK-1 and Room EQ Wizard to optimize the setup, the polish is then put on with a miniDSP DDRC-24 w/Dirac Live. Dragonfire is working with Dirac to get a plug-in for the Dragonfire amplifier which will integrate the software directly into the amp.

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tesseract

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Messages
1,057
Location
Lincoln, NE
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Emotiva XMC-1
Main Amp
Emotiva XPA-2 Gen 2
Additional Amp
Emotiva XPA-3 Gen 2
Other Amp
Dayton SA1000
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Sony BDP S590 & Pioneer DV-610AV
Front Speakers
JTR NOESIS 210 RT - L/R mains
Center Channel Speaker
Chase SHO-10 - Center
Surround Speakers
Chase PRO-10 - Surrounds
Subwoofers
Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
Video Display Device
Vizio E550VL
Other Equipment
h/k TC35C/Ortofon Super OM10/Pro-Ject Phono Box S
Check out the front wall, that is where the action is happening, such is the depth of the soundfield in this room. I have always enjoyed the Harbeth sound and don't mind saying that I enjoy vinyl, as well. The Acoustic Signature TT and cartridge and Vinnie Rossi electronics kept the Harbeths well fed.

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tesseract

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Messages
1,057
Location
Lincoln, NE
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Emotiva XMC-1
Main Amp
Emotiva XPA-2 Gen 2
Additional Amp
Emotiva XPA-3 Gen 2
Other Amp
Dayton SA1000
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Sony BDP S590 & Pioneer DV-610AV
Front Speakers
JTR NOESIS 210 RT - L/R mains
Center Channel Speaker
Chase SHO-10 - Center
Surround Speakers
Chase PRO-10 - Surrounds
Subwoofers
Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
Video Display Device
Vizio E550VL
Other Equipment
h/k TC35C/Ortofon Super OM10/Pro-Ject Phono Box S
Another relaxed, laid back-type of audio experience, the Salk-signature sound was found in Room * with the Salk Stream feeding Schitt electronics. Paying attention to room acoustics pad off for this savvy company, as well.

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tesseract

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Messages
1,057
Location
Lincoln, NE
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Emotiva XMC-1
Main Amp
Emotiva XPA-2 Gen 2
Additional Amp
Emotiva XPA-3 Gen 2
Other Amp
Dayton SA1000
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Sony BDP S590 & Pioneer DV-610AV
Front Speakers
JTR NOESIS 210 RT - L/R mains
Center Channel Speaker
Chase SHO-10 - Center
Surround Speakers
Chase PRO-10 - Surrounds
Subwoofers
Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
Video Display Device
Vizio E550VL
Other Equipment
h/k TC35C/Ortofon Super OM10/Pro-Ject Phono Box S
AudioKinesis and James Romeyn always have a novel acoustical trick up their sleeves for defeating room bugbears, using controlled directivity and upfiring, rear-stand mounted Space Generators for the highs (specular) and multiple subwoofer (4) to control bass room modes (modal).

The subs here have separate amps for the 2 left/front/rear and 2 right/front/rear each tilted 90 degrees from the other, 135 on one and 45 on the other. This 90 degree difference allows for optimal blending with the mains. It works completely


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tesseract

Senior Admin
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Messages
1,057
Location
Lincoln, NE
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Emotiva XMC-1
Main Amp
Emotiva XPA-2 Gen 2
Additional Amp
Emotiva XPA-3 Gen 2
Other Amp
Dayton SA1000
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Sony BDP S590 & Pioneer DV-610AV
Front Speakers
JTR NOESIS 210 RT - L/R mains
Center Channel Speaker
Chase SHO-10 - Center
Surround Speakers
Chase PRO-10 - Surrounds
Subwoofers
Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
Video Display Device
Vizio E550VL
Other Equipment
h/k TC35C/Ortofon Super OM10/Pro-Ject Phono Box S
20181007_121523.jpg Punching well above its weight, the Crimson 275 handled the funky bass of Nils Lofgren but also treated human voice, male and female, with kid gloves. Feeding the speakers all they needed, allowing the Speaker Lab Super Seven loudspeakers to convey the performance of each, optimally and without restraint. The tubes stay cool enough that you can rest your hand on them.

The $2750 Bob Carver Company Crimson 275 comes with a 5 year warranty on the tubes.

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