ListenUp, a Rocky Mountain region audio/video/control systems integration company hosted, Music Matters, an annual celebration of recorded music and the products and technologies that make it sound better at the its Denver showroom on 685 S. Pearl St. With approximately 350 visitors over the two nights, this was the most well attended Music Matters yet.
Geared to a wide range of music lovers, Music Matters 2018 offered compelling demonstrations of the latest speakers and electronics, as well as tips on how to get the most of streaming audio, hi-def audio files, and more.
ListenUp's newly remodeled high-end music area (Room I) was the home of a spectacular demonstration featuring the Focal Grande Utopia EM, a reference four-way floorstanding loudspeaker that utilizes an electro-magnet woofer and offers 1,458 settings. The Utopias were driven by a pair of MOON 888 monoblock amplifiers that each pump out 888 watts (into 8 ohms), along with a MOON 850P preamp and 780 streaming DAC. Romaine Vet, marketing product manager for Focal, and Costa Koulisakis, vice president of customer experience for MOON, put together musical selections put the $500,000-plus through its paces.
Room A was home to the Sonus faber II Cremonese loudspeakers, which have been described as "a work of art," both sonically and visually. Feeding the Il Cremonese was an array of McIntosh electronics, including MC611 monoblock amplifiers, C52 preamplifier, MCT450 SACD/CD transport and MT-5 turntable.
Marshall Currier and David Carr from NAD presented the world premiere of the M17v2 preamp/processor and M22v2 power amp in Room C, along with the M50.2 music player. This system was a prime example of high-performance sound at real-world prices.
Products from the Harman Luxury Group were featured in Room D, including Revel F228Be floorstanding speakers (with advanced beryllium tweeters) powered by a Mark Levinson 585.5 integrated amp and No. 515 turntable.
In Room E, attendees were treated to a sublime system with B&W 802 D3 speakers (featuring diamond tweeters) fed by Rotel electronics and augmented by a pair of REL Acoustics SHO S/5 subwoofers. This compelling demo was presented by John Hunter, REL's owner and chief designer, along with B&W's David Ellington and Kevin Wolff. Over the years, ListenUp has created numerous systems with B&W speakers and REL subs, and this demo showed why.
Roon is the new software for music lovers that looks at your music and finds photos, bios, reviews, lyrics, and concert dates, and makes connections between artists, composers, performers, conductors, and producers. Steve Silberman took attendees through demos of the software and Roon's new Nucleus music servers.
Bob Scranton from Cambridge Audio was on hand to unveil the company's new high-end Edge series components in Room H, including the Edge A integrated amp, Edge NQ preamp/network player, and the Edge W amplifier. An AudioQuest Niagara 7000 provided stat-of-the-art power conditioning, and the B&W 804 D3 speakers rounded out the system, which sounded simply stunning.
Larry McGough and Mitch Witten from SVS demonstrated the brand's new Prime Wireless speakers, which will be available in June. Unlike many lifestyle-oriented wireless models that are designed primarily for background music, the Prime Wireless includes two speakers for real stereo imaging. Witten was one of the designers of this product, so attendees really enjoyed his insights.
In the headphone area, Audeze's Evan Grimm provided great info and demos for their cutting-edge planar magnetic 'phones. High-performance models at a variety of price points from Focal, McIntosh, and Sony were also featured.