ListenUp, the Rocky Mountain region’s premier audio/video/control systems integration company, hosted its annual Music Matters event April 25 and 26 at the company’s Denver showroom on 685 S. Pearl St. Music Matters is an annual celebration of recorded music and the products and technologies that make it sound better. With approximately 350 visitors over the two nights, this was the best attended Music Matters ever.
Geared to a wide range of music lovers — from those just wanting to improve the quality of their computer audio to dyed-in-the-wool audiophiles — Music Matters 2018 offered compelling demonstrations of cutting-edge speakers and electronics, as well as tips on how to get the most of streaming audio, hi-def audio files, and more.
The special guest was Robert Harley, editor-in-chief of The Absolute Sound, one of the world’s most respected magazines on high-performance audio. He’s also the author of The Complete Guide to High-End Audio, Introductory Guide to High-Performance Audio Systems, and Home Theater for Everyone, and has written more than 1,000 product reviews and articles on high-quality music reproduction. Harley was available to sign books and engage in one-on-one conversations about a wide variety of audio topics.
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 a unique electro-magnet woofer and offers 1,458 settings for the ultimate in customizable sound. The Utopias were driven by a pair of massive 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 some wonderful musical selections that let this $500,000+ system really shine.
Other Amazing Setups
Room A was home to the elegant Sonus faber II Cremonese loudspeakers, which have been accurately 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 brilliant 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.
Wireless Speakers and Headphones
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.
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Founded in 1972, ListenUp employs over 135 people, more than 40 percent of whom are in technical positions. Perhaps best known for project design/retail showrooms in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Albuquerque, NM, the company also has Commercial and E-Commerce divisions. ListenUp enjoys a reputation as one of the most influential independent consumer electronics dealers in the country, as evidenced by numerous industry accolades, including the 2018 Mark of Excellence Award for Multiroom A/V Project of the Year from the Consumer Technology Association and co-founder Walt Stinson’s 2009 induction into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame.