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Just Around The Corner: Capital Audiofest 2013

KEF R Series

July 26-28th will see the Fourth Annual Capital Audiofest open up in downtown Silver Spring, just over the Maryland border (and a single Metro stop) from Washington, DC. That first Capital Audiofest was the first audio show I've ever attended and I haven't missed one since. Check out the coverage here on Part-Time Audiophile from 2011 and 2012! I even did a spot for Enjoy The Music on last year's show --- check that out, here.

I’ve been rather vocal for my support of the local audio show, and I maintain that it’s still the best thing to happen to audio’s high-end since Napster.

Why, you ask? To which I reply: come on — seriously? Fine — here you go:

It’s a chance for vendors to reach new customers. It’s a chance for customers to see and hear and interact with gear and manufacturers they might not otherwise have the chance to. And even if no one buys or sells a damn thing, it’s still an incredible marketing opportunity. Oh, and did I mention, it’s a party?

If you’re one of those sitting out the audio show circuit, you’re missing out!

  • If you’re a vendor or manufacturer, and complaining about the cost of these shows — get real. Doing one show is almost always cheaper than an ad-buy in a major magazine.
  • If you’re wondering where all the dealers got to — guess what? The good ones are here, at the show.
  • If you are a dealer and sitting on the sidelines because you “can’t make the numbers work” or “no one buys at a show” or “I have enough business already so there’s no reason for me to support the local audiophile community” — you’ll pardon me while I roll my eyes at you. Seriously. You’re counting the wrong beans. Again.
  • If you’re an audiophile and take a pass on the audio show circuit because … okay, I can’t think of a single reason why an audiophile would pass up on the carnivale that is an audio show. The chance to meet others with a similar mental kink (you are not alone …!) and then get to see and listen to all those amazing toys … well. Add to that the chance to rub elbows with designers and other “audio celebrities”, buy awesome music for cheap, and win free stuff … well and well again.

Seriously. What’s not to like? To all of you missing out: Times change. Get on board or get run over.

So, here we are a few weeks out from the next in line: Capital Audiofest. This show isn’t the zoo that RMAF or Newport are, and that’s probably a good thing. There’ll be time to visit each demo, actually hear what’s going on there, and take a moment to chat with the other folks. You’ll be able to hear your music — and discover new stuff. There’s always live music sprinkled liberally throughout the schedule. Oh, and don’t forget to that the best day for “good sound” is always on Sunday — with three days of playing and tinkering, that last day is the day to hit of any show. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

2010 United Home Audio setup, featuring MBL and some Phase tape decks

2010 Command Performance AV setup featuring Joseph Audio and Luxman

This year, show organizer Gary Gill has relocated the show to Silver Spring. This is just outside of DC, and a block from the DC Metro system, so if you’re coming from DC, it’s the Red Line. If you’re coming to the show, a few stops from Silver Spring takes you to the museums and the monuments. Wanna check out a concert? The Black Cat and the 930 Club are easily accessible, and are two primo destinations to catch headliners. And then there’s the food. As you know, I’m all about the food. Here’s some recommendations:

  • Crisfield’s Seafood is a hole-in-the-wall in the best possible sense and serves some truly outstanding local grub. This was a go-to growing up. And a go-to when my father was growing up. It’s effing legendary.
  • I’ve eaten at Ray’s The Classics once, before I moved out to the sticks, and it’s a nice treat. Great American food, a bit more expansive that the typical “steakhouse”, but the steaks are the keystone on the menu.
  • Mandalay was a weekly visit when I used to live nearby. Love that place.
  • Want a pub? Try the Quarry House. Da Marco, Santucci’s, Parkway and Woodside are all great delis. But if you’re up for ethnic food, Silver Spring is jammed full of delicious diversions. Check out Yelp here and here for some great recommendations. Urban Spoon has a similar listing, but check that out here.

From show organizer Gary Gill:

I am very excited about the new venue this year for several reasons: easy access by Metro Rail, urban setting with many nearby attractions, newly renovated hotel, inside the beltway location etc.

This year we are on track to have more rooms and vendors than last year so that means we will have more audio to see and listen to. The lobby and location is what initially attracted me since the Sheraton has recently renovated the hotel spending approximately $5 million and it looks spectacular. We plan to take advantage of the lobby with a few prime table vendors and lots of live music! The hotel also has more meeting/conference rooms than last years hotel so means that there will more rooms of mega-systems. This year’s show also will have more headphone related products as this seems to be the latest trend in the industry. One interesting thing about the rooms of the hotel is that they are slightly pie-shaped in that very few have parallel walls. The outer wall is slightly curved so that the outer wall is generally wider than the wall when you enter. Several vendors view it as potential for superior sound with no standing waves! We will see!

2011 Salk Signature Sound

2011 BorderPatrol with Living Voice UK

Gary continues:

My goal is to create the premier audio show on the east coast and hope to have similar models as other quality shows. I am humbled by the kind words and words of support from other audio show owners like Marjorie Baumert, Richard Beers and Steve Davis.

You should come to the CAF for several reasons: easy access especially by Metro Rail, central proximity to several population centers, many tourist attractions of the DC area, cost effective show for vendors, very few retailers in the area that has some of the best demographics in the country relating to disposable income etc.

The show being cost-effective is an easy way for budget minded vendors to get their feet wet at a chow and be well received. A few vendors got their feet wet with CAF including Border Patrol and Volti Audio and have now entered into the mainstream.

The CAF offers more live music than most other shows because I pride myself as a musician and music lover. Not only do I know what a real instrument sounds like but also like to hear that sound in my home. I hope that visitors have a chance to hear the real thing and then go listen to a quality system at the CAF and compare.

The CAF is like an extension of my personality and what I know to be in many audiophiles systems. Very few have all of the latest and greatest gear so tend to incorporate new, previous models and some DIY. Remember that many big name modern companies once started in a garage or basement and then became common names. Just because they don’t have huge advertising budgets doesn’t mean they don’t sound good!

2012 The Voice That Is showed TIDAL Audio

2012 Woo Audio showed a dozen headphone amplifiers

So, that’s about it for now. Hope you can make it! I’ll be donating a couple of my fancy new Part-Time Audiophile T-Shirts, so be sure to stick around for the end-of-day raffles. See you at the show!

1 Comment on Just Around The Corner: Capital Audiofest 2013

  1. I really hope the weather is good. We are showing but not in our own room this year so i dont have to bring a truck load of gear. If the weather looks good, the wife and I are going down on the bike for a day or two. Should be a nice ride.

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