CAS 2013: First Thoughts

The CAS4California Audio Show is my first “small” regional show. My previous adventures in audio show-going have been T.H.E. Show in Newport Beach, and the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, so the idea of attending a slightly less strenuous show was definitely appealing. To use a running analogy, 40+ rooms is still not quite a sprint, but possibly more like a 10k or a half marathon than a full-on marathon? Not that I’m doing much running this week, seeing as minor foot surgery has left me limping a bit (good timing on my part, no?).

Mal and I arrived at the Westin on Thursday afternoon to the usual Thursday flurry and contained chaos. Actually, not that much chaos; show organizer Constatine Soo was looking cool and calm in spite of the cell phone glued to his ear. My first impression as we made our way to our room was “Wow, this show is already sounding GOOD.” Set-up and warm-up was in full swing and I had to resist the urge to follow the music like Toucan Sam following his nose. It helped me to remember that set up was going on, which is second only to “there’s a ground loop, time to re-route the cables” on my list of Audiophile Things I Do Not Find Fun. “Kirsten, I’ll move the speaker two inches to the left, and you tell me how it sounds” is not my favorite. So instead, I dropped my stuff in our room and went in search of the bar. Time to peruse the room list.

It’s a great list of exhibitors, and one that’s bound to give attendees a pretty good sampling of what’s available in mid- to hi-end hi-fi. People always ask me before these things, “What are you looking forward to hearing?” and I always respond “All of it!”, which I’m aware sounds like a cop-out answer. But it’s true. Shows can be a weird, weird listening environment, and I love it when I get pleasantly surprised by a component or a system that hasn’t impressed me in the past. I always look forward to hearing old favorites, finding something new, and giving everything a good listen. At this show, I’m also lucky enough to have opportunity to hear great live music from Blue Coast Records’ recording artists, as well as the 2PM At CAS concern series: Friday brings the Steve McQuarry Jazz Quartet, and Saturday a string trio featuring musicians from the San Francisco Symphony. Not a bad way to spend the weekend!

[Kirsten and Mal are walking the aisles, stalking the halls, and still in search of a damn fine brew. In the meantime, enjoy some more of Kirsten’s photoblogging!– ed.]


  1. Captions would be nice… What kind of loudspeaker is that pretty slick wood cabinet with the smooth fine sexy wood horn on top?

  2. What kind of speaker is that… the pretty wood cabinet with the sexy slick wood horn?

  3. Great times!! I’ll be writing up Headmasters portion of the show and the headphone meet soon for PTA!! Covering everything from the Audeze closed-back prototype to listening to Pono!!

    KILLER article covering a show that had heart.

  4. Ahhh… HeadAmp *and* Woo Audio – definitely would’ve liked to demo both the Blue Hawaii and the WES head-to-head at the Capital Audio Fest… sadly was not to be. Hope you spent some quality time with both!

  5. Thanks for the kind words about my photos! They’re just iPhone pics, so the resolution isn’t very good (especially in rooms with low light) but it’s a good tease until the better ones go up.

    I should probably note that the band on the barge was actually at the Tonga Room, a tiki bar in SF. There was a fake rainstorm and they were playing “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” I’m afraid I can’t quite recommend this as an audiophile experience as such, but it was a lot fun!

  6. Do I see right that VOXATIV uses the bronze bell behind their speakers ? This is the most stupid device I have ever seen and heard (!) in a setup. It smears the sound and adds harshness like an acoustic Aural Exiter , maybe some people find this interesting , but it has no place in an audiophile setup. Apage Satanas !

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