Capital Audiofest 2017: Tone Imports and Old Forge Studio keep us grounded


The Story

A very unique room as Shindo and Auditorium 23 are not often seen at audio shows, so this weekend feels like a welcomed blessing. Also making a very rare appearance is J.C. Verdier which in some regards hasn’t been at a show in over 10 years. Their La Platine Nouvelle turntable was a remarkable piece of hifi gear to behold. Uncommon was its thread drive motor system and pressurized oil suspension for its 14kg platter.


The Sound

First on deck was Jennifer Warnes title track “The Well” from The Well which features Doyle Bramhall Jr., who in my mind is one of the underrated musical geniuses of our the modern era. All manor of piano and strings were well supported and weighty. Jennifer’s voice was big and pronounced forward as it should be in this recording. Speaker positioning close to room boundaries without room treatments didn’t seem to affect the sound-staging. Engaging the material was as easy as anything at the show in the most endearing way. Obviously the A23 speaker is going to have its limits, but none of those omissions were to a fault. To be frank, this system ticked a slew of boxes for me. It did nothing wrong, and what it did, it did right. The speakers didn’t disappear from the room during our listening sessions, but I did for what seemed to be an hour.

Cassadó Suite for Solo Cello by Vincent Belanger from his album Pure Cello was downright heartbreaking. The emotion of the composition was carried through and presented palpably. This is why we listen to music. This is why it’s important. I left the room recharged.


The System

J.C Verdier La Platine Nouvelle Thread Drive Turntable ($8,995 USD)
EMT 997 Studio 12” Tonearm   ($5,495 USD)
EMT TSD75 SFL Low Output Moving Coil Cartridge ($2,100 USD)
Auditorium 23 EM SUT Step-Up Transformer ($2,200 USD)

AcousticPlan DriveMaster CD Transport ($4,750 USD)
AcousticPlan DigiMaster DAC ($4,750 USD)
AcousticPlan PowerMaster Power Supply ($2,000 USD)

Shindo Laboratory Aurieges Preamplifier w/ Phono ($5,495 USD)
Shindo Laboratory Montille CV391 Tube Amplifier ($6,995 USD)
Shindo Laboratory Mr T Isolation Power Conditioner ($2,200 USD)

Leben Audio CS-600  Tube Integrated Amplifier ($6,495 USD)
Leben Audio RS-30EQ Tube Phono Stage ($2,695 USD)

Auditorium 23 Homage 755a 8” Full Range Loudspeaker (in walnut $11,500 USD)
Falcon Acoustics LS3/5a ($2,995 pr USD)

Cables by Shindo Laboratory, Auditorium 23 – Interconnects in Shindo system are Shindo silver; the Leben System uses A23 copper. Speaker cables is A23 copper.

Box Furniture Heavy Duty Double Width Rack / 3 Shelves / Sapele ($4,750 USD)


  1. Yes. That’s a PTP Lenco with Schick arm and headshell. I have the 12″ version: they are fantastic. Also using the Leben CS600 into Harbeths.

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