Capital Audiofest 2017: Fern & Roby

The Story

Fern & Roby doesn’t really fit in with the current audiophile culture. I also don’t think they want to. That’s not to say they aren’t focused on creating the best sound they can. Given the chance to meet and listen to Christopher Hildebrand you will hear his soft spoken effusing of long hours in the shop refining and experimenting with materials and implementations of speaker components. On display is a full gambit of turntables and electronics crafted from high quality but rustic looking materials. If I didn’t know what I was looking at I’d guess the lot of it to be military surplus. This Capital Audiofest weekend we are in for something extra special. Paper cones and horns (two of my favorite things).

The Sound

The Tower: Something special is going on with this driver and I’m glad to hear it’s type in a non-horn loading. It’s smooth as butter, and giving me something that feels like vintage. It’s hard to pinpoint, but this tower sounds like nothing else at the show. It’s superbly lovable. Not the end all be all in detail, nor does it take one road over another in terms of warmth vs brightness. It feels like foreign food. I like them a lot for being clean and concise.


The Horn: As one listener put it, “I’m not feeling it, I can hear the horns.” To which everyone else in the room cut a puzzled face. My internal monologue came forward, “But, that’s the point.” I loved the horny sound. Two simple and closely related drivers moving very quickly and with the horn producing exactly what my four return visits needed — cohesion. During a late night listening session listening to “After You’re Gone” on Dinah Washington Sings Bessie Smith, I was treated to more than I expected in terms of bass. Usually from my experience horns need a lot of underpinning in the lower registers to keep up with the way horns can project their efficiency to the listener. This was happening and at good volumes.

The System

The Montrose Turntable
w/ Fern & Roby Uni-Pivot Tonearm and Onboard Maverick Phono Preamp

The Montrose Heirloom Turntable
w/ Schröder CB Tonearm by Thrax and Onboard Maverick Phone Preamp

The Tredegar Reference Turntable
w/ Schröder Reverence SQ Tonearm and Outboard F&R Maverick Phono Preamp

Linear Tube Audio “The New MicroZOTL Preamplifier”


Black Cat Cable