DALLAS (PTA) — This year’s LONE STAR AUDIO FEST is already on course to be their best sounding, and most fun yet. Lots of great sounding rooms happening at this show, and the competition between them is fierce. Yes, this is one really laid-back and fun show, but the bragging rights remain. All rooms at LSAF 2019 are taking this whole sound thing as seriously as they take their beer selection.
Let’s start with the Must See Rooms of Lone Star Audio Fest 2019
Raven Audio is on a roll this year with their new loudspeakers and electronics. Even though this is the “biggest little audio show in Texas”, Raven Audio brought out the big guns with a three room, three system display. One room showing their Reference series towers with powered bass modules, another showing a budget system, and the last showing Raven and Tekton Design together again.
Volti Audio is paired this year with Raven Audio electronics, and for the first time I’ve really had the chance to sit down with Volti Audio founder and designer Greg Roberts. After listening to Greg, listening to Greg’s horn-loaded masterpieces, I’ve come to many exciting revelations about Volti Audio loudspeakers. They are indeed a thrilling window to the past, along with Greg being the future torch-bearer for that classic horn sound we remember so dearly.
Blowtorch Audio Werks
Blowtorch Audio Werks founder and chief designer Russ Gates is showing one of the most impressive loudspeakers at the show. Completed only a dozen hours before the show, Russ Gate’s new four-driver (active), two-driver (passive) tower loudspeaker brings the fun, dynamics and clarity that round out one uber-pleasing sound. Definitely a must see room, but also a must know guy in Russ.
π Pi Speakers
Based on the horn-loaded studio monitors of yore, Wayne Parham’s Pi Speakers take that traditional voicing and liven it up, along with the addition dual-flanking subwoofers, the system really turns up the fun levels. Wayne’s room sounds great, but also embodies the spirit of the show. Definitely a must “sit down, have a beer, and hang out all afternoon” type of room.
As much art as they are technology, pictures and words do not do the Selah Audio loudspeakers the justice they deserve. Based out of my home state in North Carolina, Selah Audio founder Rick Craig has nearly two decades of high-end speaker design and manufacturing under his belt. The finishing and cabinet work on these beauties that Rick Craig brought to this years Lone Star earn my vote for the prettiest girls at the ball. The stand-mount speakers finished in exotic cypress veneers are absolutely gorgeous and gargantuan. Though these “bookshelf” speakers only occupy the foot-print of medium to large tower speaker, photographs of them do not convey their awe inspiring girth. Definitely on my short list of rooms to revisit soon.
A Uilleam Audio, Mike Lundy is essentially a woodworking maven, who uses tested and proven open-source speaker designs to create not only a stunning pair of loudspeakers, but some of the best sounding speakers that real-world budgets can buy. His two-piece open-baffle system of MTM’s and sub-woofers really welded me to my seat. Large scale performance and dynamics that stir up my emotions and succeeded at making me question everything I know. Do visit Mike, and take a detailed tour of his highly resolving system.
Derek Skipworth’s showing of Norma Audio electronics and Rosso Fiorentino loudspeakers and Star Sound Technologies support systems, would have made my top-five list of AXPONA 2019 — had I made it to their room before the shows end. Thankfully I have a second chance to hear this show-stopping system at length over the Lone Star weekend. Everything about this room screams refinement and detail. If you want to set yourself up with an benchmark sound at the show, start with this Audio Thesis room.
Gunawan ‘Gunny’ Surya, in partnership with Derek Skipworth’s Audio Thesis, assembled one of the most impressive showings with Sonner Audio speakers. Having heard Sonner Audio’s Legato Unum ($4,750 USD) stand-mount speakers at Capital Audiofest last year, I was quite impressed by the brand. Having now heard the similar looking Sonner Audio Allegro Unum ($9,990 USD) stand-mount speakers here at Lone Star Audio Fest, I am more than impressed, I’m blown away. Speakers of the same brand and lineage usually suffer from diminishing returns as you up the ante, but at double the price of the Legato Unum, the Allegro Unum delivers double the sound. Possibly earning a spot in the conversation of high-end monitors that include names like Joseph Audio.
Steven Solazzo is running double-duty at Lone Star Audio Fest, as he is not only the owner of Stereo Clarity, he’s a part of the audio festival’s organizers. Using a custom built one-box media server and amplifier, Stereo Clarity was keeping me glued to the center seat, strolling through the streaming services for more than a dozen songs. Most impressive was Steven’s MTM w/Sub configured tower speakers. Ridiculously good levels of Steven’s dual sub-woofer goodness filled the room and atrium hallways.