Capital Audiofest Friday Highlights | CAF 2019

It was fairly difficult to come up with Capital Audiofest Friday Highlights, and not for a bad reason. I don’t like to judge rooms on sound on the first day of the show–it takes at least one show day to work out the bugs and have everything broken in–but I heard so many great systems of Friday that it’s tough to make a list without getting into great detail. Those details come later in something called a “show report.”

Tenacious Sound
Capital Audiofest 2019 brought to you in part by Tenacious Sound.
Verdant Audio
Capital Audiofest 2019 brought to you in part by Verdant Audio!

In fact, my Capital Audiofest Friday Highlights include a few surprises. I’m not going to go on and on about the usual suspects, companies such as Von Schweikert and VAC and Vinnie Rossi that have high-end audio shows dialed in to the nth degree. I visit those rooms, and they were all magnificent. But let me start my Capital Audiofest Friday Highlights with a few newcomers.

First up is Perfect8 and Ypsilon. I first heard Perfect8 speakers a few years ago on the recommendation of Peter Brueninger of A/V Showrooms. Those speakers were glass cubes, roughly a cubic foot, and they cost $70,000 a pair–undoubtedly a tough sale. But there was something about that incredible holographic soundstage that sucked you in like nothing else. Now the Perfect8 speakers look a little more sophisticated (two woofers instead of one), and they possess the same magic. But now, the price is…$20,000/pair. ($35,000 with subwoofer.) The sound was still deep and enveloping, but with greater focus than before.

My vote for the sexiest, most beautiful presentation for the Capital Audiofest Friday Highlights goes to the Odyssey room which also featured Magnan Cables and Symphonic Line. The room was dark, gorgeously decorated and candlelit. If you need a place to make out with your honey, this is your best bet. And the sound? What an amazing and exceptionally wide soundstage!

David Cope of Old Forge Studios came up with an intriguing system featuring his usuals–The Wand, Pureaudio, Luna Cables and a Vinnie Rossi L2 preamp, hooked up to a wonderful canoe-shaped loudspeaker from Switzerland called Sound/Kaos. Everything about this system sounded immediately right–my kind of sound in a nutshell.

Speaking of places to get comfy, check out the huge Audio Federation room featuring Acapella and Audio Note. The ballroom was filled with cushy sofas and plush chairs. The always kind and wonderful Neli Davis told me I could hang out whenever I wanted to write, listen to music or just hang out. And yes, the sound of those huge Acapella Campanile 2s was magnificent.

One more newbie for my Capital Audiofest Friday Highlights–VKMusic, AER, Elekit, Sunvalley and Sparkler Audio. I was intrigued with Sparkler Audio since we reviewed their CD player and integrated. With those highly efficient (104 dB) AER speakers from Germany, this system was unusually pure-sounding and exceptionally immediate.

And now for the more familiar faces for my Capital Audiofest Friday Highlight–and it should start with Fern & Roby and ModWright Instruments. I just completed my review of the Ravens, so I got to hear them again along with the smaller Raven IIs, which I’ll be reviewing soon, along with a Montrose turntable. And see that equipment rack? I’m taking that home as well. Christopher Hildebrand and Dan Wright know how to make gear that speaks to your soul.

Vinnie Rossi brought the same system that won my Best Sound award at RMAF–his L2 Integrated, QLN speakers and Innuos Statement music server. The only change here was the Triode Wire Labs cabling. Same incredible soundstage, just everything i could possibly want sound-wise.

Command Performance AV tied for Best Sound at RMAF, but Jeff Fox brought a different system other than the J. Sikora turntables. This was based around DeVore Fidelity‘s awe-inspiring Orangutan References (a former Best Show winner for me) and the stunning new CL-1000 preamp from Luxman ($20,000) Look at the close-up of the Luxman’s 3-D faceplate–everything about this pre-amp is beautiful inside and out.

The final Capital Audiofest Friday Highlight, of course, was the Von Schweikert Audio/VAC room. This is another incredible seven-figure system that sets the bar for everyone else. I was honored to warm up the crowd for Greg Weaver‘s Ziggy Stardust presentation by spinning a few of my favorite LPs for a packed room. That was an incredibly fun start to what I hope is an exceptional show in DC.