My Capital Audiofest Saturday highlights really begin and end with the Von Schweikert and VAC room–I was in that room very late Friday night, woke up early feeling a bit rough, went back to the room to hear a little more music to start the day, and lo and behold I spent late Saturday night in the room as well listening to Greg Weaver’s annual DJing of some of his rare classic rock albums. Jonathan Derda of MoFi also brought us a tease of the upcoming Dire Straits remasters, and it floored the crowd. As Greg called it, “so much meat on the bone.” Indeed.
If my Capital Audiofest Saturday highlights stopped there, I could finish this up quickly and go back to sleep. But one more day of the show awaits, and then it’s time to drive home to Rochester.
I started of the day in the McGary Audio and Salk Sound room. I’ve listened to this system before, but there was something special about it first thing in the morning. The sound was warm and intimate and incredibly soothing, and it occurred to me that this is why we listen to tube amplification–it’s just restorative and refreshing. Absolutely gorgeous sound.
One of the biggest Capital Audio Saturday highlights revolved around one of my favorite things in high-end audio–the two-way stand-mounted monitor that surpasses all expectations. In this case it was Sonner Audio–Eric Franklin Shook is currently reviewing the smaller Legato Unum but I have my heart set on the top of the line Allegro Unum, which was still small but sounded so incredibly good.
Doug White from The Voice That Is! is a master of room set-up, and by now I feel familiar with his Tidal Audio-based systems. But this was another unexpected Capital Audiofest Saturday highlight–just walking into this incredible room and hearing music sound so real, so moving, so…well. everything. My gosh, that was a superb hour of my life.
Christopher Hildebrand of Fern & Roby was able to accommodate a 12″ arm on his Montrose turntable on Saturday by installing his custom arm extension, and he asked me to come back and listen. I thought the sound was great on Friday, but it jumped up a notch. The overall presentation was much fuller, with much deeper bass.
Finally, my buddy Shayne Tenace of Tenacious Sound asked me to visit his room after show hours to hear the new speakers from Fyne Audio. Do they remind you of classic Tannoys? That’s because Fyne Audio is made up of former Tannoy employees who wanted to keep the traditions while embracing the future. Big, warm, loud with plenty of visceral impact at a reasonable price, all made in Scotland.
That’s it for my Capital Audio Saturday highlights. One more day at the show, then I’m driving home and getting started on not only these show reports, but we’re finishing up our annual Buyer’s Guide for The Occasional!
We couldn’t have attended this show for the three days and not ventured into the VAC and Von Schweikert room. At my wife’s prompting (!) we walked in on Saturday afternoon and were very pleasantly greeted by a little Dark Side of the Moon. A refreshing change of pace, I thought, and found myself simply enjoying the sound. I stopped analyzing and critically listening and sweet spot searching and we simply dug it. At the end of side 2, the record was changed and an announcement ( more like a disclaimer) was made that the next cut was not something that they had listened to previously. I don’t know if they were referring to the medium or the medium on that system or what, but the unmistakable opening vocal harmonies of Bohemian Rhapsody began to play. I found a seat and was mesmerized by a cut of music that I have heard literally hundreds of times and have seen performed in concert by Freddy and Queen. Freddy was in the room that day, and save for a couple of “pops” and “clicks” reminding us of the source, you could not have convinced me otherwise.
Thank you Audio Company and Capital Audiofest for an amazing opportunity to see what’s possible and for the sheer emotion that coursed through that room at that time on that day.
ROOM WINNERS : Odyssey … Salk … Qln … Gingko … Alta … Spatial … Verdant … Wharfedale
SPEAKERS THAT SUCK : ELAC … KANTO … MAGICO … KEF … PARADIGM … TEKTON … TRIANGLE … LEGACY … ENDOW … CREDO
My take on the show, which I did enjoy: too many massive speakers .Do we need 12 foot tall $100G speakers? Played too loudly. Too many overly bright, ear bleeding speakers. Speakers that eschewed musicality for high-tech artificial audiophile impression. Fortunately there were rooms like the Zu room, where one could hang out and just enjoy music. I liked the less/known rooms where speaker designers, like Gingko, show their product without big corporate backing.There is good product here that gets overlooked. I guess a show like this let’s everyone hear (and see) for themselves.