Seattle Odds and Ends | PAF 2023

seattle odds and ends

Since the Pacific Audio Fest was tiny compared to the Munich show, my Seattle Odds and Ends article will be considerably shorter than the one I wrote for High End 2023. (By the way, I’m just finishing up Vols. 7-9 of Munich Odds and Ends. Be patient.)

Words and Photos by Marc Phillips

The idea of Seattle Odds and Ends, of course, is merely telling you about rooms or displays that might not justify a complete and detailed show report on their own. That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a little love.

baun audio

These Baun speakers certainly deserve a little love. These speakers are designed by Benno Baun Meldgaard, who has been a designer for such high-end audio companies as The Gryphon, GamuT and Raidho. I first met Benno at the Munich show, where he was showing off the unique composite drivers that will be used in the Baun speakers.

seattle odds and ends

Here at the 2023 Pacific Audio Fest, Benno brought the Baun enclosures, which are also made from a composite material. This material is strong, just a little heavier than aluminum, and the composite woofers will have an extraordinary amount of excursion due to the stiffness of the material.

Everyone’s talking about Benno’s new speakers–which should debut later this year. Knowing Benno’s past track record as a speaker designer, audio reviewers are pushing and shoving to get into line to test these.

kirmuss audio

Another Seattle Odds and Ends entry: I met with Dr. Kirmuss of Kirmuss Audio to discuss a review–finally!–of his now famous record cleaning system. I first met Dr. Kirmuss years ago, when I really wanted an ultrasonic record cleaning machine and didn’t want to fork out $3,500+ for one. The Kirmuss Audio machine here was still less than $1,000, another show special, and now it’s my chance to find out if this is The One For Me.

seattle odds and ends

Dr. Kirmuss also brought along this tiny record player, with a small single-sized platter and a built-in tube amp. Using Pro-Ject and Ortofon parts, this cute machine also sounds quite nice, according to Dr. Kirmuss.


Next Seattle Odds and Ends item: Dr. Vinyl asked me to visit the Audio-Ultra room to hear the mighty Stromtank power conditioner–he wanted my opinion on its impact on the sound. Since the Stromtank can be switched on and off on the fly, the room was featuring A/B comparisons with and without the $27,500 Quantum 2500 Mk II.

This was trickier than I thought, because there was a five to eight second delay before the capacitors were fully engaged. I could see the unit being turned on and off out of the corner of my eye, but after the first couple of switches I hear nothing immediate. But once I knew about the delay, there it was, the far-from-subtle opening up of the soundstage as well as the increased clarity provided by the lowering of the noise floor. I’m leaving a more in-depth coverage of this room to Mohammed Samji, who is currently reviewing a Stromtank, which is why this is merely another Seattle Odds and Ends pick.


Here’s a photo of the Magico A1 monitors in the Audio-Ultra room, the same room that performed the Stromtank A/B comparisons. I though they sounded quite lovely for $9,800/pr, which is very modest for Magico. But these two images were all I could squeeze out of the room–hopefully Mohammed Samji did better, since he actually covered the room. (We’ll see, or not see.)

Seattle Odds and Ends, Rant Edition: So I don’t want to pick on this room, which really wasn’t that challenging to photograph. But I will tell you that three other rooms at PAF 2023 were so dark I couldn’t get a decent photo–even with my new Super Camera. In one case, I couldn’t capture the speaker drivers with a lamp from the room shining directly at the system from five feet away. One room in particular was so dark that the only thing I could see were the LED lights on the equipment. Can you say “tripping hazard”? Can you say “OSHA violation”? I walked right back out, and I really wanted to hear that system.

I know, I know. You’re all trying to create a mood, a darkened room, just as we audiophiles have in our homes. But I can’t see how you’re going to sell products if the show attendees can’t even see them.

seattle odds and ends

Finally, I have a handful of mysteries from my Seattle Odds and Ends files that need to be solved. For example, this guy. What’s with the beach ball? Is it a new audio tweak that improves imaging? Or is it some sort of health apparatus that keeps him alive? (I’m gonna feel real bad for bringing this up if that’s the case.) I did see him pass it to one of his buddies in another room, and that only deepens the mystery. Anyone know?

[Update–we have an explanation. See the comments section–Ed.]

focal naim

Before this next Seattle Odds and Ends image is discussed, I have to reiterate that I try hard to be woke and respectful every day of my life. So I won’t comment on this person’s attractiveness, or even the stunning red hair. I will only say that this person stood out in a crowd filled with audiophiles. This person was also moderately attentive and knowledgeable about audio, from what I overheard. And this person was accompanied by a photographer who kept taking shots of this person hugging big speakers and posing seductively, just like a professional model. WHO IS THIS PERSON? More importantly, would this person be interested in posing for the Headphones section of the next PTA Buyers Guide?

seattle odds and ends

For the last of the Seattle Odds and Ends, I have to ask the same question–who is this guy? I found him in the Cardas Throwback Lounge, shredding like a madman and asking the adoring crowd, “Is it live, or is it Memorex?” I couldn’t tell. Some mysteries weren’t meant to be solved, I guess.


  1. The fellow with the Mylar balloon is a deaf audiophile. He uses it to listen to the vibrations. I’ve seen him around Gig Harbor Audio and is a very knowledgeable listener. Pretty amazing story.

  2. The man holding a “beach ball” is deaf Audiophile Bob Lichtenberg. Bob currently owns Art Didley’s beloved Altec Lansing Flamenco loudspeakers. Lichtenberg, 64, is completely deaf and has learned to experience music by holding a Mylar balloon between his hands, using it to sense vibrations transmitted by larger speakers. Learn his story here:

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