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Capital Audiofest 2018

  • CAF 2018: Marc’s Wrap-Up

    December 22, 2018 // 4 Comments

    The last couple of months have been a blur. Just days after I joined the team at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional, I was off to Denver to cover the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. Then, just a few weeks later, I was driving down to Rockville, Maryland to cover the 2018 Capital Audiofest. Then I’d been home about a week before I headed out to San Diego to cover the debut of the Dan D’Agostino Relentless monoblock amplifiers and YG Acoustics Sonja XV speakers at Alma Audio. [...]
  • VPI Industries was in direct control, AudioShield had the room well protected, Krell and Wilson Audio tango with reference style, Soundsmith and Lyra go head-to-head, Nordost throws a lasso around the crowd. The Story Twice as impressive as one, there were two of the new VPI Industries HW-40 direct drive turntables on hand. Each equipped with a JWM-12 “Fatboy” tonearm, which is included in the price of the HW-40 turntable, and is standard. The HW-40 has benefitted from forty years of [...]
  • I’ve been waiting to meet (and listen) with Jeff Wells of Wells Audio for some time. The electronics created by Mr. Wells, are scary good with familiar pairings from Daedalus Audio, LampizatOr, and WyWires. The Story Lou Hinkley is the founder of Daedalus Audio, and he urged me on Thursday of the show to be sure to check out his room with Wells Audio, LampizatOr and WyWires. I told him it was already part of my pre-show plan. I bet most of you didn’t even know there was a “Thursday of the [...]
  • This is a system I could listen to every day and twice on Sundays. Which is exactly what I did at Capital Audiofest. On Friday, I poked my head in for a listen, Saturday, much of the same. Sunday morning I was there first thing to gather some final impressions of the system and snap some photos when I was called away for an urgent show-going responsibility. So I finally return on for my “twice” listen on Sunday, along with some photos — and I am noticing as the show is winding down, that [...]
  • Tenacious Sound, one of my old dealers out of Syracuse, New York, has been busy expanding over the last couple of years–owner Shayne Tenace has moved his base of operation into Augusta, Georgia and has just purchased a store in Jacksonville, Florida. Shayne teamed with industry stalwarts such as Jonathan Derda from MoFi and Lenny Mayeux from Audience to make a big presence at the 2018 Cap[ital Audiofest. Tenacious Sound had a total of eight systems set up in four separate rooms, covering [...]
  • Klaus Bunge of Odyssey Audio is a one man circus of personality, high-end sound, and high-end value. Together with VPI Industries, and Symphonic Line we get a healthy dose of what might be Klaus’ highest-end speaker achievement yet. Don’t worry, the value aspect remains the same. The Story Entering the darkest room of the show, I “marco-polo” my way over to Klaus. We talk a bit and he offers to give me center seat, and fire up a few records that we’ve heard before last [...]
  • It became a running joke after a while. I’d be walking the halls at the 2018 Capital Audiofest, I’d look up and Fritz would be standing there or walking by or coming out of a room. By Fritz, I mean John “Fritz” Heiler of Fritz Loudspeakers. I’d met him at a few times over the years, mostly at audio shows, but never in a room where his speakers were being shown. It was always in an elevator, or in someone else’s room. At CAF, we sat across from each other at [...]
  • At the 2018 Capital Audiofest, the gentleman in the Paradigm/Anthem room had it all figured out. He had the simplest of systems in his exhibit—the Anthem STR integrated amplifier ($4500) hooked up to a pair of Paradigm Persona 5F tower loudspeakers ($17,000/pair), streaming tunes via Qobuz. He could have packed it all in the smallest of cars—just move up the passenger seat for the 5F boxes, perhaps—and drove down to the Capital Audiofest without breaking a sweat. Simpler Is Better [...]
  • Sound Insight made the subs, GT Audio Works made the speakers, Pass Labs made gobs of power, Semper Sonus provides the mechanical wizardry, Esoteric and Vu Jade Audio kept things nice and dark, while Triode Wire Labs and ATS Acoustics kept everything in check. The Story Sound Insight is a New York state dealer with two showrooms in Long Island; one in Massapequa, and the other in Huntington. Here at Capital Audiofest, stood one of the companies greatest contributions to hi-fi. The GT Audio [...]
  • Zu Audio brings two pairs, Mytek Digital amplifies the Brooklyn sound, MoFi Electronics spins wax, and HiFi Logic takes us on a musical journey. The Story Koby Koranteng of HiFi Logic was on hand to play record selector, and guide throughout our musical journey. Koby is famous for breaking down the history behind the grooves. His enthusiastic presentation was as enjoyable as the records selected and played. Wind him up, and let him go. You’ll have a good time. Our journey of sound, took us on [...]
  • The Vinyl Revivers bring value to the game, MyTek brings a big apple, Accuphase reminds me of my childhood, and Sonner Audio definitely is the all joining smooth one. The Story The Vinyl Revivers is a passion project created by Russ Katz. Russ is a music lover, whose passion for involved listening runs deep. Delving into his childhood experiences of listening to music of all genres with his father and mother, his devotion to good sound and attentive listening experiences show through in his [...]
  • Fritz Speakers prove their versatility, ModWright Instruments exhibits choice sound, Fern & Roby spin a few tunes, and Zu Audio ties it all together. The Story The Fritz speakers are quite legendary in online audio forums, and even specifically among our review staff. John Richardson recently reviewed the Fritz Carrera 7 BE monitors, and by the end of it all Fritz Speakers walked away with an Editor’s Choice Award. So I was excited to add the Fritz / ModWright room to my list of show [...]
  • My first encounter with Vanatoo self-powered speaker systems began here at Capital Audiofest 2014, of which we shall all do our best to forget that was well before my Part-Time Audiophile days, and near the end of my “mobile saloon” days. For the proper story on that, see Mark Sossa of Well Pleased A|V. The Story Back to the self-powered speakers. Originally I heard a pair of Vanatoo speakers and I was wowed at how large they sounded. Clean and clear bass, smooth treble, and imaging you [...]
  • The Conion C-100F is a Japanese made Stereo 4-band FM/AM Tuner, Double Cassette Recorder Boombox. At nearly 30” wide, 16” tall, 8” deep and weighing 22lbs, this is a boombox of gargantuan size, with booming sonics, and dripping with deliciously gaudy ‘80s swag. Produced in the early 1980’s by a sub-company of the Coney Onkyo Corporation of Japan, the C-100F has been seen on (or in) everything from album covers, to music videos, and more recently — clothing. During the early [...]
  • “We’re going to start off Saturday morning with some RAWK!” Mornings at high-end audio shows, at least the first hour or so, are usually dedicated to quieter music. The hallways haven’t quite filled up yet, and many of the exhibitors are still nursing hangovers from partying the night before. Okay, maybe I’m generalizing here, or at least bringing a few too many of my personal experiences into it. But heavy metal at 10am? Kick Out the Jams KEF (website), along with the folks at The [...]
  • When Eric Franklin Shook and I arrived at the 2018 Capital Audiofest, we decided to mix up the coverage so that neither of us would be covering the same rooms as we did at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest just a few weeks before. I did regret that I wouldn’t have another shot at spending time with those Vimberg speakers from The Voice That Is, but I was relieved when I walked into the big Bricasti room and saw a drop-dead-gorgeous pair of Tidal Audio Contriva Diacera speakers. I knew I was in [...]
  • “I can’t tell you that much about the drivers—I still have two patents pending.” It was clear from first glance that the Apollo Speaker System from Arion Audio wasn’t using your typical woofers, tweeters or panels to make impressive sounds at the 2018 Capital Audio Fest. These tall, substantial towers were fitted with a vertical array of drivers that looked more like a bank of EMIT tweeters from some massive old pair of Infinity IRS Betas. The addition of a small pair of subs on [...]
  • Jim Fosgate is a name as well known in Hi-Fi circles as it is in the world of car audio, television, and movies. Jim is known for inventing the first car audio amplifier in 1973, and for founding Fosgate Electronics, which is now called Rockford Fosgate. His other project Fosgate Laboratories created something called Dolby Pro Logic II, which you might know as five channel surround sound, and for inventing Jim received a special Emmy. Jim was also the developer of one of the finest quadraphonic [...]
  • “Amphion is focusing more on the lifestyle aspect of their products,” Trevor Fedele said to me as I entered his exhibit room at the 2018 Capital Audiofest. Trevor is part of the sales and marketing team for this Finnish loudspeaker manufacturer—I think he may have been referring to my pleasant reaction to the beautiful lighting of the room, a layered glow that reminded me of a sunset on the west coast of somewhere gorgeous. Midnight at the Oasis Amphion has created a quiet little niche [...]
  • You may have already read about the great mystery in Room 323 at the Capital Audiofest from Eric Franklin Shook of PTA and David Blumenstein from Dagogo. These two audio scribes conducted a sonic experiment of sorts, borne from the idea that something in the sound of this system—Rogers Fidelity 34S1 amplifier and PA-1A phono stage, Harbeth 30.2 Anniversary loudspeakers, Acoustic Signature Double X turntable, Bel Canto DAC, Accusound cables and Wolf Audio music server—didn’t quite click. [...]
  • On the last morning of the Capital Audiofest, Gary Koh of Genesis Advanced Technologies sat next to me at breakfast in the hotel lobby. I’ve known Gary for a few years and I’m impressed with his technical prowess, especially when it comes to his fabulous speaker designs. “Stop by my room today,” he said to me. “There’s an amazing new technology I want you to hear.” Okay, I’ve heard many exhibitors say similar things, but Gary quickly added that this was not his technology, but [...]
  • I have an interesting history with both Raven Audio and Legacy Audio. Back when I lived in Texas, I’d travel up to the Lone Star Audio Fest which was held in Dallas every May. We even exhibited once or twice. LMAF is one of those small regional shows, mostly populated by the DIY crowd—you’ll see a lot of speaker prototypes that are still made from plywood cabinets, with a proud designer sitting nearby and gladly selling the schematics for very reasonable prices. Deep in the Heart of Texas [...]
  • At last month’s Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I asked a couple of audio buddies if they’d seen (well, heard) anything interesting at the show. Both of them immediately mentioned the fantastic open-baffle speakers from Spatial Audio, and how they sounded incredible for just four grand per pair. Hmmm, I thought, I’ll have to check them out. But I didn’t—and I was looking everywhere for them. It was the last day of the show, however, and I was tired and my eyes might have been on the blurry [...]
  • LinnenberG shows us that Ruhr valley sound, QLN gets our name right, Aqua Acoustic Quality goes all optological on us, Innuos gives us our moment of Zen, GigaWatt whips the power into shape, SGR HiFi Racks hold things up and yet still get us there on time, and Swiss Cables leave no holes in the signal. The Story The room could be best described; A seven brand volley of sound, from American “super-distributor” Mark Sossa at Well Pleased A|V. What Mark does to curate the best gear around is [...]
  • Old Forge Audio learns us about coming home, Wand shows us its magic powers, EMT lets loose the juice, Pure Audio shows us how to “push”, and Acapella Audio Arts sings like a church choir. The Story David Cope of Old Forge Audio has tried stepping away from two-channel audio. Maybe he thought it would be easy? At this moment in the story, feel free to take a few minutes and laugh at that thought. Okay, maybe after David retired from Audio Note UK in 2016, the decision to open a small [...]
  • TriangleArt exhibits a gold standard in Tube and Class-A solid state electronics, and Muraudio redefines the D’Appolito array. The Story Collaborating with TriangleArt, Muraudio Electrostatic Loudspeakers brought their lively sounding SP1 Point Source Electrostatic loudspeakers which are available in semi-gloss veneers and solid colors. However here at CAF 2018, they were on display in Muraudio’s signature SP1 Steller White High Gloss finish which is an additional $650 USD. The speakers are [...]
  • GamuT offers us a new reference for vibes, Pear Audio Blue offers a fruitful experience, Top Wing takes us flying with Blue Dragons, and Bob’s Devices give us a step-up both sonically and in mood. The Story The story here should be the sound, or maybe even the vibe. Laid back, welcoming, and riddled with brightness. Brightness not in sound, but in actual light. The room is dynamically hard to photograph for the background is overblown when the gear is exposed for, and the gear is bathed in [...]
  • Devore Fidelity is still monkeying around, Doshi Audio goes hybrid, and J. Sikora sets a new Standard. The Story Doshi Audio has grown into its commercial and critical success, achieving recent prominence in the high-end electronics community. Here at Capital Audiofest, Doshi Audio was showing off their current Tape Stage Preamplifier — universally considered the finest Tape Stage Preamplifier ever produced — in concert with their (Hybrid) Stereo Amplifier. This is Doshi’s first Hybrid [...]
  • The Audiophile Socialites | CAF 2018

    November 19, 2018 // 1 Comment

    A photographic narrative that parallels the typical show going experience, or in all likelihood is indistinguishable from it. There is no unequivocal way to gauge the probability of a social symmetry. Conversation There will always be members of the community or industry (which is sometimes both) who revel in tearing down the meaning of the things we: do, lust for, and react to. I am one of them, and I am not alone. Many times at audio shows there are great opportunities to engage with healthy [...]
  • Classic Audio Loudspeakers shows us Field Coils and Reel-to-Reel tape, Atma-Sphere brings the heat, Tri-Planar lends a strong arm, and Purist Audio Design takes us to Neptune — what’s not to like? The Story Once again, I’m seated in front of a Classic Audio Loudspeakers system, with the Atma-Sphere Novacron monoblock amplifiers lighting the way. Now for some history on the Novacron; originally introduced in 1991, the Novacron was the first US product to use the classic 6C33C Russian power [...]
  • Fern & Roby take us on a journey into the wide open bandwidth, while Linear Tube Audio rings in a new era for tube integrated amplifiers, Black Cat Cable crosses our path. The Story Sunday at an audio show is always a little bit slower, a little more relaxed, and a whole lot more “are we done yet?” Many of us on the press side are tying up loose ends, or returning to our favourite rooms to squeeze in another listen. I on the other hand am still clamoring to hear everything I can. Still, [...]
  • McGary Audio shows us what thirty watts can do, Salk Signature Sound gives us the BeAT, Exogal supplies the tunes, and AntiCables once again binds together one of the best sounding systems of the show. The Story “Blindsided”, is a word I used in my show report notes. I know the Salk Signature Sound… sound, but to me the SONG 3 BeAT loudspeaker is something extra special. The new SONG 3 BeAT features a single Satori beryllium tweeter (Be) mounted atop an Audio Technology (AT) 4″ [...]
  • I may have misspoke, or left a few of my earlier proclamations about the newest VIMBERG speakers less than acutely defined. If you are a listener of our Occasional Podcast, or reader of our little sister publication, then you may have heard me refer to the VIMBERG Mino loudspeakers as possibly the greatest bargain in hi-fi. To eat my own words for being less than accurate, the VIMBERG Mino loudspeakers are indeed not the greatest bargain in hi-fi. To be clear, they are the [...]
  • The most modest exhibit I witnessed at the 2018 Capital Audiofest was in one of the upstairs hallways where—I kid you not—someone had placed some brochures, a pile of business cards and a pair of interconnects on a window ledge. This is becoming common at high-end audio shows, where every nook and cranny is filled with a salesman and a folding table. I don’t know if this works or not, but I seldom pay attention to these people—until now. “You Can’t Grow a Plant In ‘Em” That’s [...]
  • CAF 2018: Just Audio and Our Glorious Past

    November 13, 2018 // 2 Comments

    All right, I’ll be honest. Seeing this exhibit might have made me pee in my pants just a little bit. Here I was, walking through all the exhibits in the downstairs atrium at the 2018 Capital Audiofest, and suddenly I was confronted with racks and racks of vintage audio gear—most notably a nearly pristine display of ‘70s receivers. I’ve mentioned this many times over the years, but I have a truly special place in my heart for old ‘70s AM/FM receivers from the Japanese electronic giants [...]
  • Part-Time Audiophile readers are probably already aware of our enthusiasm for the products of BorderPatrol and Volti Audio. Since I am new to the staff, I am also new to the distinctive and engaging sound accomplished by these two manufacturers. I did get a brief taste of the combo while visiting PTA publisher Scot Hull a few months ago—he was using BorderPatrol amplification and the new Volti Rival speakers in his main system. We were evaluating one of Lyn Stanley’s glorious reel-to-reel [...]
  • VPI Industries lends a hand and two tonearms, Luminous Audio Technology and PureAudioProject share a philosophy, and Soundsmith moves us — along with some iron. The Story VPI Industries was lending a hand to Luminous Audio Technology and PureAudioProject, by handling the analog section of the demonstration. Outfitted with a Grado cartridge (that I didn’t spend enough time listening to) and a Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC Star moving iron cartridge (which I spent too much time listening to) [...]
  • Each time I’ve visited the Von Schweikert rooms at hi-fi shows over the last few years, Damon Von Schweikert and Leif Swanson have upped the ante in terms of presentation, sound and most importantly, the WOW Factor. First of all, I’m not damning them with faint praise, as if back in the day their exhibit rooms were only so-so and they’ve gotten much better. No, we’re talking about a duo who wins award after award, best-in-shows, all the marbles. The fact that they keep outdoing [...]
  • CAF 2018: Must See Rooms, Saturday

    November 4, 2018 // 1 Comment

    There are over 1,000,000 brands exhibiting here at Capital Audiofest … okay, okay, — I don’t know how many brands exactly, but it does seem like a lot this year. Which makes 2018’s event feel every bit like the “premier show of North America’s eastern coast”, that we often claim it to be. Fear not, as the rag-tag band of misfits from Part-Time Audiophile are here to be your surrogate audio show guide. Here are some surefire rooms to get you started off on the right foot. Daedalus, [...]
  • CAF 2018: Must See Rooms, Friday

    November 3, 2018 // 2 Comments

      There are over 1,000,000 brands exhibiting here at Capital Audiofest … okay, okay, — I don’t know how many brands exactly, but it does seem like a lot this year. Which makes 2018’s event feel every bit like the “premier show of North America’s eastern coast”, that we often claim it to be. Fear not, as the rag-tag band of misfits from Part-Time Audiophile are here to be your surrogate audio show guide. Here are some surefire rooms to get you [...]
  • Capital Audiofest, Thanksgiving, and Christmas The shorter days, and darker nights of fall leave me cold. Gone is the light in my spirit that comes from sunny summer days. Every year I look forward to the warm electric glow of tube amplifiers that deck the halls of Capital Audiofest to restore, and sustain, my inner warmth during these cold months. I look forward to faces of friends that share my passion for music; a surrogate family of my choosing. I look forward to the family-like dinners [...]
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