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  • Capital Audiofest 2017: Fern & Roby

    March 4, 2018 // 0 Comments

    The Story Fern & Roby doesn’t really fit in with the current audiophile culture. I also don’t think they want to. That’s not to say they aren’t focused on creating the best sound they can. Given the chance to meet and listen to Christopher Hildebrand you will hear his soft spoken effusing of long hours in the shop refining and experimenting with materials and implementations of speaker components. On display is a full gambit of turntables and electronics crafted from high quality [...]
  • The Stories I’m not too worried about how late this show report is because Capital Audiofest feels just like yesterday’s breakfast. Along with the feeling that collective demonstrations from VPI Industries, Luminous Audio, and Pure Audio Project are in my mind giving us a brief look into the future. So despite this article seeming a bit of procrasturbation material, I remain firm with the feeling of being an early messenger to what aims these brands will achieve within new markets. [...]
  • Capital Audiofest 2017: CanMania Photo Tour

    January 23, 2018 // 1 Comment

    The Story The East Coast’s favourite audio show – Capital Audiofest – was host to 2017’s CanMania. This headphone show is in coordination with Headphone.Guru. CanMania brings together manufacturers, vendors, headphone and personal audio enthusiasts along with the audio industry press.  Sprawling large and wide across the Plaza ballroom, exhibitors have plenty of room and separation for show-goers to avoid the cluttering and lack of elbow room which is often the bane of many [...]
  • The Story When listening to music through headphones I do not feel like a spectator, I feel like one of the musicians. This feeling of being on stage and part of the performance takes me back to my days as a performer. The emotional response I have differs from the one I have  when listening to my stand up two-channel rig. However having the option to mix things up at home, certain artists and genres I prefer to listen to over headphones exclusively. You know when you want to play air-ukulele [...]
  • The Story Dennis Chern of Martin Logan is no stranger to the audio show circuit. I’ve been following his demonstration activity at dealer events since I was a wee lad in this hobby. Never a stranger to fun and good times, Dennis turned his exhibit room into a 5-channel bounce house of sound. Utilizing a trio of Martin Logan Impression ESL 11A’s in the front, and a svelte pair of EM-ESL X electrostatic towers functioning as rear surrounds, it’s the first entirely full range five channel [...]
  • The Story There are two types of people in this world: 1) Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data. 2) I say that because they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this article is a photo journal of the Capital Audio Fest Marketplace Fair nestled inside the Hilton atrium (and a few hallways). Many of these vendors travel the audio show circuit, carrying their wares all across the country. Many of the merchants specifically have also been present (and hustling) at Axpona and Rocky [...]
  • The Story Three times this year I’ve been compelled to linger in hotel room exhibits orchestrated by Burwell & Sons and Rogers High Fidelity. The first time being Axpona where I was drawn in by the classic look of the Burwell horns, but ended up staying way too long for what seemed like an endless supply of great sound no matter the source material. The second time being RMAF where I was drawn to their 65V-1 Class A 25 watt tube integrated that retails for a supremely affordable $4,000 [...]
  • The Story I ran to this room when I was told Classic Audio Loudspeakers would be demoing with the Atma-Sphere Novacron monoblock amplifiers. Originally introduced in 1991, the Novacron was the first US product to use the classic 6C33C Russian power triode. Twenty years later, Atma-Sphere is making the Novacron, now updated to Mk 3.3. A true brute in Class A tube terms, at only 60 watts. This was my first chance to hear them in the new form. The fine gentleman at Classic Audio Loudspeakers [...]
  • I’ve always looked forward to the involving sound in the Border Patrol room, so I made a note stop by early on Saturday morning for a good listen, well before the crowds took over.  This year, head Border Patrol agent Gary Dews had the usual suspects lined up and working hard.  These included the usual P21EXD stereo amplifier ($11,900 USD as shown) and his affordable but hard-hitting DAC ($995-$1,850 USD depending on configuration).  I’m used to Gary showing with the English Living Voice [...]
  • The Story A very unique room as Shindo and Auditorium 23 are not often seen at audio shows, so this weekend feels like a welcomed blessing. Also making a very rare appearance is J.C. Verdier which in some regards hasn’t been at a show in over 10 years. Their La Platine Nouvelle turntable was a remarkable piece of hifi gear to behold. Uncommon was its thread drive motor system and pressurized oil suspension for its 14kg platter. The Sound First on deck was Jennifer Warnes title track [...]
  • Hopping from room to room at this year’s Capital Audio Fest, it seemed that vintage audio redux remains quite the rage.  Nowhere was this trend more apparent than in the Robyatt Audio/Electrostatic Solutions room, which in recent years has always drawn a large and interested crowd. Again this year, Robyatt’s Robin Wyatt paired up with Kent McCollum of Electrostatic Solutions, otherwise known to me as “The Quad Guy.”  Together, these gentlemen know how to make some beautiful music come [...]
  • At the door to welcome me into the Joseph Audio room was Jeff Joseph himself, a top-tier designer of high-quality speakers and long-time audio show veteran.  Mr. Joseph has been around the block a few times, and as such tends to get great sound at shows.  This year was no exception, with Joseph showcasing his exquisite looking Perspective floor-standing speakers, retailing at $13,000 USD per pair.  Supplying the tunes was an old-school Studer reel-to-reel deck feeding a Doshi Audio [...]
  • The Story I’d like to emphasize that the TIDAL Camira DMC, the TIDAL Ferios amplifiers, and the TIDAL Cables, were all introduced earlier in May of this year. Many times these new products are overlooked by showgoers because we naturally tend to focus our attention on the beautiful TIDAL speakers. As it is in this case the Agoria speakers are nothing new. Doing my best not overlook these TIDAL electronics as they are so essential to the speakers performance, as without them could the speakers [...]
  • The Story Death, Taxes, and Good Sound from Well Pleased AV. Three things in life you can be assured of. I say this because in typical fashion Mark Sossa has brought us something new to gawk at and exhibited it with showstopping results. Namely his latest addition of Rethm loudspeakers. Mark was demoing a system of familiar electronics carried over from previous audio shows in 2017, and the new entry level Bhaava loudspeakers from Rethm. At the heart of the Bhaava tower is a retro 7” [...]
  • Capital Audiofest 2017: Dr Vinyl has the cure

    December 9, 2017 // 1 Comment

    The Story Meeting Bob of Bob’s Devices on Thursday in the atrium marketplace during setup hours I had a great time pestering Bob about his presence in the audio show circuit. Though I don’t often get to hear his product in demo rooms, he guided me towards hearing the Dr. Vinyl room where one of his famed step up transformers was in employ. Now on my shortlist of rooms to visit, I make my way in on Friday. Spartanly decorated, seating all along the long wall, and the system also along the [...]
  • The Story Damon Gramont had one of my favorite rooms at RMAF so I was excited to see what was up next from the offerings of Bricasti Design LTD. Nothing new in the system from RMAF, but a change in the speakers. Now with the familiar Tidal Contriva’s I am teased with expectations, only to have them all smashed. You think you have a bead on something. Be it a sound or systematic character, you build experiences, you collect the data, and nothing adds up. I guess it all becomes one of those, [...]
  • Local Washington DC company Linear Tube Audio (LTA) had a big presence at the show this year.  It seemed like every time I turned around, something of theirs was staring me down. Most notable was their dedicated room, in which a bevy of LTA amplification, together with the nifty Wolf Audio server and Mytek Manhattan 2 DAC, drove the super efficient Tekton Design Double Impact speakers to great heights. Also on hand just outside of CanJam was LTA’s Will Schneider holding court over an array [...]
  • I’ve always been intrigued at audio shows by Lou Hinkley’s Daedalus Audio, a custom speaker company located in the the chill Northwestern U.S.  Like other West Coast speaker builders (Sean Casey of Zu Audio comes to mind…), Lou strikes me as the kind who likes to do things his own way.  For starters, his speakers are constructed out of solid wood, as opposed to veneer-coated MDF or some funky space-age material.  As such, Hinkley’s woody creations often seem a cut above (ha, [...]
  • Capital Audiofest 2017: Zu Audio

    November 24, 2017 // 6 Comments

    Everyone, or so it seems, digs the Zu Audio room. Why? Well, it may have to do with the fact that it’s the least audiophile-like room at any high-end show. It’s always a refreshing mix of that company’s march-to-the-beat-of-a-different-drummer speakers, and the ambiance of something between a party and a mixing studio. Sure, the dual turntables playing into a sweet-looking Rupert Neve mixing console were eye candy enough, but the real stars of the show were speakers: a pair each of the [...]
  • Local Washington DC company Linear Tube Audio (LTA) had a big presence at the show this year. It seemed like every time I turned around, something of theirs was staring me down. Most notable was their dedicated room, in which a bevy of LTA amplification, together with the nifty Wolf Audio server and Mytek Manhattan 2 DAC, drove the super efficient Tekton Design Double Impact speakers to great heights. Also on hand just outside of CanJam was LTA’s Will Schneider holding court over an array of [...]
  • Capital Audiofest 2017: The Sunday Giveaways

    November 22, 2017 // 0 Comments

    Sponsors for the Capital Audiofest Sunday Giveaways: VPI Industries MarkAudio-SOTA PS Audio Luminous Audio Tenacious Sound Martin Logan Linear Tube Audio Teac US SoundLabs Rutherford Audio [...]
  • Capital Audiofest 2017: Odyssey chases the bull

    November 21, 2017 // 2 Comments

    The Story The story is value. Plain and simple. You have a total budget of $10k and you want all the magic and power you can get, then look no further and accept no substitutes. Klaus Bunge of Odyssey Audio has been on a crusade to eliminate what he calls the bullshit from the audiophile hobby for over a few decades now, and he shows no signs of slowing down, or relenting to the onslaught of value promising competitors that wash in and out like waves at on the beach, yet steady as a rock Klaus [...]
  • The Story “Trusting your ears can save you a lot of money.” That’s my version of an old audiophile chestnut. Today this philosophy was proven true by Shayne Tenace of Tenacious Sound. One of the best showcases at Capital Audiofest was a trio of Shayne’s rooms featuring varying levels of refinement and cost. The two rooms of lesser prerequisite financial means were directly in my crosshairs. Imagine just three components; a Naim All-in-One (streamer/DAC/amp), a pair of [...]
  • Capital Audiofest 2017: Old Meets New with EMIA

    November 14, 2017 // 0 Comments

    Meet EMIA Audio, an informal coupling of Experienced Music and Intact Audio (hence EMIA), two companies whose principals decided to informally join forces to make great music. Much of what these guys are doing involves melding older designs with newer technology. Their creations seem mainly to be bespoke, one-off pieces, focusing mainly on restoration and re-builds based on classic turntables and their accessories, as well as newly designed step-up transformers and phono stages. The EMIA room [...]
  • You never know what Merrill Wettasinge of Merrill Audio is going to come up with next.  One thing’s for sure, he always seems to pull out the big guns.  Heck, a few shows ago, he had his powerful Veritas amps driving a huge and super efficient pair of horns!  Go figure…  Anyhow, if you like big, powerful, room-filling sound, you can count on Merrill to deliver. This time around, Merrill and Dr. Laurence Borden of Distinctive Stereo had me well covered.  With Wettasinge’s awesome [...]
  • The Story You remember Technics right? The creators of many great mid-70s super-receivers and of course the ever iconic “DJ workhorse” the Technics SL-1200 direct drive turntable. Now a bit of trivia for you: Technics’ first product was a sealed two-way loudspeaker produced in the 1960s. I bet you wouldn’t have guessed that. I didn’t. I attained that information from Bill Voss directly, he is Technics’ business development manager for the U.S. market. Bill’s masterful [...]
  • The Story Listening to audio equipment all day, every day, for three days straight can get a little tiring. That is until you find yourself seated in front of a system, no longer listening to audio equipment, but instead listening once again to the music. Generating a lot of buzz during the show was the DSA room, featuring Dave MacPherson’s Studio Electric loudspeakers. In speaking with Dave we discussed the history of his design philosophy. Himself spending decades in the service of [...]
  • Back in 2016, Gary Gill of Capital Audiofest fame demonstrated his latest DIY creation: A Voxativ-based horn speaker, constructed of gelcoat fiberglass and birch 10-ply. At this time last year his horns were sans bass cabinet, however the audible progress was proving to be coming along well. Fast forward to Thursday afternoon at CAF 2017 and Gary’s horns are nowhere to be found at the show. Meeting up later that evening with a few manufacturing buddies, I asked “Did Gary pull his horn [...]
  • The Story This was probably the only room at Capital Audiofest that could have charged a “special exhibit” admission price during the show. The Audio Company brought to CAF what was arguably a room configured with a system many audiophiles might never experience in their real lives, either specifically or in terms of outright cost. So making it to an audio show near you to see rooms like this should be on your bucket list. Likely if you know someone who attended Capital Audio Fest this [...]
  • Capital Audiofest 2017: A Personal Preview

    November 1, 2017 // 0 Comments

    Capital Audiofest is intimate, and my favorite show for that reason. Not as large as some shows, but definitely of equal quality. Overall, things feel a little more laid back at CAF. People seem more willing to connect. Show goers can linger in rooms a little longer without the fear of missing out on other rooms. For me, it’s a better show going experience. Capital Audiofest begins Friday, November 3rd and runs through Sunday, November 5th. For more information please visit [...]