Capital Audiofest, Wrap-Up

On Saturday evening, right after Capital Audiofest closed for the day, everyone seemed to converge upon the hotel bar at the same time: myself, Gary Gill (Capital Audiofest), Mat Weisfeld (VPI Industries), Clarence Wheat (Hifilogic), Dave Cope (Audio Note UK), Robin Wyatt (Robyatt Audio), Myles Astor (Positive Feedback Online), Brian Zolner (Bricasti Designs), Jonathan Horwich (International Phonographic), and numberless others. It was the first time since the Heathrow Airport show of 1996 that I'd witnessed such a convivial mob—competition be damned.

While I was speaking with Gary Gill, an exhibitor approached and asked if would be too early to sign up for Capital Audiofest 2014; hearing this, another exhibitor expressed the very same thought.

At the midway point of the show's first day, I was inwardly concerned about what appeared to be moderately sparse attendance. The numbers picked up considerably by Day Two—yet even so, the majority of exhibitors with whom I spoke were delighted with the turnout. More than one expressed the feeling that, although the hotel corridors weren't jammed with bodies, the quality of the attendees, in terms of their interest in the gear being played, was markedly higher than usual. (And for all that, according to show manager Gill, this year's attendance surpassed that of CAF 2012.)

As for myself, in spite of eating one crabcake too many and getting far too little sleep, I had a thoroughly wonderful time. In addition to all the above, I enjoyed rare opportunities to lust over vintage gear, including . . .

A selection of original AR loudspeakers in the Audio by Van Alstine room.

An especially nice Thorens TD 124 in a custom-made mahogany plinth by Robert Lighton Audio.

Robin Wyatt's Gray turntable and tonearm (which I covet almost as much as his REL Precedent tuner).

Perhaps best of all, I added a few more titles to my record collection, thanks in part to Chris Hite of Clarion Records pictured in the heading photo (who wrote to me last evening, saying his business was up 50% compared to last year's show).

Capital Audiofest 2013 was, according to any sane standard, a success: Wild horses could not keep me away from CAF 2014.

Share | |
COMMENTS
jimtavegia's picture

I really like how well the cabinets on the vintavge AR speakers still look. And, the swell looking Gray TT with the not so low mass arm I'll bet still played vinly very well. 

jmsent's picture

Maybe you can define what a "sane standard" is.  I heard from a prominent exhibitor there that the attendance was pretty light. 

John Atkinson's picture

Great to see the late Richie Havens' "1983" LPs in the heading photo. This is one of my all-time favorite albums, and the only CD reissue seems to have been made from an LP rather than from the master tapes.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

Audio Legend's picture

Richie Havens was a true artist. He is missed.

Suggest you purchase High Flyin' Bird: The Verve Forecast years.

It contains the first three albums mastered from the original tapes. Sounds amazing.

http://www.allmusic.com/album/high-flyin-bird-the-verve-forecast-years-mw0001358192

John Atkinson's picture

Audio Legend wrote:
Richie Havens was a true artist. He is missed.

Yes indeed. I only saw him live once, at the Hyde Park, London Blind Faith concert, but he played with extraordinary power.

Audio Legend wrote:
Suggest you purchase High Flyin' Bird: The Verve Forecast years.

It contains the first three albums mastered from the original tapes. Sounds amazing.

I'll  get it right away.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

Audio Legend's picture

FY.I..archived  and mastered at 96/24 from the original analog masters by the talented Suha Gur.

1983 never sounded so good.

I had the honor and privelege of seeing Richie on numerous occasions and meeting him several times. As you said, a powerful presence.

Enjoy the two disc set, it is has been constant rotation recently.

AL.

Audio Legend's picture

John, as a Richie havens fan, may I suggest a stunning new talent from the U.K. named Michael Kiwanuka. 

Joseph Cohen's picture

In 1967 I was studying sitar with Nikhil Banerjee at the American Society for Eastern Arts in Berkely, CA. Ali Akbar Khan was in residence as were the great South Indian musicians Ranganathan and Vishvanathan and the great dancer Bala Saraswati. It would be three years before Zakir Hussain made his first trip to America. Classes were held that summer in a frat house on Dwight way. It was the summer of love.

One day I came out on the front porch during a break in classes and there was this tall dude wearing jeans and a kurta furiously playing guitar and singing. I remember feeling a certain amount of disdain looking at his left hand which was only forming bar chords. It was Richie Havens.

He may not have been the world's best guitarist, but he had tons of soul and a unique sound.

Audio Legend's picture

Wow. What a story. I would love to hav been around at that time, a magical point in history.

BTW, although Havens technique was unorthddox, he was highly competent and essentially a man orchestra with a guitar.

Et Quelle's picture

That's good that you guys like the quality even if the quantity sucks. Adversely, there were tons of patrons on the vinyl. The best place to be. I bet those Thorens are nice. I even bought the stock cartridge that they put on new Thorens, AT95e

pwf2739's picture

It was nice seeing the AR speakers and the other vintage gear in the Van Alstine room. Seeing them certainly brought back some memories.

In 1974 I had finally saved enough money to buy a Marantz Model 1040 integrated amp (back when Saul was still around), a JVC turntable and a set of AR-7 speakers. This system took me through my last years in high school and into college. The fact that it survived the latter at all is a testament to the system's build quality. In fact, I still have the amp and the speakers and both still work just fine. Not too bad considering they both are 39 years old. Now if I could only find the turntable I could be in high school again... 

soundmine's picture

I accidentally fried a pair of a friend's ARs while testing my just completed assembly of a Heathkit AA-1800 amp and AP-1800 pre, waaaay back in 1980.

Eventually used the AA/AP-1800 combo to power another kit- Speakerlab 30s (used a Nestorovic woofer alignment); after getting my friend's ARs repaired, of course.  I'm not a fry 'em and leave 'em audiophile.

Audio Legend's picture

Thanks Art.

X
Enter your Stereophile.com username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.
Loading