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Herb Reichert Posted: Jul 26, 2014 2 comments
Stalking the halls to experience 38 rooms at Capital AudioFest in three days feels like trying to see the whole Smithsonian in one day. When I got back to my room tonight my ears were ringing from the rock-concert volume levels played in most rooms. My eyes were spinning from trying to read upside down name tags scribbled with Sharpies. But because I have been an exhibitor so many times, I remember that the most important thing I can do is recognize and respect the hope and effort (and money) all these exhibitors and organizers have invested.
Herb Reichert Posted: Jul 29, 2014 15 comments
Gary Gill of Sousahorn, plus Dave Slagle and Jeffrey Jackson of Emia Audio, combined to demonstrate some of that dissention and diversity in the Sousahorn room. Try to imagine a show so easy-rolling and human-scaled, that the organizer and hour-to-hour manager of the show—Gary Gill—can team up with his buddies and demonstrate one of his own products!
Herb Reichert Posted: Jul 27, 2014 11 comments
Hold an audio show in a hotel? VPI's Mat Weisfeld was snapped taking full advantage of the amenities and listening to music courtesy of VPI's new Nomad record player!

At the end of a long day of standing in halls and sneaking into converted bedrooms with little rows of chairs I find myself wondering—are there any other trade shows or hobby fairs that take place in the sleeping-rooms part of hotels? Certainly there are no others where so many are hoping so much—for a seat in the middle!

Herb Reichert Posted: Jul 27, 2014 8 comments
Most of the exhibitors at CAF are not big brandnames with factories employing more than 100 persons. Most are highly inspired and maximally driven "ma & pa" operations like Klaus Bunge's Odyssey Audio. What is unique about Klaus is that he appears to begin designing with a very clear idea of what he wants (precision, dynamics, and laser-clear soundstages). Starting with a cost-is-no-object design, Mr. Bunge distills it over and over making it simpler and less costly each step of the way.
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Herb Reichert Posted: Jan 15, 2015 1 comments
I am a sucker for the new breed of desktop "wireless" loudspeakers—when they look and sound as natural and dynamic as the new Audioengine B2 Premium Bluetooth loudspeaker, I can dance around, sing, dream on Bartok, or play air guitar while streaming Tidal or WFMU. You are invited!
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Herb Reichert Posted: Jan 15, 2015 9 comments
My experience with the new AudioQuest Nighthawk headphones ($599) was one of highest points of my CES adventure.
Herb Reichert Posted: Feb 05, 2015 11 comments
The more integrated amps I review, the more I want to tell manufacturers: Please, skip the DAC, omit the phono stage, lose the Bluetooth—just give me the best sound quality, and the most vivid, most transparent line stage and control center (with pre-out) you can design. Make sure this line stage has appropriate gain, and high input and low output impedances. Give me at least four balanced and single-ended inputs. Make sure the volume, balance, and tone controls are durable and degrade the sound as little as possible. That way, I can add a DAC, server, phono stage, or Bluetooth, of any quality level, any time I choose.
Herb Reichert Posted: Jul 29, 2014 4 comments
The sound Gary Dews was getting from the Border Patrol P21 push-pull 20W 300B amp ($12,750) driving the Living Voice Avatar loudspeakers ($11,850/pair) with Gary's own non-oversampling DAC ($9500) was lively, colorful, and unabashedly refined. When I got to Gary's room my head was spinning. Being a first-time show reporter had me revved up, forgetful and anxious. I felt like Mr. McGoo. The easy flow and gentle melodies in the Border Patrol room allowed me to breathe air, relax, and slip into a dreamy mood of peace and admiration.
Herb Reichert Posted: Jul 25, 2014 7 comments
It is really funny how a simple thing like what hat I am wearing can affect everything I see and hear. When I used to wear my audio show "visitor" hat—only a few rooms had good sound and the equipment all seemed overpriced. When I wore my "exhibitor" hat my room always had the best music and the best sound. Now, I am wearing my "reporter" hat and a little tag that says Stereophile at the Capital Audio Fest, which runs Friday through Sunday at the Silver Spring, Maryland, Sheraton and the first three rooms I visit have amazing sound. How can this be?
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Herb Reichert Posted: Jan 07, 2015 3 comments
It's been 12 years since I attended a CES in Sin City. The porn stars are gone, but the tube amps and turntables are still here. They are trending the same virtual realities as Pono, the new drones, and cars that drive themselves. The temperature back in New York is heading for the teens but in the lobby of the Venetian, I saw a 3-year old working a smart phone like an aging carny works a 3-card Monte on Beale Street—she was wearing some fancy pink headphones and a matching pink Beatles tee shirt. (Did I mention it was 67°F in front of the Venetian today, the lobby of which is pictured above?)

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