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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jul 07, 2012 3 comments
Just nine days after Independence Day, the third annual Capital Audiofest unfurls its banner with the hope of life, liberty, and good sound for all. Scheduled for July 13–15 in the three-story Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rockville, MD, the show promises up to 40 exhibit rooms stocked with enough high-quality equipment to send Paul Revere galloping from port to post declaring, "The Audiophiles Are Coming!"

For a one-man effort that began with 14 or 15 rooms in a Rockville mansion, the Capital Audiofest has grown considerably in its short existence. An idea birthed at a party—a group of well-lubricated audiophiles, meeting for their annual post-CES bash at the home of Ijaz Kahn, sat around lamenting that there hadn't been an audio show in DC since the 1980s, and when they had finally sobered up, exactly one, Gary Gill, pictured above at last year's Show, found himself committed to following through–the Capital Audiofest has expanded into a major show that will draw upwards of 1500 eager attendees from as far as Canada, Florida, and the Midwest.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 17, 2012 14 comments
At Montreal's Salon Son et Image earlier this year, Peter McGrath of Wilson Audio (left in photo) found the pairing of the company's Sophia 3 loudspeaker ($18,000/pair) and VTL's MB-185 Series III, EL-34-based monoblocks ($15,000/pair) and VTL TL-5.5 preamp w/phono ($10,500) so felicitous that he proposed that he and VTL's Luke Manley (right in photo) revisit the coupling in the US. The opportunity arose at Music Lovers Audio in Berkeley, California, where a public afternoon demo on June 9, 2012 drew a large group of audiophiles who packed two large showrooms at the prestigious, well-appointed store.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 2 comments
One of the three rooms at T.H.E. Show created by Scott Walker Audio of Anaheim excelled in solid, grounded sound with a firm bottom and natural tonalities. Ah, don't we all long for a firm bottom and natural toning. But I digress. In this room, YG Acoustics paired its excellent Kipod II Signature loudspeaker ($49,000/pair) with Sim Audio's Moon Evolution 700i 175Wpc integrated amplifier ($13,000) and 650D CD player ($9000)—both products that have been highly praised in Stereophile's pages—and Synergistic Research's Galileo cables, PowerCell 10 SE (probably Mk.III), and full complement of Acoustic ART devices. The latter were doing an excellent job, because the two Kipod II's powered woofers were in firm control in a room that rendered many other speakers' bass boom city. "Beautiful triangle. . .wonderful midrange. . .good three-dimensionality" I wrote in my notes. I wasn't handed a price sheet for the Synergistic Research products, but the company makes its entire price list available online here.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
As someone who reviews speakers infrequently, and usually listens to floorstanders, I find the world of mini-monitors and bookshelf speakers confusing. There are so many different price points for the latter, with a pair of monitors listing for under $300 somehow meriting the same adjectives (at least from some reviewers) as those that cost 10, 20, and 30 times more. With FritzSpeakers, however, I have no question about quality.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 1 comments
Okay, I'm running out of clever titles, but NAD had no problem producing beautifully controlled, welcomingly sweet sound from its all-new Masters Digital Suite. The M50 Digital Music Player ($2500) and M52 Digital Music Vault ($2000), a combo that can stream, store and manage your digital music collection, was performing wonderfully with the M2 Direct Digital 250W digital-input amplifier ($6000 and a John Atkinson favorite), Tannoy Glenaire 10 loudspeakers ($7500/pair), and Synergistic Acoustic ART resonance control system.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
Duplicating the system that had me enthralled at AXPONA 2012 with its clear, warm, and deliciously color-saturated sonic canvas, Peter Ledermann of Soundsmith was showing four cartridges at THE Show. Chief among them was the still-new Sussuro Hyperion OCL ($7000) with its cactus spine CL assembly. Available in an OCL diamond profile for the same price, this baby comes with a 10-year warranty including diamond retipping. Nearby were the Sussurro ($4500) and Sussurro Paua ($3500).
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 1 comments
At the Irvine Hilton, T.H.E. Show Newport Beach offered hospitality suites from Sunny's Components, Positive Feedback Online, and the Los Angeles & Orange County Audio Society. Since the President of the latter is Bob Levi, the co-sponsor of T.H.E. Show, who not only thinks big and acts big, but also consistently delivers on his promises, the massive LA&OCAS commandeered two adjacent rooms on the fifth floor for its suite where Showgoers could chill out in a very effective manner.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
The first time I encountered the Napa Acoustic display at a show, I thought these little babies so adorable that I wanted to take all of them home so that our canine daughter, Daisy Mae Doven, would have a system of her own. But then I remembered that Daisy plays only one tune—"Get Da Bone"—and came to my senses.

Okay. I know what you're thinking. I'm an audiophile. I've never come to my senses. Touché.

Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 1 comments
Okay. I know what you're wondering. So do Jason and Lisa Stoddard, whose curiously named headphone amplifier and headphone DAC company celebrates its second anniversary on June 17. In fact, your curiosity is one of the reasons why Lisa is smiling so.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
Although Roger Sanders was not in the room when I finally got there on the third day, his "handcrafted in Colorado" electrostats were singing as if he were. In addition to the superb transparency that one expects from a good electrostat, the bass was not just convincing, but simply amazing. The sound was a bit sharp in the small room, and at one point, in an unfortunate performance of Puccini's "O mio babbino caro," distorted on top. Since I've not had either experience in previous auditions of Sanders electrostats, I have a hunch the distortion probably due to the mikes used to record this unsuited-for-the-role-of-Lauretta soprano. (I have a number of recordings from EMI that grow harsh and noisy on vocals due to the choice of microphones).

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