Capital Audiofest Starts Friday

The three-day Capital Audiofest runs July 8–10 at the Hilton Hotel at Twinbrook Metro in Rockville, MD. With new, noon–8 pm opening-day hours designed to accommodate 9-5ers eager to top off their Friday with great sound, and completely renovated rooms that should offer even better acoustics than before, the at-capacity show promises 38 exhibit rooms (including 14 large rooms and one two-room suite), and a combined Marketplace/CanMania with 20 exhibitors total. Put that all together, and you end up with 103 exhibitors and brands combined.

Capital Audiofest has certainly evolved with the times. While originally associated with vintage gear, its quasi-vintage exhibitors for 2016 are few. Perhaps best understood as flashback/flash-forward exhibits, these seem limited to Vu Hoang's Déjà Vu reproduction of Jensen and Western Electric designs, Greg Beron's United Home Audio revamped open-reel players paired with Classic Audio loudspeakers, and Emia's remanufactured Quad ESL-57s.

Looking forward, Capital Audiofest promises a number of premieres. At the top of the list is the new version of the mammoth, mammoth-priced KEF Muon, which launches on July 8 with a press conference. Right behind it is MartinLogan's Expression ESL 13A loudspeaker.

To help combat the classic audio show "Slow Sunday Syndrome," CAF has scheduled two "you must be present to win and haul it away" giveaways for the show's final day (10am–4pm). Headlining them is a $12,000-plus system with components from VPI, Alta Audio, and Luminous Audio. A second giveaway promises an Oppo HA-2 portable D/A headphone amp, which can handle files up to 32/384 PCM as well as DSD.

Seminars include a few one-of-a-kinds: an ear-opening, Sunday-morning (11am) chat with Kevin Duplain, former owner of The Atlantis Club, DC's first Punk Club, and another with Matthew Barton of the Library of Congress, whose discussion of 78s will tap his encyclopedic memory. "You name it, and he's heard it," says show founder Gary Gill of Barton. "He's a really well-spoken and fun guy."

In addition, Dynamic Sound Associates promises two analog seminar-—"Mono for a New Millenium" and "Ortofon: Then and Now"—in the Adams Room. Add in Scot Hull's chat with Bill Conrad of Conrad-Johnson, Pamela Mason's exploration of permanent hearing damage caused by excessive loud noise exposure, and Rob Robinson of Channel D's seminar on vinyl ripping, and you could learn a lot.

Gill and veteran show planner Christina Yuin also let Stereophile in on a big date change. After receiving 1,737,623 complaints about holding the show in hot, hot July, the Capital Audiofest has already signed a multi-year contract that will shift it to the first weekend in November starting in 2017. This places it a full month after the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. Although Canada's TAVES is even closer, that is a very different show entirely.

"We try to work with everybody," Gill and Yuin said in consort about their date change. "But when you just don't know, you can't be at the mercy of what decisions will or will not be."

Stereophile will be reporting from CAF. Look for room-by-room, note-by-note reports from Art Dudley and Herb Reichert starting during the show, and continuing in the days that follow.

tonykaz's picture

I could get excited by those old Quads, the room from last year featured wide seating suggesting something the old Quad design was never capable of, I think, weren't they "Bite-Bar" beamy? Presenting a wide sound field is new for Quad lovers.

I still love the Magie MG2s from long ago, perhaps more the any of the Quad 63s I sold back in the 1980s.

The 57s make a lovely "Lazy-boy" near field system, kinda have to have em on wheels to get them outa the way for most days sitting. I'd put em on an elevated Trestle. When they're "on-song" they're superb!!!

Looks like a good old fashioned "darn good show" for the folks in DC.

Tony in Michigan

ps. Todd the Vinyl Junkie is gonna be there?, allllllll the way from the Frozen part of Montana, hmm. Wonder if he's bringing Tyll? who's turned himself into "Nanook of the North"! What fun.

Chrisy's picture

Thanks, Jason - there's another Debut happening at CAF that people will be interested in: VPI will be relaunching their VPI Nomad as the VP Player! More information can be found on their Blog:

Chrisy's picture

The NEW VPI Titan will become the centerpiece in the Madison room at Capital Audiofest, which will prove to be a solid match with the rest of the VPI room pairing which will consist of the KEF Muon Speakers and Nordost Odin Supreme Reference wires.
VPI will be having a Press Conference on the Titan as well as the new Prime Signature on Friday at 11:30 AM in the Madison room. In addition they will have KEF representatives to talk more about their Muon Speakers which will be making their US debut as well. We are looking forward to having one of our best Capital Audio events ever!

More information can be found here:

thevoicethatis's picture

The new Piano Diacera G2 with be on display for the first time in the US after recently being announced a the High End Show in Munich Germany. Also in debut will be TIDAL's Reference Cables. These hand made silver cables are unlike any other and have to be heard. Lastly, after showing at CAF for the last 4 years, we will feature analog playback by way of the Brinkmann Spyder turntable. Come see us in the Wilson room and stay for awhile. More info can be found at :