A Capital Show Starts Friday

The annual Capital Audio Fest (CAF), the Mid-Atlantic States' premier playground for audio, returns to the Sheraton Hotel in Silver Spring, MD on July 25–27. With the addition of its CanMania, whose list of vendors continues to grow; Saturday's Headphone Meet; and a new focus on high-resolution downloads, the annual show expects to draw a younger and bigger crowd of up to 2000 attendees to its eminently accessible location.

"D.C. has fantastic demographics and top universities, but a shortage of audio retailers," show founder Gary Gill told Stereophile. "There are maybe 10 retailers between Baltimore and Richmond. With most manufacturers also located outside the D.C. area, our attendees come hungry to listen and buy."

CAF's list of exhibitors has grown to include some high-profile retailers, including High Water Sound, The Voice That Is, United Home Audio, Fidelis AV, and DejaVu Audio. CanJam, which is managed by Frank Iacone and Warren Chi, alone promises at least 17 exhibitors.

With memories of AXPONA and T.H.E. Show Newport Beach resounding in my head, I'll bet that the pairing of Merrill Audio and International Phonograph with Sadurni Acoustics' fabulous looking horns will prove a highlight. Expect other goodies from a number of tried and trues, among which are Zu Audio, Sound Smith, ModWright, Janzen, Border Patrol, and Salk.

Then, of course, there are the panels and workshops. Some bring returns of old favorites including AIX Records' Mark Waldrep, who always has something new up his sleeve. Others, especially the Headphone and Media Panels, also promise their share of surprises.

CAF's evolution parallels that of Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, which in its early days offered a prevalence of do-it-yourself companies and small retailers. "Historically, the show's first two years were rich with DIY and Classic audio," Gill acknowledges. "But this year, I expect little vintage gear."

With access to three airports, and a three-block walk to the Washington Metro rail, the Sheraton's inside-the-Beltway location in an up-and-coming neighborhood with lots of pubs and restaurants sounds pretty ideal. Add in free hotel parking, no charge for WiFi within the hotel, an absence of union fees that makes possible one of the lowest admission rates of any show in the US, and you have a compact show worth traveling to. Herb Reichert will be reporting live from CAF for Stereophile.