Capital AudioFest 2021

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Ken Micallef  |  Nov 05, 2021  |  2 comments

In the third floor Eisenhower room, Valerio Cora brought his Acora Acoustics SRC-2 Loudspeakers ($37,000/pair) joined to the Transrotor Massimo turntable ($16,800) equipped with the Transrotor SME tonearm ($4300), the Dynavector DRT XV-1t cartridge ($9450). The Massimo was also equipped with a secondary arm, the Charisma Musiko ($2500) armed (as it were) with the Charisma Signature One cartridge ($3800).

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 05, 2021  |  3 comments

Capital Audiofest 2021 kicked off this morning with a heady air of excitement coursing through the sold-out host venue, the Twinbrook Hilton in Rockville, Maryland.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 09, 2021  |  4 comments

Capital Audiofest 2021 was a fantastic show. Everyone I spoke to—vendors, visitors, the helpful Hilton staff—was jazzed to be there. Everyone was in good spirits. While I didn’t see as many attendees in total as at the 2019 CAF show pre-Covid, every room I visited was full, and in many midday cases, standing-room-only.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 08, 2021  |  1 comments

When a show room plays great music, the job of listening is easy. That’s true for civilians and press alike.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 06, 2021  |  4 comments

I walked into the unassuming Fern & Roby Audio/Modwright Instruments room and spied, sitting in a chair with camera in hand, Twittering Machines’ editor/CEO, Michael Lavorgna. Michael and I go back to the days of Quartz glass, Coke in bottles, and, from whence we both came. Michael smiled and directed me toward the Fern & Roby beer coasters, beige cork jobs each with an illustrated tube (and noted tube type).

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 08, 2021  |  3 comments

I couldn’t decide what was more impressive, the larger-than-life personality of Bending Wave USA distributor Eliot Goldman or the massive products shown in his WADAX/Goebel room. Either way, I was grateful for the room’s bright light, which gave everything a fresh-scrubbed sheen and made it much easier than most rooms to photograph.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 06, 2021  |  7 comments

GT Audioworks presented their Reference 3 Planar Ribbon Speakers ($49,000/pair), which debuted in January 2021.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 08, 2021  |  3 comments

Show attendees can be gruff, show exhibitors grouchy. Add a pandemic and things can get touchy. But if there’s one man you want to see at an audio show, it’s the ever-chilled Jeff Joseph, who gets my nomination for the calmest, best natured manufacturer in high-end audio.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 08, 2021  |  2 comments

I've used the LKV Research PWR+ Amplifier as part of my reference rig for some time, so it was great to meet LKV’s Bill Hutchins in the flesh at CAF. Connecting with the designer behind a component is always a treat and helps humanize the process of technology-mediated listening.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 07, 2021  |  13 comments

To quote his bio created for CAF, “Master furniture maker John Semrad hand-builds each horn loudspeaker with a solid basswood core, poplar cross-ply, and American walnut face veneer. The process takes more 240 hours, and each completed horn weighs 240 pounds. With a Jean Michel Le Cleac'h profile for the horn flare and [full-range] resolution from Oleg Rullit’s Super Aero 8" field coil drivers, these units are offered at $36,000 per pair, including field coil supply.” Those drivers are said to be made of Korean Hanji paper.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 09, 2021  |  11 comments

Next door to the VPI room showing Harry Weisfeld’s rock ‘em, sock ‘em JBL Everest horns, another system with a VPI source was complemented by a colossal pair of Arion Audio line-array towers and subwoofer columns. The speakers were brought to Rockville by Charlotte, North Carolina’s Arion Audio and Arion's designer/owner Mike Kalellis.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 09, 2021  |  3 comments

Tenacious Sound had several systems at the show, including those in Room 325 and the Montrose ballroom. Sunday morning, I stumbled into the smaller room, where good sounds were being made by an Audio Hungary X200 integrated tube amplifier ($6499) powering Canton Reference 7K loudspeakers ($6995/pair). A Microsoft Surface Pro laptop streamed Qobuz to a Weiss DAC. Cables were from Audience.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 05, 2021  |  11 comments

Gayle Sanders, founder of MartinLogan, brought Bethel Connecticut–based Eikon Audio’s line of loudspeakers and electronics to Capital Audiofest’s Lincoln room, the gear arranged into two systems.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 06, 2021  |  8 comments

Treehaus Audiolab's Richard Pinto likes field coil speakers, tube-rectified power supplies, and 300B power tubes. All are present in products enjoying their debut at Capital Audiofest 2021.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 08, 2021  |  1 comments

When I walked into the large Twinbrook room, which was hosted by dealer United Home Audio and distributor Hi End by Oz, its Bulgarian-made Thrax Audio system, complete with reel-to-reel tape deck, was playing Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” Once I calmed down and got a grip, I found Oz Curran’s Hi End by Oz room to be quite a delight.