PAF 2022

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Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 05, 2022  |  10 comments
So, just how hot was it? Residents of Florida, Texas, and other southern states may laugh, but the greater Seattle Area is ill-equipped to cope with temperatures that topped out at 96°. Nor could the poor Doubletree Hilton at SEATAC's air conditioning keep upper-floor hallways cool; those with glass-faced enclosures facing the sun reached fry-me-an-egg levels. At some hours of the day, the temperature in the elevator was ridiculous.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 29, 2022  |  5 comments
What a great way to start a show. I don't know what impelled me to choose my CD of Patricia Barber's Higher, but the combination of Constellation's smooth-talking Pictor line stage with DC blocker ($24,500) and DC filter ($8000) with the company's Centaur II 500 amplifier ($80,000) and Magico S5 MkII loudspeakers ($45,500/pair) was perfect for Barber's cool, no-nonsense presentation. This was one smooth, toned-down, ultra-clean system that all but guaranteed non-fatiguing listening for hours and hours upon end.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 04, 2022  |  1 comments
Ed DeVito, whose by appointment Audio-Ultra showroom is located a short ride from SEATAC airport, had planned to exhibit his Dohmann Helix 2 Base turntable ($33,000) with optional Carbon Fibre Top ($2700) and composite armboard ($2600). The table was equipped with the even newer Kuzma Safir 9" Arm with Silver Kondo wire XLR ($22,000) and Ortofon Verismo cartridge ($6999). But when he finished setting it up to perfection in his showroom, it sounded so right that he decided to leave it where it was.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 02, 2022  |  1 comments
Aurender, whose music servers were in use in some of the best sounding rooms at PAF, had its own separate static display (with every model) and listening rooms. In the latter, the Aurender N20 ($12,000) produced excellent sound through the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Series 3 ($10,995), Constellation Argo Integrated Amplifier ($35,800), Magico A5 loudspeakers ($26,800), Shunyata Research cables and power conditioning, and Grand Prix Audio Monaco equipment stand.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 04, 2022  |  0 comments
Without doubt, of all the systems I evaluated at the 2022 Pacific Audio Fest, the imposing, hardly bargain-basement set-up assembled by Elliot Goldman, of Florida-based Bending Wave USA, was one of the Top Three Best Sounding. Only equipment capable of top-level sound reproduction could have worked together synergistically to deliver such convincing full-range sound.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 04, 2022  |  0 comments
When I entered the room shared by Ken Stevens' CAT (Convergent Audio Technology) and Michael D. Griffin's ESP (Essential Sound Products), recording engineers/life partners Jim Anderson (above) and Ulrike Schwarz were finishing up a talk/demonstration about recording Patricia Barber's album Clique. They are not the only world-class engineers I've encountered who, standing well to the side and above speakers' tweeters, played tracks so loud that voice and instruments spread and distorted. But in soft passages, and once they'd turned the volume down, the beautiful liquidity of the CAT sound, the superb engineering, and the excellent dynamics of system and recording alike came through for all to relish.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 02, 2022  |  4 comments
Show co-creator Lou Hinkley proudly stood alongside his new Daedalus Audio Apollo11 v.3 loudspeaker (starting at $27,500/pair). Variously depicted as "a whole new version" (in the room sheet) and "pretty complete makeover" (by Hinkley at the show) of the Apollo, the 52"-tall speaker boasts a larger midrange and an entirely new array design. "The lower three woofers function more like a point source, and the additional tweeter delivers more stage height and width," Hinkley said.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 04, 2022  |  0 comments
Since 1995, Michael Griffin's Essential Sound Products (ESP) has focused on manufacturing quality power cables for audiophiles. Then, starting with its Music Cord, Michael began manufacturing cords for musicians and recording studios. Jim Anderson and Ulrike Schwarz, for example, use ESP power cables in their recording projects.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 04, 2022  |  0 comments
With the support of Seattle's 76-year-old Hawthorne Stereo, Focal Naim America presented a system described by the company's Tom Graham as "The best of the best of what Focal and Naim have to offer." The sound in the large room was extremely open and spacious on a 16/44.1 wireless stream of a very naïve sounding soprano singing the "Pie Jesu" from John Rutter's Requiem.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 04, 2022  |  1 comments
So large in size that few if any dealers will ever be able to carry them, the prototype Genesis Prime+ loudspeakers ($680,000/system) exhibited a beautiful midrange on an LP of Oleta Adams singing "Don't let the Sun Go Down on Me." Ditto for the voice of Mel Tormé, accompanied by George Shearing on "You'd Be So Nice To Come To."
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 05, 2022  |  2 comments
As at T.H.E. Show in Long Beach, I was smitten by the round, colorful, and illumined sound of Thrax Spartacus 300B monoblocks ($97,500/pair). Seduced, won over, serenaded into submission. And then some.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 02, 2022  |  0 comments
Let's start with the music. On Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's RCA Living Stereo recording of Rimsky-Korsakoff's Scheherazade, the solo violin's sound epitomized beauty of tone. Smoothness was the system's strong suit, dwarfing (in this room) layering, detail, dynamics, and grandeur.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 02, 2022  |  1 comments
There was one and only one raison d'être for this room: showcasing the Innuos Statement Music Server/Ripper with Next Gen LPSU and 1TB internal SSD ($21,700). If it wasn't an unqualified success—two other pieces of equipment, borrowed for the show, were not broken in and produced flat and uninvolving sound on Day 1—it mattered not to moi, because the same Statement sounded fantastic during a 7-hour post-show visit to my Port Townsend music room by Innuos software designer Nuno Vitorino.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 04, 2022  |  0 comments
"Really nice alive sound." Simple words, they. But truth be told, they only apply to a limited number of systems at an audio show and far beyond, in the supposed "real" world.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 04, 2022  |  1 comments
Is it possible that two of the best-sounding rooms at the show could be on the same floor? You know the answer.

It takes a superb system to hold its own against Bending Wave's powerhouse. Yet Jeff Joseph's considerably more financially modest undertaking wooed over one show attendee after the other. Opinions were unanimous amongst those I spoke with. If Bending Wave's set-up didn't walk away with Best of Show, this system did.