PAF 2023

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Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 27, 2023  |  0 comments
By the time I reached PAF's large Marketplace near noon on Saturday, the place was pretty active. Saturday was the busiest day by far at PAF, with reportedly far greater attendance than at last year's show launch in the middle of summer. I left the show early on Sunday, but from what I could see, the coincidence of Day 3 with Seattle Pride put a major damper on attendance. In 2024, the third installment of PAF moves to the weekend after Labor Day.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 24, 2023  |  9 comments
There's an established standard protocol one observes when entering a room at an audio show. First, you stand in the doorway and listen for a couple of minutes, then check in with the exhibitor and if necessary, introduce yourself. Next, you exchange pleasantries and catch up while idly thumbing through whatever literature is displayed. Finally, and only at the exhibitor's insistence, you make your way to the best seat in the house while apologizing to everyone you step over, around, and displace. That's not what happened when I visited the NOLA room where Carl (left in photo), Marilyn, and Kristen Marchisotto (right) were overseeing the west coast debut of the $150,000/pair Baby Grand Reference Gold 3 loudspeakers, the midpoint of NOLA's reference series. Stepping into the doorway was as far as I got before bee-lining to the front and center, shoving aside anyone not fast enough to get out of my way.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 29, 2023  |  2 comments
At every show, I make it point to visit at least one company making their debut at the show AT PAF 2023, it was Bella Sound, based in Half Moon Bay, CA, and the offspring of Mike and Barbara Vice. Mike Vice described their path to PAF 2023 as having begun around 2010 with what was to be their first product, the Hanalei power amplifier. It had been ten years in the making and wowed everyone who heard it, but Mike decided that it "just wasn't ready". After eight more years of refining the Hanalei and developing a few other components, Mike and Barbara decided that the time was right and created Bella Sound. Add another 5 years and the COVID-19 lockdown, and here they were.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 28, 2023  |  0 comments
The relationship between Linear Tube Audio (LTA) and Daedalus Audio loudspeakers is so close that the special pair of LTA 20Wpc Ultralinear+ power amplifier monoblocks ($6800/each) on display in room 2106 at PAF—the second of these companies' two joint rooms—boasted a custom faceplate designed specifically for their owner, Daedalus founder Lou Hinkley.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 30, 2023  |  0 comments
I wasn't sure what to expect when I headed for the Angel City Audio room at PAF 2024—were they a dealer? A distributor? A manufacturer? After chatting with ACA's owner Hugh Nguyen (above), I can say that the answer fell somewhere between "all three" and "it depends."
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 28, 2023  |  55 comments
No show coverage would be complete without a preview of Børresen's major M6 loudspeaker ($550,000/pair) world premiere. Joining forces with products from the three other companies that comprise Audio Group Denmark, Børresen's M6 dominated an exceedingly large room in the extremely attractive exhibit mounted by US Distributor/Dealer Next Level HiFi.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 26, 2023  |  2 comments
As much as I attempted to skip equipment we'd recently explored in Chicago, Munich, and/or Costa Mesa, my uncertainty about the intrinsic sound of CH Precision Series 1 equipment impelled me to check out their exhibit from greater Seattle dealer Audio-Ultra. While not everything in the system was from CH Precision—Ideon supplied the Absolute Epsilon DAC ($47,000), Absolute Epsilon Stream ($19,900), and Absolute Epsilon Time Signature V clock ($22,000), all of which complemented Aurender's N20 music server ($12,500)—there was sufficient CH Precision equipment in the chain to draw some conclusions.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 27, 2023  |  1 comments
On Sunday morning, I headed to the Marketplace to visit Kingrex Electric. King Rex himself, Rex Hungerford, was standing amid tables covered with a number of their modified and custom-built electrical panels and other components. He was explaining and fielding questions about what Kingrex does, which is designing specialized AC circuits and equipment to provide an audio system with absolutely the cleanest and quietest power possible. Or in website-speak, they have a singular focus, "Enriching the audio experience with clean electricity."
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 27, 2023  |  0 comments
I first heard Hungarian speaker company Popori Acoustics' top-line XR1.23 electrostats in Warsaw last year, where their deep bass greatly impressed. On Day 1 of the Pacific Audio Fest, the world-wide premiere Popori's WR1.23 w electrostats ($75,500/pair), which reside one level below the XR1.23s delivered some of the best sound I heard at the show.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 30, 2023  |  1 comments
Walking into one of the rooms hosted by Middle River, MD audio dealer Just Audio was a bit of a surprise, and to quote Yogi Berra, "It's like déjà vu all over again."

The first things I saw were the Mission 770—reviewed by JA1 in November 2022 and Mission 700 loudspeakers. They were flanked by display boards that rocked me back to the mid-1980s, when I was deciding between the Missions and Celestion 6s. Tom Bryant of Just Audio explained that Mission didn't want to build a part-for-part recreation of the speakers, or to build 770s using new parts. The goal was to design and build a thoroughly modern speaker that that resembled the original as closely as possible but could compete with anything being built today.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 27, 2023  |  2 comments
"Have you heard Dutch & Dutch? If you haven't, you must." Time and again, variations on that theme were voiced either by me or many of the attendees I chatted with at the show.

As far as I can recall, my encounter with the Dutch & Dutch 8c active loudspeakers ($15,000/pair) is the first time I have heard this company's offerings. (They've only exhibited at two shows.) I sure hope it will be far from the last.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 28, 2023  |  1 comments
Entering Klaus Bunge's intentionally low-lit Odyssey room was like entering another dimension. Showgoers may have had no idea what the purpose of the room was—even I couldn't discern it from the display—but they could not possibly have been less than fascinated.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 25, 2023  |  1 comments
On the pretty lucky-sounding 13th floor of the Doubletree by Hilton at SEATAC, LTA and Daedalus Audio presented the larger installment of their two-room partnership. A Red Book file of Patricia Barber's "The Beat Goes On" was distinguished by lovely warmth and a very solid, all of one piece presentation.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 28, 2023  |  0 comments
One of the highlights of my visit to PAF 2023 was the debut of Klaudio's $80,000 Magnezar Turntable. The world of super-premium turntables is curiously large and active these days, and it's not that surprising to hear of another one hitting the market. From the first glance, though, it was obvious that Klaudio's Magnezar was something extraordinary.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 28, 2023  |  1 comments
Visiting Chuck Miller's Millercarbon room at PAF gave me the opportunity to check in on Townshend Audio, a quirky British manufacturer of audio gear best known for its well-engineered and very effective isolation products. I've always respected the engineering that went into the development, and liked their "luxurious execution meets form follows function" aesthetic. I've always smiled too, at their straightforward, almost simplistic approach to marketing, one that assumes customers will use logic and common sense to make purchase decisions. The Townshend products in use included $2650/pair Seismic Podiums under the speakers, a $795 Seismic Platform under the amps, and several Seismic Pods at $150/each.