PAF 2022

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Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 05, 2022  |  First Published: Aug 07, 2022  |  4 comments
One more straggling post from the Pacific Audiofest: As indicative of the New York / West Coast melting pot, internationalism was the bottom line in a system assembled by Bob Vineyard, proprietor of Rhapsody Out West's Portland, Oregon showroom.
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 05, 2022  |  0 comments
The email read, in part, like an equipment list with Herb Reichert's name on it. The room had one raison d'être: to showcase Pure AudioProject's Trio15 Classic open-baffle speaker ($9740/pair), which includes a Voxativ AC-PiFe wooden-cone center driver and three 15" woofers custom-manufactured for PureAudioProject by Eminence. To do so, Ze'ev (Wolf) Schlik paired his speaker with Pass Labs' INT-25 integrated amplifier ($7500) and XP-17 phono preamp ($4300), the Denafrips Terminator Plus DAC ($6400), and VPI Industries' Avenger turntable ($12,000) with Shyla cartridge ($2000).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 05, 2022  |  4 comments
How does anyone adequately and fairly evaluate a first-time audio show in a new location? Especially when it's handicapped by unusually hot, mid-90º weather and yet another COVID surge that was accompanied by admonishments to mask up indoors?

First, I rejoice that the show brought together so many old friends in such a convivial manner. A case in point: Marjorie Baumert, head of the former Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest (left above), headed west from Denver to support show organizers Gary Gill (right above) and Lou Hinkley (hard at work elsewhere) as volunteer coordinator. With such heart helping to guide the operation, the feeling in rooms and hallways was as positive as it gets.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 05, 2022  |  0 comments
Of the two systems in Parasound's large room, time only allowed a listen to the big one. Given that room's entire front wall was composed of outward-facing glass, Parasound's Phil Jackson had no choice but to opt for heavy draping that, as with all heavy draping, nipped depth in the bud.

I initially typed "death" rather than depth. Whatever that may say about my own internal preoccupations, it does not reflect on the core of the system's sound, which was gratifying alive without being hot or splashy.

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  |  Aug 05, 2022  |  2 comments
If any company's sonic signature has changed from the first time I encountered it, it's Dan Wright's ModWright. While Dan still does tube modifications to products from other companies—his Cambridge CXN V2 Tube Modification ($1500/mod only) to the Cambridge DAC was part of the show system—the KWH225i class-AB Hybrid Integrated ($9750), PH9.0X Tube Phono Stage ($4750), and world debut Analog Bridge (maybe $2900/TBD) are 100% ModWright.
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.

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  |  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  |  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 04, 2022  |  0 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 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 04, 2022  |  1 comments
"Who would be crazy enough to exhibit these speakers in a 60' x 65' room?" asked Von Schweikert designer Leif Erickson (left in photo, with VAC's Kevin Hayes) as he cozied up next to me. Given what I was seeing and hearing, in the company of audiophile and the owner of the late Art Dudley's Altec Flamencos, Bob Lichtenberg, craziness seemed beside the point.
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.

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