PAF 2023

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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.

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."
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.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 29, 2023  |  1 comments
Even though I knew what to expect, I was still a bit overwhelmed when I walked into the Triangle Art room at PAF 2023. Their products aren't bashful. They practically scream engineering and display a build quality and attention that Ferrari would envy. If MOMA wants an exemplar of industrial art, they need look no further. I wanted to go over each and every one with a fine-toothed comb but—I was on a mission. My plan was to focus on the three turntable models that were being played, sort out their similarities and differences, and determine the extent to which the differences were reflected in the tables' performance.
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 28, 2023  |  0 comments
Spatial Audio Lab may have considered its main suite on the 13th floor of the hotel's tower, but its second exhibit in room 2210 offered plenty to love. I was taken in by the wonderful clarity, excellent depth, and openness delivered by Spatial's Q6 prototype open-baffle loudspeakers ($4995/pair and expected in August). Infected Mushroom's "Avratz" was a knockout.
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 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.
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.
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 28, 2023  |  0 comments
"It's the gateway drug to the High End," Vanatoo's Rick Kernan quipped of the larger of Vanatoo's two diminutive active loudspeakers. He was speaking of the successor to the Vanatoo Transparent One Encore that I reviewed in 2019, the Transparent One Encore Plus (T1E+) active loudspeaker ($650/pair, up from $599/pair four years ago).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 28, 2023  |  0 comments
In the hallway outside the JMF Audio/Ideon Audio room, Benno Baun Meldgaard, former speaker designer for Gamut, Raidho, and Gryphon, discussed his prototype Hydra loudspeaker. Expected in October, the cost for the for the entry-level 3-way floorstander—the smallest model in Baun's forthcoming Reference line of speakers—is projected at "around $150,000/pair."
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 27, 2023  |  0 comments
There were multiple world and North American premieres in the large room shared by JMF Audio and Ideon Audio. The exhibit was set up by the two companies' North American distributor, Michael Vamos's Audio Skies, in cooperation with Michael Farnsworth's dealership, Farnsworth Audio, of Draper, UT.
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.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 27, 2023  |  2 comments
Once again, VAC paired four of its amplifiers with Von Schweikert loudspeakers in a huge room sponsored by The Audio Company. Distinguished by sophisticated lighting design and fabulous sound, this system, which can fill rooms far larger than the Dutch & Dutch 8cs that so impressed me at PAF, vied with them for my personal Best of Show.