Capital AudioFest 2023

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Ken Micallef  |  Nov 20, 2023  |  1 comments

Voxativ's Ines Adler and Christopher Cunningham brought the full Voxativ experience from Berlin to Rockville, including the new and revised Voxativ Ampeggio back-loaded horn with AC-1.9 full-range driver loudspeaker ($12,900/pair).

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 20, 2023  |  0 comments

It was hard to find focus in Victor Kong's room. Between the nearly invisible AER BD3B/650mm full-range open-baffle speakers ($9800/pair) and the various amps on static display—Sun Valley SV-1616D 300B integrated amp ($2450), or the Elekit TU-8900 ($3050) or Elekit TU-8850 ($1850) power amps—my palms felt sweaty, my head, dizzy. Is this SET-amp lover’s heaven?

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 20, 2023  |  0 comments

Japan’s Technical Audio Devices Laboratories, Inc. (TAD) brought several products to CAF, including the US debut of the TAD Grand Evolution One (GE1) floor-standing speakers ($65,000/pair) and new TAD C1000 preamplifier ($24,950).

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 20, 2023  |  4 comments

Dan Wright of ModWright Instruments Inc., partnered with Cardas Audio, Acora Acoustics, and Woodsong Audio to bring his new compact, affordable 9-series products, which are "based on our Reference Designs," Wright told me in a preshow email.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 17, 2023  |  2 comments

Fast-talking, smooth-walking, Brit-expat Robin Wyatt is one of the best setup men in the game. Showcasing unique gear that he operates to perfection, his rooms typically capture best-in-show performance.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 17, 2023  |  5 comments

Walter Swanbon of Fidelis AV Distribution brought not only the Harbeth loudspeakers and Pure Fidelity turntable I raved about in recent Stereophile reviews, but also a couple brands I was unaware of until now. Walter always gets great room sound, so I was looking forward to a discovery.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 17, 2023  |  5 comments

Command AV's Jeff Fox was running two rigs at CAF, including a large scale assemblage in the Democracy suite, where the sound matched the beauty of the hi-fi. Jeff's setup included the day-glow red J.Sikora Standard MAX Special Editon turntable ($19,995) and J.Sikora KV MAX 12" Tonearm ($14,500) mounted with an Aidas Mammoth Gold Cartridge ($8650). From thence the signal ran to a Doshi Audio Evolution phono stage ($20,995). Digital front-end duties were handled by an Aurender N30SA server ($25,000), a Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Series 3 ($28,000), and a Berkeley Audio Design Alpha USB Series 2 digital interface ($2495).

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 17, 2023  |  15 comments

Nexus Audio Technologies' Walter Schofield presented a rig consisting of the VPI Avenger Direct turntable with Fatboy tonearm ($36,000), VPI Shyla cartridge ($2500), and Primare R35 MM/MC phono preamp ($2000); the 432 EVO Master Music Server with Roon core endpoint ($18,000); the Primare PRE35 Prisma DM36 streaming preamplifier featuring the new DM36 advanced DAC module with MQA processing ($5250); and two Primare A35.2 stereo amplifiers ($3900 each) bridged to mono. Walter also presented the Stenheim Alumine Two.five Loudspeakers ($23,500/pair) in their North American debut, a full loom of interconnects, power cables, and speaker wire by Anticables, and a Pangea Audio Vulcan Five Shelf audio rack ($250).

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 16, 2023  |  0 comments

Amplifier manufacturer Linear Tube Audio was seemingly everywhere at the show. LTA appeared with Daedalus Audio in the Randolph Room, with PureAudioProject in Room 825, with Credo Audio and Audioshield Distribution in Room 730, and with Audeze, Meze, iBasso, and ZMF in the Headphone Lounge; LTA debuted the new Velo ($2100) headphone amp at the show.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 16, 2023  |  2 comments

Hitting the show circuit without their usual running buddy, Greg Roberts of Volti Audio (who is taking a much deserved break), BorderPatrol's Gary Dews and Triode Wire Lab's "Triode Pete" Grzybowski joined forces with Living Voice Loudspeakers of Long Eaton, Derbyshire, UK.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 16, 2023  |  0 comments

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Falls Church, Virginia, dealer Now Listen Here enjoys an unusual pedigree. By day, part-owner Shayne Tenace (who also runs Tenacious Sound) builds nuclear power plants; a Canadian project currently occupies his time. But by night—watch out—Shayne spins vinyl on the brand new Rega NAIA turntable and Vandersteen Quatro speakers. (Despite his nocturnal preoccupations, his stores maintain regular daylight business hours.) The NAIA had its US debut at the Now Listen Here suite at CAF.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 16, 2023  |  9 comments

Audio Note’s Adrian Ford-Crush maintains a sweet vinyl stash. So whenever time allows, I hide out in his room and check out the sounds. For this show, all the way from London, Ford-Crush brought Count Basie's fantastic Roulette recording Chairmen of the Board, a Blue Note Classics edition of Hank Mobley’s hard bop treatise No Room for Squares, Cannonball Adderley’s Quintet Plus, and Mad Professor’s 40 Years of Dub.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 16, 2023  |  1 comments

I ran into Audio Skies' Michael Vamos at the Hilton bar while schmoozing with old friend Michael Lavorgna, editor and owner of the excellent Twittering Machines audio site. (He's also my fashion guru.) Vamos convinced me to check out his room, presented with Baltimore dealer Dr Vinyl, and I was glad I did.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 15, 2023  |  0 comments

All man hands were on deck for the US debut of the Italian-made Riviera Labs AFM 100 monoblock power amplifiers, brought to the show by Riviera Labs President of Sales and Marketing Silvio Delfino and Tone Imports' Jonathan Halpern. Also in attendance was Wadax SA's Brandon Lauer and Bending Wave/Göbel Loudspeakers distributor Elliot Goldman.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 15, 2023  |  3 comments

Hanging at the bar at the Hilton Twinbrook, one hears stories of audio deals gone bad, an actor absconding with a $500,000 system to an unknown Mexican destination, or sordid tales of a peeved player spiting bile at an unknowing colleague. Then there's show organizer Gary Gill, whose upbeat, generous persona is a prime contributor to the success of the Capital Audiofest.

Another valued player, who possesses a sense of inner calm I wish I could generate, is Valve Amplification Company President Kevin Hayes, one of our industry's good guys since his company's founding in 1990.