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Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2019 Show Report

Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2019 Show Report
CAF 2019 Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com

 

Attending CAF 2019 Was A Musical Treat!
Capital Audiofest 2019 Report By Dr. Matthew Clott

 

Sound Stage Audio, Rosso Fiorentino, Backert, And High Fidelity Cables
Fiesole speakers ($7500), Backert Rhythm 1.3 pre-amp ($9995), Soundstage speaker stands and racks ($8000 / $5400). A bit congested at times, but the room is likely to blame. Laid back with nice bass extension. Quite involving and layered. Non-fatiguing, but lacked a subtle sense of natural timbre that couldn't convince me I wasn't listening to hi-fi.

 

 

 

 

I want to hear this room in a different room, if you get my meaning. The Backert preamp is intriguing, and I would love to see RF develop more of a presence in the US. Rosso Fiorentino, Chario and Diapason are all examples of great Italian speaker manufacturers that we only get occasional tastes of here in the US. Europe is keeping too many great products to themselves!

 

JansZen
JansZen Valentina passive P8 ($9250), JansZen Valentina active A8 ($12,750), Linear Tube Audio ZOTL40 EL34 amp ($6,800) were mated with a MicroZOTL preamp ($4,450) and exaSound e32 Mark II DAC ($2,500). New 8" drivers within both their active and passive models. Still quite directional. Still magical midrange with great accuracy and tonality, yet now with more low extension and impact.

 

 

More rhythmic impulse too as the system sounded very well balanced. The electronics provided a solid foundation and instilled nothing to offend. The active version cranked up the dynamics another level. I always enjoy these speakers. Full speaker review coming from Tom Lyle.

 

MC Audiotech
Forty-10 loudspeaker, with 10 bending wave drivers (100Hz and up, $35k) with electronic crossovers. Pass Labs XP22 preamp and X250.8 amp, VPI HW-40 table with Air Tight PC-1 cartridge, PS Audio DSD DAC, Wolf Audio Alpha 3 server, Luminous Audio Arion Phono preamp, Symposium isolation and Audience cables and power conditioning - price only posted for speakers. Fast, clean, articulate. Two 18" woofers open baffle magnet to magnet. Well Integrated multi driver system.

 

 

Wide, deep soundstage but lacks the last details of image specificity. Quite. natural. Multi-layered. A unique look to match their unique sound. I spoke to many attendees who absolutely raved about this room. The speakers speed, clarity, resolution and well integrated and equally fast low frequency reproduction check off many of the boxes audiophiles' desire.

 

Kharma, Conrad Johnson, Kuzma, Lampizator, And Aurender
Karma Db7-S ($31,250), CJ GAT Series 2 Preamp ($26,500), CJ ATR300 monoblock amps ($39k), CJ TEA1 Series 3 phono ($18k), Kuzma Stabi R table ($9,499), Kuzma 4point Tonearm with silver/gold Crystal Cable ($4899), Kuzma CAR-30 cartridge ($2,399), Aurender N10 music server ($8499), Antipodes CX ($6400), Lampizator Pacific DAC (~$26-33K based on options), Torus power TOT series (price not listed), Artsania Audio Exoteryc Rack 4 level ($7900), Artsania Play form Krion turntable stand ($4,600), ArtsaniaAire floor amp platform ($4,400). What does $180k worth of world class gear sound like? Well, when it's a combination of Kharma, Conrad Johnson, Aurender, Kuzma and Lampizator you can bet its gonna sound fan' dam' tastic!

Kharma speakers are always transducers of emotion, which seemed to be the common theme running in this room. It was a beautifully integrated system which made it impossible to tell what gear was doing what, it all just shined. Dynamics and impulse control were dead on and layers of texture and layered tonality permeated the room. Organic and luscious would best describe the room, whether sourced from vinyl or digi'bits. Not that warm, viscous, velvety luscious SET's imbue, but the rich, passionate, enigmatic, mature luscious like diving a Ferrari 488 through the foothills of Bolognese. Any one of these components would elevate a system to another level; together they were, well, luscious! Alas, the room was closed on day one and my camera battery died day two so didn't get any photos. Please accept my apologies to all reading this.

 

Lampizator And Audionec
Lampizator SuperKomputer ($7900), Pacific DAC ($24,500), KT150 integrated ($9200), Linear Tube Audio MicroZotl preamp ($4450), AudioNecEvo 2AS speakers ($44,900), Final Audio cable throughout $4k'ish. I just love the modern and simple look; essentially two rolls of paper towels above a pair of snake eyes dice, lol. Simple and functional.lightning fast and unconstrained clarity. The unusual rubanoide style main driver covers from 400Hz to 20kHz. Super tweeter 20k and up. A mid base driver in a cube covers from 35Hz to 400Hz, and a matching powered sub unit below covers 18Hz to 35Hz.

 

 

The brass era appearing Lampy SET KT150 integrated (20 Wpc) provided power only. I love the Nixie tube in the Lampy Pacific. Near seamless integration between this four-way speaker system. Staging is deep, and extends just right verticality. Luxurious textures and depth. Palpable. Tonal complexity. A tad thin in the midrange, although my suspicions are that it's not the speakers causing that. That said, there was something wonderfully natural and delightful about the room that drew me back again and again.

 

TEAC And Magnepan LSR
Magnepan LSR speakers ($650), TEAC NT505 streamer DAC ($2000), AP505 amps (130/stereo, 250/mono) ($1500 per unit), CG10M clock - $1500. Great sound on a budget! Like seriously. Wonderful base extension with classic Maggy mids and highs. Crazy for $700- And the TEAC just help them shine.

 

 

 

I'd guess you could retain 80% or more of this performance without the external clock and just running one stereo amp. All for under $5000 with cables. But the two amps crank up the dynamics. Add a sub and still stay under $5000. There's plenty left over for Qobuz true lossless compressed Hi-Res Music and Tidal lossy MQA subscriptions.

 

 

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