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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

 

Capital Audiofest 2019
Bounty for all who attended!
Capital Audiofest 2019 Report By Greg Weaver

 

Room 317 - Tenacious Sound
Tenacious Sound is an Augusta, GA based audio dealer representing several MoFi distributed brands. One can almost always find Jonathan Derda, MoFi Distribution's National Sales and Marketing Manager, on hand in their room at shows playing the most gracious of hosts. Tenacious Sound owner Shayne Tenace, who, besides moving his base of operation to Augusta, GA from Syracuse, NY, has added another store in Jacksonville, FL. Further, he was a customer at Jonathan's father Dave's now closed shop "Audio Exchange" in Mishawaka, IN. Coincidentally, the "Audio Exchange" was the only local audio store I had access to when I moved to South Bend, IN, in 1999 to take an IT position with the University of Notre Dame. Small world, eh?

I'll admit that Jonathan's demo really knocked me out, especially given the price of the entire system. Using the Mobile Fidelity UltraDeck turntable ($1,999), their MasterTracker MM cart ($799), and UltraPhono phono stage ($499), or streaming with the Heed Audio Abacus DAC ($1,199), as source, feeding the new Rogue Sphinx v3 100wpc integrated (also with phono stage) ($1,595). I had the pleasure of hearing the Wharfedale Linton speakers ($1,199/pr., with stands $300) which were connected during my visit. Power conditioning was managed by an IsoTek Corvus power conditioner ($999), and all cabling was the over-achieving Ohno line from Audience, including the Ohno 1M interconnects ($200/pr.) and Ohno 2.5M speaker cables ($623/pr.).

 

MoFi UltraDeck turntable, MasterTracker MM cart, UltraPhono phono stage, Heed Audio Abacus DAC, Rogue Sphinx v3 integrated amplifier, and Wharfedale Linton loudspeakers. This system packed a PUNCH!

 

Jon played several LPs for us while I was in the room, and it was one of the most synergistic and "honest" sounding systems I've heard at a show for less than ten grand! This system was so relaxed, so bloody natural sounding, so musically engaging, that I simply could not get over the fact that the whole system came in at under $8,600, which is less than the retail price of a set of interconnects that I use in my current reference system! While it was not the last word in transparency or resolution, the amazing degree of bloom, body, neutrality, and weight was overwhelmingly magical.

Just as a point of interest, I've had some version of Audience cables (Au24, powerChords, and now frontRow) in my system since 2003. Their products have always been overachieving, and I use the Ohno speaker cables and ICs on my office system, with the Audience ClairAudient 1+1 Personal Reference Monitors. Stunning performance to price ratio.

 

 

Room 402 - Tekton Designs
Eric Alexander, of Tekton Designs, was on hand to demonstrate the new Tekton Moab speakers ($4,500/pr., delivered!), as was Exogal's Jeff Haagenstad, who was showing the Comet DAC ($3,500) and ION PowerDAC ($4,250), specifically designed to be an amplifier and processing extension to the Comet.

Using a proprietary patent-pending 15 dome, radiating hybrid, MTM high-frequency array and two 12" low-frequency transducers, the Moab stands 69" tall, 13.5" wide, and are 17" deep, tipping the scales at 135 pounds apiece. With a stated efficiency of 98dB/W/m, they offer 4 Ohms nominal impedance (though, you can order them as an 8-Ohm versions) And, yeah, they sell for $4,500 per pair, delivered!

 

The Tekton Moab loudspeakers, with Exogal source and electronics.

 

This combination was almost freakishly good. Listening to Jennifer Warnes and everything else they played for me revealed very good dynamics, especially in the macro department, and a remarkably well balanced, neutral voice. The Moab's do a pretty amazing disappearing act, leaving behind a remarkable stage with particularly good imaging. Staging was slightly more two-dimensional than with some more costly loudspeakers, but the overall performance was simply outstanding! While it was not the most transparent or resolving system, it offered natural and open vocals, created realistic heft, weight, and impact, all without too much bloat.

 

 

Better
Room 560 - The Audio Hunters/The Vinyl Revivers
I found David MacPherson, of Studio Electric, and met Parasound's Eastern Regional Marketing Manager Joe Finn, who were working together in a wonderful sounding room sponsored by The Audio Hunters/The Vinyl Revivers of Simpsonville, MD.

 

A Pioneer Elite UDP LX500 4K Universal player, all Parasound electronics, and Studio Electric speakers.

 

This was a special sounding room. This system offered superb bass pitch and impact, and a level of midrange purity and resolution that far exceeded what one would normally hear at these price points. With excellent high frequency extension, near explosive dynamic scaling and a remarkable degree of transparency and resolution, one could easily believe this system sold for twice, or even three times what it did.

While David currently resides in Utah, next spring he plans to move back to his native Michigan. Once that move is made, and he is just hours away from my home in north-central Indiana, we are going to get a pair of his floor standers into my system for a full analysis. I CAN'T WAIT!

 

 

Room 528 - Vinnie Rossi
Vinnie Rossi was using an Innuos Statement Music Server, 1TB SSD, ($13,750), feeding his Vinnie Rossi L2 "Signature Edition" Integrated Amplifier (L2i-SE, $18,995), fitted with two optional modules, the L2 DAC ($3,495), which was being used with the Innuos stream, and L2 Phonostage ($3,495), which was not used. Speakers were the Swedish QLN Prestige Three SE loudspeakers ($12,000/pr.). All the gear rested on an SGR Model 5 Symphony Statement equipment rack ($3,200/shelf), was conditioned using a GigaWatt PC-4 EVO+ with LC-3HC conditioner ($10,000), and all cabling was from Triode Wire Labs cables.

 

An Innuos Statement Music Server, the Vinnie Rossi L2 "Signature Edition" Integrated, and the Swedish QLN Prestige Three SE loudspeakers.

 

During a vintage Max Roach drum track, I was very impressed with what a wonderful sense of dynamics, speed, and space this system could portray. Piano tone was rich, accurate, and dynamic. Julie London's "Cry Me A River" offered an amazingly intimate presentation, revealing subtle breathing cues, and accurate tone and texture. And classical pieces were recreated with space, power, and remarkable scale and dynamics, yet with an unfettered ease, accurate tone, and nuance. Nicely done.

 

 

Lincoln - Eikon
It is always a pleasure to speak with Gayle Sanders, and this was the first show I've been to since the Eikon Image1 has been finalized, is in production, and shipping. The Eikon Image1 is a fully active system, using four custom drivers per cabinet, an AMT tweeter and a 5" midrange in extreme proximity near the top of the enclosure, and two woofers at the bottom, one front firing, and a second, rear firing, all housed in a unique constrained layer cabinet. This allows for each driver to be individually and accurately aligned in time for optimal acoustic integration. Using digital time alignment with the bass wave fronts from the two individual woofers, low frequency energy can be shaped to minimize destructive interference, resulting in exceptionally accurate, pitch defined low frequency performance, punch, and impact.

Employing room correction and DSP filtering, driving each speaker with an individual dedicated Class-D amplifier of the latest-generation, the Image1 is configured with all crossover functions in the digital domain. The system includes a DAC, preamplifier, and digital signal processor, all incorporated into the Eikontrol unit, with two pair each of balanced and single-ended analog inputs and two digital inputs, TosLink and S/PDIF. At $25,000 for the whole thing, you just add a source and you are done.

 

Industry veteran Gayle Sanders with the new, powered, DSP managed, Eikon Image1... just add a source.

 

While I've heard this system at several shows prior, my first listen here, while speaking with Gayle, was off axis. Wow! It was still remarkably coherent and natural sounding from this extreme position. As I moved to a more realistic listening position, the system clearly offered superb clarity and unbelievable low frequency support, resulting in startling dynamics and weight. While the soundstage was somewhat foreshortened front to back, it was wonderful left to right, and with height. When I had a chance to move from the too-close front row to the third... everything got better, with much more natural depth and presence. With a Tony Bennett track, this system clearly delineated the original recording room boundaries, revealing its reverberant field. This is one seriously killer system.

 

 

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