Capital Audiofest 2012 Show Report
Coverage By Scot Hull of Part Time
I can't remember the last audio show I've been to that
Legacy Audio has not been there, anchoring
it, with an impressive demo room filled with their big speakers. Capital
Audiofest found Legacy's founder, Bill Duddleston, showing two pairs of his
full-range, multi-driver speakers -- the $20,500 Whisper and the $9200 Focus
SE with electronics from Sherbourn. I've always found the Whisper to be curiously complex
lots of drivers, open baffle, external digital crossover. The XD version takes
this up a notch but also down a notch. There is a new external crossover
system, the new Wavelaunch, but the new Whisper only needs one stereo amp to
drive a pair of 500wpc ICEPower amps in each cabinet handle all the lows,
man-handling the four 15" subs.
One of the things I've found big speakers do well
perhaps better than any other speaker is handle big music. And no, I'm not
talking the 6' tall guitars that many panel speakers will handily evoke for
you, but I am talking orchestra.
Large-scale, complex, dynamic music you know, all that stuff that old
people listen to. I say that only semi-facetiously I happen to love
classical music, but almost never
actually listen to any. Like ever. I may need to explore that a bit at some
point. Anyway, here at the Capital Audiofest, I got treated to some classical
music here in the Legacy room, including something that I think was Mahler
it made me scan the room, looking for Jason Victor Serinus but I quickly
stopped all irrelevancies and focused while
the Whisper XD stood up and practically paraded it's total musical dominance
over the piece. That's an odd way of saying, holy crap, this speaker owned
I introduced myself to Bill and, in response to my
throw-away question ("got anything new coming out?"), found out that,
well, yes there is something new coming from Legacy Audio a brand new
AMT tweeter that Bill and crew will be setting to both the Focus and the
Whisper come this Fall. Should be ready by RMAF! Let's just say Bill's
pretty excited about this change. I could tell, because that Cheshire grin he
sported was still hanging there in space long after he had entirely vanished.
Audio, Woo Audio, MA-Recordings
Yes, I have found my Mojo. And for $2,300/pair, you can find
Was that cheesy? I've been working on that, but "mojo"
jokes are a bit pass้ since all those Austin Powers movies came out. Ah,
well. I've found these little buggers at the last several shows
and at each show, they've happily created a minor stir. Perhaps it's
the modest price that the Davone Audio Mojo
carry, or perhaps it's the 3-D sound stage that they throw around, or
perhaps again, it's simple the fact that they're really cute. Whatever. I
think they're really doing some interesting things with the sound.
Interesting, engrossing kinds of things. And did I mention they were cute?
The Mojos were shown here with a Woo Audio
$3150 WA5, a single-ended, dual-chassis 300B-based 8wpc amp, which is also a
very impressive headphone amplifier, too. The music was all sourced from Todd
Garfinkle's eclectic and outstandingly well-recorded M-A Recordings
collection. In the adjoining room, Woo Audio had five more headphone
stations set up. This is stunningly clever, by the way, and an easy-peasey/lemon-squeezy
(I have five year old twins, my apologies) way to completely eradicate the
issues with audio show hotel room acoustics. Duh. Headphones? No room
interactions at all. Double duh. Which is, no doubt, one of the reasons why
the music in this room sounded so fantastic.
First, a note about the music. Each of the Woo Audio
stations had a Woo Audio DAC and transport and a serve yourself laptop
music server. There was AC/DC and YoYo Ma. M-A Recordings' Sera Una Noche,
Dire Straits, and Eric Clapton. Coltrane, Hancock, and Blakey. Diana Krall,
Alison Krauss, and Frank Sinatra. Guns-n-Roses. Hilary Hahn. Pink Floyd, Stevie
Ray Vaughn and Patricia Barber. Yeah, I was pretty much set. This is how you
do it, folks. Power to the people!
Speaking of power, Woo had a suite of head amps on display,
both dynamic and electrostatic. I got to listen to Stax, Audez'e,
Sennheiser, and Ultrasone headphones bam, bam, bam, all in a row. My
favorite? The Audez'e LCD-2 wired into the little $1,050 dual chassis WA6SE.
I think I'm in love with those phones, and that amp lit them up like a,
well, a tube. Hee-hee. In all fairness, the tube in question was a rather
special NOS tube, a USAF-596, sitting in a Teflon adapter with a pair of anode
wires falling from the top in a rather Dr. Frankenstein kinda way. All the
same, this was a great match and I enjoyed the combo thoroughly.
I never saw the bird, but to hear John DeVore tell it,
apparently the room was drawing a feathered crowd. They would sit on the
branch, outside the window, and just hang out listening to the tunes. The song
would end and off they'd go. I've heard about audiophiles and their pets,
and laughed along with the jokes about the dog "having complaints" about
the sound of a system, but this one was a new one to me. Whole new layer of
meaning to "for the birds". Hmm.
John was here in support of his local dealer, Jeff Fox of
Command Performance A/V who's new retail store out in Falls Church is opening in September. John and
Jeff had three different DeVore Fidelity
speakers on display, including the new Gibbon 88s, the compact Gibbon 3XL, and
their newest sibling, the impressive Orangutan O/96. On all three trips
through this room, it was this wide-baffle, 96dB, 10ohm, 25Hz-31kHz, newcomer
that were attracting the avian reviewers and us not-so-feathered ones
and gluing us all to our seats. Driven by a "meager" 8wpc from the
disproportionately beefy $5000 Line Magnetic LM-210IA 300B single-ended
triode amplifier, the O/96 was rich and lively and, perhaps strangely for
a 300B, it was also extended in both directions. It's not like I was looking
for faults in this room, which is lucky, because I would have been
disappointed. And as for those big Orangutan speakers, well, they are now on
my own personal short-list. Yeah. Really, really nicely done.
Around the corner from DeVore Fidelity was another Command
Performance A/V room, actually a two-fer suite, with $11,800 Joseph
Audio Perspectives in the main area, and in a second space, a pair of Joseph Audio
Pulsars, set up across a corner. Whenever I find Joseph Audio speakers at an audio show I'm
covering, I wonder if I should recuse myself -- I'm hardly unbiased. I've
been in love with the Joseph Audio sound for the last couple of years and
several of my earliest posts on my site Part-Time Audiophile,
which explored exactly how amazing these designs are. The latest in the lineup is
the Perspective, a 2.5-way design using some custom SEAS drivers and Jeff
Joseph's patented Asymmetrical Infinite Slope crossover design to create one
of the most seamless presentations you're going to find outside of a
full-range single-driver speaker. It is stupid-good.
So, while I've gone gaga over the Pulsar and now
actually own a pair that I use as a reference I have to say that the
Perspective is a clear and definite step up. They reach deeper, sure, but they
are also even more transparent through the mid-bass than the stand-mounted
Pulsar. Here at Capital Audiofest, the Perspectives were driven by an all Bel
Canto line up, including the Ref500 monos and the top-shelf DAC3.5, wired to a very
interesting USB converter that we'll all be learning more about in a week or
so, with the handsomely turned-out XLO cables
making all the connections. A new $10,000 Audience
AR12TSS brought 12 outlets of power filtering with the new Teflon capacitors
to the system.
The sound? Outrageously good. Chris Jones' "No Sanctuary
Here", off of his Roadhouses and
Automobiles album that is a torturous tune with some freaky big-speaker deep harmonics that are
extremely difficult to reproduce with all the menace and mayhem that's
appropriate. In this room, with these speakers and these amps, this tune will
cause your head to snap around as you frantically look for the volume knob on
the subwoofer you can't find. Strain? What strain? Heehee. Ahem.
For those of you that have been pining for the big Pearl 2
speakers, I think you may need some Perspective. Sorry, couldn't seem to help
Slipping through the adjoining door, I found the Pulsars,
wired up with more XLO cables to some more Bel Canto gear. In this case, a C7R
integrated, a CD3t transport and a candy-apple red VPI Traveler. It's
hard to come down from the Perspective, but at $7,000, the Pulsar will bring
most of that Perspective magic into a package that you could set up anywhere.
Like a hotel room, for example. These speakers have a ninja-like ability to disappear.
It's a two-way thing, I guess, but what's not typical of a stand-mount is
the sheer output of deep bass coming from such a small driver. I don't really
get it, but luckily, all I have to do is enjoy it. Having had a bit of
experience with these speakers (ahem), I didn't dive for the sweet spot, but I
did pull out the Chris Jones CD again, and again played the same "No
Sanctuary Here" track -- only to watch another gentleman start scanning the
room. A friend of his looked behind the dresser that had been set up as an
impromptu equipment rack. It took me a second before I realized they were
looking for the subwoofer. Whoops! I played innocent, just nodding and saying "I know, right? Wow" over and over as they muttered to themselves.
"Yeah, I don't know how Jeff Joseph does it, but ain't it cool?"
And there you have it, Capital Audiofest 2012.
The future of the local audio show is still an undecided
thing, but given today's market realities, the ability for many consumers to
reach out and touch a prospective acquisition has become decidedly difficult.
The local audio show is, perhaps, a way for us to still do that, and for that
reason alone, I think a show is a good and valuable thing. It's also a whole
pile o' fun.
Seriously, name another hobby where an enthusiast can go and
meet the artists he admires, question their motives, challenge their
assumptions, gain insight to their personal biases and predilections, get a
side order of real education around the whys and wherefores, and at the same
time, actually be in a position to experience and evaluate the creations
themselves? An audio show is a pretty sweet deal, if you ask me. Which you
didn't, but I'm telling you anyway. That's how I roll.
Apologies to all those I didn't cover adequately, but
fear not! More in-depth coverage will be appearing on Part-Time Audiophile
over the next couple of weeks, so be sure to tune in there.
Thanks to Gary Gill and Crew at the Capital Audiofest
for putting up a great show!
See you at the next one!
---> Back to main Capitol
Audiofest 2012 main page.