Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2013 Show
Part 3 Report By Kemper
One of the most gracious room hosts, Klaus Bunge who is Odyssey, transformed
his space into an oasis for the ears and eyes. Another veteran who knows
getting good sound out a hotel room involves some acoustic treatments,
courtesy of GIK. The system is all Odyssey, Lorelei floorstanders, Candela
pre, and a pair of Khartago amps, all wired up with Groneberg Quattro cables,
sit down now, the entire system comes to $5700. Nothing up his sleeve, no
crazy expensive electronics or cables, an entire great sounding system for the
cost of some company's interconnects. Here is a complete setup within reach
for most of us, and it sounded stunning. It had all the prerequisites to make
you smile, wide and deep soundstage, focused natural vocals, dynamics and
impactful bass. This system reeked with emotion; I spent a lot of time here
listening to not only my music, but selections I've never heard because it
communicated the feeling of the music. When friends remark on the cost of our
hobby, Odyssey is one of the options I mention that provides high end systems
at affordable prices.
Command Performance, Raidho, Hegel, VPI
The small Harbeth P3ESRs had already changed my mind about what to expect from a small speaker; then I heard the D-1 from Raidho. Expectations raised another notch. Supported by strikingly modern stands, the Raidho's really rocked, they played loud, went deep, completely disappeared, and were very transparent. I thought vocals and percussion were particularly real sounding. Another local dealer, Command Performance used Hegel electronics, P30 pre and H30 amp, CDP 2A player in the system. A VPI Classic 4 in rich rosewood topped the rack off, sporting two tonearms, for those who need two flavors for their vinyl listening.
Sonic Hemisphere, now Black Moon Audio
Another newcomer, these guys changed their name after the show, now called
Black Moon Audio. I heard their Fidelity One full range speakers ( $6599 per
pair), driven by a pair of Clayton mono blocks, a good match. The speaker
cables were Slinkies, I mean Anti Cables as the spiraling look had me do a
double take. These are a solid first effort, hard to locate the speakers, nice
3-D soundstage, deep powerful tight bass, natural vocals, and a pleasantly
detailed top end. The Clayton's controlled the woofers with an iron grip and
let the metal dome tweeter sound sweet. The "Avalonesque" looking cabinet
looked beautiful yet edgy. They have a small monitor that I did not get a
chance to hear. Black Moon also markets an affordable, $229, Synapse 180 power
conditioner. This was a room to relax in and listen to music. Good showing
Dave and Sid.
With low power amps, speaker matching is critical. Gary
Dewes of Border Patrol did a perfect job using a pair of 94dB/W/m sensitive
Living Voice OBX-RW speakers driven by his P20 amp, a parallel single ended
unit with two 300Bs per channel producing 18 watts per side. Gary is all about
power supplies and the P20 uses a pair of outboard power supplies, one for
each channel. I believe the massive power supplies are one way Gary gets such
extension at the frequency extremes, something most other 300B designs are not
noted for. When I played Flim and the BB's Tricycle,
the system was excitingly alive and dynamic and the drum kit truly powerful.
Voices had real body and were natural. Gary says even bigger power supplies
might be on the horizon.
Wait a minute, is that "Down on the Corner" from
Creedence Clearwater Revival I hear coming from this room? I have to go in and
hear what's going on. This over 40 year old album is sitting on a Classic 2
VPI table, with a Lyra Delos cartridge. The Magnepan 1.7 speakers were mated
to an unusual choice in amps, tubes courtesy of conrad-johnson's Premier 11.
The preamp was a prototype from LKV, and the star of the room, a Phono 2-SB,
$2500. The Phono 2-SB features variable cart loading and gain options. It
apparently does not take megawatt solid-state amps to make the 1.7s sound alive, this
system kept me around for a few record sides, including flipping over Willie
and the poor boys for Fortunate Son.
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