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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


Volti And Border Patrol
Innuos Zenith ($4,250), BorderPatrol Audio Electronics DAC SEi ($1350), BorderPatrol Audio Electronics SE 300B EXD ($13,275), Triode Wire Labs Seven Plus power cord ($549), Digital American power cord ($499), Spirit II RCA interconnects ($399), Discrete USB cable ($299), PI Audio Group UberBUSS power conditioner ($1295), Volti Audio Rival Type II, fully optioned with Triode Wire Labs internal wiring and external crossovers ($16,400), Also on hand from Volti, a freshly built pair of 2020 Rival Special Edition speakers with curved laminated Baltic Birch sides - still needing veneer and finish; to be available in a couple of months fully optioned at ($17,900). Always a fun room. Big speakers. Big sound. Rarely bright or over bearing, even in a small room.





And once they have room to breathe within a larger room, and they don't fail to satisfy. They do soft and dainty, and jump to balls out in an instant! The BorderPatrol integrated mates magically while a Zenith Server fed the system digitally via a BorderPatrol tuned DAC without any sign of digital intrusion. Innuos servers hit the ground running and offer a combination of build quality, audio performance and user convenience that is hard to ignore. Build quality and fit and finish are always spectacular from both Volti and BoarderPatrol.


Perfect 8 The Cube-S And Ypsilon
Ypsilon DAC 100 ($29,000), Ypsilon Phaeton ($25,000), Perfect 8 Cube -S Speaker's ($25k, with the sub added $10k). Forgive the expression, but they are transparent; these speakers simply vanish! Images are projected directly behind the speaker, which is not easy to accomplish. Stage depth and width is amazing too! Sound is natural, harmonically comprehensive and textured. Sometimes luscious. Integration between sub and satellites is well done, yet I believe a better room and acoustics would improve that further.




It can over saturate the room on some tracks, which is a byproduct of the room, not the system. Depth is excellent, taught and had both complexity and character. This was an elegantly simple and refined, albeit close to $90k system. I'd love to get a pair of these glass beauties, and that Ypsilon integrated, in my listening room for a romp!


Studio Electric And Parasound
Studio Sound $9000 depending on wood finish. Hand made in Salt Lake City by a one man show with Parasound, this room was a breath of fresh air regarding affordability (just like his other room). The Parasound are reliable over performers for the price and do everything right, and nothing wrong. The Studio Electric Speakers mated beautifully. Fathomless low extension in a small, masterfully crafted cabinet; with gorgeous ethereal upper extension as well. And all the stuff in the middle satisfies just as much.



The speakers convey pulse, rhythm and dynamics like speakers 1.5x to 2x their price. Palpability was almost effortless. Tonal texture and harmonic structure was dead on. Technically an easy to drive nominal 6 Ohm load.All the drivers with the tweeters being manufactured in-house. The designer / manufacturer came from the Pro Audio world, so he knows his stuff!


Distinctive, Merrill Audio And Genesis
Genesis Maestro speakers ($30k), Genesis Premium Gold Phonostage ($12k), VPI HW-40 ($15k) with Van Der Hull Crimson Black cartridge ($5,300), Merrill Audio Christine preamp ($12,400), Merrill Audio 116 Monoblocks ($22k), Aurender N10 ($8000), Emm Labs DAC2X DAC ($15,500), Genesis rack & isolation ($21,100), and lastly Genesis cables ($9,600). It's always a pleasure hearing this system. And a "system" it is.




Perfectly matched from platter to speakers, with a side of digital delights. The speaker has adjustments that allow to match the room meticulously. And the Genesis speaker setup technique reliably produces sensational results. The nine drivers sounded like a single point radiator and then vanish, a huge accomplishment; especially in such a small room (and not a drop of acoustic treatments). Staging scales to the music selected and presents instruments and vocals of both proper size and dynamic density, in an absolutely pitch black background. Merrill's gear is lightning fast and has a bottomless noise floor.



Palpable and wonderfully engaging. One of the best rooms here. Speakers were sold before the show was over. Larry better get more, I think he will need the inventory because these $30k speakers were a bargain even at that price.


Gershman, NAIM, And Accuphase
Gershman Grand Studio 2 ($12k), Accuphase E270 Integrated ($5000), and OPPO UPD 205 CD Player ($1299) system had a smooth and natural sound. Close your eyes and listen. Create a mental image of solid harmonic structures and layering presented on a silk pillow with a silver ribbon. These are mirror-flipped monitors in a D'Appolito design, except that the tweeters are crossed over at different frequencies. Sealed enclosures, with the low frequency extension sounding stunning! It was tight and impactful without a sign of smear or smudge.




Accuphase and NAIM feed the suspended duo and helped the system shine. In the past few years, dealers and manufacturers have really figured out how to get great sound from these hotel rooms. And the Gershman's are a truly lovely couple. These speakers are worth looking into more thoroughly.


Pure Audio Project. Luminous, Pass Labs, And VPI
Classic with Voxative option was on display at around $10k. For the money, these speakers shine like a beacon of audio affordability. Their open baffle design and swappable tweeter module allow tuning to taste, and they each have their own sweat sonic signature. Certainly not the last word in ultra-low frequency extension or detail, but what they do they do so very well. Supporting gear including an Arion phono preamp and Adiom 2 passive preamp, Pass Labs XA 160.8 monks and a VPI Scout turntable were equally wonderful, if not quite as affordable.




Anyone looking for an around $10k speaker who can fit the wide baffle and appreciate the unique appearance must find a way to hear these. They never offend and frequently delight. The photos show the larger speaker on display day one, report is the smaller open baffle on display day three. The larger open baffle is sensational and fills in whatever was missing in the smaller version, including better staging, detail and harmonic structure.


VR, Innuos, And Qln
QLN Prestige three SE ($9k to $12k depending on finish). Vinnie Rossie L2i-SE ($19k + $3500 / DAC & phono module), Innuos Statement server ($13,750), SGR Model 5 Symphony rack ($3,200/shelf), GigaWatt PC-4 Evo+ with L3-3HC ($10k), and Triode cables ($2,400). This room wowed! Stage was insane, making the windows and walls melt away. Speakers just vanished.



Here's a two-way loudspeaker done right! Truly, really, they do it right. Although missing the last bit of bottom end extension, the room went from top to bottom seamlessly and made me want to get up to get down. Am trying to find something to criticize and I just can't. The server brought the bits and just got out of the way. The VR SE integrated turned it into elegance, power and emotion and the Prestige Three made it real; like holy s&!t real! Standout Best Of Show Award. And did I say the speakers are under $10k in their standard finish?!? WOW!


GTT, YG Acoustics, Audionet, And Kronos
Audionet Humboldt Integrated $55k (phono card $10,100 & EPX power supply $10,100), Chronos Sparta table with optional SSCPS power supply, Helena 10.5" arm and Air Tight Opus 1 cartridge $57k, Kubala Sosna cables $19,400, MolaMolaTambaqui DAC $13,400, AURALiC Aries G2 $4,350 , Roon Nucleus $2500, plus YG Acoustics' Carmel 2 speakers $24,200. Kronos power supply, plus Audionet's Humboldt world premiere was here at CAF 2019!



This room does it all right! Maybe more base extension would have made me happier, yet it was not missed. It's just the fact that the rest of the system and cabling could handle a $240k speaker without sneezing, so these speakers could be considered the weak link if one was to be declared; which one isn't. And the new MolaMolaTambaqui DAC helped to make this room spec' freaken' tacular! I could have spent half my day here and the other half in Distinctive Stereo's room, than an evening Scotch with Well Pleased and the late night in the Diva of the show, The Audio Company with Esoteric, VAC, and Von Schweikert within their room. Of course, I'd have to find a few hours for The Voice That Is as well. So much to listen to, so little time....


I treated myself to a new source, TEAC A-3340S.



I sense an Ampex ATR102 in my future… Things are sounding mighty fine for the next generation of audiophile, and the Capital Audiofest 2019 proves that point succinctly. Hope you enjoyed reading my CAF 2019 show report, and as always.... enjoy the music!



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