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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



  Using his laptop connected to the Greek Ypsilon DAC 100 ($29,000) feeding the Ypsilon Phaethon Integrated amplifier ($25,000), they all rested on the new Perfect8 The Rack ($2,000/shelf), and all interconnects were Mundorf Solid Core silver.

Created from the same superior quality super silent glass (SSG - a proprietary special glass type) as all of the Perfect8 product line, The Cube's ($20,000/pr.) feature their exclusive scratch resistant Diamond Gold high-frequency drivers and a pair of opposing 10" precision Kevlar / glass / carbon fiber composite cone woofers with ultra linear magnetic drive. The Sub ($15,000) was matched virtually flawlessly to the two cube satellites.


A closer look at a Cube and The Subwoofer.


There is no pun intended here, given the use of glass enclosures, but the system offered simply superb transparency, authentic pitch definition, and timbre. The sound was natural, neutral, and fast. It was surprisingly dynamic and open and totally non-boxy sounding. I can honestly say that I have never heard a "sub-sat" system sound this integrated and authentic. Great job, Jonas.



Wilson - The Voice That Is
Doug White, the principal behind "The Voice That Is," of Philadelphia, is well known for putting together great sounding rooms, and this year was no exception. Add to that, he was showing a few firsts, and you have both an exciting and wonderful sounding room.


A Vertere Acoustics Standard Groove SG-1 turntable and TIDAL electronics and speakers.


Sourced by either the Innuos Statement 1TB Server ($13,750), or the Vertere Acoustics Standard Groove SG-1 turntable ($17,995), Acoustical Systems Aquilar 10" Tonearm ($9,995) and Archon Cartridge ($3,500), preamplification came from the TIDAL Audio Preos ($30,000). A pair of TIDAL Audio Ferios Monobloc Amplifiers ($60,000/pr.) drove the very first pre-release pair of the TIDAL Audio Contriva 20th Anniversary Speakers in Rosewood veneer ($68,000). This was the "soft release" of the anniversary Contriva, which is limited a production run of just twenty pair.

Equipment rested on the Ictra Design Proto-AS Rack ($25,000), the Ferios Monobloc's sat on Critical Mass Systems Black Diamond Amp Stands ($2995/ea.), and the system used a full loom of Black Cat Stargate, Tron, and Lupo series of cables ($1,749 to $8,399). Finally, Critical Mass Systems CenterStage2 footers were used under the Innuos Statement Server and TIDAL Ferios Monobloc's.

As I mentioned, this event saw several firsts other than the 20th Anniversary Limited Edition TIDAL Contriva loudspeakers, including the world premiere showing of the Vertere SG-1 Turntable and the Acoustical Systems Aquilar Tonearm. This also marked the first showing of the Ictra Design Proto-AS Rack at a US show.


The first of only 20 pair 20th Anniversary TIDAL Contriva Loudspeakers.


Instruments were conveyed with vivid color, almost corporal texture, and remarkably solid body and bloom, generating a wonderful sense of instrumental weight. It offered a realistically sized, remarkably open soundstage, providing solid, stable, and accurate imaging. Everything was well balanced, octave to octave, nicely fleshed out, and alive sounding, yet utterly natural in doing so. This was clearly a very accomplished system; detailed, resolute, fast, vivid, and airy.



Room 530 - GTT Audio & Video
Bill Parish, of GTT Audio & Video is another cat who consistently puts together rooms that make it all seem so effortless and easy, regularly producing some of the best sounding rooms at shows. This year Bill was showing my reference 'table, the Kronos Sparta ($24,000), with the world premiere of the SSCPS (Sparta Super Capacitor Power Supply - $9,500), the Helena 10.5" tonearm with armboard ($8,550), fitted with an amazing Air Tight Opus 1 cartridge ($15,000). RIAA equalization was handled by the Audionet PAM G2 phonostage ($10,100) with the Audionet EPX external power supply ($10,100).

The digital front end included the AURALiC Aries G2 Streamer ($4,350), Roon Nucleus ($2,500), and the MolaMola Tambaqui DAC ($13,400). The Audionet Humboldt Integrated Amplifier ($55,000) was making its US premier here at CAF. I had heard it in Munich back in May, but not with associated products that I was familiar with, so this would prove to be a crucial listen for me. The Humboldt integrated offers two channels at 320 Watt @ 8 Ohm, or 460 Watts @ 4 Ohm, with a stated frequency response of 0 Hz to 700 kHz (@ -3dB)! It is both a powerhouse and a siren!


Kronos Sparta, SSPCS power supply, Helena arm, Air Tight Opus 1 cart, all Audionet electronics, and YG Acoustic Carmel 2 loudspeakers.


The Humboldt drove a pair YG Acoustic Carmel 2 loudspeakers ($24,200/pr.), YG's entry level speaker, which for all intent and purpose is a floor standing monitor. The Carmel 2 uses YG's exceptional all-aluminum cabinet construction plus is 1.33"" thick in some locations to ensure freedom from any resonance or vibration. It employs their in-house machined ForgeCore 1" dome tweeter and BilletCore 7" mid-woofer and takes advantage of their proprietary DualCoherent crossover and ToroAir inductors.

Cables and conditioning were all Kubala-Sosna, included both Sensation and Realization series interconnects, speaker cables, and power cords, as well as the XPander 7 ($5,400) and 10 ($6,500) outlet units.

While the useable LF output on the Carmel 2 is given at 40Hz, it is overall a little lightweight in that regard for my personal tastes. But I must admit, I hardly noticed in this installation! Talk about an overachiever!

With digital, piano and vocals were surprisingly natural, complete with remarkable inner detail. It had space and air to spare, along with a remarkable tonal balance. String tone and horns on Dvorak's "New World Symphony," were exceptional... But the move to LP showed the system's real colors. Everything took a huge step forward, with inner detail, trailing decay on cymbals, the blatt of horns, and especially female vocals offering such a persuasive presence, sounding so corporal, that they almost seemed to come alive. Microdynamic expressiveness was rife with fine detail and shading, while everything sounded so bloody natural. The only deficiency was that frequencies below 40 Hz were non-existent. Honestly, in a room that size (14' x 20'), if it had been able to play much lower, it surely would have excited room interaction rather strongly. All in all, the Carmel 2 was the perfect speaker for that room, and the sound was almost impeccable!



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