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Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2021 Show Report

Capital Audiofest 2021 Show Report
Back from the brink with passion!
CAF 2021 Show Report By Greg Weaver

 

 

Daedalus, VAC, LampizatOr North America, And WyWires
Randolph Room
I will freely admit that once I learned that Fred Ainsley of LampizatOr North America was setting up with Lou Hinkley, owner and designer of Daedalus Audio and cofounder of the new Pacific Audio Fest, my curiosity was more than just a little piqued. As I walked into the 628 ft2 Randolph Room, not only did a see several pieces of world-class gear with which I was very familiar, but I was quite taken by the sight of the new, stunning looking Daedalus Audio statement loudspeakers, the ZEUS v.3, flawlessly finished in a beautiful figured baked maple. This was going to be interesting.

The digital source in this room was the highly regarded Taiko Audio SGM Extreme Music Server (starting at $28,000). As I said, there were several machines in play here that I was quite familiar with, and the Taiko was handing off to the first of them, the LampizatOr Pacific valve-based DAC ($25,950) from Poland and the mind of Łukasz Fikus. The Pacific was feeding Kevin Hayes' utterly remarkable Valve Amplification Company's Statement 450i iQintegrated amplifier ($150,000). I had the honor and pleasure of being the first to review this masterpiece for The Absolute Sound.

 

The LampizatOr Pacific, Taiko Audio SGM Extreme, and VAC Statement 450i iQ.

 

All electronics were isolated using the Daedalus isolation Devices (DiD) for electronics, starting at $480 per set, and all cabling was from WyWires, featuring the Diamond Series Digital Cables, starting at $1,695, the Diamond Series Interconnects, starting at $4,495, the Platinum Series power cords, starting at $999, the Diamond Series power cords starting at $2,995, and the Diamond Series Speaker cables at $7,999.

The exceptional VAC integrated was driving the new Daedalus Audio ZEUS v.3, Lou's new full-range 74" tall flagship speaker, which utilizes a two-part cabinet design. While all six drivers and the crossovers reside in the upper cabinet, the two one-inch domes, the two new 6 inch midranges, and the two 10" woofers are configured in a true D'Appolito array. However, the lower cabinet is ported and affords all the required volume.

This highly efficient speaker (98.5db 1w/1m) presents an easy and very stable 6-Ohm flat impedance, and, depending on finish, they start at $39,900. The ZEUS v.3 was resting on both the new US-made Daedalus Stainless steel spikes with Brass leveling ($38 each), and the Daedalus isolation Devices for speakers (DiD-SPK - $50 each).

 

Fred Ainsely with the Pacific DAC.

 

I had high hopes for this system, and, spoiler alert, I was not let down. This system offered BIG sound, including its imaging and soundstaging, a sound that was open, spacious and laden with wonderful texture. Hugh Masekela's trumpet on "Stimela (The Coal Train)" from his 1994 Hope release was superbly recreated, totally vibrant, and remarkably dynamic. The entire musical gestalt was presented with remarkably smooth tonality, and offered the clearest sense of microdynamic shading I can ever recall hearing from any Daedalus loudspeaker. The sparkle and shimmer unmasked with well-recorded piano or horns were rendered with a vibrance surprisingly like the real thing, displaying fabulous attack and decay.

Moving to the Reiner / CSO Scheherazade, the bloom, tone, and body the system offered up creating the full-bodied orchestral experience was spectacular. This system portrayed all the music I heard while in this superb room, from popular to classical to rock, in a supremely relaxed and superbly natural envelope. Clearly, this combination of the remarkably expressive LampizatOr Pacific DAC, combined with the VAC Statement 450i and its ability to render fine detail and resplendent tone and texture, allowed the Daedalus ZEUS v.3 to find a near-effortless and natural voice.

 

Lou Hinkley standing beside the new Daedalus ZEUS v.3 floorstander.

 

This was demonstrably one of the five most musically authentic-sounding rooms I heard at this show, securing its place in my Top Five Rooms. A strong argument could be made that it had a shot at second place overall, in direct competition with the Wilson Room, assembled by Doug White and Michael Vamos. Further, what Lou has accomplished with this iteration of the ZEUS is exemplary. Bravo gentlemen. Very well done.

 

 

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