Capital AudioFest Chronicles 2022
Suite 319 Now Listen Here
The amps were a Meitner PRE preamp (~$7,500) feeding a Jeff Rowland 625 S2 stereo amp ($18,400). Power came through a Transparent PowerWaveX power conditioner ($3,895) and Transparent Premium power cords ($625). Transparent Super cables were used for the speakers ($2k), XLR interconnects ($1,500) and RCA interconnects ($850).
Qln speakers have never failed to impress me and I was surprised by the more affordable Transparent cables and power conditioner that were used here. The big bucks were in the DAC and amplification. Now Listen Here has been an active retailer on the show circuit and carries an impressive lineup of gear. As configured when I was there, this was a very listenable rig.
Room 321 Audio Thesis
Also on the list was HiFiStay Mythology ($6,250) which was likely the equipment rack, though the amps were also on their amp stands. A little research showed this South Korean company dates back to 2002 when it evolved from a company that manufactured automation equipment and optical instruments. They also manufacture a wide variety of high-tech footers. It wasn't obvious in the darkened room. Next time I'll try and get more revealing photos.
As with recent previous shows, walking into the Audio Thesis room is an "Oh, Wow!" experience. It took mere seconds to recognize the excellence of this presentation. As with most things Italian, it takes a minute or two to get out of your box frame of reference to appreciate the fine design of their speakers. At this price point, your room will likely be decorated to the max with art and quality furnishings. The upper module and woofer baffle are covered in leather. The outer woofer cabinet is high-gloss automotive paint or contrasting leather. This looked like alligator to me. And the gold ‘jewel' at the top of the front baffle is a ribbon diaphragm-ultrasonic generator (super-tweeter). If you need something more, there is a model above this one, and if your room is smaller, the models below don't give up much in frequency response or musicality.
Room 323 Highwater Sound
Part of that consistency is the TW-Acoustic turntable which is typically his sole source. In this case, it is the LS 3-motor, copper platter model ($24k) equipped with a Glanz 12" tonearm fitted with a TZAR DST SPU cartridge ($13,500) on the right and a TW-Acoustic Raven 12" tonearm with a Miyajima Infinity Mono cartridge ($3,475) on the left. (Jeff wouldn't think of playing a mono LP without a mono cartridge.) To top it off there was a Massif Audio Design record weight (front left corner) made from a dense custom wood ($1k). As I said earlier, these record weights can pull out detail and tone you never before experienced if your rig is of sufficient quality.
The showpiece in this rig was the New Audio Frontiers Signature 845SE integrated amp ($28k) from Italy which could only be more impressive if you removed the tube cage. It rested upon a Silent Running Audio Ohio XL platform, as did the turntable. And being in black, as well as the amp and much of the turntable, Jeff went with a mostly black version of the Codia Acoustic Design rack, a Stage 5000S. He showed the more elegant 3000 Diagon rack last time, but the 5000S can be dressed up with different finishes on the metal pillars. All of their upper-level models feature a resonator to relieve standing waves in the shelves.
Their 5000S series has hexagonal cutouts within the shelves that are filled with damping material. On the lower level of the rack was the TW-Acoustic RPS-100 Phono Stage ($25k) with a separate power supply. This phono stage is very feature-rich via the three buttons on either side of the screen.
The speaker was a Horning Hybrid Systems Aristotle PM 65 ($24k) that aside from its unique Tineoveneer, looked pretty conventional from the front. Around back, things go more unusual with what Jeff said was something from Stein Music. These were the little dongle-like things plugged into the binding posts. I was referring to the monster black appendage on the upper back side. Given the 32 cm width of the speaker, I guess that the roughly 8" circular indentations correspond somehow to the 8" woofers described on the website. There are acoustical filters at 200Hz and 12kHz with only a single capacitor to protect the tweeter at 12kHz, which explains the outstanding transparency of this horn design. Note the two rectangular ports at the bottom on the back.
The room here was different from the previous room with Rossofiorentino speakers, but every bit as good in its own way. Jeff must travel a lot to come up with such good components. They are not the popular big-name brands, but like finding wine from obscure vineyards in Europe, he knows the good stuff when he hears it and he knows how to put an outstanding rig together — right down to the Zen Sati Zoro cables.