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Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2022 Show Report -- CAF 2022 premium luxury audio event coverage.

Capital AudioFest Chronicles 2022
3rd Floor Meeting Rooms, Atrium, Plus The Best Rooms At CAF 2022!
CAF 2022 Show Report By Rick Becker



Eisenhower (Very Large Room)  Acora Acoustics
I've heard Acora speakers at RMAF, Axpona, Montreal, Toronto, and the previous Capital Audiofest and in most (if not all) instances they've been among the Best Rooms I've awarded at each show. Valerio Cora has done a very nice job of mixing up the rig and selecting which of his three speakers to present according to the size of the room he was in.



At Axpona earlier this year the rig was over half-million dollars. Here at the Capital Audiofest 2022 show, it was toned down considerably. And while it was a very fine-sounding room, it seemed to fall below his normal excellence. This was one of the four big rooms and I felt none of them were outstanding. From my past exposure to Acora speakers, I have no doubt the room was the culprit.



Val had two rigs set up in the room and I listened to the primary system which featured his top speaker, the QRC-2 ($37k) premiering in a synthetic quartz composite, rather than the SRC-2 made with black African-sourced Granite. Both are a 2.5-way speaker with a pair of 7" sandwich paper cones mated to a 1" Beryllium dome tweeter. I had recently heard this quartz version in Toronto, so I know that was not the difference in sound quality I experienced at Capital.



JMF, a French line I knew from many years ago was making a resurgence here with the HQS 6002 dual-mono power amp ($39k), PRS 1.5 dual-mono preamp ($34k), PHS 7.2 dual-mono phono stage ($22k), and PCD 102 power line filter ($18k). Pricy components, but they certainly looked the part.



The Pear Audio Odar turntable with a 14" platter and a Comet 2 12" tonearm equipped with a Top Wing Blue Dragon cartridge was the flagship of their line, though I didn't get the prices. Rather high-end, if not high-heel sneakers on the guy cueing up the LP, too. The turntable was duly noted by Greg Weaver at the HIGH END Show in Munich at its introduction in 2019.

Ideon Audio, on the digital side, provided the Epsilon DAC ($47k), Absolute Stream (streamer) ($19,900), and Absolute Time (external clock?) ($9,900). Again, pricy stuff, as was the cabling from Cardas Audio and Ideon Audio. A second system, featuring the QRC-1 speaker ($28k), a two-way in the same size enclosure, also made with the new quartz composite, was in a lower-cost rig featuring a Hegel P30A preamp ($8,995), H30A stereo amp ($18,995) and an Ideon Audio digital front end with the ION DAC ($18k), ESO Stream ($9k) and EOS Time ($6k).

They cued up Elton John's "Honky Cat" for me which sounded good, but a little worn. Then they played Al Dimeola, John McLaughlin plus Paco DeLuca, Friday Night in San Francisco and the blazing speed, high resolution and tonal accuracy shot out from the speakers. Unfortunately, the room seemed to suck up some of the ambiances of the recording venue. If you were there, and you liked this room, wonderful. You will love it even more at other shows.




Executive Lounge (Medium Size Room) Now Listen Here And Vandersteen
Next door, which was recessed from the hallway and kept closed to keep it quiet (and dark) was another of the Now Listen Here rooms, a store in the Tenacious Sound Group. It was about 2/5th the size of the Acora room and the music exhibited more bloom and liveliness, perhaps because of reflections from the narrower width. It drew a sizeable crowd that seemed to be staying longer than I could afford to spend here, enjoyable as it was.



Featured here was the Vandersteen Kento Carbon fully powered system ($61,500) that included the speakers ($41,700), M5-HPA high pass monoblock amps ($16,800), and the HPA speaker cable ($3k).



The Pure Fidelity (once again) starts at $10k but was $11,790 as shown in the beautiful wavy pearlescent veneer. The DS Audio W3 optical cartridge ($5k) was mated with the EMM Labs DS-EQ1 optical EQ phono stage ($12,500). For digital, they had an EMM Labs DA2 v2 DAC ($30k) and an Innuos ZENith server ($5,399). A Backert Labs Rhumba Extreme preamp ($7,500) stood between the sources and the Vandersteen amps. Power conditioning was from a Transparent PowerWave X ($3,895) plus a standard PowerWave ($2k) with power cables said to be Transparent Premium ($625 each), which seems unusually low for a room of this stature. Perhaps they were going to run a "show special" on them after the show. The balanced interconnects were more appropriately priced from the Transparent Ultra series at $3k.




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