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

Capital AudioFest Chronicles 2022
Rick continues with the 6th floor Part B.
Show Report By By Rick Becker

 

 

Room 634 MoFi? Or Who?
I have no photos from this room, but I know I saw Jon Derda and the new SourcePoint 10 speaker from Andrew Jones later on in the show. Possibly there was a last-minute room change after the program was printed.

My video notes portray an outstanding room that featured music sourced through a Rose RS 150B Reference Networked Streamer ($5k). An alternative front end was the EMT 928 turntable ($TBA) that I saw weeks earlier in Toronto. There was also an EMT phono stage ($12k). Power was sourced from a BAT VK80i integrated tube amp ($10k) and the speakers were Piega Coax 411 ($10k) on SolidSteel stands ($649).

"Coax" here refers to the coaxial tweeter and midrange ribbon drivers, a design that is unique to Piega. The speaker is available in silver, black, and white. The female vocalist was silky smooth with a lot of air and bloom. Inviting, if not downright seductive. A classical piece that followed (Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Allegre Molto) was also very present in the room. Now if the host of this room would get in touch with me and let me know who they are....

 

 

Room 637, 641 Linear Tube Audio
LTA is the home team at the Capital AudioFest, based in Takoma Park, MD, about 12 miles down the pike from Rockville, and also not far from David Berning, developer of the ZOTL amplifier design that has been licensed to LTA. In their first room (637) they had their Ultralinear+ integrated amp ($7650) along with a pre-production prototype DAC to be released next year. The speakers here were the DeVore Fidelity Gibbon Super Nine ($9,990). Everybody's heard about their Orangutan O/93 and O/96 models, and the Gibbon series seems to fly under the radar.

 

 

I heard this speaker last year at BEK Audio up in Allentown and I was even more impressed with it here at the show. Cables here were from AntiCables, including Level 3.3 USB cable ($215), Level 5.3 XLR interconnects ($900) and Level 4.2 FLEX speaker 'wires' ($640). This was a great-sounding room with a lot of resolution, transparency, and dynamics — all at a price that a lot of folks can aspire to.

 

 

In their second room (641) they took it up a level with their MicroZOTL Preamplifier (Level 2) ($5750) and ZOTL 40 Reference+ monoblocks ($6800 each) which you see above on some attractive multi-ply wood amp stands. The equipment rack was from Modulum and that was a Meitner Audio MA3 Integrated DAC ($10,500).

The speakers were the EV1202 Reference from Credo Audio Switzerland and I was very impressed with them. At Axpona (and possibly at RMAF) Credo presented their largest speaker in a huge room, and as often happens in large rooms, the result was less than optimal. The fit here — the room size & the associated components were much better. The Van den Hul cables used in this rig were more affordable than I expected. The 3T Baby Blue speaker cables with modular connectors were $999. The 3T Rock RCA and XLR interconnects were $622 and the Mainserver power cables were only $320.

 

 

 

Room 642 Eleven Trading Co.
Eleven Trading Company (11TC) is a subsidiary of Premium Audio Company and became the exclusive distributor in the Americas for Esoteric and TEAC. They also have exclusive distribution in the Americas for Onkyo, Pioneer, Pioneer Elite, and Integra electronics. They showed with Canton Reference 5K speakers ($20k) using AudioQuest cables and a Puritan power conditioner.

The photo clips out the Teac TN5BB turntable ($1800) on top of the Lateral Audio rack. Below that was the E-02 fully balanced phono preamp ($9500), K-01XD SACD / CD player/DAC ($24k), and N-05XD Network DAC/Linestage Preamp/Headphone Amplifier ($11k) along with a pair of S-05 Class A stereo power amps ($12,500 each), presumably used as monoblocks. The music here sounded fine, but Esoteric gear is typically featured with much more expensive speakers which makes me wonder if their gear was doing the heavy lifting in this room.

 

 

 

Room 645 Von Schweikert
The huge Valve Amplification Company (VAC) and Von Schweikert Audio presentation put on with The Audio Company at shows around the country always garners a lot of attention and "Best of Show" awards but it is a pretty surreal experience for most audiophiles. I've suggested before that they should consider putting together something closer to a 'real world' rig in a smaller room that we plebeians could relate to. My wish came true in Room 645 this year and none other than Damon Von Schweikert was manning the room when I came by. Shown here were a VAC Master Preamplifier with Phono ($44k), VAC Statement 450SiQ Stereoblock (not on the list), an Aurender N10 streamer / renderer ($8,500), LampizatOr's new flagship DAC, the Horizon ($50k) (not on the list), the world premiere of both the Von Schweikert Endeavor Reference Edition speaker ($20k) and VR-S/1 subwoofer ($TBA).

 

 

 

While this totals over $100k, when you add in the subwoofer, the Masterbuilt cables, and Artesania racks mentioned in the fine print, the total climbs significantly higher. That's a lot of money for a rig in such a small room, but it was clear that it would sound just as good, if not better, in a much larger room — not as large as the Potomac room, but a large room in all but the most extravagant homes. Moreover, it was a rig a lot of people could relate to with the understanding that you can scale down to lesser products in either the electronics or the speakers without taking a steep dive in sound quality.

 

 

The sound here was superb. It was better than the presentation downstairs with all its glass walls. And having reviewed the entry-level LampizatOr Amber 4 DAC this year, as much as I love it, it was easy to hear why the Horizon costs so much more. The reason you don't see a subwoofer in the photos is that Damon tapped into the signal of the bass driver of the left speaker (which is bi-wired) and ran it to the back left corner where a 10" subwoofer was hidden under a table with a tablecloth. It was also wired out of phase to actively cancel the bass coming from the main speakers and clean up the music.

 

 

Whatever the theory, the bass was very tight, dynamic, and clean — something that doesn't usually happen in such a small room with such a large speaker. And of course, the rear-firing ribbon driver added a sense of spatial volume that also belied the size of the room. The downside to showing in a small room is that you can't fit as many people into it as in the Potomac room. Surprisingly, I was fortunate enough to have the room to myself so I heard it at its best.

As I was about to leave, Damon pointed out the Center Stage "LS" Series loudspeaker footers that are an option on this or any speaker with threaded inserts. The LS 0.8 footer for speakers up to 200 pounds (91 kgs.) make for a $5200 upgrade to a pair of speakers. More costly versions are available for speakers up to 1600 pounds each. While this changes the value proposition a bit, there are other vibration-absorbing footers and platforms at lower prices. This approach has become something of a trend in the past few years. There are strong adherents to either this approach or firmly grounding a speaker with spikes. Your type of floor will likely make a substantial difference. In many cases, you get to be the jury.

 

 

 

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