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Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2023 Show Report -- CAF 2023 premium luxury audio event coverage.

Capital Audiofest 2023 Show Report / Chronicles Part 7
The 3rd Floor Part A
Show Report By Rick Becker



Room 321  Audio Thesis And Northern Audio
Once again I found another wonderful presentation with Rosso Fiorentino's speakers in a room sponsored by Audio Thesis, the importer based in Arlington Texas. I also had the pleasure of meeting Derek "Skip' Skipworth who is the young entrepreneur who runs the business.



The model here is the Volterra Series 2 ($17,500), and like many Rosso speakers, it is not your typical block design (though some are). The continuity of the line is the voicing of their speakers which is smooth, inviting, even sensuous, while giving a great amount of detail without any hint of irritation. And when the music calls for it, they portray a holographic sense of space. Add to that an Italian attention to detail, construction, and style and you have a speaker quite unlike anyone else in your neighborhood or audio club.



That looked like a Technics SL-1200G turntable sitting on top of MoFi's Master Phono phono stage ($6k). On the shelf below were a couple of small black units from Silent Angel, their Munich M1 streamer with the Forester F1 power supply ($2,300), sitting on top of a Norma Audio Revo IPA-140B integrated amp ($9,600). Skip typically matches the Rossos up with the Norma gear at shows and it is a very fine, almost magical combination.

As in the other Audio Thesis room, 634 in Part 6, the cables here were from Way Cables in Belgrade, Serbia.

Audio Thesis teamed up with Northern Audio, a Pittsburgh, PA, dealer for this show.



I'm not sure if this special Beatles Edition of the Spin-Clean record cleaner was in Skip's room, but it deserves attention as a reasonably effective way to manually clean your LPs. A lot of young people are getting into the vinyl game and are not yet ready to step up to an ultrasound cavitation cleaner for thousands of dollars. But for $75 on Amazon for the Spin Clean Beatles edition, they can get a lot of junk off garage sale LPs or records they've inherited from their parents. The version introduced a year or so ago has several advanced features over the original.




Room 323  High Water Sound
I slid into the High Water Sound room and took a seat before Jeff Catalano could notice me. Music was a groove with electric guitar and conga drums in a jazz vein. As usual, the rig was unusual and of the highest standard. Jeff bills High Water as "Two-Channel with attitude" but that's more to do with his equipment boundaries than his persona as I've always found him approachable, friendly, and extremely knowledgeable about equipment, turntables in particular. He is both an importer of esoteric high-quality, mostly European brands and a retailer of many more, some of which are familiar names.

And a few of which I've reviewed: Codia Acoustic Design racks from South Korea, Charisma Audio turntables and phono cartridges from Canada, Massif Audio Design racks, cable lifters and record clamps from Canada, and soon, Acora Acoustics speakers, also from Canada. And then there is the mutual respect we have as motorcycle riders, though living just south of the Brooklyn Bridge on Water Street in Manhattan has taken much of the fun out of riding for him in recent years.

I usually get a room list of equipment here, but I seem to have misplaced it. The large horn speaker that grabbed my attention upon entering was from Cessaro Horn Acoustics, one of the lines he imports and distributes. High-efficiency, and not an entry-level product, by far.



The room was decorated with plants across the front wall and gave an organic suggestion to the music that poured forth. High Water imports TW-Acoustic turntables and they are frequently seen elsewhere at the show, too. That's a Silent Running Audio anti-vibration box beneath the turntable and the rack is the new flagship of the Codia Acoustic Design line, looking more substantial while less decorative than the model I treasure.

On the middle shelf was the TW Acoustic Phono stage and separate power supply. And on the bottom shelf was the TW Acoustic preamp with its separate power supply. To either side of the rack was a TW Acoustic SET monoblock equipped with a Western Electric 300B power tube and an Osram driver tube. These were impressive power amps with their copper plate decks. Off to the left was a Sorcer X4 from ADD Powr ($4,400), a harmonic resonator that uses line transformers to "re-reference" or pulse the AC line with low-frequency harmonics to increase the S/N ratio. I also noticed that virtually everything was resting on special aftermarket vibration-absorbing feet.



The TW Acoustic turntable seems to be a variation on their Raven Anniversary, Jubilee edition, with a massive copper and acrylic platter. The record weight is one of the most unusual I've ever seen.



Here is a closer look at the TW Acoustic phono stage with a separate power supply. Note the special footers I mentioned. The shelves of the Codia Acoustic Design rack seem to be a layer of vibration-absorbing material sandwiched between plates of metal.



Room 325  Gestalt Audio
Gestalt Audio in Nashville, TN, carries some of the same lines High Water Sound (above) imports and I've heard their rooms in close succession before at shows where they've achieved almost the same degree of excellence. The room here at Capital was locked when I came by on Sunday morning. In the past, this has sometimes indicated the host was giving a special audition to a customer or reviewer. And last year their room leaked water, forcing them to close. Perhaps there was a recurrence? A note on the door would have been a courtesy.

They had sent me an equipment list so I'll run down that briefly, but I didn't hear the rig. It is easy to surmise it was very good, given the brands that were listed.

The speakers were Cessaro GAIA I, a two-way D'Appolito design with a bandwidth of 35Hz to 30kHz, 91dB/W/m efficiency, 4 Ohm impedance, 88 lbs. each, and about 52" tall on dedicated stands with a price of $22k.

TW Acoustic Raven GT2 turntable: $12k
TW Acoustic Raven 10.5 tonearm: $6k
Fuuga MC cartridge: $10k
Lamm Industries  M 1.2 Reference hybrid Class A monoblocks: $40k
Lamm Industries  LL2.1 Deluxe tube line stage: $9k
Lamm Industries  LP1 Signature dual monaural tube phono stage
       with two separate power supplies: $50k

The rig also included Pranawire, Dalby Audio Design, Codia Acoustic Design rack, and items from Stein Music in Germany. Knowing what I missed out on in the Gestalt Audio room makes the disappointment greater. I hope all is well with them.



Part 8 Coming Soon
This wraps up the terrific row of small rooms on the 3rd Floor, which leaves about 24 large rooms plus the booths in the Atrium to cover. With luck and diligence, I'll have Part 8 up early next week. Keep checking back as there are still a lot of great rooms ahead.




---> Onward to Part 8 of Rick Becker's Capital Audiofest 2023 report.


---> Back to the main Capital Audiofest 2023 show report homepage.















































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