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Pacific Audio Fest 2022 Show Report  -- PAF 2022 Event Expo

 

The Inaugural Pacific Audio Fest - Seattle 2022
Part One: Off To An AMAZING Start....
Show Report By Greg Weaver

 

 

  Moving to the parallel hallway, across a glass-walled, open-air space between them, were another three rooms, starting with the HeadZone space and Luthier's Showcase, then the Grand Ballroom 2, with the general Marketplace at the end of that hallway.

 

 

The HeadZone area included displays from the likes of RME, Tom Christiansen Audio, Stax, and Audezee, while the Luthier Showcase featured some beautiful, hand-crafted instruments from Irvin Guitars, JT Custom Bass, Curley Creek Guitars, Klein & Kauffman, and Focal! While I enjoyed looking at some of the beautifully executed guitars and basses, I'm not a headphone guy, so, I don't really have much to say about this room.

 

 

Next up was the Marketplace room, featuring many exhibits, including my friend and colleague, J.R. Boisclair, of Wallyanalog, Kirmuss Audio, Troy Audio, Ocean Audio, RX Reels (open reel decks and tape), ASC-Tube Traps, King Rexelectric, Mosquito Fleet, En Music, Iconoclast Cable, Klaudio, Coherence Systems, Great Plains Audio, iSonic Inc., MA Recordings, A/V RoomService, Ltd., and my buddy, Jose Ramirez of Dr. Vinyl. This room had a lot to offer, and I ran into, and had numerous conversations, with many of my friends and colleagues here over my several trips to this space over the duration of the event.

 

 

The Second Floor
This takes us to floor two, which hosted some still rather large spaces compared to the standard hotel rooms coming up...

Evergreen 1, a nicely laid out 36' x 28' x 8' space, was hosted by a joint Focal and Naim system. Naim was showing an all-out system, full of their Statement series products, which I had not heard all assembled as one system before this listen.

This system was fronted by either the Naim Solstice turntable, including the Naim Aro tonearm, an Equinox MC cartridge, and their Solstice Series Phono Stage, with its dedicated power supply and bespoke accessory set ($40,000), or the Naim ND555 streamer with its power supply ($22,999). The linestage was the Naim Statement pre-amplifier ($99,999), feeding the Naim Statement Mono amplifiers ($99,999 each), that develop 746 Watts or the equivalent of 1 horsepower! I really love this way of expressing output power in fact, using this manner of power rating, my current system is just shy of 4.6 horsepower!

 

 

This all drove a pair of Focal Maestro EVO Noyer naturel in beautiful light walnut ($139,999/pr.) using a set of their Super Lumina speaker cables ($4,000) .

Listening to the Sad3by cover of "Strange Fruit" really revealed this system's delicate nuance, remarkably bold and accurate tone, and its very accomplished ability at micro dynamic shading. Everything erupted from a very natural and nearly vanishing black background, exposing very nice scaling and transients. The stage was slightly shallow, but overall, the system showed excellent imaging, in both size and location.

 

 

Next up Cascade 1, a nearly square room, at 30' x 29' x 8', but the partners here, Innuous and Parasound, were showing two systems, a smaller, more intimate system along the back wall, and the larger, very impressive system along the right wall. And to my great pleasure, my friend and Parasound's Product and Sales Specialist, Phil Jackson was hosting the party when I showed up.

The smaller system featured the 1 TB version of the Innuous ZEN server ($2,849), feeding the stirring Parasound Halo HINT 6 Integrated amplifier with built-in DAC ($3,199), all resting on the NorStone Audio Rack ($TBD), driving the KEF REF 1 Meta loudspeakers ($8,000) on their dedicated speaker stands ($TBD), and all connected with Straight Wire cables. I got to hear Cassandra Wilson's version of "Red River Valley" on this exceptional diminutive system and was moved by the superb texture of voices and general sense of neutrality it conveyed.

 

 

But it was the big system that wowed here! This rig was fronted with either the Dr. Feickert Woodpecker Deluxe, with the Schick Tonearm/Headshell, fitted with a MoFi UltraGold MC Cartridge ($9,990) and the Parasound Halo JC3Jr. Phono Preamp ($1699), or by a Marantz Ruby SACD player ($3,999) or the Innuous Zenith ITB Music Server ($4699). Electronics included the Parasound JC2BP preamplifier ($3,999), feeding the best-in-class, award-winning, Parasound Halo JC1+ amplifiers ($18,998/pr.) in their first public showing, driving the KEF Blade Meta Loudspeakers ($35,000/pr.). Everything rested on NorStone Audio Rack/Amp Stands ($TBD), and all cabling came from Straight Wire again.

 

 

Hearing the new West Side Story soundtrack LP on this rig was, well, remarkably engaging. This system delivered exceptional stage depth, image focus, and correspondingly correct instrumental size, and exhibited wonderful transient speed and control. In this LP demo, horns were markedly correct sounding, both tonally and dynamically. Though I have a pair of the Halo JC1+ amplifiers at home, this was absolutely the most authentically musical that the KEF Blades, in any iteration, have ever sounded. Bravo for an exceptional presentation! 

 

 

 

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