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AKFEST 2010 Show Report (Audio Karma Fest) Coverage By Wayne Zufall
AKFEST 2010 Show Report (Audio Karma Fest) Coverage By Wayne Zufall

  The 7th annual AudioKarma Fest, 2010 edition was hosted by website owner and co-founders David and Nancy Goldstein. I am here to let you know that there are good things to do and happy places to be in Detroit. This year the AK Fest audio show was clearly a happy place to be. Held on May 1 and May 2 at the Sheraton Hotel in Novi, Michigan and, despite the rainy days, people drove four or five hundred miles and more to attend the show. They were not disappointed, it was a fun show with people visiting with old friends and making lots of new ones. Plus getting the opportunity to see, touch and hear a lot of really high quality audio components.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the AK Fest, which started out indirectly from the formation of Audio Kharma, a very large and well known audio website known for its "all audio and no attitude", back in June 2002. Some of the local members used to get together at David Goldstein's home to hear his stereo and before long, 70 or more people were coming to his home to "enjoy the music". By 2003 it became apparent to the Goldstein's that they had to move their meetings to a larger facility and they moved to a "not so great hotel in Livonia", according to David Goldstein and that is how the show got started and evolved to what it is today.

There were approximately 44 show rooms this year of which eight were actual members showing their systems. The membership, primarily the member's wives, were graciously handling registration, providing information, directions and answering questions. It was very well organized, coordinated and the facilities, including the food, were very much appreciated by all. The show was spread out over three floors. On the first floor was a large room filled with various vendors who were selling vinyl, tuners, amplifiers, speakers, turntables, cables, raw parts and tubes. I found a very nice Sansui tuner to use as a source for breaking in speakers, amplifiers and so on. However, my wife decided she wanted it for the stereo in her gym. I guess I will be back looking for another one next year.

The second and third floors were where the show rooms were located. There were several well known brands represented; McIntosh, Audio Note, CAT, Bel Canto, Analysis Plus, Dali, Rega, Wadia, Dynaudio and Paradigm to name a few. There were several new introductory products to be seen, touched and best of all listened to. While there were a few fairly large speakers being shown, it was pretty much a monitor to mini-monitor show. The small size of the rooms plus the way they were laid out made it very difficult for a large speaker not to be heavy or just plain boomy in the bass.

With so many people in the room listening and walking around, it was difficult on Saturday to really hear the systems or get pictures without people being in them. Getting an opportunity to ask for information on the equipment or speakers was next to impossible. I went back on Sunday to have a second listen, take more pictures and try to get more information. Listening to music that you were not familiar with made it difficult to know what you were hearing. Meaning there were some rooms on Saturday that sounded poorly because of the music itself, perhaps the room or the setup; there were too many variables, so Sunday was the time to try to listen to music I was familiar with to get a better feel of what I was hearing. Here and in no particular order are the rooms I was able to visit, get a picture or two and have the opportunity to comment on the sound and equipment.


Audio Note
There was some excellent sound coming from this $46,175 system; Audio Note CD 4.1x ($9,500), Jinro 211 SE integrated amplifier ($21,175) and E/Lexus Signature 2 way rear ported speakers ($15,500). This was a very clean, transparent, fast and balanced system. I think a good reason why this room sounded great, in addition to the caliber of the system, was that they had done an effective job of setting up the speakers in their room. This was an enjoyable system to listen to.


CAT and Vivid K1
Here was a full complement of CAT, Convergent Audio Technology components, plus the Vivid K1 speakers, which were $65,000 for the pair. I would guess an easy $100,000 plus in CAT and other components, which did not include a stack of cables and wires that would add several thousand more. In such a small room, it was very difficult to tell what the combination of this system was capable of doing. It had moments of great sounds here and there and I believe it probably is an awesome system; however, it would be best to listen to in a proper sized room to really make a fair evaluation. Revisiting on Sunday did show that this was a system with huge potential. Having owned CAT components, I know it is very, very good, so the only wild card would be getting the opportunity to hear the Vivid K1s in a room where they have the opportunity to really show their capability.


Superior Sight & Sound: Joseph Audio, Bel Canto, Rega and Analysis Plus
There were two rooms set up by Superior Sight and Sound, a local dealer; one was using the Joseph Audio Pulsars ($7000) and a full complement of the very capable Bel Canto electronics, including a 75 watt stereo amp, (Ref 150S @ $1500), CD-2 ($3000), DAC 3.5VB ($3500) with Analysis Plus interconnects and speaker cable. This system was very transparent, detailed, fast, dynamic and very musical; sounding twice as good as what it cost. The DAC 3.5 and Ref 150S were presented to the public for the first time at this show.

The second room featured the new and first time presented Rega Isis CD/DAC player ($9000) and Osiris 150 watt per channel integrated amplifier ($9000), the Dali Helicon 400 Mark 2 speakers ($7000) and Analysis Plus cables. This was a very natural, dynamic, musical and effortless sounding system. I had the opportunity to briefly talk to Steve Sinkoff, who is the owner of Superior Sight and Sound. He was very helpful and informative about providing details about these great sounding systems. (248) 626-2780.


Click here for next page of AKFEST 2010 report.












































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