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Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2013 Show Report
Part 2 Report By Kemper Holt

  HiFi Logic, an appointment-only dealer from New Jersey, showed an array of gear from the lines they represent. When I visited the room, an Audio Space integrated amp was driving a pair of LS3/5a speakers sitting on matching subwoofer/stands, sensational imaging and soundstage, no hint of any sound coming from the physical location of the speakers. This room was packed whenever I tried to get in, very popular. I was able to stand in the back of the room when the alternate gear was attached to the LS3/5a's, a Wells Audio Innamorata SS amp fed by a "baby" Reference passive pre from Music First, another good sounding combo that avoided typical sand amp problems lacking only a smidgen of texture I reveled in from the 300B Audio Space amp, while producing a tighter low end with more drive. A Project turntable with Miracle Audio Phonatic RIAA stage spun vinyl.


Merrill Audio, Sanders Sound Systems, and Channel D room had 4 Merrill Veritas monoblocks bi-amp’ing a pair of Sanders 10C hybrid electrostatic speakers. But it was Channel D's software that held the surprises here. Rob Robinson explained to me the electronic crossover used to bi-amp the 10Cs was software implemented, and even more enlightening to me, the RIAA equalization was software as well! The Veritas monos use the Hypex Ncore 1200 modules with the spit polish provided by Merrill. The system revealed tons of detail, and in the narrow sweet spot imaged nicely, but the balance was a touch threadbare.


Finally a big room, big speakers, and big sound, Greg Robert's Volti Audio speakers. These speakers are big pieces of art, beautiful woodwork. The taller, 2 piece Aluras were silent during my visit, but the Vittoras, in a red gum finish, were pounding out dynamic excitement with ease. Greg had a pair of matching subs playing along with the Vittoras and bass slam was present. An EMM Labs DAC was linked to a Wells Audio Innamorata amp during my audition, the system sounded alive, detailed, and engaging, made me stay and listen to music I was not familiar with because I was having a good time.


The Monitor Audio room was tight and small; I didn't get a chance to do much listening. Driven by a "rack of Mac", I heard clean and lean from the system. I did learn where MA is headed; they have three new lifestyle products rolling out. Seeing the success of other wireless connected devices, MA is upping the ante by raising the bar on sonics. The ASB-2 is a fully active soundbar that also connects via Airplay or DLNA. The Airstream S300 is a wireless speaker/amp that can stream music from an iPhone or computer. The Airstream A100 is a wireless amp for driving your own speakers with similar features as the S300. All three allow ease of access while advancing the sound quality of lifestyle products.


My Best Dressed Award goes to the President of Silnote Audo, Mark Williams, who was dressed to the nines for the show. Mark had new Epirus interconnects and Poseidon XT speaker cables connecting a Transrotor Fatbob turntable ( also dressed up in chrome), Oppo 105, Balanced Audio Technology VK-32 pre, and conrad-johnson ET250S amp, to a pair of Eggleston Nine speakers.


The next room I entered my first reaction was, naked ESL 63s, this is going to be good. Robin Wyatt of Robyatt Audio had a pair of refurbished Quad ESL 63s, sans sock, giving them the naked appearance. Although there was a TW Acoustic turntable sporting two tonearms, Robin was spinning vinyl on a beautiful Grey Research vintage turntable & arm, carrying a Miyajima Zero cart. Miyajima electronics completed the system a tube preamp and a pair of OTL monoblocks. Vocals on this system might have been the best at the show, perfect size, focused, in the room transparent, natural. Both the ESL 57, and these modded ESL63s seem to get voices so right it's scary. Robin also had the best sign at the show hanging on a wall.


Click here for Part 3.

































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