Home General Asylum

General audio topics that don't fit into specific categories.

RE: Capital Audiofest 2014

I'm finally able to give what little report I can on the Capital Audiofest. I was only able to attend on Saturday and could only make it to a few rooms, but some of the things I heard were astounding.

United Home Audio: L shaped room gave the unfortunate artifact of a left leaning soundstage, but the sound itself was very good. The were using what I was told was a Duke Ellington studio tape the spatial dimensions were very good. The speakers were turned toward what I believe were bass traps along the side walls which is a setup I have never seen before, but it worked to our advantage. The treble was a little attenuated but the mids were excellent and the bass decent but didn't really set me into any flights of passion.

Sandurni/Merrill Audio: Staccato horn system by Sadurni with Merrill Audio Veritas monoblocks. Hot Sticks and Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor were played and they both sounded very good-bone rattling bass. With some jazz playing the horns naturally made the horns sound delicious. Voices were presented very emotionally. It was a very good match of components with damn good sound.

Sjofn Speakers: Pronounced Hyufen and the O should have an umlaut. Budget speakers that show you don't have to spend a fortune to have really good sound. I could live with them if I didn't already have speakers I love.

They had surprisingly good bass and ringing, airy cymbals. they're small speakers but they could easily fit most people's listening rooms. The left speaker was toed in at about 45 degrees and it threw off the soundstage somewhat, but they still sounded very good. Only $1,000!

Soundsmith: Strain Guage cartridge and preamp system with a VPI HR-X turntable. tonal balance was excellent with sizzling cymbals without stridency and the soundstage was very good for the room they got stuck in. Let's face it, hotel rooms aren't what most of us think of when we think of good music rooms. Anyway, at this point it was the best room I had heard and I enjoyed it tremendously. This cartridge is a serious contender when I upgrade my phono section. It really was pleasant to listen to. It's a good, solid design and it works. All electronics were Soundsmith.

Robyatt Audio: Miyajima Labs electronics and phono cartidges with refurbished Quad ESL 57's. The phono cartridges were Myajima Shilabe and Zero mono cartridges mounted on a Polish turntable with two arms.

I had a hard time overcoming my natural skepticism about a Polish turntable (Zontek). After all, I had grown up during the cold war and it was common knowledge that most of everything made behind the Iron Curtain was pretty shoddy stuff. This turntable overcame my reservations and shone brightly with the Myajima cartridges. The tonearms were 16 inches long.

Everything was run through those Quad speakers and I was floored. I have heard the legends but have never heard the speakers. When I first got into the room it sounded very nice indeed and then I got to sit in the sweet spot just before they put on Pearl Bailey's "More Songs For Adults Only". I'd never heard her sing before and found out that she had a great voice! That was played using the Myajima Zero and it took me no more than a few seconds to realize that the Zero is the mono cartridge I've been looking for. It was difficult to tell we were listening to a mono record. I can't point to any one part of the music chain as being the one thing that made it so good. It seems clear that every piece that was put together for the show was complimentary of the others and they all shone brightly.

After Pearl they put on some orchestral music and the guy who requested it was invited by me to sit in the sweet spot. You should have seen the look on his face. It was like his ears were falling in love. He was mesmerized.

I went to both of the Deja Vu rooms and heard exactly what I would expect from them-superb sound. They were using Harbeth speakers with Synthesis "Shine" amplifier and Matrix D/A converter. Great balance and lush voices. These were the people who first showed me what stereo is supposed to sound like in their shop in McLean. If they tell you something is going to sound great, you can take their word for it. They know what they are doing and they know superb sound.

Backert Labs Rythm 1.1: This was the room that surprised me the most. I had never heard of Backert Labs and this room had the most lush sound of any room I have ever been in in my life. This isn't hyperbole, I really was entranced. The Rythm 1.1 is a tube preamp and it was mated with an Odyssey power amp, Vinyl One phono preamp, Clearaudio Classic turntable and TAD CR1 speakers. The hi-hat was as crisp as new potato chip, the bass was stunning and natural sounding and the mids were to die for. I never did get what cartridge they were using or what speaker cables or interconects they used, but the components made me realize just how far away from audio nirvana I am and I have been satisfied with my amps and speakers for a number of years now.

If only the music hadn't been so damn loud. This would have been a great room to show just how good the equipment can be at lower volumes. Hell, I was only about five feet from the speakers. I don't need 90 decibels to be convinced.

That's enough of my ranting and raving; this was truly the best I have ever heard stereo equipment sound. The tonal balance was closer to perfect than anything I have ever heard, there were no strident high notes, no boomy bass (and don't forget that this was just a hotel room with only a short amount of time to setup and get it right)and vocals that made me wish I could have joined the band. The whole setup had snap and yet invited me into the music in the most seductive way. I felt like my ears were getting laid for the first time.

There were a few other rooms I popped into very briefly but what I was looking for was something that makes me really notice how beautiful the music is. I only had the one afternoon to attend the show but I was very glad that it was one of the most musically satisfying afternoons of my life.

It's time to do some shopping.

This post is made possible by the generous support of people like you and our sponsors:
  Signature Sound   [ Signature Sound Lounge ]

Follow Ups Full Thread
Follow Ups


Post a Message!

Forgot Password?
Moniker (Username):
Password (Optional):
  Remember my Moniker & Password  (What's this?)    Eat Me
E-Mail (Optional):
Message:   (Posts are subject to Content Rules)
Optional Link URL:
Optional Link Title:
Optional Image URL:
Upload Image:
E-mail Replies:  Automagically notify you when someone responds.