CAF 2018: Mostly Sights 2

When you walk around a hifi show, especially the Capital Audiofest, you can’t help but be struck by difference. There are more means toward our ends than anyone has the time to get to know well. Ideally we find things we like living with and listening to music through but the vast array of different sounding choices must drive home the fact there is no one right way. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is involved in self-promotion.

For example, I’m not really a fan of shiny but there are plenty of people who are and the Triangle Art room was pure sheen (photo enhanced with a filter because I couldn’t help myself).

Canada’s VK Music went the opposite direction, showing the Elekit TU-8600 300B SE Tube Amplifier Kit ($1,185 with0ut tubes) semi-nude. I have a soft spot for 300B tube amp kits and the scuttlebutt about town, not Rockville, is this little number is worth a longer listen (Herb Reichert has one in for review over at Stereophile where my friend Art Dudley talks about how he was also impressed by this room).

The Elekit TU-8600 was driving a pair of these AER-based see-through horns and the sound was delicate, intimate, and inviting.

Things were also very shiny (and big) in the The Audio Company ballroom takeover filled with VAC and Von Schweikert 6-figure pieces.

“Mark Sossa’s  Well-Pleased A|V is another room I look forward to visiting…” is how I started my RMAF 2018 coverage for the Well-Pleased A|V room and it holds for here as well. Which makes sense seeing as this is the I heard in Denver which included the QLN Prestige Three Loudspeakers ($9,999/pair), and the Innuos Statement Music Server ($13,750) atop the Aqua Formula xHD DAC ($10,300).

Balls. The streaming all-in-one Pearl from Cabasse (2,790 euros):

New 25cm subwoofer with up to 30mm long linear cone excursion for the richest and most dynamic level of bass available on the market. Audio playback is simply spectacular thanks to dynamic control of bass.

Patented triaxial configuration of subwoofer + medium + tweeter drivers for compact design, powerful performance and sophisticated response in 360°. Overdeveloped thermal dissipater to ensure an optimal range of dynamic sound with little distortion at high volumes.

New coaxial medium-tweeter with patented components in the medium carbon and neodymium.

You can use one or two if you want true stereo reproduction.

I always enjoy my time with Amphion speakers and CAF 2018 continued that trend. Pictured are the lovely little Helium410 ($749/pair) which sounded room-filling driven by the Benchmark AHB2 Power Amplifier ($2,995).

Vienna, VA-based Deja Vu Audio always delights with their vintage-inspired system. I listened to Ella and piano from the soundtrack to Let No Man Write My Epitaph and she was purely perfectly present. Bravo!

Deja Vu also had a room with sweet sounding new gear from Conrad Johnson, Audio Note, and Harbeth. Bravo 2!

Speaking of sweet, the Modwright HA300 head- and speaker amp ($8,000) and Fritz Carrera Be speakers ($2,500/pair) delivered a nice, deep, and natural-sounding Johnny Cash.

The Larsen 9 loudspeakers ($14,995/pair) are designed to be placed right up against the wall.

I’m also a fan of the simple system and you are looking at the entire system (minus one speaker) in the Paradigm / Anthem room. The Paradigm Persona 5F speakers ($17,000/pair) and Anthem STR Integrated Amplifier($4,499) which includes a DAC and streamer were filling this room with ease. I find the Paradigm speakers to sound a bit hot for my ears but this certainly makes for a lively sound.

The Salk Sound Song3 Encore speakers ($5,995/pair standard finish) were paired with the new to me McGary Audio SA 1 Vacuum Tube Stereo Amplifier ($3,985) for another sweet-sounding system with the Exogal Comet DAC handling the bits.

Did I mention I also have a sweet spot for Accuphase? Their E-270 Integrated Amplifier ($5,000) was in use in one of the Vinyl Revival rooms driving a pair of Sonner Audio Legato Unum speakers ($4,750/pair + $750/stands) for some captivating and room-filling sounds. Nice!


NJ-based VPI had two rooms to exhibit their analog wares which included the new HW-40 Anniversary direct drive turntable ($15,000 pictured up top).

Prana Distribution also brought along a pair of the humongous SoulSonic Hologramm-X loudspeakers (starts at €150,000/pair) which unfortunately sat in a very problematic room. As I was talking to Fred Crane of Prana, I could hear our voices echoing in the vaulted ceiling. Fred joked that since he lives in Gloucester, MA he thought of bringing along some sails for ceiling treatment. I sure would like these speakers in a more music-friendly room…

Dr. Edgar Choueiri, Professor of Applied Physics in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at Princeton University and Theoretica Applied Physics, was on  hand to blow people’s minds with his Baach-SP digital stereo purifier for audiophile 3D Imagining ($18,500) which takes an ordinary stereo recording and re-presents it as a 3D stereo image. Believe me when I tell you, it works wonders. The Genesis Maestro loudspeakers ($30,000/pair) paired with the QUALITON A20i Integrated Amplifier ($4,500) did a wonderful job of allowing people to hear the BB/AB (Before Baach / After Baach) comparison.