CAF 2018: Mostly Sights

I said to myself at the beginning of CAF 2018, Self, you’re going in every room. And I (almost) did. That being the case, I think the best way to share that experience is with pictures. Up top is the “Virtues of Vintage” crew—Art Dudley of Stereophile (and Listener), Lenny Florentine of Just Audio, Early Bender of, Joe Roberts of Sound Practices Magazine, and Blackie Pagano—who kept me in my seat even though I said to myself don’t stay for entire thing because you have to go in every room. Then I found myself laughing and learning and loving the stories and that’s sure worth anyone’s time.

The Boenicke Audio W5 speakers ($4,995), as seen in one of the Prana Distribution rooms, are small but carry a big stick.

The classic Klipsch La Scala II are not purple but the lights in the Wolf Audio / House of Stereo room were. I always think of my father when I see Klipsch speakers and recall the story he told me about how dealers would blow out matches with Klipschorns when they were first demo’d back in the late ’40s and ’50s. Talk about your classic hifi.

Old Forge Audio displayed the Acapella Audio Arts La Campanella 2 speakers ($26,000/pair) with the beautifully designed Pure Audio Reference Monoblock amplifiers ($9,500/pair) and Control 2 line-level preamplifier ($9,500). Proprietor David Cope spun “Walk Away”  featuring Tom Waits & Southside Johnny with La Bamba’s Big Band on the Wand 14-4 Turntable ($4,200) and I was transported to swinging guttural glory.

The 253lb /each Nika loudspeakers from Destination Audio

…coupled with ModWright Instruments made for some delicate music.

Those are the Companion speakers from Charney Audio equipped with AER-3 drivers ($12,200/pair) with a Charney custom 300B amp, custom preamp, and a customized Sparkler 503 CD player. I first met Brian Charney back in 2005! when I went to his home to hear and write about his hifi which included a pair of Carfrae Little Big Horns which I always wanted to hear after reading about them in Art Dudley’s Listener Magazine.

And now for something completely different—the cute little all-in-one Naim Mu-so Qb ($899.99/each). Naim’s design team is aces in my book.

Refined Audio was showing off the Cube Nenuphar Speaker / F10 Neo driver ($14,900) driven to musical heights by the Nelson Pass designed First Watt SIT-3 ($4,000).

While the Metrum Pavane DAC ($4,299) handled the bits.

The boxless Spatial Audio M3 Triode Masters speakers ($3,995) always sound really good and CAF 2018 was no exception.

The Spatial speakers were paired with the David Berning designed Linear Tube Audio (LTA) microZOTL Preamplifier ($4,450) and LTA Ultralinear amp ($6,800).

Vanatoo has upgraded their Transparent One speakers to the new Transparent Encore edition ($599/pair pictured on the right). The Vanatoo speakers house everything you need to play music—Class D amps (2x 100W for the woofers and  2x 12W for the tweeters) and a 24/96-capable DAC (inputs: USB, Toslink Optical, Coax, Bluetooth and Analog Inputs)—so you just have to add the source. The tinier Transparent Zero drop the barrier to entry to $319/pair but if order soon, you can grab the Encores for the Introductory price of $499 (offer ends soon).

You are looking at the Arion Audio Apollo System “A Full Range Line Source Dipole Loudspeaker” (starts at $19,900) driven by ML2.2 monoblocks ($43,590/pair) from Lamm in a room from Rollo Audio Consulting.

I spotted a Lampizator DAC in the Wells Audio room.

A Wells Audio Commander Preamp ($3,999) and Innamorata Signature amp ($15,000) took care of feeding the Daedaleus Audio Apollo Speaker ($$14,250/pair).