Capital Audiofest, Day Two, Part Two

Capital Audiofest, Day Two, Part Two

It’s my favorite part of every hi-fi show: the one big room, usually on one of the lower floors, where smaller companies exhibit such things as phono accessories, hi-fi furniture, publications, and, best of all, records. At Capital Audiofest, the Magnolia Ballroom on the Sheraton Hotel’s fourth floor was home to all that, including a larger and altogether more impressive selection of used and collectable vinyl than I’ve seen at any other show in recent memory.

New LPs were available at the booth of specialty label Cuneiform Records, who announced the imminent release of a live recording made in the late 1960s by the great Robert Wyatt and friends: lost in their vaults until now, as they say. And used-vinyl sales were brisk at the booth of Cash for Music Records (above), whose inventory I did my level best to lighten.

Capital Audiofest, Day Two, Part Two

One swallow doth not a summer make, but the appearance of a second ultrasonic-bath record-cleaning machine might constitute a trend. Dave Ratliff and his plainly named UltraSonic Records company demonstrated the model V-8 ($1498), in which up to eight LPs at a time can be fastened to a slowly turning spindle for a good, brushless scrubbing, cavitation-style. The V-8 doesn’t dry records, but Ratliff supplies a nice looking multi-disc drying rack for that purpose.

Capital Audiofest, Day Two, Part Two

Bob Sattin of Bob’s Devices drove up from North Carolina to demonstrate and display his new Sky 30 CineMag step-up transformer ($1250), a review sample of which he also put into my hands during the show. Bob’s transformers have long impressed me with their musical sound and very high value, so I’m looking forward to trying out this one at home.

Capital Audiofest, Day Two, Part Two

Open-baffle loudspeaker enclosures have tended to be dull-looking things; thanks to woodworker Richard Grenier and his company Fernwood Designs, fans of full-range drivers can now branch out a little. Richard also makes very nice equipment racks.

Capital Audiofest, Day Two, Part Two

I was impressed with the apparently high value offered by the SVS Ultra Tower loudspeaker ($1998/pair), which offered notably taut bass and sounded clean and non-fatiguing overall, if just a bit mechanical when driven by Mark Levinson electronics.

Capital Audiofest, Day Two, Part Two

On the other hand, as readers will see when our September issue reaches them, I’m impressed with virtually every aspect of the Volti Vittora all-horn-loaded loudspeaker ($17,500/pair), which sounded unsurprisingly fine at Capital Audiofest, driven with an 18Wpc Border Patrol S20 single-ended amplifier ($13,750). Volti also demonstrated their recent Alura three-way loudspeaker ($13,900/pair), which uses bass reflex rather than horn-loading for its low-frequency driver.

Capital Audiofest, Day Two, Part Two

After a nice little break of ten years or so, I recently began to think I’d like to hear Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon again. Perhaps sensing this, Greg Beron of United Home Audio used selections from that classic album to show off a remarkable system built around MBL 116F loudspeakers ($32,000/pair), sourced with a pair of UHA’s famous Phase 11 open-reel decks ($17,000). Everyone in the audience expressed unambiguous delight, myself included. Extra points for lighting.

Check out the original source here.

Venice Audio

Venice Audio

Dexter Gordon was in the midst of turning head over heels, or vice versa, over the sound of his LP, Dexter Blows Hot and Cool, in the Venice Audio room. He may have blown a bit cool over the out-of-control bass, but he surely found the beauty of his tenor sax, and the clarity of the cymbals hot indeed.

Doing the honors were the Harbeth Monitor 30.1 loudspeakers in cherry ($5990), Leben HiFi RS30EQ MM phono preamp ($2695), Line Magnetic Audio 501IA integrated amp ($4250), Well Tempered Lab Amadeus turntable/tonearm ($2850) with DPS power supply ($400), and EMT TSD15 MC cartridge ($1950). From Auditorium 23 came the step-up transformer 103/EMT ($995), loudspeaker cables ($980/2.5m pair), and interconnects ($795/1m pair). Box Furniture Co supplied the S3S Sapele rack ($2550) and A1A Anigre amp stand ($900).

Check out the original source here.

A Beautiful Friendship

A Beautiful Friendship

A second Innovative Audio room held a system made of Wilson Audio’s Sasha W/P loudspeakers ($27,900/pair); Lamm M1.2 Reference hybrid monoblocks ($24, 190/pair); VTL TL-7.5 Series III Reference preamplifier ($20,000) and TP-6.5 Signature phono preamp ($10,500 with moving-coil step-up transformer); Spiral Groove SG2 turntable ($21,000, with Centroid tonearm) and Lyra Kleos MC cartridge ($3000); Transparent cables, power conditioning, and AC cords; and Finite Element Pagode racks and supports.

VTL’s Luke Manley cued up Nat King Cole’s “A Beautiful Friendship,” which has become one of my favorite demo tracks, and, while this system may have lacked some of the scale, soundstage depth, and eerily quiet backgrounds of the larger Innovative system, it was just as enjoyable, with a super stable stage, well-focused imaging, tuneful bass, detailed highs, and rich tone color. Loved it.

For more on this excellent system, see Ariel Bitran’s earlier post.

Check out the original source here.