Capital AudioFest 2018

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Art Dudley  |  Nov 07, 2018  |  3 comments
"I've got six hours to get ready for 30 hours of show time so an attendee can listen for 10 minutes." Thus did Doug White, proprietor of the Philadelphia-area dealer The Voice That Is, describe the challenge of setting up a system for a show such as Capital Audiofest. (When I asked, Do you use a spectrum analyzer?, White said Yes, and smiled and pointed to his brow.) The results of his expertise—no other word for it—were in full flower in a system that, though far from humble, featured the least expensive loudspeakers I've heard in a TVTI system: Tidal's Vimberg-series Mino ($29,000/pair).
Art Dudley  |  Nov 06, 2018  |  7 comments
I began my Sunday morning at Capital Audiofest with a portion of one of Malcolm Arnold's jaunty overtures: not quite sacred music, but it was nonetheless magnificent in the room sponsored by Gryphon Audio and retailer 20/20 Evolution Systems. In addition to having appropriate weight and realistic die-away, the sound of mallet on bass drum had the most tonally realistic thud I recall hearing through a hi-fi. And on a CD vinyl drop of the mono version of Mal Waldron's "Warm Canto," the unison piano, cello, and double-bass notes in the opening measures had realistically tactile note attacks—likewise Ron Carter's pizzicato cello solo, which was very moving, appropriately so.
Art Dudley  |  Nov 05, 2018  |  18 comments
Of the three systems I heard at CAF 2018 that had been assembled by retailer Tenacious Sound—I think there were eight in all—the one that sang through a pair of TAD ME-1 loudspeakers ($14,995/pair) was the most impressive. I requested some Richard Thompson, and my guitar-pickin' friend Lenny Mayeaux, whose day job is with manufacturer Audience AV, put on "Vincent Black Lightning." It was sonically wide-open—the system would not have wanted an atom more treble, but it was smooth and fine and inviting just as it was—and musically soul-refreshing: I almost cried. (If he had played "Beeswing," I surely would have.)
Art Dudley  |  Nov 04, 2018  |  5 comments
Listening to music in the Emia Labs room was one of those moments when I was reminded of how very little I know—that and how distressingly easy it has become for me to acclimate to different levels of audio goodness when confronted with different levels of build quality and design ingenuity. Earlier in my first day at Capital Audiofest 2018, I had heard other things I had thought were very good—and they were, in their way. But listening through the Emia system to recordings I know well—especially LP reissues from the Electric Recording Company, which co-sponsored the Emia room—was an experience far in advance of most.
Art Dudley  |  Nov 03, 2018  |  5 comments
By the time I arrived in Rockville, MD—a personal commitment kept me away until around 2:00pm on Friday— Capital Audiofest 2018 was already in full swing, with brisk traffic in the halls of the Rockville Hilton, and standing room only in some of the exhibits.

My first stop was the room sponsored by a new loudspeaker manufacturer called IMC Audio...

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