Capital Audiofest

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Capital Audiofest 2019 Show Reports / Awards And Stand-Out Vendors

I’m taking the easiest approach here by just writing ad-hoc about the many stand-out experiences encountered at the 2019 Capital Audiofest, rather than fret over trying to do something more structured.

So let’s go!

I landed at the Hilton Hotel (venue) around 11.30 on Friday morning, after an easy drive up from northern VA.

It wasn’t too busy at that point so I wandered down into the Atrium level and had a poke around through some of the excellent CD’s and vinyl on offer.

My first vendor encounter was with Charles Kirmuss – designer/owner of the ‘Kirmuss Record Restoration System’.


I recognized Dr. Kirmuss and his ultrasonic cleaning product as I’d recently watched a couple of his YouTubes including one where Michael Fremer reported on utilizing his cleaning system.

Having sold of my VPI HW 16.5 a while back, and foolishly never replacing it, I was pretty keen to get a close-up look at the Kirmuss.

The KA-RC-1 looks pretty solid and can hold different combinations of LP and Single and cleans 4 records simultaneously in 2 minutes or 12 to 15 or 20 to 25 minutes on the selected restoration cycle.

Kirmuss Ultrasonic record cleaner

This looks like a good contender for anyone who’s anxious about their record collection and minimizing the build up of those annoying clicks and pops. Dr. Kirmuss gave me a talk about the difference between the efficacy of his unit versus the wet/vacuum system that the VPI deploys. His method is said to remove the cleaning grime left behind by other less efficient cleaners, along with the agents used during the record pressing to aid cutting and releasing – so ‘better than new’ is the claim. No more

Speaking of clicks and pops – Sunday around noon lead me to an interesting encounter at the SweetVinyl room:

SweetVinyl – Remove Clicks and Pops – Record Vinyl to Digital – Phonostage

I believe it was around 2015/2016 when SweetVinyl introduced a device that removes those annoying pops and clicks from your vinyl records during playback.

Apparantly, these folks have developed software that can detect the transient from a click/pop, remove it and paste over the crack with some ones and zeros that are going spare. I’m going to shell out to a new page on this one as I think there’s some interesting information to be gleaned. I also have a short video of their presentation that needs some editing, so I’ll post the link from here to the new page just as soon as I have it.

The Voice That Is

Staying with vinyl playback for a while, I thought seriously about handing out the first ‘Audio Resurgence Award’ for basically the Turntable I most wanted to shove under my jacket and make a run for the exit… with.

Sure, there were probably better sounding turntables, certainly more expensive – but most were too big to fit under my coat. Anyway, it wouldn’t be fair to issue an award here as I wasn’t able to actually hear this thing – but it’s a real beaut, Clarke.

Actually there are two of them – here you go:

Since I’m not the steadiest at wielding a camera, the last three of the images above were taken directly from the manufacturer’s website. And so there’s no mistake over which of the two turntables I want in my Christmas stocking, it’s the Vertere Acoustics DG-1 Dynamic Groove.

The DG-1 retails for a paltry $3,795 and I believe that includes the pictured tonearm. As much as I wanted to strike a deal on the spot with Doug White of ‘The Voice That Is‘, he was surrounded by people waiving checks at him, so I wandered off with the intent of returning later, but never did.

Doug also had with him various loudspeakers from Tidal Audio and electronics from Zesto Audio among others. I don’t know if Doug is driven by a strong sense of the aesthetic when he makes choices on which brands to represent, but it so happens that Zesto has been on my ‘lust-after’ list for quite a while too. They make a relatively affordable phono preamp in their bold company livery, and not only is it real eye-candy but it also reviews well! Alas I was never able to connect with the importer during my period of lusting, so my phono rack sits bare. [Update – we have a Zesto Andros in the house – review to follow]

I should also say the sound from the Tidal Audio fronted system in the ‘The Voice That Is’ room was one of the finest at the 2019 Capital Audiofest, IMHO. 

Check out the display of Zesto Audio equipment below – simply striking is all I can think to say:

Stunning or what?

As I said, I fully intended to return to this room and get more of a listen to the Tidal gear and more of a rub up against the Vertere Acoustics turntables, but alas I just ran out of time. I have a video of the room which needs some tidying up so I’ll come back and add it asap.

Doug White’s website is here