Capital Audiofest, November 11th – 13th, 2022
The Twinbrook Hilton – 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852
Saturday 10:00AM – 6:00PM
Sunday 10:00AM – 4:00PM
Check out our posts and show reports from CAF 2022 below.
Robyatt Room at Capital Audiofest 2022 featured the Robyatt Custom turntable ($18,500) which is based on a VPI HW-40 Direct Drive platform, with a Wyatt slate/Baltic ply plinthwith, a Thai-Scandinavian Engineering Bird of Prey Tonearm ($10,500) and The Bird Tonearm...
The Songer Audio S1 driven by the Whammerdyne DGA-Ultra delivered what I thought was possibly the best sound of CAF 2022
As with Capital Audiofest 2019, VPI Turntables were ubiquitous at the 2022 show, with many dealers and manufacturers choosing to set up their systems with a VPI analog front-end. VPI themselves hosted several rooms, (Jefferson, Adams, Frederick, Truman, & 625)...
So I stopped by the Pure Audio Project room on Saturday at Capitol Audio Fest and got a good presentation from the owner of PAP, Ze'ev. I really enjoy their speakers and think they sound fantastic. I asked Ze'ev what he thought of passive crossovers versus active...
A quick show update from Capital Audiofest 2022 - One of the best sounding rooms on Day 1 was Odyssey Audio - featuring electronics from Symphonic Line, Klaus's Odyssey Liquid speakers, and more. I'll update this page with more info once I get back from the show. In...
So, in no particular order, here are some of the best and worst of Capital Audiofest 2022. Of course, it’s all relative and subjective, and I can’t honestly say that anything was really bad….
SOTA are a turntable manufacturer based in Wisconsin and came with several of their units, including a Cosmos with a vacuum platter. The sound was good – solid, and authoritative, but a little heavy in the lower mids and upper bass, giving the sound a little too much heft and not enough air and sparkle. But a very good sound potential.
I was surprised and disappointed in the ‘Now Listen Here’ room featuring speakers from Vandersteen. The Vandersteen Kento Carbon is a fully active speaker system running north of $60K, with a system total nudging $150K. This was a large room and the vendor chose a peculiar setup with the speakers close to the front wall and the chairs about a half mile away near the room entrance. The bass was quite impressive but I thought the rest of the sound was overly smooth and lacked any real presence, dynamics, or impact.
I’m a big fan of QLN speakers. I’ve owned a pair of QLN Signature Splitfield II for around 25 years and I’ve been impressed whenever I’ve heard QLN over the years….Fantastic sound here from ALMA Music & Audio, the QLNs, as they’re known for, simply disappear and present a large, deep, soundstage with a smooth, detailed and natural sound. I must get around to retrieving my QLNs from my storage unit back in Wisconsin!
I’m also a big fan of Piega speakers and an owner of the Piega C40. I was excited to hear the small standmount Piega Coax 411, and it didn’t disappoint. Powered by a BAT integrated and using a Hifi Rose 150 as streaming source, the little Piegas energized the room with a big, full, dynamic, and completely transparent sound. The bass from the little 411 was outstanding! Now, this was a small room and the listening chair was only perhaps 5′ back from the front plane of the speakers (very much nearfield), but the sound from this system was bloody marvelous. This would be my first choice system were I restricted to a small listening room, and even given the space constraints this system landed squarely in my top 5 rooms at CAF 2022. Well done PIEGA! and Mofi Distribution.
I’ve had my eye on a used Berkeley Audio Alpha Reference DAC for a while, so I was keen to hear the sound of this system featuring the Berkeley DAC and a beautiful Oracle CD Transport.
Another room with a great sounding system was ‘The Audion’ and JansZen Electrostatic Speakers. Now, ‘The Audion’ have a power amplifier based on the newish Galium Nitride technology, but….somehow they’ve built the drive section into the body of a glass-bottled vacuum tube! OK, I honestly don’t know if this is a novelty or something more practical, unfortunately, it was difficult to ask questions during the short time I had available in this room. I went to the manufacturer’s website and noted some technical descriptions of the tube and its Gallium Nitride driver, and here’s a quote: “First to use the unique GaNTube™ technology with Gallium Nitride Power-Stage integrated in a Vacuum Tube”. OK, I’m assuming this GaNTube only works in one of their amplifiers and that it can’t work in a standard tube amp, so it begs the question, ‘why bother?’. I mean, it looks cool, but…
Anyway, the star of this room were the JansZen Nine Five electrostatic speakers, which sounded excellent paired with the Audion monoblocks.
The JansZen throws a wide and deep soundstage and has a beautiful natural tone and timbre. They have the presence and immediacy that good electrostats are known for. They also have a little trouble stepping down from the panels into the lower frequency region where the stats hand-off to a conventional cone driver. Shame, that.