The weeks leading up to this Summer's Capital Audiofest 2016 had below average temperatures and the weather was pleasant, but come show time, brought on the heat! The temperatures stuck around the mid 90s and humidity matched that. This combination makes it tough for exhibitors to balance comfortable rooms versus air conditioning noise. The air conditioning noise is probably one of a few factors having CAF moving to November for 2017, vacations and high heat should be long gone by then. The Rockville Hilton hosted the event for a second time, but renovations between years made a nice uplift to the hotel and the sonics.
CAF was completely sold out, with a grand total of 42 rooms, and I've never been more impressed at how uniformly good all of the rooms sounded. Yes there were many different flavors to be enjoyed, but there weren't any duds or major disappointments. I'm betting the renovations played a part, but exhibitors are getting much more savvy about tackling hotel room acoustics, many having acoustic treatments which help. As usual some bass "room boom" affected some installations, but you could listen past it and get the gist of the system anyway. The CAF team of Gary Gill, Christina Yuin, and Paul Elliot, put on the best show yet combining great sounding rooms, product debuts, approachable manufacturers, an atmosphere of friendliness, and a new twist, serious product giveaways that had a crowd gathered at closing time Sunday, superb job!
Vinyl is in, CDs are out. You could play a record in most rooms, stereo or mono in many, stream or use a server in many, but only a few had silver disc spinners. There were turntables everywhere, and thousands of records for sale, an analog treat for sure. Once again, VPI and Mat Weisfeld brought his entire crew down from Jersey, and built tables at the show. Let's not forget another analog source, Reel to Reel tape, heard in a couple of rooms, perhaps the best source of all.
I noticed more wives and girlfriends at the show than ever, and some entire families came as well. When I asked some of the ladies if they were enjoying the show, Yes was the answer, and they told me they had clout in audio decisions as their hearing was better than his.
The Capital Audiofest is gaining traction, and the future looks bright with a November time slot, most manufacturers I talked with agreed the Fall would be a good choice.