“I have heard it said that it is not
about the destination. Rather, it is about the journey, and those you travel
with”. AK member pustelniakr.
six years, Audiokarma.org has
grown from a small group of friends and audio enthusiasts into a vibrant
online community with enrollment approaching 40 thousand members. The 5th
Annual Audiokarma Audio Festival,
held May 3 & 4, 2008 at the Embassy Suites in
MI, has matched this growth. The first gathering hosted one vendor in an open
conference room along with a handful of member systems. This year's AK Fest
welcomed over 650 attendees, 30 exhibitors, 9 member listening rooms, and 2
swap rooms. The show opened with brisk attendance, busy rooms, beautiful
equipment, and music everywhere. Attendees were able to hear a wide variety of
gear, from the classics of the 70's and earlier, to DIY, to currently
available esoteric audio equipment.
audio and music enthusiast, and an AK member. I was quite surprised to be
asked by Steven R. Rochlin of Enjoy The Music.com to write a review of my first national audio
show. It was a myriad of sights and sounds, with most of the room hosts asking
what style of music I'd like to hear, and that I was welcomed to play my own
selections. The large crowd on Saturday made it difficult to take time from
the vendors and obtain pricing and equipment information, so pictures and a
brief description will have to suffice for some of the rooms. Sunday's
traffic flow was lighter, and gave me a chance to sit down with some of the
reps to jot down some notes and take photos. For those rooms I missed, please
accept my apologies.
was my first AK Fest, I was impressed by the welcoming and friendly staff,
along with a laid back atmosphere. The atrium design of the hotel provided an
open, un-crowded feeling and the sturdy concrete construction of the rooms
kept noise bleed, from room to room, at a minimum. All vendor and member rooms
had to deal with a pesky 50 Hz room resonance, and many rooms had treatments
to help alleviate this problem.
AK members MarkW, modge, WhiteSE and pustelniakr
, AK'ers from around the world, enjoy breakfast conversation.
The first room I
visited was sponsored by Venus Hi-Fi.
Brian has supported AK from its first fest. Unfortunately, his intended gear
was held up by shipping damage. He quickly gathered a system that did not
sound “thrown together” at all. His FJ Om loudspeakers ($4,000 pr.) were
one of the hits of the show, throwing a huge soundstage with their top firing
Seas woofers. Although limited in low frequency extension, given their small
size and footprint, they were very satisfying.
Driving the FJ
speakers was the Manley Stingray ($2250). I've heard this EL-84 integrated
amp at regional AK get-togethers, and it never fails to impress.
The ever-busy McIntosh
room was full of swinging blue meters and impressive gear.
Their MC 2301 tube
mono-blocks ($11,000 ea.) were stunning in their design, power and finesse.
introduced MT 10 turntable ($8,000).
AK members Army and Retro Stereo had vintage solid-state sound
nailed in their room. Their Pioneer Spec gear (refurbished by AK member Echowars)
bi-amping Infinity RS 2.5 speakers had Ted Nugent and his Gibson Byrdland
sounding like they were in the room with us.
Michael Audio had a mix of silver and wood in
their fine sounding room. The Harbeth 40.1 ($12,999 pr.) with their classic
design sounded very nice.
The Harbeths were
driven by Belles MB 01 mono-blocks and a Belles LA-01preamp. An Exemplar Audio
XCD-1 CDP was the source.