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Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2013 Show Report
Part 3 Report By Kemper Holt

  DC DIY
The do it yourself locals were back again this year with another great sounding room. I heard the faux version of Audience's ClairAudient 4 + 4 speakers, using the same drivers as Audience's Bi-Polar with a DIY enclosure. No crossover needed for these full range driver models. They used a pair of DIY subs to fill in the low end. I was surprised how much the level of the subs affected the overall sound. When the sub was a little too hot, the system sounded quiet good, yet nothing overly special. When the sub was trimmed back to the perfect level, the system seemed transformed, speed, coherent, transparent, spacious soundstage, dynamic, individually focused vocals, and deep tight bass. Another system that is affordable and when you add in your own handiwork, satisfying. The pre and power amps were also homebrew and helped this system hold its own against much pricier rooms.

 

 

Mapleshade, Jolida, International Phonograph, MBL
Here a United Home Audio Phase 11 RTR deck (beautiful) fronted JoLida electronics and MBL speakers. Gallo subs on Mapleshade stands completed the setup. Everything sat on Mapleshade maple blocks and massive brass footers. Pierre Sprey of Mapleshade also provided the cables. Pierre also displayed some unusual looking triangular room treatments, I'd love try some in my room. The tapes were near master dubs from Jonathan Horwich of International Phonograph and stunned with dynamics and you are there realism, the tapes seem better than the albums cut from them.

 

GT Audio Works, Triode Wire Labs, Arion, Dodd, Rollo Audio
The two rooms that I spent the most time in were sister offerings from GT Audio Works, Arion, Triode Wire Labs, and Rollo Audio. Last year I was smitten with Greg Takesh's initial speakers, GTA 2s, and continued a discussion with him as he continued to hone the design over the next year. After a few revisions and different looks/finishes, the final iteration is a stunner. Greg is back to doing the woodwork, and the final GTA 2 is solid mahogany instead of veneer and gives the speaker a upscale appearance. The new model incorporates the powered 8" sub in the tower instead of the outboard boxes from CAF 2012. A pair of sealed 8" mid-bass drivers takes over from the sub, Greg's handmade neodymium magnet planar midrange is driven full range without any crossover, and a single cap is all that's needed to connect the ribbon tweeter. In the big room a pair of Arion HS-500 tube/hybrid monoblocks drove the GTA 2s, a single tube, 6H30, Dodd battery preamp, Plinius CD player, and a Kuzma Stobi TT completed the system. A Pi Uberbuss AC conditioner handled distribution. Triode Wire Labs debuted something new for them, speaker cables.

Triode Pete explained the new American Speaker Cable is from old stock wire made before the EPA regs, incorporates passive noise reduction, and is cryogenic treated. All that and it is as affordable ($500 per pair) as Pete's power cables that put them on the map as a best buy company. This room was packed with people from Friday until after closing on Sunday, most visitors making a second or third listen. When half of the rooms were packing up Sunday afternoon, this room was standing room only. I got to listen to my reference cuts twice, Friday and Sunday, both times I was drawn into the music like few other rooms. After hearing my choices on 30 other systems by Sunday, a second listen proved helpful. If you value transparency, low level details, sheer information retrieval, this is your speaker. Not a one trick pony, this system can rock, play loud, punish with dynamic contrasts, focus solo vocals perfectly, 3-D soundstage, and covey emotion drawing you into the music forcing one to just listen and let it wash over you. On a Cat Steven's cut "Where Do The Children Play", the guitar string/pick sound was just more real sounding than other systems and his voice was spot on, great job Greg, et all. Thanks for the hospitality, Pete sent me home each night with a cold soda for my hour ride back to Glen Burnie.

In the smaller room the new GTA 1s were on display with Arion HS-500 amps, a four tube Dodd pre, and TWL cables, Uberbuss, and a TEAC CDP. Available to switch in or out were a pair of BG in wall subs ( not mounted in wall) using opposed 3" drivers in a unique enclosure. At $2695 per pair, the GTA 1s offer most of the stunning sonics of the bigger brother, missing only the weight from 50 Hz down. Switching in the subs filled in the bottom and added a slight warmth, bringing the system close to the big room's sound. The GTA 1's represent a bargain in the speaker category and a great match for smaller rooms that cannot take full advantage of the bigger GTA 2s. I spent a lot of time listening to music in this room making sure I wasn't giving up too much compared to the GTA 2s, nope, these were just terrific!

  

 

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