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Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2019 Show Report

Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2019 Show Report
CAF 2019 Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com


Attending CAF 2019 Was A Musical Treat!
Capital Audiofest 2019 Report By Dr. Matthew Clott


VPI, KEF And Krell
VPI announces the new Shiloh cartridge (price and availability TBD) and Vanquish complete analog system with turntable, control box, phono stage, tonearm, cartridge, and rack. The 14" tonearm with no offset angle is included for a grand total of around $130k'ish.




Less noise, better tracking. Matt Weisfeld is beaming with pride over this all-out assault on vinyl! Aesthetically, it's spectacular! KEF Muon speakers and Krell electronics synergized with the VPI Vanquish to provide big, open, (dare I say it?) live sound in a medium sized room. It was hard to tell what was elevating what considering the multiple statement level components in the room. But it was statement level sound all around and put a smile on my face that I saw staring back at me from those highly polished Muons! Also a US show premier for the KEF Muon speakers I believe, now in their second generation. 


Genesis, VPI, And Merrill Audio
Genesis Quartet with Supersubs that have two each 8", 12", and 15" drivers per side, each pair servo controlled ($300k'ish), VPI Vanquish with Lyra Atlas cartridge ($140k'ish), Merrill Audio's impressive Christine preamplifier ($12,400), Merrill Audio highly-regarded Element 118 amplifiers ($36k per pair). Detail, staging, plus clean sound that is dynamic! It was also a tad bit bright. I know that VPI über table system should be mind-blowing, and it sounded amazing within the room next door. And I know Merrill's gear IS truly world class.



Gary Koh's Genesis speakers are world renowned and represent the true state of the art (and his smaller Maestro upstairs was killing it!). Yet the whole did not exceed or even equal the sum of its parts. It just couldn't become a completely cohesive system, no matter the fine tuning. By Sunday it was certainly showing signs of what it could be, but never quite got there. I have no choice but to blame the room, because the gear should have absolutely blown me away. This is a lesson in hi-fi shows to attendees- even with all the right gear, sometimes a room just won't behave and come together.

This room acted as a central operations of sorts for the VPI engine at CAF 2019. Matt Weisfeld, truly the PT Barnum of the Audio industry (meant as a complement), and his extensive team masterfully distributed and serviced VPI tables to many of the rooms at the show. The VPI presence was impressive and added a sense of light hearted vinyl passion to the entire show. Pretty much every model table they produce was to be found somewhere at the show; typically manning the position of primary source for that room's system. Digital has taken a back seat to the juggernaut that has become vinyl in the last few years.



IsoAcoustics was selling their wares in the VPI, Genesis, and Merrill Audio room as well. The KEF Muon loudspeakers next door were fitted with a set of their new Gaia-Titan series footers. I have become a believer in IsoAcoustics footers as an affordable and remarkably affective vibration isolation product for both components and speakers. Their stuff makes whatever is on top of it sound better, tighter, deeper, and cleaner.


The Sunday Morning Experiment
The Audio Company With Esoteric, VAC, And Von Schweikert

About $1,500,000 in gear, cabling and isolation. Von Schweikert Endeavor Special Edition $20k speakers were placed in this mega-dollar system Sunday morning. This is an example of how top tier gear can elevate an already excellent speaker. Leading and trailing edges were beautiful and harmonic density was enrapturing.







Subtly of tone and texture was mesmerizing. Just magically musical and enjoyable. A fun demo to say the least! The full size Von Schweikert Ultra 11 speakers wow'ed everyone the rest of the time. This room is known on the circuit and has set benchmarks.


GT Audio Works, Esoteric, Basis, Innuos, Pass Labs, And GT Speakers
Big planar ribbon mains and open baffle (four 12" drivers per side) subs utilizing electronic crossovers ($45k). Need a big room to breathe, but they will fill said room with holographic, soulful music which lacks nothing in clarity, detail or dynamics. Super-fast too! Deep soundstage that extends and wraps around the listener. Near seamless integration of main and base tower.



Did get a touch energetic on the top end occasionally, and I felt like there was just a bit of midrange energy lacking overall. But still, one of the top rooms here. I came back several times.



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