Capital Audiofest 2023 Show Report / Chronicles Part
Room 634 Audio
What caught my ear was the liquid sound coming from Rosso Fiorentino as it always does at shows. This is one of my favorite brands and the first time I've heard the new Certaldo 2 (~$10k), shown here with a dark alligator treatment on the sides. They are from Italy and sounded just as good with the Perreaux amp as I've heard the Rossos sound with the Norma amps from Italy. Maybe the use of a super tweeter has something to do with it. The colorful speaker cables were from Way Cables in Belgrade, Serbia. They are handmade and the high sound quality in the room suggests they should be checked out.
Below the Perreaux amp was an Ever Solo DMP-A6 streamer sitting on top of the DMP-A8 music streamer / DAP / DAC / preamp. On the bottom shelf was an audioquest Niagara power conditioner. I could easily have been hooked on this room and spent an hour there, but discipline prevailed.
Room 637 Wells
The Pulsars have evolved over the years, but this was the most alive I've ever heard them sound. Favorite memories of Joseph speakers in the distant and not-so-distant past pale in comparison with what the Wells Audio gear brought out of the Pulsar2 Graphene monitors. Alive, present, transparent, highly resolved, and dynamic — speaks to the electronics as much as the speakers here.
Jeff builds most of his components at multiple levels. If an item is not labeled Level II or Level III, then it is the base model. On the bottom of the rack in black was the Innuos PhoenixNET and Zen Mk 3 music server. On the middle shelf was the Majestic II, which is the latest update of this integrated amplifier. Since it does not say Level II, which told me it was the base level, which was still sounding outrageously fine to my ear. This is the current styling of Wells Audio gear with a silver metal faceplate, rather than the black acrylic faceplates of previous generations.
His website lags the reality of his products and the original Majestic was priced at $3600, while adding a phono stage brought it up to $4400, so this is not an ultra-high-priced amplifier that puts out 150 Wpc in solid state. I was initially fooled by the large meter in the center which reads not volts, but volume. The Joseph speakers, not being very highly efficient, relished the power of this amplifier. On top was the Cipher tube DAC in Level II configuration (~$13k, but shown in the older chassis style with a clear acrylic top.
Here is a look inside the Cipher II, Level II DAC with the two tubes near the upper right-hand corner.
I saw the original version of the Looking Glass power conditioner back in 2021 and wanted to review it, but couldn't fit it into my constantly evolving life. Fortunately, Ron Nagle at Enjoy the Music.com picked it up and you can read his review. The meter here is a Volt meter that indicated the room was operating at only 110 Volts, which is not unusual at a show this large. The slender shape is a useful configuration that also encourages you to face it outward along your rack to show off the voltmeter, as well as the blue Cardas power cords used here.
All in all, it was another great presentation by Jeff Wells.