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Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2023 Show Report -- CAF 2023 premium luxury audio event coverage.

Capital Audiofest 2023 Show Report / Chronicles Part 8
The 3rd Floor Large Rooms Part A
Show Report By Rick Becker


Capital Audiofest 2023 Show Report / Chronicles Part 8 The 3rd Floor Large Rooms Part A


  It was by now late morning on Sunday and I walked over toward Olive's Restaurant in the hotel where I started in with the large rooms.



Twinbrook Room   United Home Audio And MBL
I thought I knew what to expect in the Twinbrook Room hosted by United Home Audio, as this had been one of my favorite rooms last year. Instead, I was greeted with a full-blown MBL rig with the speakers and amps in white spread across the left wall in this darkened room. These folks sure knew how to dress for success.

The amps are as big and as heavy as they look, a four-man carry, for sure. The system is suited for a room as large as this or even larger. Personally, I would feel a little lonely listening to music in a room this large by myself, but people with this kind of money have a different sense of space and privacy, I suppose.



The front end and preamplification were dressed in black and gold, the more traditional colors for MBL. That is their Reference CD transport on the left and the correlating delta-sigma DAC that oversamples to 5.6 MHz and of course, had a USB input. Below the DAC was the preamplifier. All of these were on a Silent Running Audio / MBL rack comprised of a Panzerholz frame featuring 32 layers of compressed wood with what looked like granite shelves.



On a similar rack was the United Home Audio tape recorder which was not in action during my visit. This being Reference class components in the MBL hierarchy, the sound was quite good but it wasn't an "awesome" experience as I've had in the past. Perhaps it was the music selection or maybe I've just become accustomed to the omni-directional sound experience from their speakers. My tastes have changed over the years, too, and for that matter, maybe the rest of the industry is catching up, if not surpassing them in other ways.




Montrose Room  Odyssey Audio
My experience with Klaus Bunge in his Odyssey Audio room dressed with faux candles in the dark was the emotional highlight of last year's show, coming as the last room visited over an exhausting weekend. I was in goosebumps with moist eyes, if not outright tears as I recall. This year, coming earlier in the day as I was still in full stride, I didn't get that emotional response, although the music was just as good, the room was just as dark, and the candles still flickered.

The speakers were Odyssey Liquid loudspeakers weighing 180 pounds and priced starting at $5900. They were powered by Odyssey Stratos Mono amplifiers (four in bi-amp configuration), starting at $2700/pr. The preamp was the Symphonic Line, starting at $8k along with the matching Phono Pre starting at $6k. The cables were by Magnan Audio Cables, starting at $600/pr and the custom audio racks are made by Klaus with 2" thick MDF shelves using special sound damping glue. They start at $650 and were also used under the speakers.



Recognizing me, Klaus once again insisted I sit in the prime listening chair. As much as I didn't want to displace the person there, I didn't want to cause a scene. Klaus put on my Rickie Lee Jones album and cued up "Danny's All-Star Joint." It was a very pleasurable few minutes and one of the listeners complimented me on my choice of music as he moved on, so that's not just my opinion.



The turntable was a VPI Avenger Direct with a direct drive motor and an arm which I didn't recognize. I did recognize the DS Audio Ionizer standing next to it. The cartridge was a Van den Hul Master Signature.



The rack was filled with Symphonic Line gear, some of which seemed to have separate power supplies.

Next, Klaus put on a Joan Baez LP with "Diamonds and Rust" which was a real heart-melter. While I didn't have the deep emotional experience in person that I had the previous year, as I reviewed my video sound bites from my camcorder, the goosebumps, and moist eyes recurred with the music coming through a Clarus Coda DAC/amp into my workhorse Grado SR 80e headphones, so clearly, something very right was happening in this room. And while the Odyssey gear Klaus makes in Indiana might not quite match up with the Symphonic Line gear he imports from Germany, it doesn't cost as much, yet gets you pretty deep into the high-end.




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