Cruisin' 'Round The Capital Audiofest 2023 Show Report
The show circuit is expanding and growing in a big-time way with new and larger events occurring around various regions within the USA. The Capital Audio Fest (CAF) has expanded by 30% with well over 100 vendors in converted hotel rooms spread over four floors along with nearly 40 vendor booths crowded around the huge, large open floor of the Atrium. This weekend-long event also included many presentations and discussions from industry representatives covering topics about equipment designs, audio company developments, record production, and turntable setups. The range of products and displays ran the full gamut from beginner entry and budget types of affordable systems to extreme state-of-the-art presentations with massive sizes of speakers and myriad racks of dazzling equipment.
Take note that Gary Gill, the mastermind organizer, and director of the CAF has announced plans for a new venture called the Southwest Audio Fest to take place in Dallas, Texas from March 15th through 17th, 2024.
I have attended the CAF for over a decade and am pleased to say it still has a family-like, friendly, and fun vibe when walking around and dropping into rooms for listening evaluations. Even in the very crowded and busy vendor floor and most popular crowded rooms, there with an overall laid back, relaxed, and non-pressured way that hosts greeted and received people. I cannot imagine how many times these vendors had to patiently play numerous demos over and over, answer a gazillion questions, and make many adjustments to their displays and demo systems.
It takes a tremendous commitment to the musical arts and business to devote the time with a Herculean effort to pack, ship, and bring truckloads of equipment to a show. My congratulations to everyone for all this effort and dedicated work to bringing about this most amazing collection of audio goods. The appearances, and presentations from industry leaders and designers, along with live performance presentations exceeded my expectations and I was pleased to attend once again this year.
The large attendance at the show exceeded the main hotel's capacity and required spreading out guests at other additional hotels in the area. It is indicative of the resiliency of the music industry with many new high-end manufacturers and dealers expanding their presentations at the lovely Rockville, Maryland Hilton, just outside of Washington, DC.
Even with three days available for walking around listening to equipment in rooms and seeing events at CAF 2023, the challenge of getting everywhere was impossible to achieve. The opportunities to meet with equipment designers, store owners and dealers, and company reps provide a wonderful time to learn and hear so many things that we usually only get to read about in magazines or video demos. It was a chance to visit demo rooms showing complete audio systems from their product lines.
The Capital Audiofest 2023 show supplied a fantastic education and musical experience to compare such a diverse array of systems side-by-side in a brief period. Audio shows like this provide a chance to see and hear equipment combinations assembled by the best professionals in the business. I regretfully apologize for not getting to all the rooms and people who had put so much time and effort into coming to the show. In the big scheme of things, their business is also our business and vice versa so attending an event of this size brings us all together to share in the understanding and appreciation of music.
Speakers, Speakers, And More
Vendors worked with a variety of acoustic room treatments and settings from simple banners, drapes, plants, and scrims to the use of active room acoustical treatments of absorption, diffusion, and wood or fabric-covered art panels to overcome the challenges of creating music in a hotel room.
Genesis Minuet And Foxtrot
What impressed me was his new ultramodern cartridge design introduction installed on a VPI Signature Prime. The new Genesis Hyper cartridge costing $18,000 was developed and is made in Switzerland from many prototypes Gary heard and adjusted design ideas in the past couple of years. He developed this cartridge to satisfy his own musical needs and listening style yet found interest from his customers, so it is now being added to his lineup of products. The speakers are made from bamboo plywood using cross-grain layers for dampening and strength. Bamboo is a lighter, renewable / sustainable source compared to common MDF.
The glues and cabinet finishes are water-based to avoid fumes. A combination of the special Genesis round ribbon driver is combined with a midrange and isobaric bass. They looked and sounded good at a price point that I normally would not associate with Genesis.
The Voice That Is! Showcasing Tidal
Audio Contriva G3
Joe Salvato of Equitech has a long history in recording studios and was a featured speaker at the show explaining the benefits of balanced power. Regardless of the equipment choices, room sizes, and shows I have attended, Doug always sets up an impeccably detailed and engaging room that sounds spectacular. He brings along new entries each year and sets up a standout statement room for people to hear his equipment dealership lines.
NOLA Baby Grand Reference Gold 3
This concept and trend for interest in open baffle speakers from other companies were featured in several other rooms at the show. Carl's tall speakers feature a line source array of drivers in an open speaker design braced by four corner columns while the bass drivers are housed below to form a base in a beautiful wood cabinet. The large speakers disappeared in his dark room with sound that totally engaged and pressurized the large room. The sound was open and huge. It was gigantic, like being in a big hall with a massive presentation of the soundscape with the performers having a large life force and size.