Impressions from Capital Audio Fest 2021

Nuprin

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We all know that walking into a hotel room and listening to a system shipped unpacked and setup the day before is a very compromised scenario...except when we want to judge ;)

I guess another way to look at it is: all compromises considered are shows more benefit or detriment? I'm guessing any exposure is better than none...
What a few people at the show mentioned was that if it sounded really good at the show then you know the system CAN for sure sound great if not possibly even better. But the ones that don’t sound great could sound better as well.

I still think you can get a general consensus of the “character” of a particular brands sound in show conditions. Someone could prove me wrong but the multiple rooms/homes I’ve heard speakers such as Matin Logan, Vandersteen and B&W, I have never been impressed.

The Kharmas were the only speakers that moved the “emotional connection” needle for me at the show.
 
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AudioLibertarian

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What a few people at the show mentioned was that if it sounded really good at the show then you know the system CAN for sure sound great if not possibly even better. But the ones that don’t sound great could sound better as well.

I still think you can get a general consensus of the “character” of a particular brands sound in show conditions. Someone could prove me wrong but the multiple rooms/homes I’ve heard speakers such as Matin Logan, Vandersteen and B&W, I have never been impressed.

The Kharmas were the only speakers that moved the “emotional connection” needle for me at the show.
I only wish the Swedish Marten speakers with diamond tweeters were at the show, that would have been a great comparo with the Kharmas....... I d urge you to try to demo those Martens as well, along with Austiran Lumenwhite if you are shopping in that price range.

Speaking of the B& W , I was expecting so much more from the new 801D4s, but their demo to my ears left much to be desired, I suspect the Mcintosh gear and cabling was the cause.
 
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Nuprin

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I only wish the Swedish Marten speakers with diamond tweeters were at the show, that would have been a great comparo with the Kharmas....... I d urge you to try to demo those Martens as well, along with Austiran Lumewhite if you are shopping in that price range.
Yes would love the opportunity to hear those as well.
 

Nuprin

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Probably have to add in Rockport Cygnus or Avior II - almost directly competes with the Kharma db11s and db9s respectively.
 

Nuprin

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AudioLibertarian

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As in price. I have not heard Rockports compared directly so I have no idea.
I meant as far as sonic performance IMHO.... Also , if you get a chance try to audition Goldmund speakers. Their MSRP are somewhat higher , but you need to shop around, they are tremendously musical as well, similar to the Kharma as far as allowing one to feel the soul of the performance. You need to travel to Munich next year ;) me thinks, or at least to the Axpona, given that bureacrats have killed the Rocky Mountain Audio Show.
 

Nuprin

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I meant as far as sonic performance IMHO.... Also , if you get a chance try to audition Goldmund speakers. Their MSRP are somewhat higher , but you need to shop around, they are tremendously musical as well, similar to the Kharma as far as allowing one to feel the soul of the performance. You need to travel to Munich next year ;) me thinks, or at least to the Axpona, given that bureacrats have killed the Rocky Mountain Audio Show.
Ah you mean the Rockports are not as musical? When speaking with Matt from The Absolute Sound, he mentioned Rockport for their build quality and bass performance. I wanted to hear Vivid, but sadly they were not at CAF.
 

Cellcbern

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Photos taken by a friend of the AGD room and Bache Audio rooms, and the QLN room with the Fleetwood Sound horn loaded monitors, all three in my list (above) of personal CAF highlights:
Enjoy the Music.com added the AGD room to their list of best sounding rooms. Photo below shows just how small the 200W/Ch monoblocks are (on top of speaker).
 

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advanced101

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Nice to hear Daedalus made a good showing. I have the Zeus (the bigger one at the show). They are indeed a big speaker, the photographs don't seem to capture their size.

Thanks for the reports.
 

unboxed

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I used to think that if a speaker sounded good at a show it would sound as good or better in my home. But the reality is many would sound worse. Certainly show conditions can be challenging but they can also lull us into a false sense of reality and hopefulness.

I am referring to rooms where speakers are place so far into the room most of us could not duplicate that. I am also referring to rooms where little or no expense has been spared for ancillary equipment.

As an extreme example my favorite speakers ever by a large margin were in a huge ballroom where the space behind the speakers was larger than most hotel rooms total. Space to the side walls and seating was also generous and way above average. Those speakers definitely would have sounded much worse in my home. Fortunately I was saved from making the mistake of buying them because the total system cost more than my brand new home.

My example was an extreme for emphasis. But the same thing happens on a smaller scale. Sometimes exhibitors are challenged by show conditions. Other times they are set free from the space and cost constraints of normal usage. Buyer beware.
 

thedudeabides

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Salectric

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For me, the best of show award goes to the JBL Everests in the VPI room. I spent more time in that room than any of the others since I wanted to experience the sound with as many different LPs as possible. The volume level was louder than I ever listen at home (true of most of the rooms) but the Everests never sounded stressed nor, to my surprise, did my ears complain. This room is challenging since the entire back wall is glass; HW said that's why he used a digital room eq. I asked him to switch out the eq so I could hear how the system sounded without any eq, and he kindly obliged. The highs were indeed a little edgy and irritating without the eq but the basic character of the system was the same.

Honorable mention goes to the Command Performance AV room with QLN Prestige 5 speakers driven by a Gryphon integrated. I had never heard QLN or Gryphon before but the combination sounded very nice with a variety of music. This was also a challenging room and the folks who arranged it did an excellent job with the speaker placement and the room damping.
 
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thedudeabides

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Thanks Joe.

My BS meter maxed out when I read that.
 

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