Capital Audiofest: Roundup and Best in Show

Roundup and Best in Show at Capital Audiofest (CAF) includes Dr. Vinyl setup

I’ve been to a lot of audio shows, it’s true. Doesn’t make me an expert, however — there are a few decades of these things that I simply don’t have access to, having only “been in the game” since 2010. But one thing I have learned — most of my audio-pals are quite happy to jump off their barstools, slam their stein down, and declaim to any and all who will listen that “everyone knows that the sound sucks”.

These negative-nancies are, of course, wrong.

I will admit, however, that there have been shows where the sound has been a catastrophic caterwauling of hate, fear, and pain. Happily, there’s only a couple of such that come to mind from recent memory. Instead, my experience tells me that the sound at most audio shows is uniformly “not bad” (faint praise, eh?), and quite often edges into the “pretty-good” (yep, faint praise indeed). But I mean that across-the-board — not “some rooms”, but all rooms, averaged if you will. At every show, there are many rooms that are much better than merely good. Sometimes there are enough good-to-great rooms that, when averaged out, the entire show comes off as a sonic thrill-ride.

Capital Audiofest is one of those.

I’m really not sure what the deal is — though everyone suspects that it is the superior leadership of Show-Runner Gary Gill — or why it seems to be the case that this Hilton was such a bang-up hotel for an audio show, or even if it’s the venue. Like a magic-socks-wearing baseball franchise, however, I’m not sure I’d be interested in changing — whatever it is, it’s working, so Powers That Be: please don’t fuck with it!

So, what heard at CAF this year was room after room absolutely killing it. I simply cannot remember a show that sounded as good, end to end, or room by room. Oh wait. I lied. There is another one. Last year’s CAF. Boom!

The show at CAF is still not big (think 30-40 or so demo rooms), but its current size is still bigger than AXPONA was before it went back to Chicago. Which meant a whole lot more intimacy, and a whole lot more time that could be spent in each room. And that meant good times, all around.

So, while this show coverage may seem a little “light”, I did want to call out a few more in the list for special notice, and take this opportunity to thank TSA for “borrowing” the remainder of of my post-show notes.

Larsen HiFi Loudpeakers

Michael Vamos of GamuT USA was showing off his other loudspeaker brand, the Larsen. Larsen is one of those odd-ball brands that actually attempts to make audio for your room, instead of demanding that you design a room for your audio. Novel, right? The main feature of this speaker is the side-angling drivers — wall-coupling lets you get them out of the way, and take advantage of the room for that last little oompfh in the low-end. End result? Very satisfying — sometimes, you have to think outside the box. Familiar vinyl playback via Pear Audio and that fabulous GamuT integrated no doubt iced that cake to a “t”.

If you’re in the DMV area and are interested to hear this in-person, contact Dr. Vinyl to set up an appointment.