Capital Audio Fest 2019 – The Bill Wells Report cont.
Next up on my journey through the various hallways took me to the Deadalus Audio exhibit. Arriving there – quickly noticed that the system was in a largish type room but was also nicely set up for this type of space. The speakers were the elegant and tallish Apollo 11 floor standing model ($22,800) including the BOW subwoofer (12” passive) with outboard crossover ($2,290 ea). Finished in a visually pleasing baked maple, these speakers produced a big, bold sound including full bass and very open midrange. I also noticed during an interesting analog recording (Blues genre), the transient attack for the twangy guitar is sharp and etched with speed and clarity. Absolutely no blurring.
The rest of the system consisted of the Linear Tube Audio LTA microZOTL preamplifier ($4,450), LTA Ultralinear power amplifier ($6,800 ea) and LTA ZOTL40 Reference tube amp (EL34-based design) powering the BOW. Turntable was a VPI Prime Singature model with Soundsmith Hyperion II ES cartridge mounted on the Daedalus Audio non-resonanct turntable platform. LampizatorOR Vinyl Phono 1 was the phono stage ($6,600). All cabling for this system was WyWires including their Diamond interconnects ($4,495), Platinum series power cords ($999), speakers cables )$1,995), power broker AC distributor ($2,495) and Diamond series digital cables ($1,699).
Odyssey Show System featured the Symphonic Line of speakers and electronics. They also had perhaps one of the most intriguing (and seductive) room decors with candles and interesting light fixtures placed strategically on the floor. As the demo started the lights were dimmed and we were basically treated a variety of music in a candle-light setting. Sounds was beautiful with female vocalist – delicate and sweet harmonics. This included a guitar that was open and created a very nice blend. We also listened to a live recording that demonstrated impressive kick drums with solid dynamic impact that was both powerful and controlled.
The speakers themselves (model Liquid Loudspeakers, $5,900) were very nicely done in a soft and very pretty wood finish. Electronics included the Stratos mono amps ($2,700/pr) mated to the Candela tube preamp ($1,600) and Suspiro phono stage ($1,200). Electronics were mounted on Massive Audio Racks ($650 per shelf).
20/20 Evolution Systems came next featuring Gryphon electronics and speakers. Here’s the list of what was in the system – Gryphon Pandora Dual Pre-Amp ($32,500) with Legato Phono Board ($8,800), Mephisto Power amp ($61,000), Ethos CD Player ($39,000) and Pantheon Reference loudspeakers ($52,000). Analog front end included Kuzma Stabi R turntable ($9,499) with 4 point tonearm including Silver/Gold crystal cables ($4,899) and CAR 50 phono cartridge ($5,895). Additionally, the Antipodes Audio CX+EX Solution ($10,600), P1 Ripper Platorm ($750) and P2 Reclocker Platform ($1,500) were included along with the Torus Power RM 20 series ($3,400). Artesania Audio provided the equipment rack – EXOTERYC 3+3 Levels Tandem (Black, $11,000), Platform Krion turntable stand (Black, $4,600) and Aire Floor Platform amp stand (Black, $4,400). This was another big room and this time the sound with a Leonard Cohen recording was big, bold and dark sounding. Very heavy electronic bass that was non-distinctive, little air, low clarity and even hand claps sounded muted. Not sure what was happening in this particular room but it was anything but musical. Perhaps as the show progressed and with more time for the system to settle in, things may improved. Unfortunately due to time constraints, I simply wasn’t able to make it back to verify whether things had actually changed.
With time running short and almost time to go (on Saturday),peering into the Madison suite really caught my eye. Once again – VPI was in the house and providing yet another turntable to handle the analog playback chores. Before my eyes was a magnificent system with some mighty speakers from Switzerland name Credo Audio. The specific model I heard was the Cinema LTM loudspeakers ($170,000). In addition to the superb analog playback, digital processing and playback was being handled by the reknown EMM Labs gear. Bottomline – this system did so much that was so right, hard to fault any aspects of its performance. Very impressed but off to my final spot and quick glimpse.
Last system and sadly no I don’t have much in the way details (i.e., price, sound, other). What I have is a peek at the eye-candy looks of this system. Yes, I did have an opportunity to see/hear some very fine sounds – but nothing definitive. Here we have a company who has a very long-standing in the high-end audio speaker market and for the most part, somewhat of a reputation that borders on somewhat conservative designs. OK, here we go – KEF’s latest and greatest and in full living high-gloss chrome finish. Definitely something beyond the company’s highly acclaimed and very successful Blade model. Also, as would be fitting, VPI totally stepped up their game and provided a stunning super red turntable of turntables.
Closing comments – throughout the two days of my time at CAF, fortunately I was able to catch a number of….should I say, down-to-earth type of systems – some good, some really good. However, truth be told, I don’t recall having seen as many super expensive high-end audio systems as perhaps this past weekend. Needless to say, it is truly fun to check out speakers that exceed six-figures and in some cases, electronics that do the same. Does this automatically provide a sound that totally knocks your socks off? Well, in a word – Nope!! But fun it is. I am also reminded of the dedication of some many manufacturers who honesty do the best that they can to bring their very best and for that, we should all be thankful. CAF was definitely fun for me and I’ve already placed next year’s dates on my calendar. Time well spent.
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