Playing a track from Bruce Springsteen’s “Western Stars” album in the Acora Acoustics room gave us a deep, three-dimensional sound. The palpable grittiness and growl of Bruce’s voice was encapsulating as the solid granite Acora SRC1 loudspeakers pressurized the room. The bass was effortlessly natural with a deep soundstage. Bruce’s voice was articulate without sacrificing any of the warmth. Associated equipment were the Esoteric and Audio Research electronics.
Backert Labs, Soundstage Audio:
Andy Tebbe of Backert Labs waxes so enthusiastically when describing products in his exhibit room, I couldn’t wait to take a listen. Well, listen we did to David Bowie’s LP track, “Lazarus” and the sound was realistic and full of information in a non-fatiguing way. Truly, one of the very best sounding rooms at The Capital Audiofest 2020. Andy also talks in the AVshowrooms’ video about his room’s improvement thanks to Rick Shultz’s High Fidelity Cables’ loom and power strip. Andy also describes in the video his very own Backert Labs’ preamplifier with Teflon capacitors in the power supply and more. The speakers were from Rosso Fiorentino, the turntable was Acoustic Signature and the power amplifier, also from High Fidelity Cables, was the M1. Platforms and stands from Soundstage Audio.
Black Ice Audio by Jolida:
One of the biggest surprises at Capital Audiofest 2019 was the Black Ice headphone amplifier incorporating Jim Fosgate’s technology. You could adjust everything from the surround sound to the EQ; the bass and sub-bass. Peter B. listened to a track from Kraftwerk, and by his expression alone, I could tell he was extremely impressed. He said that he was getting concert level sound that he had never experienced before with a pair of headphones.
ESD Acoustics with United Home Audio:
David Dai of ESD Acoustics and Greg Beron of United Home Audio give a detailed walk-through touching on each component in the room. The ESD “Crane” carbon fiber, horn loudspeakers were driven by Aesthetix electronics and the front end was the United Home Audio Ultima 4 tape deck with the outboard power supply. We played a beautiful recording by Ed Pong featuring violin and piano and the sound was natural, effortless, detailed and, most importantly, emotionally involving. As good as it gets. The cables were Synergistic Research and Greg explains in the AVShowrooms’ video why he favors SR.
GT Audioworks/Sound Insight:
GT Audioworks continues to get some of the best sound, year after year. This year at Capital Audiofest 2019, we opted to spin the Dead Can Dance lp Spiritchaser; specifically, the track “Song of the Stars” on the Basis Audio turntable with the Basis Audio tonearm. The lateral imaging was off the charts, the sound was detailed with impact, dynamics and low-end slam. Of course, the Pass lab monoblocks driving the speakers had a lot to do with the overall presentation. Included in the room was the Mosart Cabinet, Esoteric and the Innuous server. All wiring was by Triode Wire Labs.
The Audionet Humboldt Integrated amplifier made its world premiere in Bill Parish’s GTT Audio room at the Capital Audiofest 2019. We played the track “Song of the Stars” from the LP, “Spiritchaser” with the YG Acoustics’ Carmel 2 loudspeakers delivering, in my experience of this much played track, an unprecedented amount of information with lots of spatiality, spot-on phase delivery and an enormous soundstage. Of course, every component in the room makes for an exceptional sounding room. The turntable was the Kronos Sparta with the new power supply, the DAC was the Mola Mola Tambaqui and all cables were Kubala-Sosna.
Klaus Bunge, proprietor, continues to impress with his affordable audio. However, this year at Capital Audiofest 2019, he has raised the bar to equal and exceed the sound of rooms with equipment costing 10 to 20 times more. We played “Song of the Stars” on the VPI turntable and the system delivered a layered bass, huge soundstage and brilliant image density. Cabling by Magnan Cables.
What’s old is new again. The restored Quad 57 loudspeakers driven by Butler amplifiers gave us music without any artifacts. Anne Bisson/Vincent Belanger’s “Fly Away” from the album “Conversations” never sounded this good to me and its an album I play over and over. Anne’s voice was in the middle of the room and the entire sound wrapped itself around me as if an embrace. Perfect transient response and outstanding dynamic range, Robyatt Audio was my takeaway room at the show.
Spatial Audio, Linear Tube Audio and Lampizator.
Clayton Shaw of Spatial Audio debuts the M3 Sapphire loudspeaker and talks in detail about his new product in the AVShowrooms’ video. Also, Fred Ainsley, describes the new Lampizator Amber 3 DAC that includes technology from its pricier siblings. Mark Schneider, founder of Linear Tube Audio, impresses us with the Integrated Z10 amplifier that includes a David Berning-designed preamplifier. This entire system is just under $10,000 and punches way beyond that price point and I mean way beyond. This is one of the best systems I’ve heard at a show this year. We played a track from Musica Nuda and the bass was perfectly natural and perfectly integrated with the rest of the frequency response. Lightning-fast transient response delivered a natural and emotionally engaging sound. Audience Audio supplied the power conditioner and cabling was by Anticable. Innuos was the server.
The Audio Company, VAC/VonSchweikert:
The Capital Audiofest might be just another show without the spectacle The Audio Company brings to the festival. This year, Kevin Hayes of Valve Amplification Company (VAC) debuts his Statement 452 Musicbloc amplifiers continuing on with his vertical format design. Kevin explains in detail, in the AVShowrooms’ video, his design and design philosophy. It was apparent to this listener that the overall sound in the room was elevated by a giant leap the first time I stepped into the room because of the amplification.
Another bonus in the video is Leif Swanson and Damon Von Schweikert of Von Schweikert Audio describing every aspect of the design of the Ultra 11 loudspeakers. The racks and platforms are by Critical Mass, the turntable was the Kronos Pro with the SCPS, the electronics, including a newly redeveloped transport, Esoteric and the cables were Masterbuilt. We played a live track from Michel Jonasz on Sunday and the soundstage filled the room. As always, The Audio Company delivered a holographic, realistic, detailed presentation as if we were at the concert.
Bending Wave USA:
This system was like liquid gold. We played a live Michel Jonasz track and the sound was delicate, detailed and organic with information in the lower frequencies I’ve not heard on this piece of music before. The loudspeakers were the Goebel High End “Divin Noblesse”, the electronics were by CH Precision and the source was the Kronos Pro turntable with the Super Capacitor Power Supply. Cabling also by Goebel High End.
The debut of the Phoenix USB Reclocker was a resounding success as Nuno Vitorino did an A/B test with the Phoenix connected to the Innuos Zenith Mk3, then removed. You’ll get to listen to the comparison on the upcoming AVShowrooms’ video. An organic and emotionally involving Lisa Gerrard’s “Wind that Shakes the Barley” was hauntingly beautiful without engaging the PhoenixUSB Reclocker; however, there were very noticeable sonic improvements when the reclocker was connected. The soundstage opened up, Lisa’s voice had more space and air around it with added dimension. The loudspeakers were the YG Acoustics “Vantage” with Boulder and Ayre Acoustics amplification. My take-home fantasy, for sure.
Next Level HiFi:
Tyler Mueller, proprietor of Next Level HiFi along with Lars Kristensen of Aavik/Ansuz delivered one of the best sounding exhibit rooms, I had the pleasure visiting at RMAF 2019. Debuting, was the U380 Aavik integrated amplifier that includes 2 DACS and a phonostage. The amplifier was significantly more organic sounding than the U300 without sacrificing any of the detail. The loudspeakers, the Borresen .01 standmounts, the smallest LS in the Borresen lineup was set up in the largest exhibit room at the show. This brave and aggressive experiment was a resounding success. Tyler proved that these little guys could fill a big room with concert level sound, effortlessly. We played two female vocal tracks, “All about You” and “Liberty”; the voices were hanging in space in the center of the room and the sound was enhanced by the large space.
Benno and Ronnie of Raidho Acoustics debuted the new TD2.2 loudspeaker with new, in-house made drivers. Benno’s goal to create a small floorstander with the sound of a speaker twice the size was achieved and the result far exceeded my expectation. We played the track “Human” by Vanessa Fernandez on a VPI turntable and the sound was dynamic, fast and organic with a huge soundstage. Electronics were the Sim Audio “Moon” line and cabling was by Nordost.
Chief Designer, Ted Denney, introduced several new SR products including his new UEF Cable Risers with incorporated HFT technology. In the upcoming AVShowrooms’ video Ted performs an A/B test with the cable risers in and with them out. We played and track from a Vanessa Fernandez album and clearly, when the cables were not utilized, the soundstage collapsed and the transients disappeared. The equipment in the room included the Magico M2 loudspeakers, United Home Audio Tape Deck, Gryphon electronics and an Acoustic Signature turntable.
Cream rises to the top, once again, thanks to the Tekton team. Eric Alexander introduced his new MOAB loudspeaker that delivered sound over 10 times its price point. Combined with Parasound electronics, including the new “New Classic 200” integrated talked about by Phil Jackson of Parasound, the track from “Dead Can Dance” gave us sound that was natural, detailed, non-fatiguing with outstanding bass response. Don’t miss the AVShowrooms’ video where an unsolicited third-party waxes poetically about his listening experience.
The team from Troy Audio proudly exhibited with the majestic Hellena MKII loudspeakers with their outboard crossover. Great Plains Audio makes the alnico coaxial driver and the alnico horn super tweeter. When spinning the track “I Want You” by Vanessa Fernandez from the Groove Note label, the speakers delivered deep bass, good image density and a broad soundstage. We also listened to a drum track with very good transient attack. Associated equipment was the T.G Shroeder turntable, Thrax amplification and Zonotone cables from Japan. The Hellena IIs are Peter Breuninger’s favorite high efficiency speakers.
Well Pleased A/V:
Once again, Mark Sossa, proprietor of Well Please A/V had one of the best sounding rooms at a show. No small feat as there were many very good sounding rooms in the North Tower of the Gaylord Rockies. Also, no surprise that the new Vinnie Rossi L2i-SE integrated amplifer was magical and, as usual with Vinnie’s electronics, dead quiet. Vinnie explains in the AVShowrooms’ video the cornucopia of features in his new design including Stillpoints technology.
Also, contributing to great sound were the Qln Prestige Three loudspeakers from Sweden with a drop-dead gorgeous burl walnut finish and the Innuos Statement Music Server. We played a track called “Liberty” by Anette Askvik and the sound was detailed, effortless and so emotionally involving that I lost myself, for the duration of the song, into the music. A shout-out to the associated equipment including Swisscables, GigaWatt power conditioning, and an SGR equipment rack.
Audio Solutions featured its Virtuosso loudspeakers driven by Vitus Audio electronics. We both were so taken, once again, with the sound that the Audio Solutions’ speakers deliver, we played three tracks instead of the usual one. First, Kraftwerk – a great deal of impact and imaging. The second track was “Agnus Dei” from the Chasing the Dragon CD. The soprano’s voice was suspended in air between the speakers and you could hear the mechanics of the organ. Utterly captivating. And, the third was a drum track that rendered so realistic, it was as if the performance was live. Excellent on every level.
The new CEO, Stefan Schwehr, introduced the world debut of the Humboldt, integrated amplifier which contains all of the superb technology of the Heisenberg monoblock amplifiers and the Stern preamplifier. Truly a state of the art piece of machinery bringing us the music with that signature Audionet sound. Playing Kraftwerk’s “Radioactivity”, the room was filled with holographic imaging, delivered effortlessly, unravelling the layers in the track with ease. The sound was musical with excellent tone and detail. The pinnacle of solid state amplification. Loudspeakers were Dynaudio.
Borresen, Aavik, Ansuz:
Listening to the 01 Borresen loudspeaker further drives home the ability of the highly talented designer, Michael Borresen. We played Kraftwerk’s “We are the Robots” and the bass on these little speakers was deep and powerful. The sound filled the cabin with layers and textures. Electronics were Aavik and the cabling, Ansuz.
Critical Mass Systems, Soulution with Magico:
Cyril from Soulution introduced the system and Joe from Critical Mass gave us detailed product overview for the AVShowrooms’ video. The Magico loudspeakers were the M6. We played a track from a Michel Jonasz LP on the De Baer “Saphir” turntable from Switzerland and the sound was pure liquid gold. Spot-on micro detail and deep reaching bass.
Goebel High End:
Oliver showcased the Divin Noblesse loudspeakers and explains in the AVShowrooms’ video, the differences and similarities to the Divin Majestic. Again, this year, The Analogue Solution from Kronos was the front end and we played the track “I Want You” from Groove Notes’ new Vanessa Fernandez album and the room was dead quiet allowing for every bit of information to be extracted from the LP. A world class system and the best Goebel exhibit room we’ve heard at the High End. Outstanding. Amplification was Angstrom Amps, 70 watts per channel.
The exotic room within a room was on display at the Kharma exhibit complete with a credenza to house your electronics and turntable! The eye candy is full-on via the AVShowrooms’ video, but the real achievement is in the sound. We played “I Want You” from the new Vanessa Fernandez album and the singer’s voice was suspended in space between the speakers. The sound was holographic, with brilliant dynamics and pin-point imaging. The acoustical treatment transformed an exhibit space with the usual problems to a venue allowing for a live concert sound. Treatments matter, folks, and the proof was in the Kharma room at the High End 2019.
This was the European introduction of the new M2 loudspeakers, the smallest in the M series. Take a look at the AVShowrooms’ video where Alon Wolf explains the technology. We played the track “I Want You” from the Groove Note LP of the same name and the sound was layered with a big soundstage and excellent transient response along with holographic imaging that we’ve come to expect from a Magico loudspeaker. Excellent. The room’s electronics were Soulution on Critical Mass racks. The source was the Kronos Analogue Solution.
The suite of Nagra electronics paired with YG Acoustics Sonja XV Jr., four tower system and the big YG sub woofer, InVincible™, delivered a delicate and detailed presentation on the Chasing the Dragon’s “Agnus Dei” CD. The believable organ and vocal were rich with imaging, tonality, tonal quality and a natural transient attack. The soprano was in the room with us as was the organ!
Benno Meldgaard, Chief Designer, walks us through all of the improvements to the Raidho design including a new motor system for better bass control and more (see the AVShowrooms’ video for the interesting details and philosophy). The result is the new loudspeaker, the TD3.8’s delivering an organic, musical sound, with excellent bass reach, dynamics and tone. We played Vanessa Fernandez’s “I Want You” and the sound was holographic and effortless. One of the best sounding rooms at The High End 2019. Electronics from Chord; cables, Gamut Reference; source, the new Pear turntable with two arms, “The Source”.
VAC, Valve Amplification Company/Von Schweikert Audio:
Featuring the Von Schweikert Ultra 9 loudspeaker from the flagship line and the VAC 450i iQ integrated amplifier, this system delivered a not unexpected concert sound which was truly one of the best sounds we heard at the MOC this year. We played the cut “I Want You”, from Groove Note’s new Vanessa Fernandez album and the sound was holographic with brilliant tonal quality, tonality and detail. All cabling was by MasterBuilt; the analogue front end, Acoustic Signature’s Invictus Jr. turntable with an Airtight Opus cartridge. The system also included Esoteric electronics and Artensania Racks.
Hans-Ole Vitus explains to the camera his new SIA 030 integrated amplifier that so effortlessly drove a pair of Rockport loudspeakers. We played one of our reference recordings “I Want you” by Vanessa Fernandez. Beautiful, musical and detailed sound filled the room. The decay left me emotionally charged and the quiet and speed of the system was extremely impressive.
Featuring the Zellaton Reference MKII loudspeakers, Michael Schwab walks us through the system which includes the exotic and excellent YS Sound monoblock amplifiers along with Schnerzinger protectors and cables. We played “I Want You”, Ying Tan’s new Vanessa Fernandez recording on the Reed Muse 1C turntable. The speakers are truly works of superior refinement. A relaxed natural and realistic sound; layered, fast and musical these speakers give you everything.
One of the top two at hifideluxe, 2019. The Alsyvox Caravaggio four panel, 5-way ribbons driven by a new Omega Concepts integrated amplifier; 200 watts per channel with 11 powers supplies for each channel! We easily transitioned from classical music to Kraftwerk’s German beat. Huge staging, perfect imaging and dynamics with a deep bass flawlessly integrated with the mids and the highs. To my ears, perhaps one of the best of the best sounds in all of Munich, this year. If I only had the room.
A new 4-way, passive loudspeaker from Latvia, the Aretai Contra high-end, debuted with stunning sonic success. A track from Kraftwerk showed off the impressive dynamics and the deep and punchy bass. A hands-down winner for the AVShowrooms’ Gold Show Award for sound, this year, at hifideluxe. Pay attention to these guys and check out our video.
Lots of slam and space, Audio Note UK gave us everything we’d want in a system. Detailed, musical and engaging. The AN-E SEC Signature loudspeakers turned the room into a concert hall. The Kraftwerk track “Musique Non Stop” was stunning in it’s realism.
Audionet and SeaWave Acoustics:
Featuring the Plotinus horn loudspeaker with Audionet electronics, we played the CD track “Agnus Dei” from Mike Valentine’s Chasing The Dragon. The voice was suspended in space and the bass pedal was spooky-realistic. A perfect handshake between these horn speakers and Audionet amplification.
“…perhaps the perfect loudspeaker…” Peter Breuninger. The debut of the Bayz “Counterpoint” flagship loudspeakers left us nothing less than astounded. A member of the design team, Zolton Bay, inventor and patent holder from Hungary played the jazz trio track “Three Blind Mice”. The sound was natural with impeccable decay and spot-on transients along with perfectly accurate tone and top to bottom micro and macro dynamics. The AVShowrooms’ video is not to be missed.
A live version of a Michel Jonasz track filled the room with a big warm, emotionally engaging sound. Fyne Audio was playing their F700 Series loudspeakers, driven effortlessly by a Cary Audio integrated amplifier. Jonasz’ voice grabbed this listener and kept her very interested.
The little Stella loudspeakers from Kroma delivered a big performance with chest punching bass and super-fast transients due in no small part to the synergy with Bricasti electronics, the M28 monoblocks, 200 watts per channel, and the Bricasti flagship streamer The speakers include tailor-made drivers from Scan Speak and use no metal parts in their construction.
Synergistic Research: This room was the “smooth operator” of the show. The Kharma Elegance dB9s were driven by Thrax electronics. Synergistic introduced the new Galileo Powercell 12 and the new Atmosphere X Series Power Cables. The sound was detailed but oh so smooth and believable, I wanted to stay there all day.
A complete Viva system including the Allegro loudspeakers and the Aurora monoblock amplifiers gave us a sublime sonic presentation when playing Anette Askvik’s “Liberty”. The sound in the Viva room was musical and warm, and at the same time detailed and realistic. I picked up on new information on a track that I’ve heard many times at audio shows. Sophisticated and emotionally involving.
We believe that an audio system should be conceived to allow the listener to appreciate and celebrate the reproduction of every note played by every instrument. This is our passion and our dream. A group of music lovers and engineers, that came together to make our dream come true: to craft the world’s most musical loudspeaker. Thus, Hellena MKII and Achilles were born.
Achilles was created to honor the classic loudspeakers of the 1940s while incorporating both new manufacturing techniques at extremely low tolerances and the best, most critical components sourced from the United States, Russia, Denmark,Germany and Japan. Only expert hands carpenters and cabinetmakers are involved with handcrafting our products.
Our new Hellena MKII loudspeaker now comes with two completely separate enclosures, to dramatically improve the dynamic performance of the drivers and completely eliminate any acoustic interference between them. The bass is deeper and better controlled, and the uncolored midrange sounds as natural as possible.
The Achilles is our reinterpretation of a loudspeaker whose sound quality is not compromised by any size. We have incorporated the incredible 212 driver, developed several decades ago by Altec and now improved and manufactured by Great Plains Audio as the 212-8A, into a cabinet large enough to deliver an unprecedented quality of bass response.