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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Audio Show Preview!
2013 Capital AudioFest Gets New Venue;
New Hi-Fi Products To Be Auditioned


Silver Spring, MD Sheraton hosts Capital Audiofest, July 26-28


by John Gatski

  The fourth annual DC Capital Audiofest will get underway July 26-28 at a new venue in Silver Spring, Maryland. The larger accommodation, the Silver Spring Sheraton, will host DC area audiophiles and hi-fi companies bringing out the latest audio products, as well as presenting two keynote speakers: mastering engineer Alan Silverman, a consultant for HDTracks; and Mark Waldrep, president of AIX Records.

Larger venue
  According to CAF president Gary Gill, the Sheraton offers larger rooms than the Rockville Crowne Plaza used in the two previous CAFs, and it is handily located a few blocks from the Silver Spring metro station, which means DC area and out-of-towners who come via train or plane can make a “car-less“ trek to the CAF.
  “I am very excited about the new venue this year for several reasons: easy access by Metro Rail, urban setting with many nearby attractions, newly renovated hotel, inside the beltway location etc.,” Gill said.
  “This year we are on track to have more rooms and vendors (exhibitor list) than last year, so that means we will have more audio to see and listen to. The lobby and location is what initially attracted me — since the Sheraton has recently renovated the hotel, spending approximately $5-million on the face lift. It looks spectacular.”


Benchmark DAC2 D One of Many DACs at 2013 CAF


  Gill said the lobby will house numerous table vendors and will host live music each day. The hotel also has more meeting/conference rooms than last year’s hotel, which means more rooms for mega-systems. Some of the hotel’s meeting rooms also will be used to host various CAF functions including keynote speakers Alan Silverman (see preview) and Mark Waldrep, president and chief engineer for AIX Records. The presentations are slated for the morning of July 27.
  This year, the CAF will host numerous hi-fi vendors in the various rooms, including BorderPatrol amplifiers, Legacy Audio (speakers), Volti Audio (speakers) and many others. Newcomers include Mytek Digital and Essential Sound Products (power cords). There will be plenty of good-sounding music available as well from software companies, including AIX Records (hi-res audio/video DVDs and Blu-rays).
  Although DC is not the first city you think of for audiophile events, it is perfect for manufacturer/end-user events such as CAF. More immune to recession than any other region of the US and high median income, the DC region has a healthy population of audio enthusiasts that are willing to pay a few bucks for the hand-built, custom-designed sonic gadgets.

A relaxed audio expo
  A lot of vendors return to the Capital Audiofest because of its DC locale and President Gary Gill’s hands-on demeanor with manufacturers and show attendees.
  “There is something fun and relaxed about CAF”, explained Gary Dews, president of BorderPatrol, manufacturer of high-end tube amplifiers and preamplifiers. “Maybe it comes from organizer Gary Gill, a laid back but very capable gentleman, but it leads to a very pleasant and relaxed show at which to demonstrate equipment and listen to music.”



BorderPatrol's satisfying SE300B 


  Dews noted that the CAF has a diverse number of exhibitors — from mass produced lines, to record players and do-it-yourself speaker and audio kits. “Whether you are interested in high end, low end, mid-fi or DIY, there is something for all audio enthusiasts at CAF,” he noted.
**From a business perspective, Dews said the CAF also has brought his company legitimacy in the hi-fi world and helped create more awareness for his tube amps. “BorderPatrol has shown at all the Capital Audiofests. We've had a great reception at all the shows and they have definitely helped put us on the map and made us more visible both locally and nationally,” Dews said.
  For the first time, Mytek Digital will be showing at the CAF. Known for his acclaimed A/Ds and DACs for DSD and PCM, Michal Jurewicz will bring along the latest DAC, the Mytek Stereo192-DSD D/A (reviewed earlier this year on EAN).
  According to Jurewicz, Mytek has a number of customers, pro audio and audiophile, in the DC area, and the company is attending the show to support the local audio community. Besides the Mytek D/A converters, its A/D converters are noted in the pro and home recording/audiophile world for their exceptional accuracy.

Enhanced camaraderie
  Many audiophiles who have attended the show over the past few years say they plan to return in 2013. Most say they are fortunate to finally have an annual audio show in DC.
  “I love attending audio shows, always something surprising and not expected”, says longtime audiophile gear collector Kemper Holt of Baltimore. “Like a kid in a candy store, I try to see and hear as much as possible.”
  Holt explained that getting to see new audio equipment is only part of the euphoria he experiences at audio shows. “As cool as hearing all the gear is, meeting my heroes is even better. Meeting the minds behind the equipment and getting a feel for their personality is always fun.”
  “Another aspect of attending an audio show is the appreciation of being exposed to new music that you've never heard, but now have to have ASAP,” Holt added.


Mytek Digital A/D and DAC on duty at EAN demo


  Holt also has made lots of friends in his adventures at audio conventions, such as CAF. “I really enjoy the camaraderie in the audio community, and the dinners after the day is over are sometimes the best part of the show.“
  Ultimately, he said, it still is about the gear and when the show is over, the experience nudges him into the audio tweak mode either through “retuning” or adding a new piece to his system. “After a show my system always get a shake up, even if it's just cleaning contacts and repositioning speakers. Going to a show energizes me,” Holt emphasized.

EAN's live recording rig
  For the third year in a row, the Everything Audio Network will host its hospitality suite at CAF (Room 608). We will have several new pieces of gear to demo, including the Benchmark DAC2, Mytek Stereo192-DSD DAC, and Rogue Audio’s new hybrid, digital integrated amplifier, the Sphinx
  Also, look for the rare, but emerging high-res portable from Astell and Kern, the AK-100, which sports a Wolfson 24/192 DAC, audiophile analog volume control and digital in/out. The fantastic little portable can play PCM, FLAC, AIFF, etc. and displays metadata and images on a nifty little color screen. A full EAN review is expected within 30 days.
  Besides the new gadgets, the EAN audiophile playback system will include a Pass Labs amplifier, Oppo BDP-105 universal player, Coda preamp, interconnects from WireWorld, new Essence power cords and strip, courtesy of Essential Sound Products, and Legacy Audio’s compact, yet delightful, full range Studio ribbon tweeter monitors.


CAF Room 608
Rogue Audio Sphinx hybrid integrated Amplifier


  In keeping with the high-res focus of our web review portal, the EAN room will have something different this year. On Friday and Saturday afternoons, we will conduct direct-to-stereo recording sessions for any acoustic guitar player that wants to record on a pro recording rig. The high-res system will include True Systems P2 discrete microphone preamp, Audix SC-25X condenser microphones and a choice of A/Ds (Benchmark ADC1 at 24/192 PCM and Mytek 24/192 PCM and 64FS-DSD).
  The tracks will be recorded directly onto a TASCAM DVRA1000-HD or a TASCAM HDP2 stereo recorder. High-quality balanced cables from WireWorld will interconnect the analog and digital devices. Besides having fun with the recording gig, the final results will be showcased on the EAN audiophile playback system
  High-res recording with PCM or DSD, without extensive processing, reveal inner detail width and depth of music that is not possible in the 16-bit world. And it can easily be heard from a good audiophile system. As a bonus, participating guitar players for the recording sessions will leave the show with a copy of their mini-session on a thumb drive.
  Last, but not least, EAN will be giving away several prizes including a new set of Shure hi-fi headphones and an ESP power cable at Room 608. CAF also plans a show give away each day in the main lobby. 


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