Who is excited about Capital Audiofest 2023?

I find I am largely ambivalent and not sure if I will go or not.  It’s a nice event and I go most every year but looks like mostly more of the same old same old.   Are these shows really keeping up with the times? Anything really groundbreaking there to see or hear?  I wonder.   Might go tomorrow.   We will see 


Thanks @mahgister.

Well when I do go I’m generally interested in several things:

1). The best sounding systems regardless of cost as a reference and trying to understand why they sound the way they do. I will pop out the decibel sound meter app on my iPhone to get a quick visual and that often helps explain differences I hear room to room quite a lot.

2) Any components used in those systems that I would actually consider owning. Lately I am focused on downsizing as much as possible so most oversized components are not of interest.

3). Any specific components I might be interested in buying at the time to play with
at home. Currently I have lots of very rewarding hifi toys to play with at home. I may be interested in giving a pair of different floorstanders another try at home just to see and this show is a chance to hear sone boutique type options that would be hard to audition otherwise. Most of the time I come back from the show with some new findings to explore further.


We will wait for your impressions ...

Take notes ... 😊

I dont buy anything , save in the next year or so i will buy the Dr, Choueiri  BACCH filters ,,,

But i am curious about the RAAL headphone ... Test them if you see them...

I will never replace my modified K340 but i am curious ...😁


I do usually spend some time auditioning headphones. I bought a Chord Mojo there a few years back that I still use often at night. I think I tried a pair of RAAL headphones there last year. They were very big and clunky, not something I would keep on my head for long. So the audition was too short to form an opinion on the sound. It was fine as best I recall. If I go I will look for them and let you know.

Big fat zero chance here. Not a DC Metro fan and no time. Heading to the Black Hills, Bighorn Sheep, winter meat!

It's always worth going to see Ken Stevens in the Convergent Audio Technology room.  He usually manages to get great sound even in a show setting, plus it's always educational just to speak with him.

I went primarily to listen to speakers. In no particular order speakers that I found interesting:

Songer audio S1 field coil single driver

Cessaro GAIA 1

the big NOLA speakers

The small Tidal speakers in the Bricasti Design room

Magico in the Convergent Audio room

Magico in the Command AV room


One interesting observation was the Alma Music Estelon Aura. In their show room I thought they sounded very good but at the show not so much.


The abundant internet influencers were in full force. They would sashay into the room stand in from of the speakers and equipment and talk over the music describing the systems.

I also thought the Songer audio speakers sounded great.

The Joseph Audio and Magico speakers also sounded very nice. 

i was also pretty impressed with the small stand mount speakers that OCD audio guy has in his room. I can’t remember what they are though. 

i want to go back to hear Clayton Shaws new speakers. My brief listen was promising. 

+2 on Joseph Audio. Now Listen Here had a very nice setup in the executive suite (Pearls with some outrageously expensive electronics), and there were a few others featuring the Perspectives and Pulsars. These all sounded very good.

Also heard and purchased Clayton Shaw’s new speakers. Incredible value, though the electronics he was using were not up to the quality of the speakers in my opinion.

The Singer field coil speakers were very interesting.

Caprice Audio had a really nice setup. He has a noise reduction box that he designed. Not sure how much that contributed - he did do a before and after comparison - but the stand mount speakers he had were every bit as good as the Borresen stand mounts (actually maybe better) at about 1/5 the price. Wish I could remember the name of them.

Oh, and getting out of the parking area under the hotel at the end of the day was a total cluster you-know-what. It took hours. 

Most Musical: Cessaro Wagner 

Most Impressive Soundstage: Borenssen Flagship Model

Honorable Mention: Acora, Kharma, Cessaro bookshelf model, Wolf Langa



My Favorites:

Von Schweikert Endeavor SE's with massive VAC equipment; these smaller reasonable VS's were amazing in that room.

VS VR-55 mkII with Westmisterlab REI mono's and Lampi Horizon.  Wow.  These class A amps are small and run cool.  Having the powered woofer option in the VR-55 allows blending of bass with the room - for example it was turned DOWN for this room..contrary to simple thinking that the powered woofer adds bass.


The Songer S1 Field Coil single driver speakers were amazing, shown with Taiko 
Extreme and switch.  I wuold never consider this type of speaker but maybe I should!


The Borrensens, from X2 all the way up to M1 are a bit over etched for my liking.  Amazing at first but then hurt my ears.  I did not think the imaging was amazing, the speakers did not disappear.  But they sure are resolving.

Soulnote electronics were in several rooms, and sounded very sweet to my ears.

I kind of close my eyes to expensive tube stuff...

And Lubomir from M101 cables demonstrated the positive effects of his cables, especially his ethernet cable.

Bill Parish from GTT had a wonderful small room, with Mola Mola Mauka w Tambaqui, MM's new class D amps, a new audiophile switch he has developed, and his Vivid Giya 4 speakers. Smooth and wonderful.





Any listening thoughts on the Caladan's? I've got mine purchased based on reputation alone. What electronics were used, and what did you find lacking?

I Purchased the BACCH4Mac earlier this week, not the universal, but the one step up so that I can use the optional in ear mics… 3-4 week lead time.  I plan on visiting booth 549.  

The rest of my system is solid, and I’m very happy with the sound in my basement…. so will be looking for generally interesting, and innovative products and concepts versus trying to solve a specific problem  

This will be my first show in a decade. 


Yes Joseph Audio has always made my products I would consider buying best sound list.  
Also the parking garage is also always a booby trap with lots of dead ends trying to get out. 

Looks like I will miss CAF this year.

To anyone there who might: please check on RAAL headphones for @mahgister and report back here. Thanks.

Thanks for the message mapman...

I am very satisfied by my headphone K340 ,an hybrid, the only real one dating back 45 years ...But i am curious about any actual  top headphone which may beat them on all acoustic factors , bass , holography , natural timbre , highs as honey and a balance with a speaker-like sound out of the head if the recording is good ... I never listen an headphone which can even touch them ......I trash all the 9 others in a bin because nevermind the design they sound unnatural, artificial and in the head ...

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He had a Linear Tube Audio integrated and their streamer. Clayton admitted the sound was a little thin with these components. I thought the highs were slightly brittle, which I attribute to the LTA stuff. I have become very sensitive to edgy mids and highs, so have never been a fan for those reasons.

On the plus side imaging was excellent; bass and mid bass were articulate, clean, and powerful; midrange was seamless. Boogie factor really was there. Unless you listen to a lot of pipe organ you won't need a subwoofer. 

Regarding the negatives, I know determining the cause is a bit of a crap shoot. But what I heard fit with my previous impressions of the LTA gear. A few years ago I had a pair of Spatial X5s, so I have a pretty good idea of what Clayton thinks sounds good.

Hope this helps. Specific concerns? 

I spent over 6 hours there yesterday and am planning on returning tomorrow.  I was surprised by how many good sounding rooms there were this year.  Other speakers not already mentioned included the active ATC SCM50ASL ($22k), Borresen M1 ($100k!), and Heretic AD614 ($7.3k, and very relaxed sound).

 I also got to hear Avantgardes for the first time.  Weird pairing for an efficient horn - dartzeel - and room was way too small, but if you sat in the chair against the wall, it gave you a much better idea of what the Duo GT ($74k) is capable of; I’d rather hear it with tubes though.  

Oh, and the Deja Vu room, with Vu’s Western Electric driven wooden horns, was very nice.  His room last year was disappointing, pretty awful in fact, so it was nice to see a return to form.

Very 1st much smaller Capital Audiofest in the old Rockville mansion venue had a custom Goto horn setup that was outstanding.

Hmmm I missed Avant-garde on the card this year. That would be an attraction for me.

Is Vanatoo there this year? Anyone looking for good sound on a thin budget should give a listen. I’ve got my Vanatoos going now that I first discovered at CAF a couple years back. Wowsa! That’s what modern technology done smartly can do that could never have happened even 10 years ago.  Giant killers!

Geez, can’t believe I forgot!  Since I’m a bit of a Triode Wire Labs fan-boy, I had to visit my friend Pete Grzybowski.  He was showing his cables with Living Voice speakers and Border Patrol amp and DAC.  This was one of my favorite rooms, showing what can be done for a reasonable price (vs. all the 6 and 7 figure systems - some of them really did sound amazing, but it would be criminal if they didn’t).

Oops!! I didn’t realize those speakers were over $40k; thought they were more like the Border Patrol stuff re price.  Regardless, very nice room!



If you take a listen to the Arion Audio Apollo 12 speakers I would like your take on them since they are a similar design to your Line Forces. I was there yesterday and listened to them. The way they are set-up you will only be able to hear their capabilities from the front row center seat IMHO.

I will pop out the decibel sound meter app on my iPhone to get a quick visual and that often helps explain differences I hear room to room quite a lot.

So the sound level is the only possible difference in sound between rooms? 🤦‍♂️😳🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️


I was at the show the whole day but I saw no people pulling their decibel meters out of their pockets or oscilloscopes.


I am enjoying the show.  I like the custom Deja Vu horn system and the horn system that Viva has introduced to this country at this show.  Both horn systems are free of the roughness and nasal coloration associated with horn systems.  Overall, I liked these systems the most, although both are pricey.

I was also extremely impressed with the Pure Audio Project Trio speaker/Pass 
integrated system.  The speakers are open baffle speakers with twin woofers and a midrange/tweeter coaxial drive in between the woofers. This is the kind of clear, yet not thin and bright sound I like, with a very natural sounding attack and decay of note.  I prefer a little more warmth and “weight” but these are fantastic speakers.  The BIG shock to me was the $8450 price (if I recall correctly).  If they had said $35,000, I would have said “not bad,” but the quoted price left me speechless.  I cannot recall the name of the speaker cables (very thin and wide ribbon-type cables but they must be very good to let this kind of sound through, and I was quoted $900, again, a bargain.

Amazing gear and good people. Some inspirational pieces. It was my first time at the show. I don't know about decibel meters but I could quietly talk and be heard when most systems played.

I didn't realize I was a high volume listener, but to me everything seemed like quiet background levels with very high priced gear. Maybe I'm already deaf. Just seemed ... So quiet. I thought we were going for as the artist intended. Have you heard a drum kit in a room before? It's an assault. Most of the rooms seemed like restaurant in-ceiling SPL levels. Not very exciting, I dunno.. 

So the sound level is the only possible difference in sound between rooms?

Of course not. Read what I actually said which is “it often helps”.

Mainly the sound meter is a useful tool to identify differences in bass extension and levels Room to room. I’ve found some rooms are bass heavy and others bass shy and others just right. It helps to verify what you hear.

Bass levels have a big impact on what you hear. Too much bass tend to obscure detail in the midrange. Too little tends to make the midrange sound more pronounced.

The meter also helps confirm what you are hearing room to room and better understand why things sound different or not.

Also my ears are older and no longer hear “air” fully well out to 20khz, but the sound meter app on my iPhone has that covered much better than I. Just because I can’t hear something doesn’t mean a “high end” system gets a free pass to slack off.



I was at the show the whole day but I saw no people pulling their decibel meters out of their pockets or oscilloscopes.

Did you check what people were actually looking at when they had their smartphones out? Sound meter apps are a real thing! There could have been nefarious measuring going on right under your nose.  Things are not always what they appear to be.😉

I dunno manmap. Going to shows just to stare at your “smartphone” decibel meters is kinda sick. But whatever pleasures you… 

@thyname can’t get anything by you.  But don’t worry I stare at lots of things and my ears even still function as well.  It’s a neat trick.  Try it you’ll like it!🙏

I went today...

  • Caladans: wasn’t my music choice, sounded a bit thin lacked lower end gravitas.. but nice and tight, fast, and great tone in the mids and decent highs. a lot of speaker for the price
  • Easiest to listen to: NSMT (monitors+bandpass sub combo) smooth and true.
  • 300B integrated that caught my eye: the Westinghouse 91E (it was driving the top full range driver only of an active sub tower) didn’t love the bass/midbass integration - which wasn't powered by the Westinghouse, rather the active speaker itself. I would have liked to have seen them driving a speaker full range alone, 25 watts per channel after all. A 5 year warranty on 300B tubes (!)
  • Worst sound: didn’t note the brand, a larger 3rd floor mini ball room was open baffle 7’ tall ribbon/planar + bass modules (4 towers total) maybe too far away from the back wall but sounded very thin and hotel california was painfully edgy.
  • The horns in the Viva room had a surprisingly (albeit narry) honky tone in the upper bass/lower mid that was distracting
  • MBL - first time in person, impressive
  • My favorite of the day: Consonos, their midbass (open baffle) and sealed sub blended beautifully. it’s a 4 way with the 3 higher freq drivers being open baffle and highest 2 are planar drivers. The source was a Mytek Empire and their in-house amps were hidden (their faceplates didn’t make it to the show so they put them behind a curtain). Supposedly each driver is actively driven by it’s own 400w amp, so 8 amp channels in total. I think the speakers are $17k and the speakers + amps are $70k, so with the Mytek it’s < $100k. Trounced some other $200-300k combos. (I was in the room at a less busy time and he played several requests of songs I know well, I went straight home and compared - damn... damn.... damn...)
  • several separate beautiful recordplayer setups played dirty records, annoying pops and such during playback...
  • Oh the bacch-sp was cool not too exaggerated to be fake, he also took requests. I am eager to get my setup, was able to talk to the founder/professor - said they’d be shipping my kit next week so will report back on how it works in a new thread.

I was there Friday. Was planning to go back yesterday or today but didn’t make it so I really didn’t get to listen to as much as I had hoped. The ampsandsound room was the best that I heard.  It was their most expensive Arch mono block amps in action and the first time I’ve listened to their equipment. Very impressive. Also listened to their headphone amp at the Audeze both and was also very impressed. It will probably be my next amp. The QLN reference speakers were very impressive too with the Vinnie Rossi electronics. I always like listening to Classic Audio speakers with the Atma-Sphere electronics. No Class D’s though. And I agree, the Songer field coils were nice too. Deja Vu’s big horns sounded very good and the monitors (sorry the name escapes me) for the asking price of around $7k - $8k were impressive. Last time I attended CAF was 2018 and I must say the equipment that I was able to listen to this time for the most part was impressive and in general the rooms seemed much better than before.

Last time I attended CAF was 2018 and I must say the equipment that I was able to listen to this time for the most part was impressive and in general the rooms seemed much better than before.

I agree with this statement 100%. I go to CAF every single year. And I don’t take oscilloscopes or decibel meters with me to the party unlike my manmap style friend. But yes, with few exceptions most rooms sounded pretty good. Some of them exceptionally good


Compared to previous years many rooms sounded good.

1) Schweikert in the large atrium room. The room, per the designer who ran the demo is the best room on the show circuit. Probably most setups would sound spectacular. The soundstage is like in an IMAX. 

2) Cessaro horns sounded good

3) Vivid/Mola sounded good

4) First time I heard the big Bayz audio speaker. Great, but 160k.

5) Gershman acoustics - great price/value

6) Joseph audio - always good, never heard a bad room from this company.

Bit dissapointing:

1) Borresson - I wanted to like the rooms and the lower X models, but fatigue set in after 1 song.

2) MBL 101 - Nice, but for 100k speakers something was missing in this setup. Too soft sounding.

3) Sunday was very low traffic. Not good for the companies exhibiting


Overall, great, wish I had more than 4 hours. One really needs 2 days.

Really good show, I was able to see a lot of rooms on Friday and Saturday. Quality was really good across the board. Many really solid rooms.

The MBL room was very impressive, but maybe a tad too much treble. Otherwise was a very impressive room.

Colin at Gestalt had a great room with the Lamm monoblocks, can’t recall the speakers but they were a lot of fun to listen to as Colin would spin many different records one after another.

Songer audio was very nice, a little too hot on top for me, but it was a beautiful sound. Nice stuff.

Tidal was amazing, probably sat there for at least 20 minutes listening to a ton of jazz. Really great room.

NSMT was a really good room, underrated.

Both Von Schweikert rooms were excellent this year, with the VAC room being completely filled with sound by their new $27k model.

Boressen X2 and the Forte 1 was a better showing than what I recalled from last year with the X3 and Aavik separates. 

Goldenear was probably my favorite speaker on the 8th floor. 

Really wanted to like the Magico S3, but sounded dead in the room where it was paired with MSB monos and their DAC, not much better with the Gryphon 333. Convergent Audio Technology was able to get the most out of them, but it still left me wanting.

Stenheim was also a bit underwhelming, even with those Dartzeel monos, just not my thing.

Lots of rooms had Joseph audio and those little standmounts were fantastic wherever I heard them.

OCD Mikey had a very smooth room, easy to listen to, good stuff.

Maybe my favorite room - Perlisten and Audia Flight, whatever was going on there it was captivating.

It may not be Munich, but Capital Audio Fest is big enough to require more than one day to audition more than a small sample of exhibitors. This is the fourth year I've gone on Sunday, arriving around opening time and finding they're starting to pack up equipment while I'm barely halfway through my list of "must audition" rooms. My main interest is speakers, and I am invariably amazed at two things: how many totally different designs there are and how so many of the similar-looking designs (i.e., cones and domes in a box) sound vastly different from one another.

Top highlights for me this year included Joseph Audio and Magico, both of which always manage to sound musical even under difficult show conditions. I heard enough boomy, one-note bass at the show to last me till next year, but the latter's sounded balanced, with bass that was extended, tuneful, and visceral when the program material called for it but never overblown. The Magico S3s sounded especially compelling with the C.A.T. electronics in the Truman Room, with that same punchy, clean bass plus a midrange clarity that I thought rivaled the several pairs of Josephs I heard, all of which sounded fundamentally right in a way that few speakers ever do. This was especially evident with piano music.

Several flights up (or after an interminable wait for the elevator—pick your poison), there were sweet sounds to be heard in the Vandersteen suite. The Quatros were organic-sounding with a top end that was detailed but not exaggerated. I also was rather taken with the Elac room. That company may be best known for their budget models, and indeed they were demonstrating a pair of tiny, powered Elacs, the Debut ConneX, which has a plethora of connectivity options and are currently selling for a pittance, but I was more intrigued by the much larger speakers flanking them. The Elac Vela FS-409s, 3.5-way floor-standers in flawless lacquered walnut enclosures, had superb soundstaging and an impressively smooth octave-to-octave balance. The presentation was slightly more forward than that of the Quatros down the hall. Nevertheless, like those Vandersteens, they got the treble right. These seem to have flown under the radar; has any major publication done a full review?

I also heard some impressive sounds in the GoldenEar room, which surprised me because I had expected them to be bright. Unfortunately, the room was crowded and I had more territory to cover, so I didn't have time for a proper audition. Next year, I'll try to audition them earlier.

Then there are the Larsens, which are designed to be placed as close to the front wall as possible. As someone with a difficult room layout, and as a fan of Roy Allison's speakers back in the day, I really want to like these speakers. I don't remember what they were demonstrating last year, but this year, it was the top-of-the-line model 9s in gorgeous ebony. And again, this year, the sound was just so-so. I think the room itself may be the problem. Both this year and last, it was a narrow, deep space, with the speakers against one long wall and the listening chairs practically touching the opposite wall. Maybe a more square-ish room would work better. If the back of one's head is almost brushing the wall, the room modes may be impossible to overcome.

Back downstairs, I wandered for the second time into the MBL space, hoping for a more positive reaction than I'd had several hours before. This time, I sat in a different location and stood in several other places, but it didn't help. The soundstage was not only wonderfully spacious but impressively stable as I moved around, and the speakers also sustained their remarkable sense of transparency regardless of listening position. Sadly, the bass was heavy to the point of nearly overpowering the rest of the spectrum.

Among the less conventional (i.e, non-box) speakers being shown this year, I think I was most impressed by the Magnepans. That company has made some of my favorite speakers over the years, but they don't always sound so good at audio shows. This time, they got it right.

By far the most intriguing speaker design I encountered was made by a company called Endow Audio and featured something called "Point Array", in which a series of dome midranges describe a vertically-oriented circle (actually a polygon, but I didn't count the number of sides) around the outside of a tweeter horn. So the tweeter and woofer point toward the listener, while the midranges point up, down, left, right, and at various diagonal angles in between. I can't think how this would lead to the sort of spatial presentation that could possibly be described as coherent, but surprisingly it did. Unfortunately, the speakers sounded far from neutral tonally, with a degree of classic "cupped hands" coloration that I hadn't heard from a horn-loaded tweeter in a long time.

In the Spendor room, they were demoing the Classic 100, which must be the antidote to "hi-fi-sounding" speakers. They're old-school by design, soft-dome tweeters and big boxes sitting up on stands, with enclosures wider than they are deep. And they sound simply wonderful, capable of uncompressed ear-splitting levels that, unlike so many others, won't actually hurt your ears. They're a little recessed, a little mellow, it's true, but this seems way preferable to the razor-sharp assaults that are so commonplace nowadays in the name of "detail."

Last but not least, a shout-out to the welcoming folks in the Gershman room, who took the time and trouble to seek out my music request. Their Grand Avant Garde speakers sounded lovely: balanced and uncongested, with nearly holographic imaging that seemed to open a window directly to the venue where the music was recorded. I wish I'd been able to spend longer with the Gershmans.


@tom2015 & @cd45123 ...omnis’ are like that.....not surprised they punched the highs...but, commenting on my IRL with mine....FWIW....= ’meh’ *L*

I enjoyed the show and meeting fellow audiophiles. I also got a lot of new tracks to listen on suggestion of folks coming into our INFIGO room. Nothing better than listen to music for 3 straight days. 

to my ears, the best rooms were (in no particular order): Kroma speakers/Aavik gear; YG Carmel 3/Vinnie Rossi gear; Vivid Giya 4/Mola Mola gear; Gershamn Acoustics/Infigo gear; Margules monitors/Margules gear (unfortunately the ppl that ran that room weren't on par with the gear - i won't go into details). Besides these 5 rooms, there few others with decent sound: Magico/Gryphon new int amp and Qln flagship monitor. Plenty of influencers that interfered with good listening session - too much talking and acting like they owned the rooms.

Did anyone make it to the Philharmonic Audio Room...the sign on the door said "speakers you can actually afford to buy"?

I did go to the Philharmonic Audio Room on Saturday. The smaller models (Ceramic Mini and the True Mini) were actually very impressive. I wanted to buy the demo units for both models, but those were sold on Friday. For $850 (Ceramic Mini with ceramic driver) and $380 (True Mini) those are probably the best bargains under $1k monitors. Sound was punchy with a very smooth midrange.

I attended both Friday and Saturday. My focus was on speakers below $20k. Reading the observations here makes me wonder if my aged ears have declined more than I thought.

While I found most speaker systems on display to provide good hi-fi sound, few provided the sense of real in-room performance that I’ve been blessed to hear for the past 25+ years with my seemingly end-game speakers. My long discontinued Platinum One Reference stand mounts remain unchallenged at their $9,500 price in today’s dollars for producing precise imaging, realistic soundstage, and most important to me accurate reproduction of percussion instruments, including piano.

Perhaps most revealing was the VAC room. The beautiful and "very real" live voice of Anne Bisson created a sharp contrast with the high-end ($$$) reproduction of instruments and backing vocals. The distance between the real and unreal was palpable.

FWIW, I came away impressed by two nearly-equal best of show rooms, one delightfully surprising best value room, and one quite disappointing premier. Best of show (first place): 30th Anniversary Grand Avant Garde ($18k/pair). Runner up: Rosso Fiorentino Volterra ($17.5k/pair). Best Value: Q Acoustics 5050 ($2k/pair). Most disappointing: McIntosh’s ML1 MKII ($12k/pair) -- perhaps due to inadequate burn-in prior to the premier.