Discussion in 'The Meeting Place' started by yotacowboy, Oct 19, 2019.
anybody planning on going? I picked up a 3-day pass to attend.
Zero chance of my going to this, but does anyone have any idea what tubes these are (from the slide show on the website). They must be something modern.
Definitely going, but thinking Friday is the best day for me - that leaves the weekend free for school work. Most folks I've spoken to (pretty much everyone you met at Ken's event in Silver Spring) are going either Saturday or Sunday.
I'll be wandering around or at LTA or HeadAmp - need to hear the mini.
Looks like Tung-Sol KT150s.
I'll probably be Sat or Sun. Will look out for the regulars! and, also, ready to be disappointed by rigs that cost more than my house.
I'll be driving down on Saturday myself.
I read some coverage of last year's CAF: "Someone had figured out that we were listening to about $1.4 million worth of gear..."
Since CAF didn't organize a headphone area this year, LTA is trying out a little "Headphone Lounge" around the corner from the ballroom that has housed headphone stuff in the past. We considered partnering with others in the space but that didn't work out, so now it's LTA amps and the iBasso DX220 and DX160 as amplification. We have the new Holo Audio Spring2 KTE and Denafrips Ares II, as well as the Border Patrol DAC and the MHDT Istanbul as sources.
Electrostatic with the Z10e: MrSpeakers Voce, Stax SR-009S and SR-L700 MKII
MrSpeakers Ether 2, Aeon 2
ZMF Vérité Closed, Auteur, Atticus
Focal Stellia and Utopia
And also featuring Aurorus Audio with special guest @gandhisfist !
We're planning on holding onto our borrowed gear (most of the headphones, Spring2, Ares II) for at least a week after the show if anyone wants to come by the shop in Takoma Park to listen in a quiet environment or if you can't make the show. You're welcome to bring your own amps or anything. In the shop we'll also have the Lampizator Amber 3 (borrowing for our 2-channel room) and a Lampizator Golden Gate.
Headamp looks like they have a good amount of space in the marketplace, so hopefully they'll have a wide variety of gear. Mytek could also have interesting stuff.
100% in for ZMF @ the LTA spot. and some Aurorus, cause the prototypes were the sauce!
You'll see me again on Friday! We've met before but it's cool to bump into ya here tho. Really want to hear @gandhisfist closed back
Me sphinxvc and Dr Higgs are here
Similar setup was here this year (with new-ish Esoteric front end and bigger VAC amps). Kind of unsurprising in how shocking it was, but it still sounded like a stereo. The dynamics were a little hyper-real. Like, overemphasized.
@gandisfist: can't wait for the Aurorus Audio cans to come out! not ideal conditions at the show, but switching from Verite Closed to Australis, I'd be hard pressed to shell out an additional $2k or so for the Verite just based on the brief listen.
Other highlights for me were the Spatial Audio M3s driven by LTA integrated, the Acapella room, and the Paradigm Personas driven by Anthem integrated (tho, they DSP'd the fuck outta that room, it still sounded really, really good). Losers: Tekton, woof. Those speakers sound how they look; big woofers and lotsa tweeters.
Some thoughts on some speakers (+/- 1 or 2 points)
- Joseph Audio Perspective 2 - 10/10, holy shit we could not stop talking about this speakers on the 3 hour drive back home(or at least me, keep thinking about it), we were like how can we diy this. Super clean, dynamic. I can't believe we asked where is the subwoofer lol. We went back to this room after and just sat and listened for good 30min near the end of the show. SWC?
- PAP Horn Quintet15 - 4/10, I don't know if it's the choice of music but meh. Played some slow jazz pretty quiet. I walked out when it became shouty.
- Spatial Audio M5? - 7.5-8/10, sounded a bit stiff, bass was a bit lacking, maybe its the 15w integrated amp.
- Volti - 7/10 - nice but bass boomy, too my chest hurting for me
Daedalus Audio - 3/10, idk meh nothing memorable. boxy meh
dice cube speakers (dunno the name) - 7/10, sounded ok i suppose I think its also 40k in price. Modular which is kinda cool. you can stack more dice cubes on top.
wind sail speakers - 8/10, pretty good, something like 40k also probably, supposedly array hiding behind the sail.
soccer ball speakers - 5/10, too much mids, new technology, arranged drivers in a soccer ball shape.
garage built omnidirectional speakers - 5/10 - omni design? sounded coherent but maybe poor choice of music. garage shop speakers. The guy had a great heart.
Hoping to get time to listen to rooms today. Some brief listens Friday were promising. The Vinnie Rossi room with QLN speakers had incredible soundstage and I wanted to spend more time there. Heard the Eggleston bookshelves in the Tenacious Sound room right after setup and they were engaging and weren't hitting me with any peaks or booms.
A lot of positive reactions to the Aurorus headphones at the booths.
You guys may have asked them about the drivers already, but per Stereophile they are SEAS Excel magnesium cone woofers with a SEAS tweeter [link to Stereophile article]. This kit from Madisound looks like it may be a good start for DIY efforts: [Madisound SEAS Delling Excel Kit]. I think @purr1n has DIY experience with the SEAS magnesium-cone stuff too. (Off topic, but Joseph Audio is selling these for something like $13k/pr when the BoM cost is maybe 1/10th of that.)
Good find, might need to pick one of those kits up.
The kit uses the older version of the magnesium woofer, without the graphene coating. Probably the same as what's used on the older Perspective, which John Atkinson noted as a touch hot at high volumes in his Stereophile review.
I was hyped to hear a Pulsar a few years ago after reading a DaveBSC recommendation on Changstar, but they ended up being underwhelming. This time the Joseph Audio room was easily the best I heard at the show. Those drivers shine in the low midrange and the high bass, and go loud extremely clean. According to Jeff they're all in one cabinet (no sealed internal 'sub'), and they use their patented infinite slope x-over (not sure what the patent is about, executing an infinite slope using passive as opposed to active components maybe?). The system had pretty good off-axis response and was one of the few cabinets that didn't have obvious resonances.
Most of the speakers we heard were pure shit, especially at the prices they ask for. We couldn't believe how bad the Magico were. The PAP room was underwhelming, Ze'ev pushed the dipoles right up against the back wall (WTF). The "soccer ball" speakers were seemingly omnidirectional in front, but closed in the back...WTF.
There were a couple of things I liked, the omni-directional Audio Physics speaker illuminated the room really evenly and smoothly, but the designers music selections were so anodyne, even ORFAS were uninterested. I saw one ORF telling him to "get better electronics". I think he was offended by the cheap CD player, Class D multi-channel pro audio amp, and Radioshack lampcord the Audio Physics guy was using. I kind of like this set up specifically because those things were a fuck you to everyone else. Underneath the amusing handcut foam, were 4 conventional dynamic drivers facing each other but tilted upward, as if they were sitting in a bowl. They were all baffleless. A cool design overall. I hope the guy comes next year, says they're super cheap and picks better music so we can see what they're actually capable of.
I wanted to hear the Daedelus audio room because I know they use hardwood and proper joinery for their speakers, and because I can't help but laugh when @Dr. Higgs foams over sexy wood finishes. They weren't good by any means, but they do nail strings given they're basically a tuned instrument themselves, lol.
I couldn't really figure out the paper dipole "cube" speakers, and couldn't make up my mind about whether they were good or not. Good thing it doesn't matter because they probably cost Malta's GDP.
The Spatial audio room was cool, and the designer was knowledgeable and fun to talk to. He spoke to us about the Peerless ceramic tweeter on his new model, the problems with widebanders, what frequencies people are sensitive to phasing discrepancies at, and how they worked with AMT to remove the backpanel off their ribbon to turn it into a dipole. Few "company people" inspired confidence at this show, but Jeff Joseph and this guy from Spatial definitely did, plus their gear sounded great.
I met up with the NYC crew for an hour or so on Saturday afternoon and got called away to pass some gas. @Hooncake @sphinxvc @Dr. Higgs it was nice seeing you all briefly, next year we will have to plan and do it right!
I was able to go back for a couple of hours this afternoon. I’m a headphone guy and spent some time with @willsw and @gandhisfist at the LTA Headphone Lounge. It was a great setup and I was able to listen to the ZMF Verite Closed to get a feel for everything. I own Verite Open and the VC was very familiar (in a good way) and lighter in weight. All of the ZMF phones there had Magnesium hardware and were much lighter than other versions I tried (I wish it was standard, but I guess Mg is $$$). The real stars for me though are Aurorus Audio Borealis and Australis.
There are not as pretty as the ZMF offerings, but I agree with @yotacowboy that the Australis and VC were definitely in the same ballpark. I am very excited to hear more if I can on my own system. Both are comfortable, have excellent timbre, detail and dynamics! I’m going to be looking for a closed back HP soon and I’m waiting for Australis release.
The Joseph Audio was the best I heard, but I didn’t get to but a fourth of all the rooms.
It was great to see how excited the NYC crew was for these speakers. I was looking for passive radiators or something because I couldn’t believe the amount of clear bass these small drivers produced.
The room with the coolest looking and pretty damn good sound was the Modwright and Fern & Roby room. Very pricey but the speakers imaged nicely and had good bass for single drivers (SEAS). Tubes, vinyl, wood.
Edited for grammar and asshattery
Finally had a chance to put things together.
Spatial M3: Very positive impressions. Best in show for the "Reasonable Prices" range. CAF was my first experience with these sorts of huge open-baffle speakers, but I was very impressed with the way 4 15" drivers didn't overwhelm this tiny hotel room. The dome tweeters on the new line of M3/M5 were some of the smoothest and most articulate I heard across the show.
AER horn? We thought this was the best sounding thing there. No clue if it's a custom, and I don't even like Reel-to-reel, but WOW. The bass was fantastic, the drums were crisp, and the saxaphones were smooth. The room had a subwoofer up in the front, so I asked where it was crossed over. The guy showed me that the subwoofer wasn't even hooked up.
I pissed off the Cube Audio dealer showing these the second I walked into the room and said "Oh, more Voxatives!" Overall, I didn't like them as much as the AER room. While they did get impressive low end for wide-banders, the high end here was notably edgy. I further pissed the guy off by asking for Rock, of which he only had Aja. Acceptable, but he seemed to resent me asking for that. (bonus pic in album)
Spokesperson for this room grabbed me from the hallway "Hey, we have a radical new technology that changes everything. Go inside and we'll explain how it works later."
Endow speaker was fine. Nothing particularly special. It was pretty good for having an untreated room, and they were showing off that the listening zone was very wide. I thought it sounded a little too smooth to be comfortable. They explained their situation, which, tldr: very similar to the tekton alien eye array but if you spent $37k to build it instead of $2k. A bigger woofer loads the small array of woofers. The different rings do different things because of some analog processor, which is outboard, and probably is the reason they're too smooth.
PAP 15. Great bass, absolutely killer. Like the Spatials, it didn't overload even though I was staring down the barrel of 8 15" woofers. The horns sounded too horny. I really wish I could have heard the Heil or the Voxativ here.
Kef R3 was a lot better than I expected it to be. I'd only heard the LS50, which sounded kind of stiff to me. I didn't expect much more from the R3, since it's the same technology. No major criticisms from me re: midrange & up. Bass was flabby, but a) it's the smallest of the line, and b) hotel room.
MC Audiotech. A close 3rd place for best sound in my opinion. What the fuck's going on here? I don't super know. The box at the bottom has 2 side-firing subs, and everything 100Hz and up is handled by some kind of proprietary transducer.
Tekton Moab. These were okay, but not great. I'm not here to tell the guy who built it how to set it up, but these sounded better off-axis than in any of the chairs. Tweeter situation seems to want less toe-in. The sensation of having a big woofer so far above my head was also sort of unquantifiably bizarre. They made me curious what the rest of the line sounds like.
Avantegarde 1/3. These were the smallest avantgardes of their three, and also the best sounding. For all that they're huge horns, they didn't have any of the issues I associate with horns. Not shouty, no integration issues with the woofer. Good dispersion & off-axis. Fantastic tone. The guy running the room said something about the dac (wadax arcadia?) doing all the work. Looks like some kind of custom asic chipset & get this, zepto clocks. I thought this was the 2nd best room in the show, but my girlfriend didn't like them nearly as much.
Avantgarde 2/3. This was was awful. Bigger room, but the bass sounded like I was underwater. I love how these look, though. Like if the monolith from 2001 was a loudspeaker.
Avantgarde 3/3. The bigger one. It was less good in almost every way. Woofers overwhelmed the room, which really killed it for me. Midrange horn & tweeter horn sounded distinct from each other. I didn't get to sit in the (narrow) sweet spot here, so take with grain of salt.
I think this is Soundkaos. It didn't stand out in any particular positive way, but I liked it. I'm sure it costs like 20 grand, but It was a solid $2k speaker.
Sugar cube modular thing. No idea what it was. Sounded pretty good. Guy was very interested in not explaining the midrange transducer.
Fern & Roby The Ravens. I really wanted to like this. They're localish, they're widebanders, and they (and everything else these guys make) are completely gorgeous. It's a shame they sound like shit. Weirdly echo-ey and very rough. With the first room, I thought it might have been the crooner jazz recording or the record, but after the second I decided to just blame the speaker directly.
Zu Dirty Weekend Another speaker I really wanted to like, and the number one thing I came to CAF to listen to. WTF was going on here? I couldn't tell you. Zu had the biggest room in the whole damn show, and they just threw these two speakers at the front. At the speaker panel, Sean Casey said something about not needing treatment if you just had a big enough room, but I genuinely think he did it wrong? Everything was really echo-ey and muddy. I thought the saxophone recording they were playing as I walked in was some weird electronica, but when they put on some acoustic guitar at my request I realized that the frequency response was just super fucked.
Speaker physics prototype. Maybe this guy built it in his garage. Maybe I should build one in my garage. Some kind of omnidirectional speaker. Guy wasn't great at communicating, but he seemed to say that this was great for everyone in the room. Down-firing 15" or 18" subwoofer, no idea what's under the other foam.
Von Schweikert room. Everything about this was too big. Exaggerated sound & dynamics. I don't know how to explain this except that the highs were too high and the lows were too low. Not like, V-shaped, just too much.
We got to the headphones last, largely because I'm more interested in speakers right now. These are the RAD-0, which I really liked. First impression was that they sounded a lot like LCD 2 pre-fazor. The guy running the booth told me they're made by one of the founders of audeze, so I supposed that's not surprising. Looks like they run around $2600, which is bullshit. I do, however, want another go at them.
Thanks to @willsw and LTA for asking us to send in some headphones for their booth.
@Gaspasser I wish we could have magnesium on a our headphones but I think many people would be upset with the price for just 34 grams of weight reduction, it does help on the heavier woods though!
Would've loved to have been there to help out with demos, any questions of course send them my way. Hope to someday make this show.
Snipping things, hope no one minds. Those Spatials have me wondering what could be done DIY with those Peerless tweeters. There's a bit of enthusiasm over at HTGuide over them. I'd love to see a DIY OB Peerless corundum/Eminence job for $500-1000.
PAP horns were immediately horny - like, walk into the room and straight up horn colorations. I'd love to hear them with some capable widebanders mated to the wall-o-15s.
I'm glad I'm not crazy for thinking the Von Schweikert room sounded spookily "enhanced" - it really was like listening to symphonic music where the conductor is making poor choices interpreting the score. I'm not someone that goes to the Kennedy Center every week, but I've never heard that level of macrodynamic contrast in an actual concert hall. From an electroacoustic perspective, I'm perplexed how a stereo can do something like that. You can't add sauce to the loud, and take it away from the quiet with a "normal" chain. It's like the opposite of compression...
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