Audio Hunters and Vinyl Revivers
As I said in my storm-centered intro, Capital Audiofest is my favorite audio show because the people are real. There are not so many slick-suited international types like the old CES and the new Munich High End. In Rockville, MD, we have down home local audio dealers, like Roslyn and Russell Katz, who filled FIVE rooms with fine audio and the hall of the fifth floor with LPs. Their company (companies?) have two names: The Audio Hunters and The Vinyl Revivers.
Before I knew who she was, I saw Roslyn in the hall handing out chocolate chip cookies that she baked herself. She was vivacious, with a heart-melting smile, and talking to everybody. Each hand-wrapped bag held two cookies and was tied with a ribbon in a bow, with a business card. (As I chatted with her I snuck cookie-bag after cookie-bag into my jacket pockets. I don’t think she noticed.)
This was on the fifth floor, where The Audio Hunters had four rooms:
* Room 554 featured the $5K/pair Dynaudio Evoke 50 speakers in gloss black and the $1249 KEF LSX wireless speakers in blue (shown). The Evoke 50s were powered by Parasound electronics.
Room 556 was my sweet favorite. Sometimes, as an audio reviewer, I become prejudiced – in favor of gear I’ve reviewed. In this room it was the Wharfdale Lintons ($1198/pair plus $300/pair for stands) and the MoFi UltraDeck turntable with Ultratracker MM cartridge ($2229).
The guy sitting next to me asked what I thought, so of course I asked him, “What do you think?” He said, “These are definitely NOT audiophile speakers.” “Why not?” I inquired. He said, “They don’t have that etched detail and precise imaging like Magico or Raidho.” I asked him what kind of speakers he had. He said, “Duntech Black Knights.” I was impressed. I asked him which he thought was more accurate, the Lintons or the Duntechs—he said the Lintons were “just musical.” If I don’t die with my boots on, I could retire with the Lintons. I told him that.
It was funny, in this room, more than in my room at home, I could hear how strong, precise, and musical the MoFi UltraDeck sounds. It asserted its musicality through the fine-sounding Primare I35 integrated amp ($4995) and Primare R35 phono stage (($1995). There was a $1995 Isotek Aquarius power conditioner and a $1149 Solid Steel VL-3 equipment rack. Cables were by Straight Wire. I felt proud to have reviewed the Lintons and the UltraDeck.
In room 558, the Mytek Manhattan II DAC ($5995) was strutting its stuff. The Manhattan II just has to be the best implementation of the ESS Sabre 9038 converter chip. It is smooth, wet—it delivers hall sound and ambience like a champ—and has incredible drive and boogie. How does Mytek do this? There was also the spanking-new Dr. Feickert Volare turntable with Ortofon 2M Black MM cartridge ($4300) that looks to be the turntable to recon with in 2020. The 2M Black fed a $7300 Rogers High Fidelity PA-2 phono stage and a Rogers KWM 88 Corona integrated amplifier ($13,999). Loudspeakers were the $9990 Sonner Audio Allegro Unum. Hospitality was by my old friend Gunny: Gunawan Surya.
The last fifth floor Audio Hunter’s room was number 560. It was Parasound central, featuring all manner of Parasound electronics (A21+, P7, Classic 200, etc.) and showcasing the new $1495 Parasound JC3 Jr. phono stage designed by one of my heroes, John Curl. The big news in 560 was the Studio Electric FSX Version 2 speakers ($9500–$11,500) and their spectacular metal grills. They sounded even better than they looked!
Bravo Roslyn and Russell Katz! Think cookies, smiles, great sound, plus hallways filled with LPs.
By the way: So far, every room I’ve covered had a turntable and records. Only one had a CD player.
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