Anyone else attend the California Audio Show in Oakland?


I went yesterday 7/28, heard some really good stuff, including:

Old Forge Studios room. The Soundkaos Vox 3F standmounted 3 ways were incredible! My favorites of the show. Tiny boxes and 35Hz on the low end had many of us looking for a subwoofer. The Wand tt and PureAudio electronics were excellent.

Tidal Contriva speakers speakers were my 2nd choice as favorites. Just a bit more expensive than the Soundkaos at $65,000, they were beautiful to look at and gorgeous to listen to, or vice versa. Open and airy, great bass extension, with the equally fine Bricasti amps and preamp, they would surely be even better in a larger room.

Aurender streamers and dacs also pulled me in. I’m looking for new gear, and they have a great selection. The combo dacs and streamers start at around $3500 and run to $22,000 for the W22SE, which was playing in their room. 

On on the down side:

Audio Vision SF Room
I didn’t care for the Naim/Rega/Focal gear. It sounded very shut in, muffled to me. Sibilance was not pronounced, and the Focal speakers sounded blurred. 

Wyred4sound

I've never been a fan, so maybe I’m biased, but the new gear just didn’t add up to me. Disjointed is the word I come up with. The new W4S speakers were these hulking boxes, with drivers arranged in MTM configuration. The tweeters are ribbons, which I usually enjoy, but these sounded too laid back to me. 

Any other attendee thoughts?

pumper24
Agree.  Old Forge / Sound Kaos / Pure Audio was the absolute best in the show.  I think this may have even beat 99% of the rooms are RMAF last year (at least in my opinion and preferred sound).

I had the opposite reaction to the Tidal / Bricasti room.  It seem really harsh and thin to me.  Not sure what happened.  Maybe a bad pairing between electronics and speaker.  The Bricasti M28 sounded a lot better in the Sound Lab room, but the electrostatic panels are probably more forgiving speakers than the Tidal.

The Focal room was not bad.  However, I did not get all the resolution and texture that should have been coming out of those speakers.  Sound was very smooth without any brightness/harshness (which is hard to do with Focal), but it lacked the grit / bite / resonance from the voices and instruments.  The whole setup was done with Nordost cabling which could be the culprit for hiding that high frequency texture/tonality.  Silver tends to smooth out the grittiness in the sound.

I never really focused on Wired 4 Sound before, but I agree with your responses.  I don't think it's the new Wyred speaker that's the problem.  Ribbons are generally very high resolution and bright.  I think it's just the sound of that Class D ICE in the Wyre 4 Sound.  It sounded low resolution and boomy to me.  I got the same warmer / rolled-off highs in the Unisinger room across the way, which also used Wyred 4 Sound amps.
Oh, If Old Forge / Sound Kaos was first place, the second place would go to the Margules Audio room (the Lyn Stanley room). 
You’re too kind! I must say the room was jammed full constantly and I needed to reprint the handout sheet as they were disappearing faster than cold spring water at a desert music fest!

Speaking of RMAF, I will have two systems at RMAF, one identical to the one you just heard in Oakland and a second featuring the Sound Kaos Wave 42 driven by tube electronics TBD.
Did anybody check out the Whammerdyne room?
I'm probably somewhat biased, since vinyl is my preferred source. That said, once again Zesto did a fantastic job with their room. I believe there was only one other room featuring vinyl; everything else was digital ... mostly streamers.

I really liked the rooms featuring Exogal - to my ears, one of the most natural sounding DAC's out there. The Exogal fed by Salk StreamPlayer, with Salk SS 9.5 speakers was very impressive. I had to catch myself to keep from clapping at the end of Coltrane's "Blue Train" demo!
Zesto did good, agreed.   The Whammerdyne room was weird - it was one of those downsides.  I'm not familiar with Whammerdyne, but the cut sheet suggests it is a non-conventional design.  In any event, the room/speakers sounded really muffled.  It could be that they were open baffle speakers, but it was one of the rooms that did not impress me at all.
It is it is horrible spot compared to Newport Beach .it was real stupid ,people went there because of vacation like area to getaway 
and then to relax and see the show. Oakland is the pits compared.
many dealers agree. What thehell were the people thinking 
to move from a very popular venue to this ? 
audioman58
I believe you have the shows mixed up. The Newport Show moved to Long Beach this year. The show in Oakland has been there the last couple of years(not a big show). I do agree with you they need to bring the show back to Newport Beach. It was at its best there.
Apologies for my disappointment, but that was my first audio show and it was a bit of a let down for me. I was only there for an hour and I did not see/hear everything. I think I missed Old Forge.

Honestly the only thing I liked was the Bernhagen Porter, and for $50K it was not so impressive. Boom-y, not clear from the demo that it had a lot of sound stage and ability to handle a lot of detail. Pretty crisp and satisfying for electric guitar though. Rough-looking, which was kinda cool under the circumstances.

I came to hear the Audio Note UK speakers. They sounded surprisingly dull and pedestrian. I've been told it was a bad setup, but gee.... Maybe they made some poor source selections, but they just did not sound good in any way.

Had high hopes for the Sound Lab electrostatics. Ho hum. Al Green sounded thin and rough and while one could argue they had more bass than many electrostatics, it was boom-y, thin, and uncontrolled. Much prefer my pair of Acoustat Spectra 11s.

I heard a lot of thin-sounding, often distant or veiled-sounding gear that were fancy-looking and carried stupid price tags. All in a tawdry hotel. Glad I walked in when the front booth was unattended. No one questioned another fat, middle-aged white guy in a t-shirt entering the rooms. I am nostalgic for the days when we could listen to audio gear in stores. And let's not even get into the choice of music.
I was int he Fritz/Wyred4Sound room at Newport. Fritz and I talked shop, indirectly about W4S and their thoughts about building new speakers with their own brand.


They are brand new to the scene. It will take them a while to catch up unless they hire an outside designer.
I re-learned one thing I already knew - Nordost cables are in your face, bright and lack depth! 
I was surprised at how few good sounding rooms there were. The venerable Joseph Audio speakers were in one of the best. The only new to me speakers that sounded fairly good were the Salk. The Berkeley Reference DAC was really good, but I knew that.
The free Reference recordings cd, some great deals from the Audio Nerd, and the benefitted charity made the ticket price worthwhile.
I think I must have missed the Old Forge room. I thought the best sound was in the Bicasti room on the Tidal speakers. I also liked the open baffle PureAudioProject speakers.

I was in the Martin Logan room for a bit. They had the biggest room, the biggest speakers, really serious electronics and Honest-to-God Master Tapes playing on a 1/2" professional tape deck, but the sound was decidedly ho-hum and I left.
While I agree that the show was not the best location and rather small, it was nice to have a show in the Bay-Area.  I hope they keep having it.
I also liked the Sound Kaos system.   I thought the loudspeaker design was interesting in that the crossover points were at 200 hz and 10,000 hz.  This solves a LOT of problems.

What's also interesting in this $6700 loudspeaker pair is that this magic, wide range driver is from Tang Band and can be bought from Parts Express for about $57.   But I'm a DIY guy and most of the people here buy their audio the way they buy their luxury cars.

What I'd do with this driver would be to mount it on an open baffle, add a couple of decent super tweeters, facing front and back, and add an open baffle bass bin.   I'd put in a 12 db/octave passive crossover at 10k hz between the tweeters and Tang Band.   Then I'd use the miniDSP DDRC-24 active digital crossover with DSP EQ at 200 hz.

There are any number of choices on what to do for a bass bin depending on your budget.   The bass bin that Linkwitz used for his LX521 would be easy enough to do, but would cost you about $1100 for both sides.

With a bi-amp setup like this, you could run a tube amp for the high end and a good, inexpensive solid state amp for the bass bins and a system that would be BETTER than the Sound Kaos rig.    Now THAT would be fun!