Capital Audiofest, save thyself!


This is a message to the brand exhibitors at Capital Audiofest. I've got an idea for next year: Don't bring any of YOUR boring music to the show and advertise the event as an all-audience choice show. That's right, WE bring our music and you play whatever it is, whether you like it or want it or not. Yes, you want to show off your equipment in a controlled environment, but I would venture to say the music I brought with me on CD does it better than the somnolent elevator or atrium with a waterfall music you all kill us with. We - or I - want to hear audiophile grade sources, of course, but also modern music that people not living in the high-end audio bubble - a place called the real world - listen to. We also need some damn life at the show. Not a single room in the hotel had sound coming out of it I was rushing to for the MUSIC. A show like this MUST include that facet, not just great equipment. Hell, even just play some Joni Mitchell (always flawlessly recorded). Something, anything. WAKE UP!

Every one of the rooms I visited were manned by equipment designers or sharp and mostly reasonably friendly salespeople who hadn't a single clue about how to bring out the best of their systems to normal people. Nothing had a beat, few were playing music with horns or voices, none of it - zero - had anything to do with what sells today - just terrible ambient, rudimentary garbage with a variety of percussive sounds. I would have settled for some old Blue Note jazz. I ran screaming from the hotel at the end of three hours there and my friend and I vowed to never return.

That said, we still heard some superb equipment. I took no notes, so can't remember everything, but here are a few quick-take impressions . . . The great Jeff Joseph manned the room showing off his sumptuous top-of-the-line Pearl floor-standing speakers (about $39,000 or so), but the room with his Pulsar2 Graphene mini monitors was far more effective and appealing. At around $10,000 they are indisputably ranking among the very best speakers in the world. Vivid, popping, wonderful soundstage, startling bass, tonal excellence. They have no drawbacks whatsoever, period, and they set the standard we measured by in every other room.
Good guy Bill Hutchins, the chief designer at LKV, has two winners in his effort to bring more affordable equipment to market. We loved his LKV PWR-3 power amp (I think $3,350) and the new Veros VNL phono pre. I'm pretty sure this was coupled with the Pulsars. Top shelf all around. Bravo. LKV was new to me, and I'm mostly a tube guy, but this was wholly impressive.

The all-Audio Note room was expensive and an absolute standout. I believe they were running their AN-E speakers, the 8w P3 Tonmeister amp, and I believe their TT-3 or coming TT-3 Half Reference turntable with cart. The whole system had good flesh to it, despite how boring the music was, with an appealing human-scale and dimension. I like when it sounds life sized. We got to play our own music (Christine and the Queens' "People, I've Been Sad" on the Audio Note CD player (I think it was the 5.1x) and I would have opened the wallet and taken that player home in a heartbeat if I hadn't purchased a Bryston BCD-3 a couple years ago. Another round of bravos. If my somewhat needy speakers could play nice with an 8w tube amp and whatever the pre-amp was, I wouldn't hesitate to break the bank and go Audio Note.

The Amped America room did nothing for us. Lifeless, flat, compressed sound.

On Sunday, the large Democracy Room at the hotel was in the hands of Command Performance AV and they were showing off a massive Gryphon power amp. I can't remember the speakers but if you like huge, all-enveloping sound, far beyond scale, get in touch with them about this system. They knew how to fill a big room. Bad music, enjoyable experience.

Tried twice to get into the little Border Patrol room, set up horizontally, but it was packed and we didn't want to stand in the corner by the door to try to hear.
Couldn't find Conrad Johnson, which was hugely disappointing because they were high on my list.

Enjoyed a Pear Audio turntable in Room 307.

Merrill Audio's Element 116 monoblocks (I'm pretty sure that was the model) and the Genesis Maestro (pretty sure that was the model!) speakers, a design I hadn't seen before and worth looking up, produced exquisite sound and I wished there was less talking in the room and less bad music and a little more volume showing off something worth listening to. I would have sat there happily for an hour. VPI had it's 80-some-pound 40th Anniversary Classic Direct turntable on display in there but not hooked up and it was a beast to behold. Would have loved to have heard it.
I didn't see it advertised on the Capital Audiofest website, but one room was showing a Kronos turntable (can't remember which one) and lord the music coming out of that thing was beautiful. I can't see owning a table that looks so bling, but rich people in the market should not ignore this company.

McGary Audio - maker of a very striking KT88 tube-based SA2 amplifier was back again this year with Salk speakers. McGary himself declined to allow a switch flip from ultralinear to triode on his very versatile amp because it would change the volume level, as if that wasn't adjustable. Don't bring in a system you can't adjust the volume on. When your amp is before the public, find a way to flip a switch to triode if asked. We're there to hear the amp, not just half of it. I liked the McGary-Salk match better the last time I heard it, so it must have been the room, setup or (yawn) music. Still, really good-sounding equipment by both, although I'm still not thrilled from an aesthetic standpoint with the SA2's unbalanced RCA interconnects being on the front panel. He's got a sound reason, as the designer, but I'd sacrifice whatever little incremental betterment that is to have them in the back. One of the most beautiful amps on the market (a shade under $8,000), and I'd love to fiddle with it - and its user-adjustable global negative feedback knob - when no one is saying no to me. This amp remains coveted.

Finally, VAC took over the massive Atrium room again with a system that probably cost about $450,000. Teamed with Von Schweikert speakers. It was better-sounding than the last time I remember it, and that's saying something, but I didn't hear any music playing I'd want to play at home (the theme of this post). I asked if I could play a CD and the gentleman in charge said I could - after he played a few things he wanted to hear - so I rolled out. There were maybe three or four other people in there. This is the second Capital Audiofest I've attended at which VAC has displayed its beautiful Sigma 170i integrated with KT88s - probably the most affordable amp in its lineup yet still plenty expensive - but not had it plugged in. I'd love to hear this thing (and others in the lineup) some day, not just the company's most untouchable components.

The music vendors in the lobby were not getting much action on Sunday and had a bevy of audiophile discs and vinyl records for sale. I didn't snap up a thing but was tempted. I would have LOVED to have heard a "Still Crazy After All These Years" MoFi one-step ultradisc, but at $200 I decided to take the money up the road for some cheap and delicious Northern Chinese dim sum at the venerable A&J on Rockville Pike. If you like authentic Chinese food, that stretch of road is a wonderland of options.



beeswax
Unfortunately you did not make it into our room the Roosevelt room featuring GT audio works loudspeakers. We played every genre of music and I mean every genre including rap hip-hop rock reggae.
p.s. - the LKV Veros VNL phono pre was Class A gain circuitry, no opamps. Excellent.
Darnit, Faxer! I was sorely in need of rescue by you and your room, then. Clearly, you get it, so much appreciation and I'm sorry I missed out.
The problem with the LKV room, on Saturday at least, was the fairly loud hum in the left channel. And agreed on music though my problem with it was endless female vocals. I never want to hear Diana Krall again in my life!
That problem was not in evidence on Sunday. Ugh, Diana Krall.These exhibitors should literally hire someone who knows about music to work their room for a weekend. I just can't understand how they don't get the importance of this in winning over customers. The ones streaming especially should just ask whoever is in the room what they want.

jond, did you like the LKV or did the hum just kill it for you?
@beeswax I thought it was ok not great even without the hum but we all hear differently.
This is a good lesson in why taking anyone’s advice is a bad idea. Listen with your own ears. I thought the Audio Note room was one of the worst at the show. Lifeless, flat and unengaging while the Amped room with the opposite and one of my favorites...the complete opposite of @beeswax. Neither of us are wrong, just different tastes or in a bad/good mood when walking into that particular room or crappy music (of which there was plenty) or a combination of all of the above. The Border Patrol/Volti room mentioned above was consistently the most crowded at the show when I stopped in. Also, one of the loudest unfortunately. Still sounded good.
Totally agree, bhvf. No hostility toward taste, and at least we agree on the crappy music. If I knew a way to get a mass complaint to these people about it I would.
As a reviewer, when I go to a show I often stay all three days. Sunday I have termed Soundtrack Sunday, because I play whatever I wish, regardless of whether deemed audiophile approved. Whatever crowd is in the room lightens up, you can see and feel the joy from the nostalgia and fun factor. If the vendor doesn't like it, too bad, because an awful lot can be learned about a system by playing such music. 

There is advantage to using some of the droll music in assessment of gear, but nearly as much can be learned by using pretty rough music, too. I often play compressed, extreme LF etc. on systems to test their capability, and frankly, a lot of systems at shows would completely fall apart with such music. The vendors protect against a disaster by limiting the genre and selections. As for me, I don't have much patience with equipment that cannot handle all genres of music beautifully. YMMV 

The vendors whose equipment would be quickly shown to lack when playing the tougher genres of music will not appreciate your suggestion. There is still a fair bit of snootiness in the community in regard to music selection, too, and that will likely not go away. I agree that the vendors put the noose tighter around their own necks when they don't let the public, and sometimes even reviewers, play their own music.  :(

@beeswax,
Go to the Capital Audiofest website/homepage and look under "contact us" (top, upper right). There you'll find contact information for the individual who owns the event. A good place to start...with your message.

Great advice, tubegb, thanks.
Douglas, thank you, too. When you put it that way, I think my idea would be great for Sundays, traditionally the show's slowest day (right?).
Also, yes! They put the nooses around their own necks.

Here is me at the show: Love equipment, know a little (almost enough) but not technically savvy, believe firmly in my good ears, have a decent system at home, read the trades on dailyaudiophile.com, I love music and have thousands of records and CDs - and, to makers, most importantly - I have money. I'm the ideal candidate to be lured in to take the plunge on something that costs up to $10,000 or maybe even $15,000.
So, I should be having fun. A LOT of it.
I saw some young couples making the round, too. I would never bring my girlfriend - into me, into music, into me being into audio, but not, herself, into audio - to the show because there's nothing in it for her (i.e. good music).
When I think of shows I think of Art Dudley. If memory serves he went to one and after a day he was found in a room playing his guitar. 
I also think of the police convention in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". 
I have been. I am done. I can see the appeal and even the logic if one is in the market for new gear and hopes to save some money on a show special. 
In general, there are way too many things to despise. Listed on my annoyance factor list from high to low;
1) Insider groups-you are either in one or you are a schlub. 
2) Rude people-from hoarding a spot to demanding attention to bowling you over in a hallway, I have seen it all. 
3) Confusing layouts where despite a guide, finding a specific room is nearly impossible. 
4) Insufficient elevators.
5) No quiet rooms in event space. Bring earplugs and Ambien. 
6) Shitty sound. 
7) Arrogant exhibitors. 
8) Obese old men dressed badly and wearing crappy cologne. Where are the pretty women (answer-generally nowhere to be seen). 
9) Nerds. Related to (8) above. As Groucho said, "the problem with clubs is that I would never want to belong to one that would have ME as a member". Audiophiles are ugly people. Anyone want to play wing-man for Steve Guttenberg?
10) Lack of service at host hotel-from trying to get a drink at the bar to daring to ask a question at the concierge counter, the the host hotel staff hate audiophiles. Likely for good reason. 
I could go on but why? I only wish that I could have met Art and could have shared my hatred for the show he attended. 

@fsonicsmith 
Your feelings about attending shows are clearly stated; fortunately other people myself included do enjoy going to shows like CAF. 

Where else can you sample so many different components in a short period of time and, if you are so inclined, meet so many equipment designers and manufacturers? 
All hifi shows have limitations and you have to be willing to put up with some crowds, some noise, poor room acoustics etc.  But shows are still a great way to see and hear equipment that you would otherwise never hear.  
For me the new experience at this year’s CAF was hearing the JBL Everest DD66000 speakers in the VPI room.  I had read some online mentions of the Everests but I had never heard them and I doubted I would like them.  Wrong!  The Everests sounded great despite being in a challenging room with lots of glass and despite being used with solid state electronics and cables that I don’t think are optimum (Nordost Odin 2). The Everests are too big for my room so I won’t be putting them on my Christmas wish list, but I am very thankful I had the opportunity to hear them.
@salectric 
Get a grip for Christ's sake! I never said my views were correct or real or objective or anything close other than being my views.
No different than your view that HW's ugly JBL loudspeakers sounded great while others here were unimpressed. 
Clearly people love going to shows as they exist despite all odds. Axpona draws thousands though it is worth noting the mortality rate of audio shows in general is quite high.
And you are dead-wrong that shows are a great opportunity to meet "equipment designers and manufacturers". 99% of the time you will meet a rep, not the engineer or owner. The exception is with small start-ups. 
And last, can you not recognize a tongue-in-cheek post when it kicks you in the arse!

Where these shows miss the boat is not providing products that will appeal to a broader audience at all price points. Why visit a Ferrari dealer if all you can afford is a Toyota or maybe a LExus if you stretch.

Most people will go and leave thinking I can’t afford this stuff and move on.

Not to mention the music that nobody really cares about playing.
fsonicsmith, please refrain from taking the Lord's name in vain; I find it offensive. Thank you! Lovely virtual system, BTW. 

I disagree with what I consider exaggeration about lack of show attendance by owners/manufacturers/designers, as in my experience it is not representative of the reality at shows. Having a lot of show attendance over the years, it is not challenging to meet a designer/manufacturer. Perhaps  you have had poor timing, but I cannot think of a show I have attended where several to many of the owners/designers were in attendance and spending a fair bit of time in their rooms. I especially remember the ones I have reviewed; Salk, Exogal, VAC, Legacy, Wells Audio, Van Alstine, PureAudioProject, Clarity Cable (have not done a show for a while). Others I recall seeing at forums, TAD, D'Agostino, I recall also Merril Audio, Synergistic Research, EAR, Voxativ, Sanders Sound - all these come to mind in a minute or two. If I were to go through my review list of the past 14 years at Dagogo.com I believe I would have a lengthy list. Add into that the numerous mentions and images in other review magazines about designers and owners at shows, and I believe your characterization of shows as bereft of the designers and manufacturers is unwarranted. I find that though the days are long for them, many truly love to show their work to eager audiophiles.   :) 

I also suspect (no confirmation - yet) that many of them have been whipsawed by the end of the covid indoors, cessation of some shows, and parts shortages. I fear the fallout in the next couple of years may be terrible. I am hoping AXPONA makes it. You may gripe about shows, but just wait. If they go under, have fun traveling hundreds of miles or having no demo prior to buying. Perhaps you do not care, but many do. For the serious customer a show is a godsend, a collection of some of the finest gear under one roof, something that could never be replaced virtually. All this is aside from the discussion of music genres, but I fear the industry will have to row hard against the wind for several years. A lot of these small businesses would not take the strain of an online shopping community that figured they deserve things like free (or practically free) returns on in home demos, etc. You could see a lot of nice gear makers decide to quit while ahead. The landscape could change pretty dramatically in a few years. 

Anyway, back to the discussion about tunes at shows... 

I've been saying it for quite sometime that the music is horrible often times. I couldn't review the VAC VON SCHWEIKERT room because that's all they played. It becomes an "equipment pageant" when the music, the REAL MUSIC is missing. 
I did get a few rooms to take my music requests so i know it wasn't every room that was doing this. 
Some brands aren't afraid to take requests (GT AUDIO comes to mind)
You should have went to the Overture Audio room and listen to the first world wide public debut of the new B&W 801D4s paired with McIntosh MC901 amps. That was a great listen and the MC allowed some of us to pick digital tunes from the Aurender streamer. Showing up to an audio show with your own listening media will many times run up against what’s already been put into a listening queue, either for vinyl or CDs. 

Usually, when the crowd is very small, I have seen some vendors allow a very limited amount of people to play their music on the vendors system at audio shows. Yes, have had enough of Diana Krell and would appreciate some Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven or Santana Black Magic Women or Oye Coma Va on the next to play list. When I visit in store vendors, I usually can play my own music, which for me, is mostly records.



Sometimes the vendors choose music to showcase their system strengths as Douglas Schroeder alluded to. Taking a chance with a poorly mastered CD or an obscure recording that is flat sounding does not help their desire to present a good sounding system.

I ended up buying from the record vendors and had to make numerous trips to the car to carry off all the records I bought. I saw plenty of things to buy besides music. The McIntosh and new B&Ws were one room I liked, but Dr. vinyl also had a vibrant sounding room and they played Santana and Buddy Guy through a DS audio optical system.


Now, I am facing a conundrum as to whether to purchase either the Soundsmith optical Strain Gauge or the DS Audio optical system. Both have been on my radar and at CAF, I listened to both. The Straingauge was at CAF last year. I knew which rooms I wanted to visit and agree that they are not easy to find. I was looking for a room and ran into Anne Bisson selling records with autographs next to another room with a Transrotor turntable. 
Being a Transrotor turntable owner, I asked the guy in the room about the Transrotor but he seemed preoccupied with prettying up the speaker cables in the floor. Too bad, I seriously would have bought some Transrotor accessories. Transrotor was listed on the brochure for this room but I could not get garner a conversation with the dude and only 2 people sitting in the room kissing and hugging each other pretending to listen to music just to have a spot to make out, LOl.


So, went back to the Anne Bisson desk and bought one copy of every record she had on the table with autographs. That was the end of my day after 5 hours at the fest.
@douglas_schroeder 

Mr. Schroeder, it is no easy task to tell when you are being serious and when you are not. Your history of posting is nothing to be proud of. Whether you are self-aware or not your subjective views are so far in the minority as to be true only to you and perhaps a kissing cousin or two. 
You list a bunch of manufacturers who are examples of my statement-small producers. And Dan D'Agonstino is not on many people's lists of gentlemen. 
As to offending you, who's Lord exactly? Yours is not necessarily mine. Leaving that aside, "for Christ's sake" is a common phrase not to be taken literally. Would "Crikey" have made you feel better? 

@audioquest4life 

Being a Transrotor turntable owner, I asked the guy in the room about the Transrotor but he seemed preoccupied with prettying up the speaker cables in the floor. Too bad, I seriously would have bought some Transrotor accessories. Transrotor was listed on the brochure for this room but I could not get garner a conversation with the dude and only 2 people sitting in the room kissing and hugging each other pretending to listen to music just to have a spot to make out, LOl.

Bingo. 
What makes people think that the music they bring will be widely accepted or better than the music the vendor provides? I have walked out of rooms because I couldn’t stand someone’s music they played.
It used to be that there were a short list of songs/artists that were popular to play: Tin Pan Alley, Keith Don’t Go, Miles Davis Kind of Blue, etc..
If I was there to actually listen to something that I was thinking of buying, you would have a private showing playing your music.
If a show would mostly have cheaper products, I wouldn’t go. If car shows would only have or a majority of Toyotas and Mazdas I wouldn’t go. I want to hear the better equipment
Shows can be funny things.
I remember CES at McCormick Place where Peter Walker had one of those small portable tents, and the big CE companies had rotating platforms with paid models posing.
I think the behind the scenes, after hours, or later at the manufacturer’s place of business, or his local dealer who is part of the show, may be more hospitable.
My limit at trade shows including record shows is a few hours. I get bored. My main interest was seeing people but given distance and the age of some (not me, of course), that’s not happening.
If you enjoy the mosh pit, more power to ya.
+1 for the Command Performance room. This was a devilishly hard room to control with angled nooks and crannies at the rear. The sound treatment deployed was a master class in tackling the issues, resulting in the encompassing soundstage as described earlier. 
A highlight for me was The Voice that is room with Tidal equipment, perhaps my favorite sound of the show. 
I also enjoyed the headphone cafe by LTA, what great sounding amps they have!
I totally agree with you.  I have them play three songs that truly are some of the best songs to demonstrate a systems capabilities.  We know in most cases what recordings show of a sound system.  We also know what kinds of music we like to play on our systems as well.  I will play these songs on the systems being displayed and it only takes a minute to determine which system sound best for the music I play.
Jallan, great comments on the sound treatment. they new exactly what to do with their baffles in the Command Performance room. I like when they get it right like that.

As for fsonicsmith, this is my post and you can say whatever the hell you want here. Doug, too, of course. The way you described the vibe was dead on - but not across the board. People were rude and clubby. But some of the old men with the cologne are actually the geniuses who design this stuff and they're doing their best after a big run of covid and probably a million hours too many in the basement tinkering. Also, unfathomable layout until you spend a couple days there. It feels like a house of mirrors. I got to two rooms and there were signs on the door that said, "Enter from other hallway." What other hallway? Finally figured that out.  I did want to get to the Conrad Johnson room and never found it. Still, all your bullets points are accurate, even if I'm with Doug about not wanting the shows to just disappear. It just felt lame.
Is there somewhere I can go to find information about any and all future shows? Looking forward to my first show! Thanks! 
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The polarized thoughts on Audio Note is fascinating (to me). The comment either in this thread or the other thread that the AN gear can not reproduce large scale such as orchestras is valid. But what AN does do well it does exceedingly well-it sounds human. The last time I was at Axpona I kept coming back to the AN room. It was soothing. The groom was never crowded, guests there were refined and polite and the host Vincent Belanger (and yes, technically he is not the host) is so gracious and unassuming. 
Another reason that AN, Volti, and one not mentioned, DeVore O series are so popular at shows-besides being great loudspeaker designs-is that they are room-friendly. They start out with a huge leg-up. You won't find much if any room treatment in rooms featuring AN, Volti, or Devore Orangutans. Audio Note does not even rely upon equipment racks other than for their turntable. 
I've never been to one. Now I have some idea what to expect.
I agree, the music in general was the epitome of mediocrity!
The only pleasant discovery was a very humble room with no big boxes or expensive gear but with a wonderfully sounding pair of speakers the Philharmonic BMR speakers.  I am only sorry I did not get to spend more time with the gentleman staffing the room.  I would learn later he was the designer and a legend in some circles. I wish he would add some more information about location and ways to reach him
@jgueron , try his website, philharmonicaudio dot com, he is Dennis Murphy and has done crossover consulting with Jim Salk for years, great guy.
I wrote, as suggested, to Gary who runs Capital Audiofest and now I just feel shitty. He comes off a three-day event it takes him a year to prepare for and he gets me criticizing two days out. I wrote back and apologized. I was trying to be constructive and titled the note "constructive criticism" but I can get how I came off very badly. Bah. Can't win.
Yes, the divergence on AudioNote is fascinating. I've heard them at Deja Vu in Virginia and their speakers stood toe to toe with the Harbeths on hand.
@beeswax It was very nice of you to write back and apologize and I appreciate that you appreciate how hard it is to pull a show like this off especially these days.


And more polarizing opinions lol I found the Overture Audio room with the the 801s and those crazy overkill Mac amps to sound hard, cold and bright.  Obviously brand new equipment, not broken in, too much speaker for the room all the obvious caveats apply. The host however was great about playing people's music I will agree with that.
Thanks jond, I appreciate that. For a while I wrote restaurant reviews and I learned that good restaurants want constructive feedback, good or bad, but I think timing is important and I was insensitive in this instance. I could have just stuck with what I wrote here. I'm sure they'll run through the threads about the show on a variety of sites.
I missed the Overture room.
When the head of this show wrote me back, he said that some vendors complained that when they allowed people to play their own music, at times guests would walk out. You don't want to be responsible for driving people away. Personally, it wasn't like I was playing crazy out there cacophony. There is not accounting for taste.
As Lincoln did when writing discouraging letters to his generals who just blew a battle, write the letter but do not post it until after a day passes. By then you may conclude that perhaps you did not have all the facts or
that a different tone may get better results.
As a vendor at the show I was wondering what people thought of the show.

I don't remember turning down any customer who brought their own music. In some cases we did clean customer's media first.
Good advice. Tomorrow I will post mine, and then you should have it within a few weeks, however many riders and horses it takes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bhx8G0K9Wec
I've attended several audio (equipment) shows over the decades and I disagree with the OP on many issues.

1.  I've had no problem at all meeting and speaking with designers.  Also, dealers are also friendly and knowledgeable and accessible.

2.  Music varies with the room and demonstrator and what they are trying to put forward.  Yes, there are times where the music was absolutely terrible (to me).  Others didn't demonstrate discomfort.  My taste in equipment and music is just that.  My taste.  I've suggested some songs if the demonstrator has it available.  Such as Dire Strait's Brother's in Arms.  Excellent for demonstrating systems.  

I don't understand certain people's dislike of Diana Krall.  She stays within her range, has excellent music and arrangements behind her (typically) and the music and vocals demonstrate equipment quite well.  Maybe certain people hear her so much at shows, that they are tired of her.  not me.  in concert, she is excellent also.  

I bring pen and paper with me to take notes about the rooms and equipment but also to write down music that I hear.  I've heard some excellent music at shows that I would ordinarily not have heard.

But, I have to say, we lost the RMAF and that sucks.  I really enjoyed going to that event.  Looking forward to other shows, but I am still very much Covid paranoid.  So, it will take time for me.

In closing, OP, just a thought.  People have no idea whether you are joshing or not or whether you are serious or pulling one's leg.  

Maybe as a suggesting, you should close with "don't take this too seriously folks" or some such.   People are really touchy these days.  Most times for very good reason.

enjoy
Regarding the Philharmonicauudio towers I have no basis to comment upon their sound as I have not heard them but I can identify those boxes as being a variant of the ones used by Acoustic Zen and undoubtedly from the same Chinese factory. A dozen years ago Chicago's John Van Lashout of Van L Speakerworks marketed his own loudspeaker with the same enclosure. Over the years I have become an enclosure snob. If the enclosure is not built in-house to high standards the loudspeaker is a non-starter for me. Despite the initial appearance of a beautiful veneer upon close inspection you will find rough construction particularly inside if you remove the port. The chip-board utilized will crumble if force is applied-e.g. if the tower is tipped too far back or forward on it's spikes and most unusual of all, if exposed to high humidity the material seems to simply melt/morph/deconstruct. At the price point I respect the designer for putting drivers and crossover components first but the fancy curved enclosure is a distraction and not a bonus. What good is a $4,000 loudspeaker if it is not durable?
This remark has nothing to do with the OP. Apologies. 
Chorus, that is some sage advice right there.
fsonicsmith, the floor is yours!

minorl, with all due respect, I don't want to hear Dire Straits again either. I have nothing against Diana Krall. If she's good enough for Elvis, she's good enough for me. I just want some adventurousness and creativity and excitement and the new at the show. We just keep replaying the same records again and again and again. I LOVE audiophile pressings but many are of records we all have long since ingested for years. We can hear them anew but really? Example: The Paul Simon "Still Crazy After All These Years" $200 (now after selling out) ultradisc. That record when it came out sounded magnificent, so, yeah, it may be improved upon after 30 years, it's kind of played. I'd like to see the shows getting more cutting edge musically. They aim so high with the equipment, why is the music so tired and predictable? Hire some people who know what's going on NOW and also know what is well recorded and turn them loose.

I guess I'm the oddball on here but I've never been a jazz fan. I respect those who listen to jazz but I think it's good to play a variety of music to appeal to younger audiophiles. Going from room to room and hearing similar music can get kinda boring and predictable. At the last Capital Audiofest I attended, it was refreshing to hear some electronic music in a some of the rooms.  

no oddball at all, bluorion. Well-produced electronic music is such a tactile experience. Just to pull a well-known band out of a hat - it's one of the reasons Daft Punk hit so big: huge hooks and electronic music you literally could feel.

Post removed 

It's been a while since I was at a show.  Then I would bring some tracks cut on a recordable CD and got them played when things were slow.  In what digital form do people bring their own music to play these days?  Will tracks on a flash drive do?

Fremers got an interesting video of the show on his Analog Planet channel on YouTube.

I never got the Diana Krall thing. Yes, the music is well-recorded, but she doesn't have a great or dynamic voice. Her voice is kind of smokey. I don't mind that feature in Sade because her music has a beat and emotion, but overall, Krall's music is drab and boring. She covers songs my parents listened to, and I'm not young.

 

The other mainstays, The Eagles, Pink Floyd, Steeley Dan are great, but unless you're pushing 60 or more they're not going to make your socks go up and down. If high-end doesn't want to die off with their current mature audience, and lose the "Buick" reputation they have, they'd better start to appeal to the newly crypto-rich who listen to a whole different breed of music. Analog watches made the transition to a youthful appeal even though everyone has a clock on their phone. So there isn't really an excuse for high-end audio.

Hear! Hear!
I'm gonna first barf 🤮 and then go to 😴 sleep if  i hear one more D. Krall  or P. Barber demo.

put on that FREE RIDE 🤘!

Very keen observation. It's all very different from the era I came up in during the early to mid-1960s and attended the New York Hi-Fi Show at the hotel across the street from Pennsylvania Station. I remember buying my first set of hi-end speakers (Design Acoustics D-10) and my first real integrated amplifier (Kenwood KA-9100) as a result of hearing really diverse music coming from all the different rooms. The industry really needs to go back to that. With all the different audiophile music playback options out there, there's no excuse. I'd love to hear Joni Mitchell's "Goodbye Porkpie Hat" on a pair of Focal towers just for starters.

@Jond

 

The "hum" from the left speaker in the LKV room was from the air conditioner.  It got too hot in the room during the day to leave it off.  Sorry.