The DC Hi-Fi Group

Pacific Audio Fest 2021

Part-Time Audiophile is reporting about the exciting news of a brand new audiophile show for 2021. Of interest to The DC Hi-Fi Group is that our own Gary Gill is involved in the creation of the Pacific Audio Fest 2021. It would seem, Gary has an affinity for all things Washington since the new show will be held near Seattle, Washington. Of course, Gary is behind the creation of the very successful Capital Audio Fest (Washington, DC metro) that is still on the books for late October 2020.

We wish Gary and his associates the very best of success with this new venture. Who knows, maybe a DC Hi-Fi Group field trip will be in order?

DC Hi-Fi Group’s first YouTube Meeting with chat

On Saturday May 9th just after 11am John and Chris launched the clubs first video meeting

We had an active group of around thirty on line watching and chatting along with both Chris and John getting us up to date with what’s happening.

We had a few vendors joining in Denis Clark from Leesburg, Jose from DrVinyl, and Jerry Snead letting us know what new lines they are now carrying. John reported on what Russ now has to offer too.

Chris filled us in on all the new stuff he is looking at and listening to, and John did the same.

Following the chat was great fun with great comments from the members that logged on.

Can’t wait until the next one

If you are a DCHFG member and missed the live stream, contact John Gatski for the link to watch a recording of the event.

DC Hi-Fi Group Meeting—February 29, 2020

It was a big Leap.

I think half, or it just seemed like it, of the club’s membership squeezed into Russ Katz’s townhouse—home of The Vinyl Revivers.  Russ has been a corporate member of the DC Hi-Fi Group from the beginning and is a big supporter of the club. Hosting a club meeting takes a lot of work and Russ has done many.  Be sure to thank Russ and Roslyn at the next gathering. It was a beautiful day, a little chilly, but anything above freezing in February around here is a blessing.

The meet followed the usual format. Meet, greet, drink, eat.  Really good sandwiches with all the accouterments that a polished host provides.

Chris filled us in on the latest pertinent news including a discussion about the ramifications of the Apollo Masters fire. This was one of only two manufacturing plants that make lacquer masters for the vinyl production industry.

For the DIY’ers in the club, Chris let us know about a great suggestion for a new affordable high-end 2 x 40 W Class D audio amplifier HAT board that attaches onto a Raspberry Pi Zero. This creates a solution ideally suited for DIY audio projects. Link to the article is here

Chris recently told us about one of his new speakers (Magnepan LRS) that has received great reviews. I have heard them twice at audio shows and I agree with the reviewers and Chris that this speaker performs way above its price point. Chris has found a simple mod to push this speaker’s transparency even further by replacing the factory stands with Magna Risers.

For the guitar enthusiasts in the group, there is going to be an open house and concert at PRS Guitars in May.

And Qualcomm is pushing the Bluetooth protocol further in speed and audio quality with new chips.

In Russ’s basement showroom he had Sonner Legato Duo’s that are just plain fine. These are 2.5-way bass ported enclosure with a reasonably high sensitivity of 90db and a freq range of 37Hz to 23kHz.  I wish I could have spent some quality time with them. I have only heard the smaller monitor styles at the audio shows and loved them. Bryce Allen from Rega was showing off the Rega Planar 8.

In the first floor sound room, we had the ATC SCM 19 bookshelf speakers on stands demoing the Geer-Fab D.Box SACD Player-to-DAC HDMI/DOP interface. This magic box can extract DSD64 and PCM 24/192k from the HDMI data of a player/transport with HDMI output. Don’t give your SACD’s away just yet! Since Oppo stopped making their universal player, this is one of the only ways to get Audiophile SACD sound these days. The system also included the Gold Note DS-10 DAC/Preamp/Streamer. The DS-10 is the latest generation of DAC using the brand new AKM AK4493 chip with PCM resolution up to 768kHz/32-bit and DSD up to DSD512. In addition to converting the audio signal, it is also capable of sending it directly to a power amplifier. This makes it very versatile analog line preamp. It is also the latest generation streamer with a high-performance headphone amp that features two sensitivity levels to drive any type of headphone. The muscle behind this high tech front end is the Goldnote IS-1000 integrated and streamer box. This is a 125 watts/ch box. Way cool.

Amar Krajvansh of Aurorus Audio Headphones set up a listening station with his Borealis open-backed headphones. These are in production now and he has been selling them as fast as he can make them. They are really sweet, detailed and refined. A completely mature product after a couple of years in research and development.

This was a very full agenda and a ton of information was exchanged. We had just a few raffle items and the winners were pleased.

Again many thanks to Russ and especially Roslyn for opening up their home to our invasion.

DC Hi-Fi Group Meeting—January 25, 2020

With the threat of bad weather, we still had a good group of members making the trek to Alexandria for another very pleasant get together at Greg Viggianno’s condo party room. This was a combo meeting with DC Hi-Fi Group and the Carver enthusiast club. They are a worldwide owners of Carver vintage products. They have a forum called “The Carver Site”.

The meeting followed with the usual format of “meet and greet” with pizza and various liquid refreshments.  After way too much pizza, we had a short business meeting and quickly delved into a listening session with some interesting equipment.  John brought his digital rig consisting of his MacBook and the superb Mytek Brooklyn DAC. Completing the front end was John’s Rogue RP-7.  John brought two speaker systems—a stand mounted monitor from Studio Electric M4 and the new Martin Logan Motion 20i.  The 20i is a compact floor stander with an Air Motion folded ribbon tweeter. This type of tweeter is becoming very popular now that the AMT Heil patent has expired. Below the tweeter are a pair of 5 ½ inch aluminum cone woofers. Claimed frequency response is 46Hz to 25kHz.

The power amps for this set up was a real Yin-Yang affair. First was from the Carver Group, a vintage Caver M500t that was highly modified for higher power (400 watts), lower distortion and tighter control.

Next up was the McGary SA-2. This amp is a modern take on the classic 6550 family push-pull amp. The Amp is self-biased so one can roll in any of the KT-XX’s for the KT66 the KT120 with no problem.  Mike McGary builds the amps himself in Virginia. Point-to point wiring is used along with the best possible components.

The Amp has a bunch of features such as adjustable feedback (1 to 9db’s), balanced or unbalanced inputs, switchable (on the fly) between Triode and Pentode modes and the ability to strap this amp to mono so one could have dual monoblocs.

Mike presented the members with a brief description of the amp and his plans to include in the future a full function modular preamp.

The raffle winners received some goodies and we all went home smiling

See you next month!

CAF 2019 Conclusions

I have just about three or four more rooms I wanted to highlight.

One of the most highly acclaimed rooms at the show was the GT Audio Works room just off the Atrium. I have to agree. Greg Tekesh’s hybrid planars have always presented a slamming sound. Not just excitement, but a highly musical experience. Specially designed open baffle servo controlled subs easily keep up with the planars quickness. The open-baffle sub-woofers operate from 15Hz-65Hz and include a user adjustable electronic crossover built into the provided amplifier. The open baffle subs are designed to blend seamlessly with the dipole planars. They are configurable for 2 -6 12″ sub-modules per channel. This allows for consistent results in rooms from small to large with a system that has a frequency range of 15Hz to 30kHz. Pass Labs provided the power and control.

The electronics were housed in a beautiful custom made cabinet made by Bruce Schuettinger (DC Hi-Fi Group member) of Mozart Audio Furniture. A three bay cabinet with a Spalted Maple veneer finish was shown. All interior shelves are isolated and and decoupled from the frame including the top which is literally floating. The feet are Stillpoints for maximum isolation from room vibrations. This is one amazing looking cabinet.

Mozart Audio Furniture

The VAC/Von Schweikert room always impresses for the sheer magnitude of the presentation. It is a rare sight to see this much equipment for one system. For most of the weekend they were playing the big VS Ultra 11 statement speaker. I have heard this set up numerous times and its a big sound. Extreme Hi-Fi. If you are into this kind of system then this is the best at it. On Sunday, it was a very different story. They were playing the much smaller VS Endeavor SE. I was blown away. All the same electronics and we have that same room filling sound but much more natural and musical. Totally involving instead of bowling you over. No sledge hammer here. I have always liked the VAC sound, I am a tube guy after all, but this was the best I have heard in a big system.

VAC was showing off for the first time publicly their new Statement 452iQ Musicbloc. 450 watts mono or two 250 watts dual mono. Eight Gold Lion KT88‘s pumping away.

I have never heard Tekton speakers sound as good as they did in room 402. The new MOAB is their flagship speaker with fifteen high frequency drives in an MTM array and two 12 inch woofers. The specifications are 98dB 2.83V@1m sensitivity and a 20Hz-30kHz frequency response. But of course, I have never heard the Tekton being pushed by the incredible McGary SA-2. I really enjoyed listening to these behemoth speakers. They were coherent, precise, and smooth. I give the nod to the McGary amp for carrying the musical load here. Every room that has the McGary SA-2 fills my need for emotional involvement with the music. So the common denominator is the SA-2

Jeff Joseph of Joseph Audio never disappoints and surprised me with a unique sound that just makes me happy. He was showing the Perspective 2 Graphene diminutive floor standard that pumps bass far more than its specs say. Just 36 inches tall and 8.5 inches wide this baby can pressurize a room like 10 foot tall monster. This was easily a system I could live with which included Bel Canto electronics and Audience cables tying it all together.

One of the true magicians of our industry is Peter Ledermann of Soundsmith. I say this because his products are transformative. The music in Peter’s rooms always force me to sit down, close my eyes and listen. I hear the music. Then I open my eyes and I am overwhelmed by the minimalism of the room’s equipment. Just a pair of small stand mounted monitors, a turntable, preamp and amp. That is it. But the sound is of some massive kit of stuff. This time we were hearing the Monarch Bookshelf (just 14 inches high on 3 foot stands), the Strain-Gauge cartridge, the Signature Series, dedicated Preamp and the HE-150 MOSFET Power Amplifier (200 watts/ch). Peter had two turntables set up and he would alternate between the Strain-Gauge and the Hyperion cartridges. Both sound wonderful but the Strain-Gauge is very different sounding cartridge and is one that I am beginning to like very much. Soundsmith‘s room is one I always seek out and make sure I have time to enjoy the music.

At most audio shows I have been to its usually a very small number that are actually musical to my ears. With CAF this year, there were more than half that sounded good to me and there were about twenty that were exceptional. I hope that this trend continues at the Florida Audio Expo and Axpona next year.

What most readers seem to want is a declaration of a “Best in Show”. I have reflected on this for quite awhile and decided not to copy other writers in this genre. This hobby is really a journey of one of two things. Either we are in a competition to have the “Best” or we are on a mission to get the most emotion from our love of music. Both of these are viable as long as it keeps the manufacturers continuously improving their products. I am finding that the digital side is very good now with musicality at a very high level. It is always going to sound different from analog but I am finding digital can be very satisfying. It’s really about the music and what the music does to us.

What Gary Gill continues to bestow on us are live music presentations. If you are on the journey of musicality then you must hear the live music. It was obvious that all these presentations were from musicians that love what they are doing. It came through to my heart and soul. I give my “Best in Show” to all three groups.

Jay Summerour & Friends treated us to some juicy Piedmont blues. These guys are well know in the DC area playing for many Smithsonian events. Their latest recording is “The Best of A Little Bit of Blues”. I’ve ordered the CD!

Embassy Jazz Messengers. This group has played CAF for a couple of years now and they put forth a great straight ahead jazz set the everyone within earshot seem to enjoy in the hotel bar Saturday Night.

The Spellcasters played music from the Anacostia Delta in the Washington Theater. This group transported me. Music I have never heard before. Bluesy, Jazzy, free wheeling music that just about evoked every genre of music except Gregorian Chant (maybe). I felt very lucky to have been one of the eighty or so in the audience.

Capital Audiofest has grown to be a major show now and we are very lucky to have Gary Gill and his crew of volunteers to put on this show each year. This is a major effort and work has are ready started for next year. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for November 2020. See you there!