The DC Hi-Fi Group

The Vinyl Revivers Open House – May 17, 2022

This was a real treat. We gathered on a Saturday at Ron Ziegel’s incredible Penthouse apartment and party room for a great afternoon of food, drink, tunes and camaraderie. There was a good crowd of forty or so club members and guests.  Russ made eight trips from his Columbia townhouse to set up two large systems and a countertop of LPs for sale. We had the big Quad ESL 2912s with Hegel electronics in the Party Room and the KEF Blade One Meta’s and Martin Logan Renaissance ESL 15 A’s in Ron’s Living room.

Ben Hagens – KEF Speakers

The KEF Blade One Meta’s were the star of the show. Ben Hagens, KEF Product Training Manager, talked about KEF’s design history and backstories that kept us focused on the marvelous sound of the beautiful speakers. I have heard earlier versions of these speakers at Audio Shows and this version with the Meta disk behind the Uni-Q driver brought more clarity and coherence to the music.

Russ made every effort to impress with a great catered lunch of sliders of beef, ham, chicken salad and a vast array of finger delicacies. We washed this down with delicious wine and beer.

And there were door prizes.

The grand prize was a set of KEF Quincy’s followed by a few albums and audio accessories.

This was a fun and great afternoon.

Overture’s First Open House in Two Years

Eerik Dickerson drove through the muck and mire of a very rainy Saturday putting up with I95 traffic up to Wilmington for the first open house Overture has held in two years. The drive was not that terrible. We made it there in under 90 minutes from my house in Baltimore which went by very quickly because of the lively conversation covering all subjects from Audio (since I am just back from Axpona) to politics (well, you know).

I am sure the weather held back the crowd and it’s a shame because this was one of the best open houses that Overture has held for two reasons. The highlighted manufacturers were ones I can find no fault with. Acora Acoustics seems to be coming on strong these days with its amazing speakers. I first noticed it at CAF. Then in Florida, it was one of the best sounding rooms with Dr Vinyl (Jose) manning the analog side. Then recently at Axpona. The other featured manufacturer was the venerable Audio Research which has been supplying super electronics since 1970. Audio Research also seems to be making a big push in marketing because they were all over in many rooms at Florida and Axpona.

The second reason for the high marks for the open house was the lunch Overture provided. This was much more than your typical pizza or sub lunch. This was a gourmet buffet with bacon-wrapped scallops, steak-on-a-stick skewers, spring rolls, tomato canapes and some of the best pulled pork and chicken sliders I have ever had. You missed a great lunch.

In the number two large room was the Acora SRB 2-way stand mount powered by the Audio Research Reference 160 S Stereo power amp. Every time I have heard these speakers, I am just astonished by the big sound from these little boxes. They are made from granite and weigh almost sixty pounds each. With an average efficiency of around 86 dB, they need some power to plumb the lower notes.

In the main listening room, Acora’s chief designer and CEO, Valerio Cora, was on hand to spin LPs and answer our questions. We were listening to the Acora SRC-1 floorstander. This is also a two-way with a larger mid-woofer and bigger volume granite cabinet giving a deeper bass and more overall richer sound.  The SRC-1’s were powered by a pair of Audio Research Reference 160M monoblocks.  Again, the sound was magnificent. Overture goes to significant effort to treat their listening rooms with state-of-the-art room treatments. They certainly know how to set up a room for music reproduction.

In one of the smaller listening rooms, we had Trent Suggs, President and Director of North American Sales, showing of one of A-R’s newest and most affordable products the integrated I/50. This is a way cool product and can be configured as an all-in-one box. There are slots inside for both a phono preamp and a DAC board. This is a push-pull design using the 6550 family of tubes. It comes with a metal remote. There is a pair of Lexitubes (patent-pending, like nixietubes), used as a digital display of volume level. This unit is handcrafted in Minnesota.

I/50 Integrated – Audio Research

I had a quick chat with Chris Murphy, our host, to discuss all things in the audio industry. First, I have heard from many people in the industry that the past two years have been incredibly good for business. Audiophiles being shut in by the pandemic have upgraded their systems at a feverish rate. I asked about supply chain issues and Chris said that most people are aware of the issues and they are accepting of the 6 months wait on some products. Then, I asked about the most recent issue of inflation. Again, Chris has not seen that it has affected sales that much. Manufacturers are doing their best to deal with these real-world issues and absorbing as much as the costs increases as they can. The biggest problem now is the costs of shipping which in the past year have exploded. Overture used to provide free shipping on their producs but no longer can.

After another quick go around the store and I realized what a great dealer Overture is. It’s a beautiful store with great listening rooms, top-of-the-line products and some of the best home theater demonstrations I have seen. We are lucky to have this dealer just up the road from us.

Overture Ultimate Home Electronics

The DC Hi-Fi Group—Summer Vinyl Event

Record Lovers!

You are invited to participate in the First Annual DCHFG Summer Vinyl Event featuring thirty-five tables of new/used vinyl and vinyl playback components. DCHFG members and interested non-member individuals and non-member vinyl vendors are invited to bring their records, vinyl playback gear and accessories that they want to sell. Items to be sold will also include new vinyl from local dealers including the latest releases, standard catalog records, rare editions and 45-RPM audiophile discs.

When: Saturday, June 25, 2022
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Garrett Park Historic Town Hall
Garrett Park, Maryland

$2 Admission Fee (non-members free)

The event will also include new LP and classic barn find LP raffles, a turntable raffle, four DCHFG new membership raffles and new/demo turntables and preamps for sale from our participating dealers. Several vendors will offer discounts to those who come to the show.

Table space reservation fee is:

  • $30-per-table for individual DCHFG members
  • $50 for dealer DCHFG members
  • $40 per table for non-member individuals
  • $75 per table for non-member dealers.

Space must be reserved no later than June 5, 2022.

Email the DC Hi-Fi Group to get more information or call 301-946-5130. Download a table reservation form.

Non-member vendors who sign up for a DCHFG membership ($80 per year individual, $250 per year for dealer/manufacturer) receive the member table reservation rate.

Vendors must bring their own tables. Six foot tables are encouraged to allow more tables in the indoor space.

General admission fee for the public is $4 at the door (waived for members and vendors).

DC Hi-Fi Group Meeting – March 19, 2022

The March 19th meeting of The DC H-iFi Group found forty like-minded persons of the audiophile ilk traipsing from all over to the Alexandria, Va. location. This was the “CD is not Dead” meeting featuring the new Gold Note CD-1000 Mk II. I did not know that the CD dying was a thing. We have been giving away hundreds of CDs at every meeting from the Classical collection of about 12,000 CDs donated to the club. John Gatski still gives away a few special CDs at every meeting that he collects on his travels. CDs are everywhere.

Traffic was a nightmare for our journey down from Baltimore due to various events in the DMV area. It was a beautiful day and we all had too much fun getting together, having a bite to eat, beer/wine to drink and filling the room with lively discussions about our music systems and the state of the audio industry.

John let us know the plans for the club in the upcoming months with DCHFG Vinyl Extravaganza and DCHFG Party-At-The Beach/Overture Audio Tour in July. We are going to keep the Vinyl Nights and Bit Parade as well as visit the homes of various members and do a video record of their systems to be published on YouTube.

We had a report from Ken Wolf (SOTA Turntables) describing all the new products SOTA is bringing out this year. They will be at Axpona – Chicago in April. I will be travelling to Axpona and will be report.

Dave Raden explained the design of his fabulous interconnects and had a large assortment on hand for sale. I use a 15-foot pair between an LTA microZOTL preamp and my power amps (upgraded McGary SA-1e or VK Musik KT88 SET the TU-8800). Dave’s cables are made of pure silver with a shotgun design and floating shield with separate ground wire. I have not needed to ground my shield and they sound great. I saw a couple of members buy some so maybe we will get some feedback from others.

Russ Katz (The Vinyl Revivers) supplied the music system and ran the demonstration with a broad selection from his vast CD collection. This was an exceptionally clean and precise presentation of the music. The system consisted of:

  • Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe Integrated Amp Current ($6299)
  • Gold Note CD-1000 MK2 deluxe CD Player Current ($5800)
  • ATC SCM-19 speakers Current ($4800 per pair)

A bunch of members won the raffle giveaways, concluding another fine Saturday doing what we like—Be merry with friends. See you next time.

January 2022 Meeting – SOTA Turntables

It was a bitter cold early Saturday when I headed down to Rockville from Baltimore.

A snowstorm gave just a glancing blow with barely an inch of snow. Roads were clear and dry, making travel easy.

This month’s meeting, hosted by Ken Wolff of SOTA Tutntables and Command Performance’s Jon Archer, highlighted the new Nova VI and the Comet VI turntables. Ken has a beautiful home filled with an audiophile’s paradise of components. Ken is a professional musician (trombone) and worked with top tier orchestras and jazz groups. As an audiophile he demands an elevated level of gear to reproduce the music that he is so familiar with. I have owned a Star Sapphire since 1985 through many upgrades to Nova status in 2013. I met Donna Bodinet (SOTA) at Axpona 2013 where she explained the amazing SOTA customer service program which led me to upgrade my Star Sapphire to Nova status. SOTA is very loyal to its customers and provides a great trade-in and upgrade program.  Ken bested me with his 1981 Sapphire updated to current spec.

Donna is partially retired now and Christan Griego joined SOTA as the new Director of Development and Marketing in 2018. Having met Christan a few times at both CAF and Axpona, he is on a mission to bring SOTA back to be a major player in the turntable industry.

I purchased my SOTA to solve a problem I had while living in an older home. My system was on a weak wooden floor, and I could not walk across the room while a record was playing. This caused the arm to jump around damaging my precious LPs. I did some research and found Sota suspended tables. This solved my problem and I have been happy ever since.  SOTA’s suspended tables have the main bearing and the tonearm on a solid sub-chassis that is decoupled by springs from the rest of the world. I like to demonstrate this by banging on the oak outer plinth while a record is playing.

SOTA now has three series of turntables. The ultimate being the Statement Series including the Cosmos at $9,350 and the Millenia at $10,750. One can upgrade either of these fine turntables to vacuum hold down for around $1400.

The Heritage series includes the Sapphire IV at $3,975 and the Nova IV at $5,550. These can be upgraded to vacuum hold down for around $1,200. The vacuum hold down adds to the solidarity of the music signal.

The Urban Series consists of more budget friendly priced offerings. The Moonbean with tonearm is available for $1,375. The Escape, with a better controlled motor and Rega 220 arm, comes in at $1,700. The range is topped off with the Comet IV for $1,925. They are all made in America and back by SOTA’s pledge:

SOTA turntables have a lifetime trade-in value, your investment in SOTA will never become outdated. In twenty years you may want the new SOTA and you can trade-in your old model

SOTA website

We were treated to some particularly good pizza and liquid libations and the music was great too!

The DC Hi-Fi Group has scheduled the initial The Bit Parade listening session for February. The spotlighted recording will be a Japanese special 2016 DSD mix/master (Analog Productions) of the 1963 Leonard’ Bernstein/NY Philharmonic: Mahler’s Fifth Symphony in 5.1. Future Bit Parade listening sessions will include the SACD reissue of Complete Beethoven Symphonies: George Szell And The Cleveland Orchestra (stereo), The Alan Parson Project — Live In Columbia Blu-ray Concert (Hi-Res PCM 5.1), The Wes Montgomery Trio (SACD stereo), The Eagles – Greatest Hits (24/96 PCM files stereo) and The Isao Suzki Trio – Black Orpheus (DSD stereo). Members are welcome to suggest other albums.