Hey there everyone, it's Pacific Audio Fest 2022 time here in Seattle! Since it was just a 3-hour drive from home in Vancouver, I figure it would be fun to check out the inaugural PAF this year. The last time I was at an audio show was back in 2019 for what would become the last Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - who knew!
My understanding is that PAF under the direction of Lou Hinkley brings with it experience from Capital Audio Fest held in Washington DC (which will be held this year November 11-13).
I think the audio geeks here in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada appreciates the availability of an easily-accessible show in this part of the world to check out and listen to some of the latest (and greatest) the industry has on offer.
The venue is the Doubletree Hilton Hotel out at SeaTac; easy to access off I-5 and parking was no problem. I got a room at the hotel and I think parking is something like $12/day, so very reasonable.
Friday AM was not busy and this presented a good time to start the day in the "HeadZone" (I figured lower risk of contracting COVID since fewer folks would have touched/worn the headsets) and you see in the corner there's a "Luthier's Showcase" for those interested in guitars.
Could not pass up the Stax booth to have a listen to their gear. Definitely my favourites were the "classic" Stax Lambda SR-L700 Mk 2 with plush lambskin pads and the flagship SR-009S:
|SR-L700 Mk 2 (~$1700). Not the most esthetically pleasing with the rectangular pads but comfy and sounds great.|
Comparatively, I wasn't as impressed with the SR-007A which clearly sounded a step down for sonic clarity. Perhaps hard to compare once one hears the flagship product side-by-side.
Nearby, we have some Audeze:
That's the Audeze LCD-5 (~$4500) planar magnetic, part of their "Flagship" series powered with Burson Audio headphone amp (not sure if it's the Conductor or Soloist) and the Holo Audio May DAC. I like the construction of the LCD-5 and very comfortable; I think I need to have a listen again, initial thought was that there wasn't as much bass as I expected although admittedly, I wasn't familiar with the music on the computer.
Next, we have "The Audio Company" room. This is located in one of the larger ballrooms:
The LTA (Linear Tube Audio) booth did a great job with their headphone listening stations:
Sounded pretty good... For LP playback. ;-)
Next here's the Daedalus Audio (Apollo 11 v.3 speakers) room with Lampizator Pacific DAC and another VAC Statement amplifier:
These are the BePure 2 speakers. Beryllium tweeters with Purifi woofers 2-way design. Sounded clean. Can't say anything stuck out, which is not necessarily a bad thing after that previous room!
Listened to Tinsley Ellis' "Kiss of Death" off Midnight Blue. The Cipher Tube DAC looks like it's based on the ES9038PRO. I made a note that the sound was very natural and dynamic. Of course I'm sure the TAD speakers also had a large part to play!
These are the Aeris speakers. AMT tweeter. Integrated 1kW ICEpower bass/sub. Notice that they have an external crossover and room correction module:
They look odd. But these LX521 speakers sound fantastic. Highly recommended listening to get a sense of what a speaker without the box sounds like. 4-way, dipole design. Lots of power and various compensations needed. Those amplifiers on the floor contain 5 nCore modules inside; I believe they're the PowerBox 6pro.
Duke Ellington's "Take The 'A' Train" and Christian McBride & Gina Gershon's "Chitlins and Gefiltefish" (Conversations With Christian) showed off the remarkable soundstaging ability and just the "cleanliness" of the amp and speaker combo. No doubt certainly one of the best (if not the best) sound I heard all day.
Let's wrap up here... There was more (quite a bit more) I saw and heard this first day, but I think the above was a good taste of the stuff here. A very nice first day at the show. Also a nice return of audio shows since the COVID pandemic. Time to get some rest; chat later!
|Ending the night with some swing... I wonder if the fellow with the Sennheiser headphones and R2R recorder is able to share some "Jazz At The Pawnshop" type material from this evening. ;-)|
Thought I'd add a few more pictures from Day 1 for completeness...
Another Daedalus Audio room - these are the Argos speakers with a Lampizator Baltic-3 DAC. Here's an example compared to the more expensive Daedalus room above with Lampizator Pacific where the sound was way better. Notice they set the system up at an angle as well. Some Monty Alexander "Battle Hymn of the Republic" was on.
Here's the NFS Room (Nothing for Sale):
Lounging around with drinks in hand, dark room with cosmological light effects... This seems to be the hangout place just listening to music and shooting the breeze. Very cool. Looks like there was something like this in the Newport Show a few years back.
Neil Young "A Man Needs A Maid / Heart of Gold" was playing over LP at the time, certainly added to the vibe.
Estelon X Diamond MkII ($79k/pr), Krell KSA i400 amp ($35k), MSB Reference DAC ($54k), Innuos Statement streamer/server:
Authoritative sounding system. Nice clear vocals on Shelby Earl's "Strong Swimmer" (off The Man Who Made Himself A Name). Again, bass in these rooms are a bit over-powering; a little EQ would help I think!
Eficion F300 ($17k/pr) speakers, with Plinius amps:
Check this out, a Topping D90 DAC (pre-SE, AKM-based) at an audio show ;-). I thought the system had a pleasant warm character, tons of dynamics when he played some FIM/LIM Super Trio. I suspect the dynamics on that could kill some systems if the speakers can't handle it!
Aurion Audio Apollo System:
Dipole, DSP controlled, open baffle. I see a Meitner EMM Labs DA2 in the room with the Audio Research amp. Big sound, good integration with the bass module in the room. Might still want a sub for lower frequencies?
I listened to the middle pair and outer red pair as well. Setup was along the widest dimension of the room; so wide that my camera did not have the ability to capture the right speaker. Another example of the limitations in hotel rooms.
Pretty good sound. I appreciated that I could hear some rock/pop rather than the usual audiophile fare. ;-)
Alright... That's a wrap for Day 1.