Publisher Profile

2023 California Audio Show – Byron Baba reports

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Hilton Garden Inn,  Emeryville, CA

September 22nd through the 24th, 2023

Produced by Dagogo


Byron Baba and California Audio Show Promoter and publisher Constantine Soo.

California Audio Show is back, taking place September 22nd through September  24th, 2023.  I have  attended a number of California Audio Show as both an attendee and writing for going all the way back to the initial show in 2010 and have enjoyed everyone of them.   This may be a small regional show, however I have had the opportunity to meet people I would not have been able to meet such as Mike Sanders of Quicksilver Audio; listen to products I would never have gotten to hear such as KingSound electrostatic speakers; and make friends such as Julian and Laura Margules of Margules Audio.


The wonderful staff Sally, Vivian, Martha checking all of the attendees and worked tirelessly all three days.

This California Audio Show was no exception.  Although this show was smaller due to the after effects of the pandemic which has affected all of the high-end audio show as well as a number of audiophile events,  Mr. Constantine Soo, the show promoter was able to pull it off.

The attendees were given a “goodie bag” after registering, compliments of record producer Cookie Marenco and Blue Coast Music of a double album record set and two CDs.  The value of the contents in the bag already exceeded the cost of admission to the audio show so the attendees were already ahead.  This got the show off to a great start and I actually enjoyed seeing the expression on the faces of the attendees when they were given the gift.

The check-in room was also hosted by Cookie as well as her assistant engineer Ariana MacDavid, pianist Fiona Joy Hawkins, and violinist Rebecca Daniel.  The attendees were also given a chance to win an Audio Note UK DAC 0.1x  or a Millennium Protractor Set, valued at $460 (retail price).


The Blue Coast Music booth.  Fiona Joy Hawkins pianist, Me, Cookie Marenco record producer, Rebecca Daniel violinist, Ariana MacDavid assistant engineer.

I spent a lot of time in the Lobby Platinum Ballroom.  The classical music being played in this room such as Stravinsky, Benjamin Britten, Saint-Saëns, among others, is music I listen to at home.  The 9′ Sound Lab speakers were impressive and disappeared while playing music.  Apparently this was the only room in the hotel that could accommodate a speaker of this size.  The Bricasti Design amplifiers seemed like they were on cruise control driving these large speakers.  There is just something about a pair of large panel speakers that can transform the full weight of an orchestra that does something for me.  Especially if you can imagine they are not even in the room.  There were times I was enjoying the music in this room and forgot about the gear becoming so relaxed I probably dozed off.

I know there are more expensive components out there, however, for me this system represents the ultimate listening experience and the only thing I would add would be a turntable rig worthy of using with this system.


How do I get these awesome Sound Lab Speakers in my car to bring home with me without my wife finding out?

A.R.T., Bricasti Design, Sound Lab

The Lobby Platinum Ballroom

Music system:

Acoustic Science Corp. IsoThermal Tube Traps

Audio Reference Technology
Sensor Haute Couture Mains (2). $21,300 each
Sensor Haute Couture XLR (2 pairs). $26,300 per pair
Analyst EVO speaker cables in spade termination. $20,200 per pair
Distributor X. $5,600

Bricasti Design
M19 Reference Disc Player (new)
M20 preamplifier in Argento finish
M21 DSD DAC Platinum
M1S2 Classic
M28 monoblocks

Sound Lab Majestic 945PX electrostatic panels. $55,000 per pair


The beautiful Bricasti Design electronics.


The beautiful sounding system in the Aaudio Imports room.


The entire audio chain integrated nicely together.

Brian Ackerman, the owner of Aaudio Imports and importer of many of the fine products in this room, was nice enough to let me listen to his system Sunday morning before the show started.  This room was packed Saturday so I could not get in to listen.  This room made me aware of the importance of proper set up including room treatment; speaker cables and interconnects; as well as proper speaker placement can greatly enhance your listening experience.  The Pink Faun streamer was able to supply the Ypsilon DAC and hybrid integrated amplifier with pure music so with the Wilson Benesch speakers, provide an outstanding listening experience.  This was violinist Rebecca Daniel’s favorite room.

Aaudio Imports: The Lobby Pavilion

Music system:

Audio Realignment Technologies electromagnetic treatment (USA)
6Xs. $4,500
22X. $7,500

Pink Faun (Netherlands)
2.16 Ultra Music Server Streamer. $36,000

HB Design (Germany)
PowerSlave Marble MKII Power Distributor. $21,500

Stacore (Poland)
CLD Footers. $1,080 set of 3

Stage III (USA)
Ckahron (pronounced KAI-RON) XLR Interconnects. $16,500/pair
Kraken AC Power. $10,000
Proteus AC Power. $13,400
Poseidon AC Power. $25,000
Cerberus Speaker Cables. $36,000/pair

Wilson Benesch (UK)
A.C.T. 3zero speakers. $54,000/pair
IGx infrasonic generator. $34,000
R1 Carbon modular Hi-Fi Rack. $10,500

Ypsilon (Greece)
Phaethon SE Integrated Amplifier. $54,000
DAC 1000 SE Valve DAC. $52,000

Acoustic Science Corp. IsoThermal Tube Traps


An all-Technics high-end system.

Technics/AudioVision San Francisco: 12th Floor, Room 1215

Music System

Technics SR-U1000 digital integrated amplifier

Technics SL-1200G-S turntable with Clearaudio Virtuoso V2 moving-magnet cartridge

Technics SL-G700M2 Network SACD player

Rogers LS 3/5a Classic 15 ohms bookshelf speakers

Harmonic Resolution System Isolation

Nordost Heimdall2 cable system

Quadraspire Sunoko Vent Shelf/Isolation

Acoustic Science Corp. IsoThermal Tube Traps

I did not get to listen to this room as much as I liked, especially on Saturday.  This room had a line with a 40-minute wait to get in.  The limited time I did spend in the room I did get to chat with the owner and he informed me he prefers personal interaction as opposed to talking on the telephone which makes it my kind of store.  When you look at the brands AVSF carries, combined with this type of customer service it is no wonder they have been in business over 25 years.  The owner of the store Antonio Long talked about how they used an inexpensive phono cartridge as opposed to an expensive phono cartridge to show that a great turntable such as the Technics SL-1200G-S could make a mediocre phono cartridge sound wonderful.  The music played had a natural sound with no record surface noise.  I would have liked to listen more if I had a chance.  Bay area locals can visit the store and audition a full range of high performance Technics turntables as well as their top notch electronics.  This was the pianist Fiona Joy Hawkin’s favorite room.


The beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay Bridge was visible from this room. 


Lotus Group/Gestalt Audio had the usual gorgeous system, gorgeous sound.

Lotus Group/Gestalt Audio: 12th Floor Parlor Room 1211

Music System:

Electronics from SW1X of England

SW1X cable system
SW1X DAC IV Special
SW1X Level III Balanced Phono Stage
SW1X Titan DHT SET integrated amplifier
SW1X VDT IV Special Digital Source

Wolf von Langa London field-coil loudspeakers, $59,995/pair (imported by Gestalt Audio)
– full-range field-coil two-way dipole main driver, dual 15-inch field-coil dipole bass drivers.

Pranawire cables and accessories

Pranawire cable system
Pranawire Interceptor Ground Conditioners
Pranawire Linebacker In-Line Passive Power Filters
Pranawire Vault Ground Conditioner

Acoustic Science Corp. IsoThermal Tube Traps

The Lotus Group/Gestalt Audio Room was another room with a long line to get in to listen Saturday.  I was able to listen Sunday morning to a wonderful rendition of the Eagles singing “Hotel California.”  This was my wife’s favorite room.  Host Joe Cohen and Colin King really know how to set up a system and now I understand the long lines.


Wolf Von Langon LONDON field-coil speakers.


Audio Note UK/Audio Federation (dealer) analogue system room.

Audio Note UK/Audio Federation (dealer) Analogue System: Room 1222

Music System:

Audio Note UK TT Three & PSU3 with Arm 3/II, IO1 cartridge, S4L stepup transformer

Audio Note UK CD4.1X CD player

Audio Note UK Meishu Phono Tonmeister Silver

Audio Note UK AN-E SPx LTD field coil loudspeakers

Power and signal cabling from Audio Note UK

HRS SXR Equipment Stand with M3x2 Isolation Bases frame

HRS SXR M3X2 Isolation Bases

Total $31,566 electronics/accessories + $65,000 speakers


Leonard Horowitz and Audio Note UK/True Sound Turntable Room 1223.

Audio Note UK/True Sound (dealer) Turntable System Room 1223

Music System:

Audio Note UK TT Two Deluxe turntable with Arm 3/II & IQ3 phono cartridge

Audio Note UK R Zero/II phono stage

Audio Note UK CD1.1X CD player

Audio Note UK Cobra integrated amplifier

Audio Note UK AX Two/II loudspeakers

Power and signal cabling from Audio Note UK

Total $8,063 electronics + $4,000 speakers


Audio Note UK had two rooms that were very popular, 1222 and 1223.  I had the opportunity to listen to both rooms early Sunday morning.  The sound was a different presentation from the other rooms.  I also enjoyed chatting with Neli Davis of dealership Audio Federation in Room 1222.   A number of attendees felt this was their favorite rooms including Dagogo copy editor Dan Rubin.

Saturday the crowd was so large there were lines to enter the room.  Obviously the Bay Area has been clamoring for a high-end audio show.  A number of companies that did not attend may want to consider participating next year because the high-end audio interest is strong.  I also enjoyed the camaraderie and talking about gear with other attendees.


Dagogo copy editor Dan Rubin and I socializing at the show.

When talking to the various attendees, there were no consensus on which rooms gave the best sound.  Everyone had their likes and dislikes so keep that in mind when you read this show report.  It is hard to say which room was my favorite although I did spend a lot of time listening to the A.R.T./ASC TubeTraps/Sound Lab/Bricasti set up.  Personally, I enjoyed myself and I am glad I made the trip from Southern California.   The hotel price was reasonable and there were a variety of places to eat near the hotel.

I would like to congratulate Constantine Soo and his staff  for a very successful show.  I watched them work all three days to make sure the exhibitors and the attendees were having their needs addressed.  Their hard work and time paid off.  I plan on attending CAS 2024 all three days next year.

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