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CAS7 Richard Austen Reports, Final

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The final part of my show report reveals the final two awards nomination, namely “Best System Performance” and the “Ultimate Cost No Object Design.” Both recipients come from the same room which were in Boardroom V. Since it is difficult to separate the components here I will say that CD sounded better here than anywhere else beating other rooms with vinyl or computer audio playback then I will award the Audio Note UK CDT Five Transport ($48,350) and DAC Five Signature ($87,825) as my Ultimate Cost No Object Design and Acapella Audio Arts High Cellini ($55,200 with La Musika integrated amp ($100,000) and Audio Note CD transport/DAC) as the Best System Performance.


Acapella’s High Cellini speakers for me were the best speakers at this show and I spent several hours after closing hours listening to them on Saturday. Frankly, these were rather easily the best sound at this show. It took a couple of tracks to begin to appreciate what these speakers are capable of doing. And unfortunately show-goers tend to try and cover as many rooms as possible over stopping to smell the roses. I tend to bring more modern music and mainstream music to audio shows because I know that most rooms already have the typical diet of Diana Krall and classical music so there is not much need for me to bring in that sort of music. Besides I want to know if big systems can play music I like not just well recorded boring music.

Acapella and Audio Note played everything well. Guns and Roses played very loud with Hermann Winters (Acapella’s founder) turning the volume way way up to nearly 3 o’clock on the dial. The band was there and boy could this system rock. The sound was superior through the CD transport than via the tablet being used as was the case in virtually every room that sported a CD transport. The system could play gently as well which impressed. Playing Aurora’s “Runaway” and “I went to Far” from All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend and Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa’s “Close to my Fire” from the album Seasaw the vocal imaging was sublime. Drive to driver cohesion was perhaps the best I’ve ever heard from large speaker using more than two drivers.

Again at any level, the several tracks I played were played beautifully and this from what are essentially average pop/rock music recordings. Treble is probably as good as treble can get (I have not heard Acapella’s top speakers mind you) and it had all the delicacy and power of anything I threw at it. Vocals were gorgeous. Again though, sound was much better via the Audio Note CD transport. So for those listening to music from the computer you missed out on what this system was really capable of reproducing in my view. Audio Note UK and Acapella make for a formidable tandem. An additional thanks to Mike and Neli (Audio Federation) and Herman Winters (Acapella) for staying open for several hours allowing people to listen to this fantastic system. I bought an extra lotto ticket.

With Acapella Audio Arts High Cellini speakers and LaMusika amp and Audio Note UK’s CD Tranport Five and DAC Five taking top spot for me for CAS7 I will also announce my runner ups for best sounding overall room.

* Audio Note UK (Room 5226) which sports some incredibly high value gear from the Audio Note E/Spe HE hemp loudspeakers to the fantastic digital and vinyl front ends. Room related issues aside, when I found the right seat and played the music I brought, this room hung in with anything. Toe tapping and tear inducing. Outstanding.

* PureAudioProject Quintet15 Horn1 speakers/ Whammerdyne Truth 2a3/VeraStarr cables. Some fantastic sound here with an affordable high end speaker that can stand toe to toe with considerably more costly loudspeakers. Being driven well by the 4 watt Whammerdyne amplifier a beautifully constructed amplifier. This may be the best sound I’ve heard from Open Baffle loudspeakers and when you consider the price/performance/value ratio it’s difficult not to love this system.

* Volti Audio Revival Horn Speakers/Border Patrol/CEC/Triode Wire Labs. Big bold open sound and a whole lot of toe tapping. The speakers are gorgeous and reasonably priced at $7900 in basic finish. CEC’s belt drive transport wasn’t even mentioned but this company is still going and are reasonably priced. Again CD sounded better in this room than from other sources. There is a degree of wetness and transparency here than stands with any other room even in a less than ideal set-up.

Looking forward to CAS8.

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3 Responses to CAS7 Richard Austen Reports, Final

  1. Neli Davis says:

    Wow, Richard, thank you for your kind words. We are so glad that you enjoyed our room; we certainly enjoyed your company and your music, not just Saturday evening, but also on Sunday until we *really* had to start packing up.

  2. Bill says:

    It is interesting that the author chose horn speaker systems as the best sound. Cabling was not mentioned.
    I know CDs can sound outstanding with excellent gear, but $85,000 is too far on the high side, budget wise.

  3. Tom Mathew says:

    Totally agree with your verdict. I heard these Acapella speakers at Axpona 2018 and was blown away. Found it hard to leave the room . I can’t believe these speakers don’t get more press . They were like nothing else at the show.

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