Capital Audiofest 2017: The Virtues of Vintage

from left: Herb Reichert (Stereophile), Blackie Pagano (Tube Amplifier Repair Tech, Art Dudley (Stereophile), Joe Roberts (of Sound Practices fame), Early Bender (, and Lenny Florentine (Just Audio)

Just between you & me, the main reason I wanted to attend the Capital Audiofest was to hear this panel. "What does this have to do with computer audio?" I heard someone think. It has everything to do with computer audio.

Power Supply (detail) for Field Coil Cartridge by EMIA

Amnesia and the Art of Forgetting strikes me a perfect title for a panel discussion on the current state of the high end. I say this because instead of searching for the most pleasure in listening to music, we tend to chase the edges; focusing on frequency extremes, measured performance, vanishingly low levels of distortion, and all manner of besides the point. Give me a system that makes the world disappear, leaving just me and the music floating in the timeless musical void, and I don't care about anything else.

Amplifier (detail) from Deja Vu Audio

As anyone who has visited the Silbatone room at the Munich High End Show can attest, vintage hi-fi refers to the date of production. That's about it. It does not tell you anything about how something is going to sound.

Auditorium 23 Hommage 755a from Tone Imports

I could listen to these guys talk all day and happily skip the questions, especially the annoying pointless ones asked by people with no interest in the subject at hand. Better yet, I'd put this group in a comfy bar, add JC Morrison and Komuro into the mix and call it a day. The reason being, these people know what they're talking about. They have decades of experience. They also happen to have rich lives outside hi-fi and can tell a tale with the best of 'em. I'll happily trade stories rich with life and passion over chatter about 'high-rez' any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Rethm Bhaava Speakers

I was fortune enough to catch the tail-end of breakfast with Art, Herb, and Blackie and the talk was music. Not hi-fi. To clarify, the music discussed was not brought to the table because of sound quality, it was about music. And here's where we, as modern hi-fi people, can get lost chasing the edges away from heart and soul toward phantoms with great bass, palpable presence, silky highs, ever-expanding soundstages, and accuracy (heaven forbid).

The Companion MK2 from Charney Audio

There was too much wisdom shared for me to do this discussion justice. I will share a point that Joe Roberts made, and others agreed, that a mix of old and new can deliver everything we need.

Refurbished Quad 57s from Robyatt Audio

Unless we get lost chasing the edges of technology at the expense of art.

jelly292's picture

Michael, I’d be curious to hear what you thought about the Auditorium 23s. I was sitting next to you, so we listened to the same tracks. I was very impressed by the first track (some big band jazz with great dynamic range which sounded amazing for a single driver speaker), but quite disappointed with the second track (Leonard Cohen’s I Want It Darker). It lacked the power of the voice and the emotion I get from other systems.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
A lot.

Perhaps my listening is informed by (colored by? ;') having owned Shindo electronics and Auditorium 23 speakers which delivered emotion like nobodies business.