Capital Audiofest 2015 report

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jsalk

Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« on: 9 Sep 2015, 04:58 pm »
This was such a nice write-up of our room at CAF this year, I thought it deserved its own thread.

http://parttimeaudiophile.com/2015/09/09/caf-2015-seductive-salk-brings-out-the-exotic-with-danacable-lampizator-wells-audio/

Thanks to our room partners for helping make this happen.  Vinh and Norm of Ginko Audio worked tirelessly to get things set up just right.  The Lampizator DAC performed its magic, Jeff Wells Innamorata amp was its usual soulful self and Dana Cables tied everything together nicely. The system synergy was simply wonderful.

Thanks Scott Hull for the kind words.  Much appreciated.

- Jim
« Last Edit: 9 Sep 2015, 08:25 pm by jsalk »

Nuance

Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 review
« Reply #1 on: 9 Sep 2015, 05:08 pm »
Congrats, Jim - much deserved!

PMAT

Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 review
« Reply #2 on: 9 Sep 2015, 05:29 pm »
Nice review, congratulations, wow what a veneer on that set of speakers! Simply gorgeous.

sfox7076

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Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #3 on: 10 Sep 2015, 03:37 pm »
Hopefully this will kick start some sales for all involved.  I love the combination in my home (note that I do not use Wells Audio amps.  I have my home brew 1625 amps (basically a military 6L6 with 12 volt heater and the anode pin moved to a top cap).  I also use a modded Mac mini on an LPS).  The Exoticas are so smooth, but you don't have any detail loss.  It is like being there in more ways then one.  It is the first setup I have owned where I get shivers at least once every time I press play. 

Last night I was listening to compare some tubes for a friend who is getting a new Lampizator DAC. The Exoticas shine with almost any type of music you throw at them.  I usually start with female vocals because I think that is one of the hardest things to get right.  I start with Amy Mann, Kathleen Edwards, Natalie Merchant, Eva Cassidy or something like that.  Last night, the first two selections were "Because the Night" by 10,000 Maniacs and then "Change the Sheets" by Kathleen Edwards.  Merchant's voice in Because the Night, when done right, is airy, transparent and smooth.  When done wrong, it is closed and almost rigid.  Each time the Exoticas just present this open, beautiful window into the song.  They also reproduce the clapping from the crowd perfectly. 

On to “Change the Sheets.”  Kathleen Edwards has one of the most distinct voices I have ever heard.  I adore it, but it is an acquired taste.  I use it because she can hit soprano at times, but is mostly mezzo soprano.  I like this song because it has almost all of the rock elements I look for in test music (just missing a hard driving guitar).  It has an acoustic guitar, keyboard, electric guitar, bass and kicking drum parts.  Bad speakers compress the heck out of this recording.  You lose half the nuance.  Exoticas, however, and you are hearing it all.  Voice reproduced perfectly.  Bass is unbelievable.  It isn't thumping, but is what a bass guitar and a bass drum do.  You know they are there, but my seat is not vibrating.  The sound is just so refined that you will never mistake the type of drum/cymbal that is being hit.  The separation is just perfect.  Each note of the guitar is spot on.  You just get enveloped by the music.

I then usually pop on Damien Rice’s “Cannonball” from Live at Finger Prints: Warts and All.  This is an amazing acoustic track.  The guitar is sublime.  You can tell he is using a Lowden guitar on these speakers.  The distinct tone is so clear that it is almost unnerving.  Rice has another interesting voice.  It’s haunting and perfectly tenor.  His then singing partner, Lisa Hannigan, is a pure soprano.  I love this album.  I won’t gush on it other than to see it is not complex.  There are not a ton of instruments, but the sound is clean, open and inviting.  I get shivers when I hear the few opening chords.  It is just beautiful.

Then I move on to instrumental music.  I usually use “Take 5” as a benchmark.  Mostly because I have heard it 1000 times and I know it.  It is also the song I hear in every room in every audio show I have ever been to.  Regardless, the Exoticas do it all right.  The sound of Paul Desmond’s tongue hitting the reed of the sax and the keys slapping shut are just spot on.  The air forming the notes from the saxophone make you feel like you are standing in the room with Desmond/Bruebeck.  Joe Morello’s light touch with the brushes (which may be the most awe inspiring work on the track) is reproduced to the point that you believe that you can hear every bristle sliding over the cymbal.  And the decay just cannot match any speaker I have heard that is less than $50,000.  Morello’s amazing solo can be described as jolting and yet not so jarring that you feel it doesn’t fit.  It is hard for me to describe.  It really is a blast when he slams down on the bass drum, but the feel is so spot on to the music that it is isn’t really jarring to me.  It is a jolt.  I guess it is part of what makes the song so special (as if 5:4 time wasn’t jarring enough), even though it has been a mainstay of every single audio show for decades.

My next song is Rhapsody in Blue.  I find this song, when reproduced well, is just what I think instrumental music should be.  I will not spend a ton of time on this song, but know that it is reproduced as one would expect.  It is a hard song to mess up, but I grew up listening to it, so I know the sound and how the song should feel, and to me, it feels right.
I then listened to Schubert’s unfinished symphony (another favorite).  The first movement is a raw and inspiring in its sorrow.  The recording I use is not the best, but it is the one I have.  I also like to hear a bad recording on speakers because I know that the sound will disappoint in some ways.  It does here.  I love the sound of this piece, but the lack of refinement in the recording bleeds through to the speaker.  You can tell there is something you want more of (detail in this case) as the strings sound a bit muffled, but by the same token, I am pulled into the music and have to pay attention.

I will stop writing because this probably doesn’t belong here, but let’s just say I looked at the clock, it was 3:00am and I wondered where the time had gone. 

Shawn

jtwrace

Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #4 on: 10 Sep 2015, 03:44 pm »
Will this same setup be used at RMAF? 

Tomy2Tone

Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #5 on: 10 Sep 2015, 04:02 pm »
Will this same setup be used at RMAF?

I asked Fred and never got a reply so I would like to know as well...

jtwrace

Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #6 on: 10 Sep 2015, 04:08 pm »
I asked Fred and never got a reply so I would like to know as well...
Hopefully it will. I'd really like to hear those E3's with some good gear. 

jsalk

Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #7 on: 10 Sep 2015, 04:22 pm »
Will this same setup be used at RMAF? 

For the first year since 2005, we are not scheduled to attend RMAF this year.  We had a very nice room we shared with Frank Van Alstine for the past few years.  Last year, Frank decided he was not interested in attending this show in 2015.  I had done one show alone in the past and swore I would never do it again.  RMAF released our room to another exhibitor before we teamed up with our Newport/Capital Audiofest lineup. We'll see what the room situation is next year.

- Jim

jtwrace

Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #8 on: 10 Sep 2015, 04:25 pm »
For the first year since 2005, we are not scheduled to attend RMAF this year.  We had a very nice room we shared with Frank Van Alstine for the past few years.  Last year, Frank decided he was not interested in attending this show in 2015.  I had done one show alone in the past and swore I would never do it again.  RMAF released our room to another exhibitor before we teamed up with our Newport/Capital Audiofest lineup. We'll see what the room situation is next year.

- Jim
WOW, I'm shocked!   :o   That's really too bad...it would have been great to hear them as the same setup as CAF.  Perhaps you can drag one pair of speakers and setup somewhere..there has to be somebody that needs speakers.   :dunno:

KLH007

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Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #9 on: 10 Sep 2015, 07:21 pm »
There are plenty of speaker manufacturers breathing a sigh of relief at not having to compete with Jim's Exotica 3 towers at RMAF, they are sensational sounding and beautiful as well. Jim give Marjorie a call and see who needs a speaker upgrade in their room. LOL  As I reported, your 2015 CAF setup was the best I've heard the Exotica 3 Towers, in the top echelon of rooms, and compared to many other systems, a bargain as well.
Kemper
ETM

rollo

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Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #10 on: 10 Sep 2015, 07:46 pm »
  Jim a true pleasure chatting with every night. I vote for you as the "most interesting man in the world" A true thinker and all around interesting nice person.
   Salk is a brand that deserves a serious listen, you will be glad you did.

charles

jsalk

Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #11 on: 10 Sep 2015, 08:22 pm »
There are plenty of speaker manufacturers breathing a sigh of relief at not having to compete with Jim's Exotica 3 towers at RMAF, they are sensational sounding and beautiful as well. Jim give Marjorie a call and see who needs a speaker upgrade in their room. LOL  As I reported, your 2015 CAF setup was the best I've heard the Exotica 3 Towers, in the top echelon of rooms, and compared to many other systems, a bargain as well.
Kemper
ETM

Kemper -

Thanks for the kind words and your nice write-up.  It is always a pleasure seeing you at shows.  I hope we get many chances to meet up at shows in the future.  Always enjoyable.

For those who missed it, here is a link to Kemper's write-up...

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/Capital_Audiofest_2015/Part1b.htm

- Jim

funkmonkey

Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #12 on: 11 Sep 2015, 03:59 am »
Jim You gotta put up some pics of those speakers!!!! 
That veneer is truly outstanding!!!!  Is it a rose wood?  looks like it burls at the bottom... 
sooo pretty, I like them better than my own pair, which is a first.  :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:

Heres the best one I can find...  really deserves their own thread!


kingdeezie

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Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #13 on: 11 Sep 2015, 04:07 am »
I believe it is a special walnut veneer with an orange dye and the piano finish.

I placed my Exotica 3 order around RMAF 2014, and Jim actually had offered to use the same veneer on my pair since he had some left at the time for another pair.

 :duh:

At the time I really wanted Ziricote, so I ended up paying more money for it, versus this walnut. I sometimes think I should have waited for the RMAF picture to decide, but I went with my gut.

Not to say I don't absolutely adore my pair, but this pair is quite stunning and special.

jsalk

Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #14 on: 11 Sep 2015, 03:32 pm »
  Jim a true pleasure chatting with every night. I vote for you as the "most interesting man in the world" A true thinker and all around interesting nice person.
   Salk is a brand that deserves a serious listen, you will be glad you did.

charles

Charles -

I posted a response yesterday, but I don't know where it went.  So I'll try again.

It was a great pleasure meeting you at the show and was nice to just shoot the bull at the end of the day.  I look forward to being able to do it again at future shows!

- Jim

jsalk

Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #15 on: 11 Sep 2015, 03:44 pm »
Jim You gotta put up some pics of those speakers!!!! 
That veneer is truly outstanding!!!!  Is it a rose wood?  looks like it burls at the bottom... 
sooo pretty, I like them better than my own pair, which is a first.  :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:

funk...

Thanks for the kind words.

I am always searching for unique veneers.  I came across some "burly walnut" veneer with a really nice grain pattern and a bit of fiddleback figuring.  The grain on the end of the sheets looked very organic and it just seemed like the rest of the sheet was rising out of a chaotic mass of dark roots (well, that's the impression I got looking at it).  So I purchased all of it.

A few months earlier, we had a customer who wanted burled walnut with an orange dye on it.  At first I thought it would turn out very muddy looking since the walnut was rather dark to begin with.  So we did a test and I really liked the result. 

So we tried that same dye over this batch of walnut and then did a hand-rubbed, high-gloss final finish.  Here are the pictures I took when they were completed...



And a shot of a side panel...



The result kind of reminds me of Mexican cocobolo, but the grain patters are more interesting. 

- Jim


JerryM

Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #16 on: 11 Sep 2015, 05:46 pm »
Stunning. Just beautiful.

funkmonkey

Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #17 on: 12 Sep 2015, 02:00 am »
simply stunning, thanks for posting some more pix Jim :beer:

Jonathon Janusz

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Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #18 on: 12 Sep 2015, 03:46 am »
First, it was very much my pleasure meeting you, Jim, as well as Mary and Dennis.  Dinner was a fine evening in good company, and I'm glad I finally had a chance to meet you and yours.  Great people, all, with such wonderful stories to tell.  Thank you again for sharing your time with me, an otherwise complete stranger, so generously!

Your work is as beautiful as the chorus here who sing your praises call it to be, and I am glad I made the trip to hear the E3.  As I mentioned when we spoke, I was at RMAF when the original Exotica "test mules" made their limited debut.  I really wanted to hear them that day, but missed the opportunity.  I am very much glad to have heard what they evolved to become.  I know now first hand why for many these are their final destination speaker.

WOW, I'm shocked!   :o   That's really too bad...it would have been great to hear them as the same setup as CAF.  Perhaps you can drag one pair of speakers and setup somewhere..there has to be somebody that needs speakers.   :dunno:

I would like to comment on this point, at the risk of offending in saying what can be argued to be the obvious.  Although I'm sure there would be a room somewhere at RMAF to find a home for Salk speakers, the magic in what can be heard in these show rooms is the result of an entire system.  Without all of the pieces - including the labor of getting things set up just 'so' - one can quickly end up with something less than the very best, and that would be a disservice to all involved trying their very best to make sure that very best is what is shown for all to enjoy.

The extra months wait for 2016 will give Jim time to get together a few more banquet tables to really raise the bar next time out! ;)

 :beer:, friends, for the well won accolades!

Gopher

Re: Capital Audiofest 2015 report
« Reply #19 on: 12 Sep 2015, 04:55 am »
I asked Fred and never got a reply so I would like to know as well...

Sorry to have left you hanging, man.   No, we will not be teaming up for RMAF.  We weren't planning on doing RMAF at all until a friend invited  (Lampizaror) us into a nice lineup in a big conference room.

We will definitely reunite this partnership in 2016 though!  Jim's speakers are incredible and we've got some serious mojo when you combine us all.

Fred
« Last Edit: 12 Sep 2015, 12:54 pm by Gopher »