CAF Day Two with Graig Neville | CAF 2023

caf day two

For Graig Neville’s CAF Day One Coverage, click here. And now for CAF Day Two:

On CAF Day Two, I found that Fidelity Imports commandeered a large chunk of the sixth floor making it easy to hop from room to room listening to their wares. First up was the Diptyque speakers running on Soulnote electronics including an integrated, CD/DAC and clock.

fidelity imports

I was impressed with the larger Diptyque at AXPONA and the middle of the range DP-140MKII had impressive bass, nice imaging, and immersive sound, making it my favorite of the Fidelity Imports rooms and amongst my highlights of the show.

Words and Photos by Graig Neville

Unison Research had a pretty tube amplifier, the Triode 25, and a Uno CD player driving Opera Callas Diva speakers that sounded impressive. Q Acoustics brought speakers that provided strong value with Unison Research’s Unico electronics driving the gear. The demo model Q Acoustics 5050 was being offered for just over $2,000/pr and redefines what budget hi-fi can sound like.

q acoustics

caf day two

caf day two

Acoustic Energy had the new Corinium in what appeared to be British Racing Green, which sounded more even and vibrant than typical Brit-fi. The Soulnote electronics, with their Japanese heritage, made for a compelling international sound that I know enamored Marc Smazik, and I heartily concur on how good it was on CAF Day Two.

soul note


I saw a Michell Gyrodec turntable that mesmerized me with the fit and finish as well as the rotating brass mass between the plinth and the chassis. The Michell just exuded cool and classy and I hope to get a more dedicated listen in the future. The Triode TRV-88XR tube amp was another very cool and classy looking unit.

caf day two

Lit-up in blue, the Perlisten and Audia Flight room was bumpin’ and sounding strong. Fidelity Imports distributes several strong brands from Italy; Unison Research, Audia Flight, and Gold Note. The Gold Note room was all Gold Note from the speakers to the amplification to the DAC/streamer.

gold note

A Gold Note T-5 turntable with Gold Note cartridge was on display, but not playing. The Gold Note system sounded very good, has a huge catalog of products at various price points, and has a design aesthetic that is what I’d call elegant industrial. Bringing it all together was Titan Audio, an Irish company manufacturing cables.

Every Fidelity Import room sounded good on CAF Day Two, with several that sounded down right great. I am excited to see how these brands grow with Fidelity Imports.

Acora Acoustics and ampsandsound had a similar setup to the room from AXPONA earlier this year. The Acora SRC-1 paired with the ampsandsound Arch monoblocks was clean and controlled with a ruler flat frequency response.

The new Yellowstone, which combines line and phono stages, is one of the largest preamplifiers I’ve ever seen. This all-tube preamp is a tip of the hat to the Marantz 7 circuit, but with Justin Weber’s special touch. The Yosemite preamp is very similar but the Yellowstone adds an isolated relay latch volume control with its own dedicated power supply to isolate noise. The Yellowstone also has upgraded transformers and adds chokes to the power supplies compared to its more purist sibling the Yosemite. Bass was powerful and authoritative despite the SRC-1 being a 2-way design. Another solid performance from two great brands.


Waaay at the far end of the conference center, VPI and Acora had taken over several rooms in the wing. The big Acora VRC-1s were being driven by Audio Research electronics. The ARC monoblock amplifiers had more tubes than any other amp I’ve ever seen – I counted 36 for the pair!

audio research

The VPI Titan Direct with dual tone arms was holding court on CAF Day Two–I didn’t catch what cartridge was used, but what impressed me was the ability of the system to go from whisper quiet to thunderously loud within the same musical passage. This is how classical music was meant to be experienced and this system was one of the most impressive sounds of the show, definitely making my top five.

caf day two

ModWright also was using Acora–this time it was the SRB-1 bookshelf speakers. The sound was clear, the bass was solid, and the musical texture was spot on, touching my emotions in a way that I yearn for in a system.


caf day two

The new KWA 99 power amps were driving the system, and they have such cool meters! (I love meters.) Supported by the LS 99, the Analog Bridge and the PH 9.0, the system was so compelling that I stuck around for quite a while just enjoying the music.

lta aero dac

I was on the hunt for the elusive new Linear Tube Audio Aero DAC that I learned about on Friday. I found one in the headphone area, and I put on some cans to listen. The DAC sounded clean, but headphones aren’t my primary listening mode so I couldn’t comment too much on the sound as all the gear was unfamiliar to me. But I definitely enjoyed the playlist from the headphone crowd as it was a departure form the typical two-channel rooms.

caf day two

Finding another Aero DAC in the Daedalus room was a treat. The Daedalus is a large imposing speaker, but the Linear Tube Audio electronics easily ran the over-six-feet tall Daedalus, creating a pleasing and effortless sound the belied the size of the speakers. There are currently production backups on the casework, but Linear Tube Audio said they should be receiving them in January, unfortunately after Christmas.

now listen here

Speaking of show favorites on CAF Day Two, I had an opportunity to revisit the Now Listen Here room with Vandersteen, Rega, Backert, and Meitner room. I have to say this room had my favorite playlists. The non-traditional musical selection added to the fun and excitement, and sounded great to boot! The system did everything right and was one of my favorites of the show.

caf day two

The combination of gear made the Quatro’s sound unlike any Vandersteen speaker I’ve heard before – in a very good way. Bass was solid, but perhaps a touch less than normal, but the midrange and tweeter had a richness and sibilance that I’ve never heard, making me look at Vandersteen in a new light. The sound was excellent and the folks that set the room up did an amazing job.


Magnepan has some changes on the horizon. Several models will be revisited with modified crossovers, updated wiring, and other performance changes. In addition to this exciting news there’s a new kid on the block–a $1,000/pr Magnepan, and it actually has bass! These little guys stole some thunder from the big panels for me, as I scratched my head really hard trying to figure out how Magnepan could get such great sound from the speaker at such a low price point of entry – a very impressive feat indeed.

caf day two

As ear fatigue definitely set in on CAF Day Two, I headed out to dinner for some rest and relaxation. Two full days of listening is tough on the ears and at some point the ears give up and rooms start sounding all the same. Not trusting my ears any longer I knew I was done for the day. Tomorrow will be the final day and besides my final rooms I’ll also give my final thoughts and over impressions of the show.