Acoustic Sounds
By: Michael Fremer

November 12th, 2023


Hi-Fi Shows

Capital Audio Fest Highlights Begin Now

with Acora Acoustics VRC Reference Loudspeakers

Large crowds, robust manufacturer participation and many product debuts made Capital Audio Fest 2023 a roaring success. Day three awaits as i type this early Sunday morning. One of the show highlights was the large room in which was a system consisting of a full array of Audio Research electronics driving a pair of Acora Acoustics VRC Reference Loudspeakers. A new VPI Titan "double stack" Direct Drive turntable fitted with Audio Technica's now sold out AT-MC2022 cartridge produced life-size scale and musical verisimilitude on the record I executive produced that made its American debut at the show.

VPI TitanThe system delivered the bass and piano record as a "you are there" live event or as close to that as a recording can create. I used it throughout the show in part as a crass exercise in commerciality and in part because the record provided a genuine system test that within minutes let listeners know if the results were good or bad. In fact just Rufus Reid's pre song patter told the story: if his voice was muffled or surrounded by soft haze, the piano and bass would be too.

In this big room the costly system delivered the goods and how. The presention could be taken as a victory lap for Val Cora who last spring rescued Audio Research from possible dissolution. The Canadian loudspeaker coupled with American mechanical and electrical manufactured produced a North American showcase, though the made in Japan Audio Technica cartridge produced the crucial sonic spark.

Yes, the system cost is probably close to half a million dollars but after all, this is a hi-fi show and people are entitled to be wowed by the big and encouraged by the small—meaning there were some excellent presentations in some of the smaller rooms upstairs and of course other notable ones in the bigger room on the main floor.

Earlier Saturday a full house in the Washington Theater heard me and Robin Wyatt tell the story behind the Rufus Reid Presents Caelan Cardello record. Incredibly it's been the #1 best selling 180g record on the AcousticSounds website for over a week—ahead of The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Steely Dan! Wake me up. Chad Kassem assured me the charts aren't "cooked". His "boxers" the guys and gals who pack records for shipping told him they are boxing many copies and late Saturday I got an email saying Music Direct had sold out its pre-orders, though i don't know what number that represented. During the first two days Robin sold around a hundred copies in his room. We are discussing a follow-up.

Later in the afternoon in the same room I interviewed Val Cora about the current state of Audio Research and his future plans for the company. The financial bleeding has largely stopped and the near term future outlook will put the company in the black. The story of how retired company veterans returned to help out needs to be told. Everyone came away with a good feeling about the iconic company's future.

More videos will post as soon as possible. They will include interviews with designers of some new, exciting products, some easily affordable. I promise this will be the only MF-centric show report.


  • 2023-11-13 02:07:13 PM

    Scott Stableford wrote:

    That was a great room and I enjoyed talking to Harry Weisfeld who was kind enough to play side one of the “Hatari” soundtrack for me. It was great running into you Michael and giving me the 411 as to where to get your LP at the show!

  • 2023-11-14 01:10:53 AM

    Zaphod wrote:

    A couple of years ago, when I was looking to buy my last pair of Loudspeakers I heard the Acora Speakers in a room at AXPONA and thought they were one of the best speakers I have ever heard personally. Unfortunately they were out of my price point, but you can always dream, right?