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Show report: Capital Audiofest "The Audio Beatnik"

CAF 2019: AudioShield Room, a Musical Experience

theaudiobeatnik

AudioShield LLC room at Capital Audio Fest 2019

The AudioShield LLC room was on the top of my “must-visit” list at CAF, and I almost never found it, but it was worth the hunt. I mean who would have expected EMM Labs, Meitner Audio and VPI Industries to have the vinyl system that I most wanted to hear. It included VPI‘s brand new Vanquish Magnetic Direct Drive Turntable, a DS Audio W2 Optical Cartridge, the Meitner Phono EQ for the DS Audio line of optical cartridges and the Credo Audio Switzerland Cinema LTM loudspeakers.

DS Audio Optical Cartridges

I own the DS Audio Master1 Optical Cartridge and the Master1 Phono/Equalizer. I have had the privilege of reviewing their cartridges starting with the W1. And, we were privileged at RMAF last year to interview Tetsuaki Aoyagi, president of DS Audio and the inventor of the optical cartridge, which you can read here. So, we were really disappointed that we missed this product debut at RMAF this year.

I told Amadeus Meitner, Ed’s son and the room host at CAF, that after I reviewed the DS-W2 cartridge that was being used in this room, I asked DS Audio to send me a Master1 cartridge with a Boron cantilever. To my shock, he had heard about my request and had a Master1 with a Boron cantilever on the way to EMM Labs as well. In that conversation, we made plans for me to review this cartridge before AXPONA, if DS Audio can get it into production in time. I am surely looking forward to that review.

Complete System

The complete AudioShield LLC system in this room started with the DS Audio W2 optical cartridge ($4,500), the prototype VPI Vanquish Magnetic Direct Drive Turntable (no price yet), the prototype Meitner DS EQ1 optical phono equalizer (also not yet priced). The digital source was the EMM Labs NS1 Network Streamer ($4,500) and the EMM Labs DV2 Integrated DAC ($30,000).

The amplification was an EMM Labs Reference PRE Stereo Preamplifier ($25,000), and the EMM Labs MTRX2 1KW Class A/B Mono Amplifiers ($85,000/pair) that were driving the Credo Audio Cinema LTM loudspeakers ($170,000/pair). All the cabling was Kimber Kable Silver Select.

The sound of this system was a sonic surprise to me. I have never been a fan of speakers with long lines of tweeters and drivers, but the Credo Audio Switzerland speakers paired with all of the equipment mentioned above had good tone, great transparency, incredible scale, and an immersive soundstage. It was a truly musical and emotional experience listening to this system.

Source: https://theaudiobeatnik.com/

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