Pursuing the Ultimate Music Experiences

Audio Federation High-Fidelity Audio Blog

Our Cellini are here…

Acapella Cellini loudspeakers in a modern gray and white fit very nicely into this mid-century modern home.

Thin deformable walls and make for some bass suck-out, and hard-surfaces everywhere make for an elevated midrange – so we have work to do.

Neli has some family-heirloom carpets that go well here – but they are too small! So what do we do? Get a new carpet that better fits the room? Use two smaller ones, albeit ones that have different patterns from each other? Is the aesthetics of the room really that important? Does it contribute to the enjoyment of the music or it’s only job to stop the sound from bouncing around the room indefinitely?

You know, moving requires us to make So Many Decisions. We are kind of burnt out.

Anyway, lots of tuning to do.



OK. I guess it had to come out sometime. There is indeed a mirror that surrounds the gas fireplace. Not our idea. Seriously.

Have to say that you DO get used to it. But we will probably put some plants there, or paste up old album covers over it, or give people Halloween masks to wear [I will be Terminator and Neli? Trying to convince her to go for the Princess Leia, but…]


We’ll be open soon… !

LAMM L2.1 Reference preamplifier available in mid-October’2016

[Wow. An upgrade of the venerable L2 preamp (been with us for… 15 years? A long time anyway). The press release follows.]


[This is a photo of the previous model, the 2-box L2 Reference]


We are happy to announce that a modified version of our long-running L2 Reference preamp — the L2.1 Reference ‚Äď will be commercially available in October’2016.


The L2.1 Reference employs a pure class A operation from input to output, with no overall feedback at any stage; all stages, including high current output buffers, are single-ended. Also featured are specially selected high voltage super linear MOS-FETs in the signal path and TKD stepped potentiometers for volume control ‚Äď the best available on today‚Äôs market.


The preamplifier’s audibly neutral power supply features a choke contained filter, a full-wave vacuum tube rectifier and vacuum tube voltage regulator which allow to virtually eliminate the hum and buzz and, ultimately, to ensure the authenticity of the essence of sound throughout the entire dynamic range without any coloration.  Other features include 3 inputs; one tape/home theater processor loop; output signal phase switch; balanced and single-ended outputs; protection circuitry designed to enable manual muting of the output signal; and built-in remote on/off for Lamm power amplifiers.


The main distinction of the L2.1 Reference from any other comparable type of preamplifiers is its almost inaudible sonic signature.  When connected to an appropriate type of power amplifiers, especially LAMM power amplifiers, it assures the extraordinary transparency of perceived sound and recreation of a three-dimensional soundstage in the home, recording studio, etc. without boundaries and limitations.


  In a nutshell, the L2.1 Reference includes the following upgrades and modifications as compared to the L2 Reference:

  • increased immunity to unwanted radio frequency interferences propagated via both radiation and conduction over signal lines & AC power systems
  • certain modifications in protection and time delay circuitries
  • improved signal/noise ratio
  • replacement of a number of critical components with newly available types of better quality [in particular, replacement of electrolytic capacitors in the tube voltage regulation section with newly developed high density polypropylene capacitors of comparable size and value(!)]
  • utilization of a technologically new type of pc-boards of superior quality, with gold-plated traces and thru-holes.


Each preamplifier is carefully crafted with the finest materials and top quality parts like military-grade DALE/VISHAY metal-film resistors, RCD wire-wound resistors, TKD 41-step volume control potentiometers of the highest quality available on today’s market, BOURNS multi-turn potentiometers, VISHAY electrolytic capacitors, ELECTROCUBE, EPCOS and RIFA/KEMET film capacitors; HAMMOND chokes, god-plated NEUTRIC connectors, and military-grade low-noise long-life vacuum tubes.


The L2.1 Reference features a custom-designed super-low noise power transformer.


The U.S. retail is $22,790.

Long Article on Acapella Audio Arts

There is a new long article on Acapella Audio Arts by a European correspondent for Positive Feedback.



The article includes many yummy photos of the factory and the factory showroom Рas well as other fun and mysterious factoids about the speakers and their other gear.

I chose to display this photo from the article because it shows the big Poseidon speakers, which we waaaaant, and how impressive they look. Not sure that is the color of horn that we would choose… but maybe.¬†I would probably go for a mirror finish if Acapella actually supported that option and Neli didn’t¬†give me that look that simultaneously says I’m an idiot while at the same time saying that she feels sorry for me with such¬†poor taste in speaker horn finishes¬†:-/





Pursuing the Ultimate Music Experience… in California

Well, “soon”, anyway.

We decided to rent instead of buy for a number of reasons. One is that we do not know the area well yet. Another is that prices have risen sharply the last year or two or three – now is a good time to sell, not buy.

After a long strange trip of visiting many nice homes, encountering extraordinarily nice and the occasional bizarrely unqualified not-so-nice property managers Рwe found a place Neli and I and Audio Federation can call home.

[One place we tried to get four¬†different ways and got three wildly conflicting responses (the fourth response¬†is still forthcoming). This contributed to the length of time it took us to find a place. Something that we conservatively estimated would take 2 weeks escalated into 2 months. It would have driven one of us nuts, except that¬†I did not want to go nuts in front of Neli. It’s a sellers market out here, and that leaves room for some sellers who would otherwise be quickly culled from the herd.]

Although we originally intended on getting another house-with-an-awesome-view, we fell in love with Palo Alto, most of which is flat. We especially love Downtown Palo Alto, Professorville, Old Palo Alto and South of Midtown. There is an energy and diversity here that really suits us. Its not just families, or retired people, or Stanford students, or academicians, or Googlers and Facebookers, or young people or old people – there are all of these kinds of people here crammed together.

We *are* trying to keep the burn rate down (aka outrageous megabucks paid for rent), and¬†there is also the ‘luck of the draw’ – you can only pick a place from the places that are available, and this is a very random set of homes at any given time. Whatever houses that happen to be on the market at the time you are looking are the ones you get to choose from.

But in the end we did find¬†an awesome house in Palo Alto and it stood out for us from the others. As you will see below, it really works for Audio Federation and what you may have seen over the years of our ‘architectural preferences’ :-)

The photos below are a simulation, like the previous posts, of what the systems will look like in then house. Looks like we are going to start unloading the truck today.

This is what they call an ‘Eichler’ out here. Joseph Eichler was real estate developer whose¬†houses have¬†an open layout internally with the rear walls of the home consisting primarily of¬†floor-to-ceiling glass. There are 10s of thousands of these, and their look-a-likes, on the Peninsula.

So, yeah, we like the ‘bring the outside in’ feel of these houses, and they are ubiquitous – many audiophiles out here will have a home like this – so it really does work for us.


This is the living room, as viewed from the backyard. It will be the main listening room. It is 13.5 feet wide by 20 feet long. This is the size of many mid-size listening rooms and is also very similar to the size of the hotel rooms at many shows.


This is the view from inside the main listening room. We will put the main couch here and probably LPs on the rear wall. We will probably go with IKEA LP shelves since they seem to work well and are modern in a way that matches the Eichler home.



This is the dining room aka Listening room 2. This room is 11×18 feet in size. Right now we have a pair of used Avalon Eidolon speakers¬†which¬†will go in here to start with. There will probably be a steady rotation of gear through this room.


This is the 3rd listening room. This will be an office until we¬†need another listening room. It is 11×14 feet in size.


This is the 4th listening room. It has ‘Audio Note corners’ optimal for placement of Audio Note speakers. it is 11×10 feet in size. This is a small room, but many of our AN customers have small listening rooms like this. We might be also¬†end up¬†swapping¬†Audio Note between here and Listening room #3. [just not sure how having one all glass corner will work for these speakers. Guess there’s only one way to find out :-)].

The blog here will go back to being much more about audio than house- and room-selection methodologies – though at some point we will do a more thorough wrap up of all the many, many issues the audiophile has when moving listening rooms from house to house.

Going to California IX

Yep. Still looking. Looking for a place in the Silicon Valley for the store / our home. Tick tock. Tick tock.

Palo Alto

We applied to rent 3 homes in the last 10 days. The first we could not come to an agreement on price. The second we got turned down and we still do not know why [their stated reason just doesn’t make a lot of sense]. The third we are still waiting to hear from but we were not the first to apply, so… it does not look so great.

This is a sellers market, and the way this game of musical chairs is supposed to be played out here is for each renter to apply to several places, and each property to take several applications.

But what happens is a property gives the okeydokey to a prospective renter, but that renter might prefer another place on their recent ‘applied fors’, so they hold off accepting. Meanwhile a¬†renter who really wants this place, hoping for this place, is being stalled because if the first people accepted eventually go somewhere else, then they might actually get the place¬†they really want¬†after all…

So, yeah, musical chairs meets the lottery [or, more like Let’s Make a Deal. Do you want door #1, or #2, or…].

We, however, have been applying to just one at a time. We make such an investment in feeling how it would be to LIVE someplace, and how we can fit us and our businesses and our immediate and future goals into a place. It becomes THE place we can make work. THE place we WANT.

And then we don’t get it.

Not giving up, however, on any of these places yet.

Unlike most people, we are lucky enough to work out of the home – and so we spend a LOT of time there. We ‘give’ ourselves to the home, and bond with it, try to make it a better place while we live there.

This place below is a fine example…



This place in Palo Alto was one we had our eyes on for a long time – 5 weeks+. Spent sooo much time evaluating each aspect of this out-of-the-ordinary home.

For one Рit has an elevator. An elevator! [there are not enough explanation points in the universe to express how much this tickles us :-)] For over 20 years we wanted an elevator so we did not have to lug 100 lb amps, 300 lb amps, even 700 lb speakers up the 45 stairs to our listening room in Boulder [and, of course, back down again].

Large parking area. Large-ish yard to separate us from the neighbors. Nice appliances. Lots of parking. A gate of sorts. Very nice.

But the rooms were small, and the Audio Note room would require some kind of pipe and draping [Neli thinks].

We haven’t come to terms yet on the price; it is currently¬†just too much for us to feel comfortable with.

We are still jonesing a little for this place, but trying to move on… The other places we found are priced a little better, and¬†all have their more or less lovable blemishes, so we shall see….

Starting to wear us out some, and no doubt you the reader as well…. :-/ Hopefully this will resolve itself sooner rather than later

Going to California VIII

Whew. Going to run out of Roman Numerals :-)


Still looking for a place out here.

This Belmont place had an awesome, awesome view. You could stand at this window where the Acapella Cellini speakers are and look right to see South Bay and left to see the San Francisco downtown skyline Рand everything in between.

This room was big enough, about 15 x 20 feet and even the dining room was big enough for the Audio Note E-size speakers [and with the same awesome view].

[You mean you don’t also put a system in your dining room if it is big enough? You are missing out! ;-)]

But it was really cold and windy here that day, which is not completely uncommon – which Neli hates – and it was a duplex [we suspected as much during the original drive-by, but it was not specified as such in their ad].

Sharing a wall Рthe listening room wall Рwith another home does not seem like it may work all of the time for the ultimate happiness of all concerned.

And there were other issues – basically coming down to us not feeling like we would like living here in the long run.

*sigh* onward we go….


Going to California VII

As we make our way up and down the Peninsula looking for a place to settle our selves and our audio gear…

.. realize that we look at about 10 places for everyone that we go inside. Just by driving by we can figure out some of the access issues, the micro-climate, the neighborhood and more.

For example, in a quiet family neighborhood, we might be expected to get some pressure to turn down the music around 8 or 9pm when the neighbors kids go to bed. Now, mind you, *I* do not play the music loud very often, but Neli…. ūüėČ

Large mid-Peninsula Home


The Acapella Cellini in the backroom at this house.

The house was big, with a large yard, and on a relatively busy street. With such a big house, with a big yard, and high noise floor outside, we expected to be able to play music at a reasonable high volume.



There were plenty of rooms here. And the price, while high, could have been much, much higher.


Not much of a view – but not too bad. We are starting to look at houses without views of the bay – we just aren’t seeing what we are looking for in houses-with-a-view right now.

Why didn’t we select this as our next home?

Well, for one, someone else had applied ahead of us [taking the choice out of our hands] :-/.

And, the busy-ish street… We lived in town in Boulder for a bit, when we 1st got the big Acapella Triolon speakers [and met Kevin for the first time – looking for a record cleaner I think], and THAT was on a busy street. Never could open the window because the noise was so bad [a busy street where the speed limit was around 45 mph]. This was nowhere near that bad, here, but still, we have some hesitancy about moving this place for that reason.

Still – it was a nice place…

Going to California VI

Yep, still hunting for a house to settle ourselves and the store into in the Silicon Valley area.



The Acapella Cellini speakers in the dining room.

The house was much like our previous home in Boulder.

The ‘mountains’ [what passes for mountains here, not quite the Rockies] on the very tip of Silicon Valley.

Big. Quiet. Large Lot. Views [but nowhere near as spectacular as our previous location in Boulder]. Smells really good here to; all sorts of wonderful flora.

And with the same problems – difficult road [very, very narrow and twisty] and long steep twisty driveway. Only one flight of stairs to go up though :-)

It is also kind of away from everything, which is good and bad, right? We can really Turn It Up but many people would have a hard time getting to us [we fear].

Lots of room here for several systems, and tall ceilings are nice.

But, personally, my body just starts aching when I think of all the effort it will take to get gear in and out of here Рnot as bad as Boulder, but can we at least TRY to make life easier? [this is me whining to the wifey :-)]

If the views were really, really excellent [or a really good location] then I might¬†be up for something like this again, but…