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Audio Federation High-Fidelity Audio Blog

Filling Audio Note AN-E loudspeaker stands with sand

I stumbled across Neli filling Audio Note AN-E loudspeaker stands with sand and I decided to take some photos [and hold the funnel :-/].

This time we used fish aquarium sand instead of play sand [aka sandbox or beach sand, which clumps up due to moisture. Good for building sand castles, not so good for filling equipment racks and speaker stands]. Play sand works fine in an arid environment; here near the bay, not so much.

We used most of this 20 lb bag of ‘aquatic substrate’ [aquarium sand].

The all-important pail. About 2 lbs of sand was poured into the bucket from the bag of sand, then decanted into each leg as we went along.

You would think this radiator funnel’s mouth would be too big, but it worked fine. The sand is so fine and dry, it runs into the stand legs like water.

The directions on how to assemble the stands.

We don’t use the upward facing spikes and no one else uses them and suggest you do not either. We sometimes use soft HRS Nimbus Couplers between the speaker and the stand [increases resolution, lowers authority – and makes positioning during setup easier], or a washcloth [makes positioning easier], or blu tack [recommended by the factory – adds authority, makes adjusting positioning more difficult].

Each leg is filled with sand through the larger hole you see here.

All the legs are filled with sand. A few grains of sand got lost on their way into a leg. Neli was embarrassed that we spilled so many [uncountably few if you ask me] and the first stand *did* go better.

We used this solder sucker to blow sand out of the threads where the stand will be bolted on to its top [actually bottom] plate.

Time to screw in the bolts and add the spikes and away we go 🙂 The spoon wasn’t used for much after I convinced Neli to just pour the bucket of sand directly into the funnel which went a lot faster [hence the reason I was holding the funnel and not taking photos at those times].


Taiwan Hi-End Show 2017

The Taiwan Hi-End Show 2017 was held last week and Mono and Stereo has a posted a couple of hundred photos of it on their site.

Also several hundred are posted on Hiendy here and here for starters. Full index of their coverage of the Taiwan Hi-End Show 2017 is here

tl;dr: “If you just multiply the price of any Acapella loudspeaker by three or so, you will know what other speakers they should be compared to out there, performance-wise”

It appears to be a fairly large show but with fewer people than the Hong Kong AV Show held last week.

The Acapella Audio Arts’ room featured their LaCampanella loudspeakers, here with red horns. The LaCampanella speakers come in two versions: this is the $23,000 version at 93 dB efficiency. The LaCampanella speakers do not feature Acapella’s ION (plasma) tweeter and instead are a perfect two-way, with the horn acting as a single-point source covering the all-important 700 Hz to 20k+ Hz range.

These speakers perform much better than others anywhere near this price range [as do all Acapella speakers, as those who visited our CAS exhibit room can attest – many hearing our $55K Acapella “High Cellini” speakers rival and in many aspects beat the $300K speakers elsewhere at the show].

Yes, inflated prices at the top end of the high-end audio market are to blame as the top performers position themselves against each other. But…

If you just multiply the price of any Acapella loudspeaker by three or so, you will know what other speakers they should be compared to out there, performance-wise. This both makes us feel good that we are keeping prices reasonable  [well, you know what I mean] and at the same time frustrated that other brands of speakers are getting so much attention, in large part because of their astronomical prices, and whose sound is inferior, on a price-performance basis, compared to Acapella. [*arghhhhh!*]

[There is also a LaCampanella ‘Alto’ speaker at $48,600 with twice as many woofers (4 woofers on top of the horn as well as the 4 below – i.e. the speaker is twice as tall), a better crossover and a 95 dB efficiency].





Hong Kong AV Show 2017

We didn’t get to go, but I have been following the news avidly, trying to understand what is happening in China and Asia as they seem to be leading the high-end audio resurgence that will hopefully soon follow on this side of the world.

The above photo of Audio Note UK at the show is from Mono and Stereo’s Hong Kong AV 2017 report

There are also many photos on Audio Shark of the HK AV Show 2017. See also Page 3 for more photos.

Mike Fremer of Analog Planet (Stereophile) fame did three Hong Kong AV Show videos [see below]. I preferred the 2nd video. The 1st was also pretty good [but spending so much of that time going through vinyl? Luckily I did not see too much that I needed, otherwise it would have made me very upset that they are so many thousands of miles away]. The 3rd video was more an ‘extras’.

The Hiendy forum had a few photos and you can read the Google translation [such as it is. In Chrome just lick the translate icon in the top search bar on the right].

The upshot is we have seen most of these brands before at U.S. shows [though there are some very unusual system configurations at this show!]. Skewed toward the expensive [so what else is new?], and has a younger demographic with apparently more women in attendance than previous years. It was very crowded, much like the part of CES dedicated to consumer electronics et. al. [everywhere except for the high-performance audio part of CES, which has not been busy for many years. Maybe it need to be in a convention hall like area and not in a high-rise hotel]

I’ll add more links as I find them…

More praise about the sound of our room at CAS 2017

the Acapella Audio Arts High Cellini (Acapella High Cellini CAS7 YouTube) driven by Acapella’s own integrated amplifier and Audio Note digital front end was just amazingly natural. Throw out all your audiophile terminologies and checklist. The sound was just so pure and natural. They really can fool you. For me, this room won the Best System Performance award, hands down.

Our thanks to Frank Cheng, a reviewer for Dagogo, who had those nice things to say about our room sound at the California Audio Show CAS 2017

Wonderfully detailed in-depth tour of Audio Note UK

Very long, wonderfully detailed in-depth tour of Audio Note UK by Rafe Arnott on Part Time Audiophile.

Let’s see. What can I say? Thanks, Rafe, for giving us such a wealth of photos.

But I am now trepedatious about riding in a car with Peter driving. Neli says I can sit in the back seat??? What, with my eyes closed? :-))) [Yeah, I do realize it is probably safer with Peter driving at barely sublight velocity than with me driving at normal speeds on roads where everyone drives On The Wrong Side]

It’s great to see AN continuing to grow rapidly year over year.  All those people working making yummy new gear.

I think this was the first time I have seen the part of the factory in Austria which builds the speakers. It is counter-intuitive that such classic-looking speakers can sound so good when setup correctly [most speakers these days look like rocket ships from 1950 scifi flicks. Just checkout the Hong Kong show happening now. Don’t get me wrong, I LIKE the look of rocket ship speakers 🙂 – it is just one comes to expect speakers to look like that and we forget the purpose of the things is to, you know, sound good]

Interesting that the short [very well done] video is hosted on Part Time Audiophile’s own site, not YouTube. Maybe we should do that as well.

For now, I think I’ll just go through the pictures again.

Audio Note listening room – August 2017

Audio Note UK “AN-E SEC Signature” loudspeakers, “Kegon” amplifiers, “Soro Phono SE” integrated, “M2 Line Balanced” preamplifier, EMM Labs “XDS1”, Rix Rax equipment rack

This is a small room. 10 feet 9 inches by 9 feet 10 inches. It actually works really well, but there is only room for two chairs 🙂

JFYI it is our belief that the little cat figurine does not affect the sound negatively… or positively, either 😉

Main listening room – August 2017

Acapella Audio Arts “High Cellini” loudspeakers, Audio Note UK “DAC 5 Signature” and “CDT-5” transport, Acapella “LaMusika” integrated on a HRS “SXR” rack.

This is the same system we showed at CAS 2017 last week.

The ‘flowers’ are blossoms off our tree that got accidentally pruned along with a bunch of dead branches. :-/


Show Report – California Audio Show 2017

Show Report – California Audio Show 2017

This was one of the best shows we have ever exhibited at and the energy compares favorably to those wonderful first few years at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver.

I was seriously excited about this show, unlike any show since our first shows over 10 years ago. So much so that I hardly slept the night before the first day the show opened [sleeping man walking, I was]. This has been a show that we had talked about exhibiting at since its inception, me being more gung-ho and Neli being more practical. We were planning on moving here [said I], but hadn’t moved yet [said she].

But now we are here and this, our first CAS show, was a blast.



We were a little worried the first morning. We get there on time [a miracle. Seriously, for us, a miracle] and the parking lot is not at all full. We find our way in, look down our hallway… empty. Weird.

We get into our exhibit room, turn off the air conditioning [brrrrr… when we weren’t careful, it got a wee bit frigid in there, especially overnight]. A half hour goes by, only one or two people came in.  Uh oh.

We’ve been to shows when very few people showed up – Vacuum Tube Valley in L.A. next door to old Stereophile Show comes to mind. Send positive vibes to Constantine the show organizer.

Then more people show up. And soon we had a full room.

Music was playing. People were making requests. We were playing their CDs.

The party had just started a little slow.

The parking lot was huge and there is also public transportation.

People were spending more time in rooms listening than milling about in the hallways [unlike CES, for a prime example, which has many people who drive-by listen].



This noise from the airport was minimal – much less than the Alexis Park and even less than LA Audio show earlier this year.

We thought that there were fewer women and young people here than expected on the first two days, but the last day made up for it – so, overall, this was a well-balanced show people-wise [as these shows go].

The array of gear was also nicely diverse, from the $295K Von Schweikert “ULTRA 11” speakers to our $55K Acapella Audio Arts “Cellini High” speakers to the $10K-ish Zu Audio Druid VI or $8K Audio Note AN/E SPe HE speakers and many less expensive.



So many old friends, many, many new friends, several members of the SFAS [San Francisco Audio Society], several Dagogo reporters, The Audio Beatnik[s] :-), RGA [Richard Austin] in from Hong Kong… Wow.

As much as we love them [:-/] it was great not to have a ton of press here. Exhibitors tend to pander to them, ignoring audiophiles, and the vibe gets weird [“this is new”. “no. wait. that is new”. Oops, sorry, nothing new here this year, I guess we must suck].

We discovered more music this show than at any other show in memory.

Eiji Oue, Minnesota Orchestra, “Pictures at an Exhibition” (thanks Dave!)

Valerie Joyce, Michael Wolff “For Heavens Sake” (thanks Valerie :-))

Jaeger & Reid “Bringing You Harmony” (thanks Judi & Bob :-))

Daria “Strawberry Fields Forever” (thanks Joe!)

Blue Coast Collection and Blue Coast Collection II (wonderful, thanks Cookie!)

CAS 2017 Show Demo (thanks Mark!)

The walls of the rooms at the Hilton Oakland Airport, where the show was held, are a little more solid than average, though the ceilings a little lower than I prefer [our boardroom ceiling was about 8 feet]. This made for better than average sound for a show. We expect even better sound next year – the exhibitors learned a lot this year about how to set up our systems to best effect in our rooms over the 3 days of the show [and we can’t wait to try out our ideas! But, you know, I guess we’ll have to :-/].

We were very happy with our room sound – it was our favorite at the show by an extremely wide margin [I always get to hear the sound of all the exhibits but this show even Neli got out to hear several of the large rooms]. This is the sound we are going for, though like everyone else, if we had more setup time we could have made it sound even better 🙂

Our good friends at True Sound had a nicely setup Audio Note room on the second floor. It was especially involving when they played the reel-to-reel tape deck 🙂 [both they and the Von Schweikert room took the trouble to bring superior-sounding tape-decks to the show].

All the exhibitors learned a lot about the rooms this year, and next year things will sound significantly better – and, because they sounded pretty good this year, that portends great things for the CAS 2018 🙂



Dagogo CAS 2017 Show Reports (the local show sponsor)

The Audio Beatnik CAS 2017 Show Report (great report from one or our local audio mags)

Facebook (Jeremy Robison Kipnis) CAS 2017 Show Photos (he does things with a smartphone that I didn’t know could be done. Good to know. Good… to… know…)

Cheers: CAS 2017 Show Report (more photos)

Audio Federation (this blog): CAS 2017 Show Report (the category for CAS 2017)

More links will be added as we discover them.

So, that’s about it for this show. Until next time… keep the show going no matter where you live.



Audio Federation, Acapella Audio Arts, Audio Note UK, Harmonic Resolution Systems

Spatial Audio Lab, Vinnie Rossi, Audirvana

Von Schweikert, VAC, Masterbuilt, ASC

Rogers High Fidelity, Oppo Digital (, Burwell & Sons)

Booths and Lecture Hall

LX Speaker Factory, Wyred 4 Sound, Minidsp, Raspberry Pi

Volti Audio, BorderPatrol, Triode Wires Lab

Burwell & Sons

Eficion, Line Magnetic, Exemplar Audio, Plinius 

Fritz speakers, Channel D, Parasound, WyWires 

Pass Laboratories, Vienna Acoustics

Audio Note UK, True Sound, Technics

Tannoy, Prima Luna, Wireworld, SIM2, NAS

Napa Acoustic 

Genesis, Syncopation, Profundo

Zu Audio, Pass Labs

Margules Group

PureAudioProjects, Exogel, VeraStarr Cables

Sound Lab, Pass Labs, Pranawire, Spiral Groove, Quadraspire

Martin Logan, Pass, MiT, Aurender