My wife, Nancy Burlan, editor and reporter for Mac Edition Radio, asked me: “should we attend the Capital Audiofest this year.?” That was back in July 2022. It seemed like a good question, after all, I was forever late meeting my tough-as-nails editor Frank Doris’ excruciatingly unreasonable deadlines. I mean, what writer can live with “Harris, please send the files before the next Ice Age begins” kind of pressure?
We had such a lovely time at last year’s CAF, that we decided, yes. The previous event was really well-run, with a positive feel and crowds of people just thrilled to be there. This year the show, which took place in November 2022 at the Twinbrook Hilton in Rockville, Maryland, was more crowded, with more rooms, and an even more positive vibe.
It was a celebratory mood, which was personified by the folks enjoying the VPI Casino Night party, one of a number of events at the show. Featuring food, drink, and even a magician, a great time was had by all. One of the best parts of the party was that the room was full of other vendors, so it was both an industry and fan event. We enjoyed listening to the soothing accents of Roy Hall (Music Hall) and Boris Meltsner (Amped, Acoustique Quality), as well as a discussion of the merits of Russian vodka vs single malt Scotch. To be sure, we also touched upon the proper use of Class-D for amplifier circuits. Best of all, no one used the word “bespoke,” which I’m hoping the United Nations will ban in the near future.
One aspect of the audiophile world is how often it’s a family venture. Take Geshelli Labs, for example. When I inquired about the origin of the Geshelli name, it was because I was aware that it wasn’t actually Geno and Sherri’s last names. But, it is kind of. Follow me here.
Sherri explained, “Geno’s dad is Joe Bisceglia, I’m Sherri Bisceglia and yes, I’m Geno’s wife. We typically use Geshelli as our last name for business because it’s easier to pronounce. Outside of publications, most people say Geno Geshelli, Sherri Geshelli, etc. Joe is the woodworker. He makes all of our wood cases. I do the powder coating for the aluminum, [and handle] customer service and shipping. Our daughter Rachel runs our pick and place machines and does the surface-mount soldering; our son Jake does the through-hole soldering and laser cutting. Geno designs, helps out on all the above, and does all the QC before the product goes out the door.”
If that’s not an audio love story, I don’t know what is. Of course, I could also see this an excuse to leave a “Gone Fishing – In Alaska” note on the kitchen table once in a while.
As for the name Geshelli, Sherri noted, “Geshelli is ‘GE..’ Geno.. ‘She..’ Sherri and the ‘lli’ is a piece of our last name. Trying to come up with something not copyrighted is terribly hard. For months we tried. We were in the car and Geno said, “let’s just make sounds, I’ll do the front part, you the back.” After a couple of tries, he yelled (this is phonetically), “Ja,” I yelled, “Shell” and he said, “Elia.” We dropped the “A” at the end and there we go. “Geshelli”!
The creation of the Geshelli Labs name would have made George Eastman proud, as he too struggled to find a name that was pronounceable in many languages, had no meaning, and had never been used in commerce or tied to product, and thus “Kodak” was born.
In another room, Ofra and Eli Gershman of another family business, Gershman Acoustics, held court, with the welcoming spirit they are known for, in addition to delivering first-rate sonics. Another much-loved room was Merrill Audio, with the happy couple of Merrill Wettasinghe and Rose Cermele on hand. So, family endeavors, or maybe madness as some family members might call it, isn’t in short supply in the audio world. It’s also why certain components sound the way they do, as the ability for a small family-owned venture to carry on specific traditions and sonic qualities is much easier than for some huge corporate giants, to which the audio division is only yet another line item on the ledger sheet.
What Nancy and I enjoyed most were the many different types of audio gear on display. From price-is-no-object to low-cost, high-performance audio, and vintage audio from the 1970s and 1980s, it was all there. What pained us is that we missed a few rooms, as there was so much to listen to and experience. In Part Two of this article, I’ll go into more detail, but for now, here are some photos to of the people behind the gear.
Lab-coated Eric Watson with a garage sale record provided by Mac Edition Radio’s Nancy Burlan, which he’d just cleaned and restored using the Kirmuss Audio Record Groove Restoration System. When it comes to showmanship, few can match Charles Kirmuss, or Watson’s hat for that matter.
David Giovannoni holding copies of the ARSC Journal. Curious what the ARSC is? It’s from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections, a “semi-annual, peer-reviewed publication that serves to document the history of sound recording and includes original articles on many aspects of research and preservation: biography; cataloging; copyright law; current research; discography; technical aspects of sound restoration, etc.” Find out more at https://www.arsc-audio.org/journal.html.
The Alta Audio and Infigo Audio room featured the Alta Audio Titanium Hestia II loudspeakers, Infigo Audio Method 3 monoblock amps, and the Infigo Audio Method 4 DAC. To the left of the DAC is the Resonesssence Labs Fluvius streamer. It was all connected together with Infigo Audio cabling. It all sounded divine, with a wonderful musical presence, and an ease that belied the technology on display.
John Vernon and Bill Godwin of Fyssion Audio Company.
The Reed Muse 3C turntable is a work of art, and attracts photographers like bees to honey.
If there is company who knows how to party, it’s VPI. They threw a Casino Night shindig that was great fun. Here a group of city slickers who came to play: Paul Schkeeper (VPI), Allison Santiago, Carla Delgado (VPI), Eugene Delgado, and Thomas Artale from VPI.
VPI’s Casino Night offered magic and illusions from the card-savvy Bastian Magic, who kept us entertained all night.
Michael Van Voorhis (Finley Audio), Mat Weisfeld (VPI), and two enthusiastic attendees at VPI’s Casino Night.
Move over Dr. Phil, Dr. Vinyl (Mariem Cardenas) is in the house! Spinning tunes and smiling broadly, it was all positive energy when the Doctor was in the room.
It’s rare that a set of headphones makes you do a double-take, but the new SR-1b true ribbon headphones brought by Danny R. McKinney of RAAL-Requisite certainly did.
Jerry Fan of iSonic volunteered to wash our stack of 10 seriously dirty albums – all at once. His contention was the idea that you could only clean a couple at a time was a myth, and our albums were certainly cleaned up.
The author’s wife, Nancy Burlan, started laughing while reading the Capital Audio Fest show guide, and revealed why. Unbeknownst to me, my photo was included on the Haniwa Audio page. “Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”
A listener gets up close and personal with Andrew Jones’ new MoFi Electronics SourcePoint 10 loudspeakers in the Mobile Fidelity room.
Some rooms just have a fun feeling the moment you walk in. Geshelli Labs made sure of it! Here Geno Bisceglia holds their upcoming ZOOFA Integrated Amplifier. Known for their made in USA line of distinctively-styled headphone amplifiers and DACs, you could pack half a dozen of their cult-favorite Archel 2.5X, ERISH2, or JNOG2s into one ZOOFA. Can’t wait to see the final production versions; it looks like a steampunk doozy!
Header image: Audiophile land is awash in gorgeously-designed and executed products. This BAT (Balanced Audio Technology) VK-80i integrated amplifier which powered Andrew Jones’ new MoFi Electronics SourcePoint 10 loudspeakers was one such example. There’s a special place in Shangri-La for lovely glowing 6C33C-B triode and 6SN7 tubes. All photos courtesy of Harris Fogel, except photo of Harris Fogel courtesy of Nancy Burlan.