Capital Audio Fest takes place November 3-5, 2017 at the Hilton Hotel at Twinbrook Metro, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville on the US’s East coast. Gary Gill (GG), is the driving force behind the Capital Audiofest and here is interviewed by Hifi Pig’s correspondent in the US, David Blumenstein.  

DB: Capital Audio Fest (CAF) has been going strong for 7 years now in the Washington DC area (Rockville, MD). Why this particular part of the country? What do you see as the draw?

GG:   The DC area has some of the highest per-capita of income in the nation although very few retail stores so figured it would be a fit.

CAF attracts a wide range of music lovers and gear heads including musicians, DIYers, audiophiles, vinyl collectors, two channel listeners, headphone users etc. and also start up manufacturers who find CAF to be more progressive and or open minded than other venues.

DB: CAF’s website mentions big changes for the 2017 show. What brought these changes about with respect to 2016 and years previous?

GG:   We brought in a well known headphone writer, Frank Iacone, who brought in several headphone vendors that we did not have before thus increasing the size of CanMania. In addition we added several more vinyl vendors and had to expand into the atrium. After last years hotel renovation we were able to add four additional large listening rooms and immediately were able to fill them with very significant vendors as well as adding another floor of vendors.

DB: With HiFi trade shows seemingly scheduled back-to-back, right on top of each other, how do you keep CAF fresh?

GG: Alcohol? Joking aside, we are including two local distillers this year to give a little twist to the show but feel that we offer a different vibe than the other shows including several live music groups that will play in the hotel bar and or auditorium. We are slowly growing and yet still have a casual feel that is often mentioned.

DB: Have the demographics for CAF changed over the years? in the last two years? Has the renewed interest in LPs & turntables, the heightened appeal of portable gear had and impact on CAF’s program of events, its schedule? What’s the plan?

GG: That’s a great question.  Sadly the demographics have not changed fast enough and CAF is desperately trying to attract a younger crowd and get them interested. In fact this year CAF is offering free entry to students, and in honor of our armed forces, CAF is offering the same to active military with ID.

As for the gear, CAF maintains a strong analog presence, and while it has remained strong and consistent, it serves as counterpoint to the portable gear and headphone enthusiasts.  From my experience over the years running CAF, I see that most of the younger crowd and first time attendees are open to trying any music source as long as it sounds good and fits their budget.

DB: What advice would you give the first time attendee of CAF? Assuming they are there for 1 day, and it is there first HiFi show ever?

GG: I would say to not limit yourself and to visit every room to hear each flavor of gear and music. Audio and music are like food to me; some are spicy, some are sweet and some are smooth and creamy but you need to try them all so that you have a reference and are able to make an educated decision as to what you like! And do make it a point to visit our distillers at the show and sample their wares. Great way to ease into discussions and pry open the wallet for that particular new acquisition….

There are HiFi Shows across the country. At least one per time zone in the continental United States. Capital Audio Fest has staked its claim on the East Coast, specifically the Mid-Atlantic region, but as past shows bear out their attendees have come from across the country and the world.

This will be my first Capital Audio Fest, and I am curious to compare it to my first AXPONA from earlier this year, in which I conducted a similar interview prior to the show. Making Hifi Shows appealing to a younger demographic appears to be a common thread among show organizers with whom I have been in contact. A good number of them including CAF are putting a greater emphasis on headphone and portable gear, it is my hope that while this brings in “new blood” to the fold, that this not serve as a hard and fast generational divide.

Watch this space for David’s report and pictures after Capital Audio Fest 2017

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