Capital AudioFest Part 1: Headamp and Spirit Torino

My first stop upon arriving at Capital Audio Fest was the Headamp booth, for no other reason than it’s proximity. The show sprawls across several levels of levels, and the headphone vendors were likewise spread across various floors, mingling with stereo rooms and the vinyl marketplace.

Ultimately this is a cozy show that requires very little walking, but CAF is, in a sense, highly egalitarian in that it is all hi-fi. Whether record vendor, headphone seller or speaker dealer, everyone shares space.

I digress, the exciting bit is that the Headamp table had some exceptionally cool new gear.

I was chatting with Peter from Headamp about the STAX DAC/AMP at the table, when a very unusual looking pair of Grados caught my eye. Upon closer inspection I noticed that these were not Grados at all, but Spirit Torino, a brand from Italy I’ve heard of in the past, but which are just now coming to the US with Headamp as the distributor. These are totally original headphones, with no relationship outside of similar appearances to the aforementioned Brooklyn headphone manufacturer. The pads are leather, with angled drivers and a soft microfiber-type headband material. Despite being a bit on the heavier side, they were quite comfortable simply due to the plush leather ear pads, and even weight distribution.

The four models on display were the Radiante Closed Back, a dual-driver headphone with a push-pull configuration called the Twin Pulse, the vibrant blue Grand which is a single-driver version of the Twin Pulse, and the lightest and smallest of the bunch, the Super Leggera. Pricing is still being finalized, but should range roughly between $1,500 USD and $3,400 USD.

I took a quick listen using the GS-X MkII, and thought the closed back Radiante sounded nice, if a bit rich in the mid-bass for my tastes. The Twin-Pulse had a bit of extra energy in the treble that I felt suited classical and acoustic music more than modern recordings, but bass was still higher in level and the midrange much smoother than I was expecting. The Super Leggera’s seemed to fit with the ‘house sound’ of the rest of the Spirit Torino headphones, very clean and clear mids, with a little extra energy in the treble and a solid mid-bass with gentle rolloff into the sub-bass. I’m hearing a pattern of clean bass, good resolution and a smooth upper-treble sound, with a little bump in the mid-treble. For my tastes, the Radiante was the most interesting, though I could certainly see listeners who skew heavily towards classical and other acoustic music enjoying Spirit Torino’s other headphones quite a bit. They were certainly a joy to look at.

Aside from the Spirit Torino headphones, the table had the usual Headamp assortment of Blue Hawaii and Stax headphones, plus Gilmore Lite and GS-X Mini. The GS-X Mini is finally shipping after numerous production delays, and I’m hoping to get my hands on a review unit soon, as I’ve felt it was worth taking a deeper dive into. More on that soon to come.

Next up, tube amps and a startup company launching not one, but two headphones.

Capitol AudioFest