First I’d like to thank Dave, Nancy, Tim, Stephanie and all the others who put in so much effort to make this thing work. It just gets better every year and I sure hope it continues to grow and flourish. I know there is always random talk of moving the Fest but I really think a central location like MI is perfect and if it means this management group continues here, we could not do better. Every year I consider (for a second or two) bringing along some of my stuff or even the whole damn system and setting up a room but the border and cube-van requirements always scare me off, maybe someday. This year I pretty much had to compromise with the family to attend and ended up bringing along Mabeth and our newborn daughter so had a tough time spending a lot of time in the rooms and certainly missed a few or had limited listening time. I did manage to sneak out for some late night listening (or is 3am early morning?) Friday and Saturday so did get my fill. Based on limited listening then, here are some random thoughts. Craig’s VRD p-p amps where again sounding nice in his rooms and Grumpy/Ray’s. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Lascalas sound as good as they do in Craig’s system and the amount of bass these amps do with Grump’s AudioNotes was a surprise. Actually, when Ray put on some hip-hop like stuff that seemed to be specially mixed to rattle fenders on lowered Hondas, I thought the bass was way too much – not what you would expect from an 8” woofer and tubes. Also interesting in Grump’s room was a very sweet sounding un-suspended Sota TT and a little phono-stage comparison we did with one of Gilbert’s SS pieces and the Blueberry phono section of Dave’s pre-amp. Ray had to install the cartridge on the Sota and only got as far as putting the box on the platter Friday night (at 3am) but got it dead-on on his first attempt Saturday. Either he’s a set-up genius or luckier than I was in winning the AN DAC. The AudioNote speakers seem to be something special really and I’m amazed at how adaptable and flexible they are. I listened to them at home after building the cabinets on 2A3 & 300B SET’s and have now heard them with higher power push-pull tubes and good SS. The 2A3 was not enough but they sounded great with everything else. I have my favorite (and it used tubes) but the surprise for me was how good they sounded with the Blue Circle amp. The Almarro room sounded good and I have to think these are some of the best bang-for-the-buck tube amps available. I especially like the 6C33 based amp and would love to hear it on Grump’s AN’s. If I was going to build a 6C33 amp I would change my plans and just buy this one. I really liked the Maggies in the Audio Dimensions room powered by big Audio Research tube amps – expensive for sure but this is by far the best I have ever heard these speakers. I loved Tubino’s system featuring the big Tannoy co-axes driven by DeHavilland 845 amps. Maybe it’s the high-eff co-ax/SET thing which had a somewhat similar presentation to what I have at home but this was one of my favorite rooms. This system again confirmed to me that this type of speaker makes the right compromises to allow you to enjoy lower power tubes in a regular sized listening room (seated fairly near-field) without having to give up dynamics and imaging. It was a pleasure walking into Ski’s room and listening the The Clash’s London Calling on his Altecs (416 woofers, 811 horns) powered by an ST-70. I would have stayed longer in there but damn, there was a funky smell at that end of the hall! Mark’s home brew speakers using a JBL woofer and Klipsch tractrix horn mated to his beautifully built DIY push-pull amp sounded fantastic and Kegger’s $1.00 ‘sorta’ full rangers where a shocker – limited on the top and bottom but smooth and musical. I didn’t spent too much time in the rooms using SS but really liked Jimbecky’s Ohms powered by a Mac and Punker’s Ohms with the Blue Circle pieces. Punker’s system really stood out for me when playing vinyl and it seems the Blue Circle stuff is consistently good in just about any system I’ve heard it in - my favorite SS manufacturer? It was nice to see SACD players being used in many rooms and on reflecting back after the fact, there does seem to be a bit of a parallel with them (and vinyl) being used in the rooms I enjoyed most. Dead and dying format maybe, but it’s nice to hope it’ll be around even as a ‘niche’ like vinyl - hell, maybe it’ll thrive as a ‘niche’ like the LP obviously has. I know I missed a bunch here and the family thing really limited my time in the rooms but I sure had a great time and enjoyed meeting so many old and new friends. Can’t wait till next year!