AXPONA 2017

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 27, 2017 22 comments
See the smiling woman in this photo? That's Liz Miller, Conference & Programming Director for AXPONA…
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 27, 2017 6 comments
The most astounding and baffling system I encountered at AXPONA—I'm not sure which of those descriptors should come first—was in the Raidho/Aavik room, which used Ansuz cabling to join Danish-made Raidho Acoustics D-1.1 Black speakers ($23,000/pair) with sister-company Aavik Acoustics' C-300 control amplifier (preamp) with two phono stages ($42,000) and brand new M-300 300W class-A mono power amplifier ($48,000). At first, I was completely wowed by the sound…
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 27, 2017 3 comments
The fabled Nelson Pass, whose 160 lb XA 200.8 class-A monoblocks are an essential part of my reference system, has just gone small with the first appearance of the Pass Labs XA25 class-A stereo amplifier ($4900). With a single pair of 700W devices per side, the single-ended amp delivers 25Wpc into 8 ohms and 50Wpc into 4 ohms, and is stable down to 0.5 ohm.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 27, 2017 18 comments
Never have I had to work so hard to convince someone that a product that first surfaced at CES 2017, just started shipping, and was just awarded MQA certification belonged in a new-product show report. Finally, after several minutes of what was beginning to look like a Socratic dialogue, Michael McCormick, President of Minneapolis-based Bel Canto Design, acknowledged that the single-box Bel Canto Black Box ACI 600 ($25,000) was indeed deserving of coverage by the publication that awarded the three-box Bel Canto Black system "Best Amplification Product of 2015."
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Jana Dagdagan Posted: Apr 27, 2017 21 comments
I love tubes and horns. So naturally, when Jason and I were dividing up rooms, I leapt at the opportunity to cover Destination Audio, a company rumored to execute tubes and horns well, even in small hotel rooms…
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 26, 2017 4 comments
If you want to know why Stereophile's John Atkinson, Jana Dagdagan, and Herb Reichert journeyed to Philadelphia earlier this year to conduct two video interviews with Doug White of The Voice That Is, you only had to hear his set-up at AXPONA to understand that their trip was in pursuit of excellence. If what they heard in Philly was anything like the sound Doug managed to produce in a modest-sized hotel room, they must have left elated.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 26, 2017 2 comments
While ubiquity is not necessarily synonymous with high quality, the fact that Aurender's music servers/streamers appeared in at least 12 exhibit rooms at AXPONA 2017 certainly indicates that they're doing something right. In fact, in the third-floor room in which Aurender partnered with GamuT and Grand Prix Audio, their A10 caching music server and player with analog outputs ($5500) was the crucial source of excellent sound.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 26, 2017 2 comments
My second-day new-product coverage began with a visit to the Playback Designs room, manned by the company's president and designer, DSD champion Andreas Koch. There, I found two new Playback Designs products, the MPD-8 DAC ($22,000) and MPT-8 Digital Music Transport (target price $14,000-$20,000). Both are due out at year's end…
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 25, 2017 7 comments
GamuT's designer and CEO, Benno Baun Meldgaard, was on hand in the first room I entered on Floor 4 to introduce the new optional R2R tape playback board ($1990) for the GamuT D3i dual-mono preamp ($8490). Whether the presence of a number of new and old tape decks at AXPONA—the one in this room was a rebuilt Studer—signals a rekindled interest in tape amongst anyone other than confirmed audiophiles is unclear. But what was clear is that the piano on Ben Webster's Gentle Ben sounded beautiful and mellow. The horn, in turn, was appropriately bright, and the presentation distinguished by a nice sense of depth.
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Jana Dagdagan Posted: Apr 25, 2017 5 comments
Anything that involves DIY or contains the word "kit" is of automatic interest to me, nearly to a fault. It began with homemade stuffed animals (read: ugly felt objects) and miniature inedible pastries (God knows why), which later evolved into headphone mods…and now, my current learning project: a Pete Millett Butte DIY headphone amp, recommended by Sir Tyll Hertsens.
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Jana Dagdagan Posted: Apr 23, 2017 2 comments
The first of two Auralic-sponsored systems I encountered featured an Auralic Polaris wireless streaming amplifier ($3800), Ryan R630 speakers ($5000/pair), and AudioQuest cables—the idea being to present a minimalist, all-in-one, hassle-free setup that still offers high value and high performance…
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 23, 2017 13 comments
Kyomi Audio's was the first room I'd entered where I was so taken by the sound that all I wanted to do was sit and listen, and then listen some more. And it wasn't just the fabled Jadis midrange that had me in its grip; the bass was also quite good, and the highs divine…
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Jana Dagdagan Posted: Apr 22, 2017 17 comments
A couple of months ago, I listened to a prototype of the Sonoma Acoustics electrostatic Model One Headphone System ($5000) at CanJam NYC, so I was excited for the opportunity to have some more one-on-one time with a production model of the system at AXPONA.
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Jana Dagdagan Posted: Apr 22, 2017 11 comments
AXPONA is the show that breaks barriers and defies stereotypes.

The audiophile community is filled with kind, generous people who are fiercely passionate about good music and good sound. But it is no secret that there are a small number of audiophiles on the dark-side (and not of the moon) whose sole purpose in life is to sour it up for the rest of us. They are foul beings of the dark underground hi-fi network that globally infiltrates hi-fi shows, dealers, regional clubs, and even the occasional Can-Jam. I won't even begin to tell you about my findings on their black-ops missions with rogue assassins or just how many government conspiracies they're responsible for. . .

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 22, 2017 14 comments
The doors of the 2017 AXPONA—taking place this weekend at the Westin O'Hare in Rosemont, close to Chicago's O'Hare airport—had opened but 15 minutes when yours truly (far left) joined (L–R) Steve Guttenberg (The Audiophiliac blog for CNET.com/ Stereophile), panel moderator Chris Martens (Hi-Fi+), Conor Cawley (Tech.co), Steve Rochlin (Enjoythemusic.com), and an audience of at least 50–60 people to discuss "What does 2017 mean for audio?" I didn't know what to expect, or what to discuss besides the resurgence of vinyl and the promise of better sound through MQA. But thanks to excellent questions from Chris and attendees, and some truly stimulating contributions from my fellow panel members, I think some major ground was covered.

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