AXPONA 2014

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 29, 2014 0 comments
I've always admired the late Randy Bankert's Sonist Audio 3 loudspeakers. But now that the entire line, including the new Sonist Recital 2 bookshelf loudspeakers ($1895/pair), which are based on the Recital 3 have been upgraded with Snake River Audio internal wiring, their sound is exceptional for the price. The pairing with de Havilland's Mercury preamp and 50A monoblocks was a winner. I've always thought of the sound of Kara Chaffee's superb electronics as somewhat dark, but this presentation was quite illumined, colorful, and satisfying.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 29, 2014 1 comments
One of Musical Surroundings and Quintessence Audio's four rooms paired Aesthetix electronics, including the new Aesthetix Romulus Signature DAC and CD player ($10,000) with Focal Stella Utopia Em loudspeakers ($97,500/pair), HRS (Harmonic Resolution Systems) SXR Signature rack and amp stands, and Kubala-Sosna Elation cables. On a CD of the great pianist Murray Perahia playing Handel, the system's beautiful tonality and very warm, loveliest of midranges distinguished the presentation.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 28, 2014 4 comments
"We're headed into a new era where you can have music delivered your own way," AIX's Mark Waldrep told the assembled throng.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: May 01, 2014 0 comments
I don't want to wax biblical here, but in Stereophile's world of show reports, the last shall be first, and the first, last. Thus we begin our coverage of the final day with the last system I auditioned at AXPONA 2014. Welcome to Goerner Communications' room on the Westin O'Hare's third floor.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: May 01, 2014 3 comments
From whatever vantage point you choose, AXPONA (Audio Expo North America) 2014 in Chicago's Westin O'Hare was a major success. Attendance on opening day, Friday, April 25, was quite robust, and the feeling in the hallway and in rooms was extremely positive. Saturday was mobbed, with standees in many rooms during peak hours, and hallways buzzing.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 27, 2014 0 comments
Somehow I managed to snap a single shot of the large, lobby level show directory signage before another throng of eager attendees covered up my view. On Saturday April 26, when AXPONA was mobbed until the last hour of the show, it would have been impossible to take this photo.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 21, 2014 1 comments
The 2014 AXPONA (Audio Expo North America), scheduled for April 25–27 in Chicago's completely refurbished Westin O'Hare, promises to the biggest and most comprehensive US consumer audio show east of Denver. How about, for starters, at least 56 known product introductions, with many more intentionally unannounced; 75 active exhibits in "standard" hotel rooms, whose dimensions are a far-from-standard 14.9'x19' with 8.5' high ceilings; 35 significantly larger meeting rooms and suites, spread over numerous floors, often filled with more than one active system per room; an Ear Gear Expo with exhibits from 23 headphone and headphone amp/accessory manufacturers; and a lobby level marketplace that promises 70 displays from 30 different vendors?
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 26, 2014 1 comments
Don't be deceived by this photo. Despite the short registration line on Friday morning, the line-up continued without let-up through most of the day. Virtually every room I visited on the first day of AXPONA, from the large suites on the basement and lobby levels to the standard and large hotel rooms on the twelfth floor, was filled with people. Registration figures are not yet available, but the JD Events folks are certain that attendance at the first day of the show has well outstripped last year's sterling attendance figures.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: May 01, 2014 3 comments
Is this the third consecutive show where the sound of Balanced Audio Technology (BAT) electronics has won me over? BAT doesn't need to either sugar-coat or tone down its tube sound, because its openness, clarity, and musical truth are so spot-on. IMHO, of course. The sound was so good that I didn't even bother to take notes on the music I heard.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 29, 2014 3 comments
After spending years pairing their DACs with components from other companies, Benchmark has opted to do it all themselves. The new Benchmark SMS1 loudspeaker ($2450/pair in black), which ships in 6 weeks, is claimed to extend from 44Hz—20kHz, with ±3dB between 50Hz and 12kHz, and a lifted treble in the top octave. These are a variation of the Studio Electric loudspeakers formerly paired at shows with Benchmark DACs, but with better parts including custom-made Clarity caps.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 30, 2014 2 comments
Released in early April, Channel D's Pure Vinyl 4.0 ($299, or $139 for previous users) enables you to easily split tracks via automation. Rob Robinson (above) describes it as "a major upgrade in usability. We've smoothed the rough edges and made it easier to use, while retaining the same sound." (The list of at least 25 improvements takes up a full sheet.) The software also has a built-in crossover time-alignment feature for time alignment of subwoofers, thereby enabling the sounds of main speakers and subs to arrive at your ear at exactly the same time with maximum impact and slam.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: May 01, 2014 0 comments
This compact system, in which Monitor Audio's Gold GX 200 loudspeakers ($4500/pair) and brand new Silver 10 loudspeakers ($2500/pair) mated with the Cyrus Lyric 09 all-in-one class-D system ($6499, due in June or July), sounded very fine through Nordost Red Dawn cabling. Especially when I moved up a bit from the back wall, I noted how controlled and musical the system sounded at the start of the Budapest Festival Orchestra's Channel Classics recording of Mahler Symphony 2, and how good the bass was.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 29, 2014 1 comments
I expected this system to wow, and wow it did. As if to up to ante after presenting the US consumer show debut of Wilson Audio's supremely musical Sasha Series-2 loudspeaker, Paragon Sight and Sound's next room paired Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems' new Momentum integrated amplifier ($45,000) and, on other occasions, D'Agostino's Momentum monoblock amplifiers ($55,000/pair) and Momentum stereo preamplifier ($32,000) with the four-piece dCS Vivaldi stack ($108,496 total), Wilson Audio Alexia loudspeakers ($48,500/pair), a costly amount of Transparent Reference cabling, and HRS equipment stands.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 30, 2014 2 comments
There was some booming in the bass, but the really nice highs and openness, as well as the large and engaging soundstage on a 24/96 version of Jennifer Warnes' "Nightingale" convinced me that Daedalus Audio, ModWright Instruments, and WyWires cabling are doing something very right. Reinforcement came from a very nice and smooth, albeit less than brilliantly illumined Red Book track by Chris Jones.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Apr 27, 2014 2 comments
As I literally flew through the Marketplace, I wanted to say hello to cable manufacturer Greg Hovsepian of DH Labs. As you can see, however, Greg was but one of many vendors occupied with making a sale.

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