AXPONA NYC 2011

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Art Dudley Posted: Jun 26, 2011 1 comments
The show started before the show started: Julia and I were having morning tea in our room on the 7th floor when we heard a familiar and compelling voice: not Amanda McBroom or Jacintha but Lhasa de Sela —a real recording artist! The music turned out to be coming from one of two exhibit rooms sponsored by New Jersey retailer Woodbridge Audio, whose proprietor also had the audacity to play such non-audiophile fare as the Andrews Sisters and Michael Hedges. Think of it! The system in Woodbridge's tonier room had an estimated total value of $125k and included a VPI TNT HRX record player with Koetsu Urushi Black cartridge, Mark Levinson electronics (including the majestic No.53 amplifiers), and a pair of Revel Ultima Salon2 loudspeakers, with MIT cabling, Richard Gray power accessories, and ASC Tube Traps.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jun 26, 2011 0 comments

In Channel D's own room at Axpona, Rob Robinson demmed the latest version of his Pure Vinyl LP ripping program and Pure Music audio file player program for me. One of the new features of Pure Music v1.8 is the ability to play DSD files as well as hi-rez PCM, and to emphasize that fact, I photographed the display of Rob's Playback Designs MPD-3 D/A converter ($6500) to show that it was receiving DSD data via USB2.0.

Despite the small room, the music—David Elias's "Freedom on the Freeway"—sounded excellent, with an analog-like ease to the presentation. The rest of the system comprised Joseph Pulsar speakers ($7000/pair) driven by a Hegel H20 amplifier. Blue Coast and 2L are already offering DSD files for download, and I understand that there are many live concerts available from tapes via bit torrent sites.

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John Atkinson Posted: Jun 26, 2011 0 comments
As with other Shows, the New York Axpona was an opportunity for music-lovers to sock up on audiophile recordings. The Affinia's Hotel's mezzanine floor was packed with vendors, from HDTracks and Chesky on the left in my photograph to M•A on the right. (That's M•A's Todd Garfinkle, whose prowess as a recording engineer has little equal, on the right at the back. The gentleman in the green shirt with his back to the camera is none other than audio writer Steve Guttenberg, who both contributes to Stereophile and has an entertaining audio blog on CNet.
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Art Dudley Posted: Jun 26, 2011 2 comments
Bright red Totem Mani-2 loudspeakers, glimpsed through an open door, drew Julia and I into the Amsterdam Room, where products from D-Box Technologies, Digital Projection, Audio Design Associates, Stewart Filmscreen, and Totem were combined to create an exceptionally impressive 3-D home theater demonstration. Leather lounge chairs from Design NS had been equipped to convey a sense of motion to their users' posteriors—presumably these remain perfectly still during most Merchant Ivory films—so we felt as well as saw as well as heard the action during excerpts from Avatar and The Owls of Ga'Hoole. Julia's face says it all.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jun 26, 2011 0 comments
Like many exhibitors at Axpona, Joseph Audio was playing files from a laptop for their dems. In this case, Jeff Joseph was using Pure Music on his MacBook Pro and feeding a short USB link to Bel Canto's LightLink converter (reviewed by Erick Lichte in the June issue), which in turn fed the audio data via a low-jitter ST optical link to the Bel Canto DAC3.5VB, which also acted as the system preamp. Power amplifiers were a pair of Bel Canto Ref.500 monoblocks and speakers were Joseph's own stand-mounted Pulsars ($7000/pair). The sound of Jeff's rip of Louis Armstrong's "St. James Infirmary," a long-term staple in Joseph dems, was visceral. (Another iPhone photo—forgive the grainy quality, due to the lack of light.)
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John Atkinson Posted: Jun 26, 2011 1 comments
Steinway-Lyngdorf's S-Series loudspeaker is tiny, at just 10.2" H by 7.8" W and 3.1" D. (My apologies for the grainy photo but the battery in my camera gave out and I had to resort to my iPhone 3GS for this shot.)
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Art Dudley Posted: Jun 26, 2011 1 comments
During the half-hour Julia and I spent visiting Channel D Software's Rob Robinson, the room never ceased to be mobbed with attendees. That was partly due to the good sound (provided by Joseph Audio Pulsar speakers, Hegel H20 amp, Artemis record player with Zu cartridge, and Audio Research DAC8—plus, of course, a Synology NAS and a brace of Apple computer gear, driven by Channel D software), and partly to the fact that the exhibit was like a free seminar on both the basics and the minutiae of computer audio, with Robinson as the generous instructor. Channel D's Pure Music 1.8 ($129) is now available, and I hope to try it soon after returning home.
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Art Dudley Posted: Jun 25, 2011 0 comments
Cardas Audio used Axpona NY to introduce their new Clear cable line, with loudspeaker cables ranging in price from $1200 to $6000 for an 8' pair, and interconnects ranging from $695 to $1200 for a 1m pair. The cables at the top of that range—called Clear Beyond—were put to good use in a system comprising the Unison Research CDE CD player ($4000) and S6 integrated amplifier ($5000). The latter, which uses parallel single-ended EL-34s, seemed to be a lot of amp for the money—and sounded fine driving a pair of Opera Grand Callas loudspeakers ($10,000/pair).
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Art Dudley Posted: Jun 25, 2011 0 comments
Axpona New York, held at Manhattan's Affinia Hotel opposite Madison Square Garden June 24–25, was my daughter Julia's first audio Show. She and I followed the sound of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young singing "Déjà Vu"—more real music!—to the Empire Room, where Wharfedale Airedale loudspeakers were being driven by monoblock amps from a new company called Audio Power Labs. Each 833TNT amplifier uses a pair of 833 transmitter tubes, operated in push-pull and driven by a 6550 pentode. Inter-stage transformers take the place of coupling capacitors, and replacement tubes are said to be plentiful—and reasonably cheap, at about $175 each. The 833TNT itself, which delivers 200W, costs a bit more than that, though: approximately $175,000/pair.
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Art Dudley Posted: Jun 25, 2011 1 comments
The DP-77 D/A converter ($4995) from the English firm AMR that had impressed JA at the Atlanta Axpona in April made its New York debut at the Show, playing music files streamed from a German Purist NAS ($3000), with iPad-based controller software from the same firm. Amps were solid-state monoblocks from Absoluta (approximately $14,000/pair), and the loudspeakers were a fascinating design called the Ray ($6000/pair) from the Danish firm Davone, which are shown on the photo. The Ray is a two-way reflex-loaded speaker using coaxial driver—it sounded amazingly well-balanced and musical in the smallish room. ASI room-tuning accessories were used throughout.

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