Talk about an eye (and ear) catcher. Dominating the Wyndham’s Rope roomall the conference rooms have cute nautical namesand set up by Bill Gibson of Jacksonville-based House of Stereo, loomed Audience's ClairAudient LSA 16+16 line source loudspeaker ($54,000/pair). A one-way bi-pole, it uses an identical array of 16 Audience A3-S 3" drivers in the front and back, and boasts an impressive 99dB sensitivity. With its line-source array, it should image well anywhere in the room, and can be driven to a continuous and deafening 129dB.
Axpona, the Audio Expo of North America, is geared up for its premiere next Friday in Jacksonville, Florida. The new Show runs March 57 at the 350-room Wyndham Riverwalk Hotel, which overlooks the St. Johns River and is just 15 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean. Sponsored by Stereophile, which will blog live from the show, Axpona is already looking like a winner. Impressive figures for advance Internet registration (discounted through March 1) indicate that Axpona might meet or even surpass attendance at last year's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, in Denver.
As John Atkinson and I entered the room at THE Show in which darTZeel electronics partnered Evolution Acoustics loudspeakers, I was immediately struck by the fullness of the midrange. It was as though the system was opening its heart and welcoming us in. That's how warm and nurturing the sound was.
Stereophile editor John Atkinson served as the opening act for the Grand Giveaway on the final day of THE Show 2010. In his short talk, John reflected on the losses of the past year. He first honored two of his departed mentors, John Crabbe and J. Gordon Holt, both of whom were central to the development of high-end audio. He also honored the memory of Al Stiefel, who co-founded the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest with his wife, Marjorie Baumert.
The vendor display at THE Show was up and going strong throughout the four days. Classic Records, who clearly didn't want to attract any attention, joined Acoustic Sounds, Chesky, Elusive Disc, HDtracks.com, MA Recordings, Music Direct, Reference Recordings, themusic.com, Ultra Systems, Truextent, Quality Rare Records, and Parts Express.
The outboarding THE Show, run by the affable Richard Beers, was held for the first time at the Flamingo Hotel on the Strip, two Las Vegas blocks from CES’s “High-Performance” venue, the Venetian. In previous years, THE Show had been held at the St. Tropez Resort, then the Alexis Park, but Richard now has a multi-year contract with the Flamingo. I estimated THE Show had representation from a good 110 manufacturers. One of the big draws was actually outside the Flamingo's back door, where Panasonic was demming HD-3D TV in a huge trailer. It's rumored that some die-hard two-channel audiophiles snuck into the trailer trying to mask the same guilty expressions that they carried to the porno exhibit in the Sands Convention Center.
I always look forward to Peter Ledermann's analog demos, because the sound of his cartridges, electronics, and speakers is consistently delicious. While it certainly was this time around, some surprising booming in the basssomething I do not recall hearing at any previous SoundSmith demoalerted me to the fact that the small rooms at THE Show, situated on the fourth floor of the Flamingo Hotel, were a bitch to control.
Two of my colleagues had waxed so enthusiastic about the Vienna Acoustics The Music loudspeaker ($27,000/pair), showcased in the huge Sumiko suite on the 34th floor, that I had to take a listen for myself. Sources were the Wadia 781 CD player and Project Xtension turntable ($6000) with Sumiko Palisantos Presentation cartridge ($3500), feeding an Aesthetix Calypso linestage, Aesthetix Io phono preamp, and Aesthetix Atlas amplifier. Also heard was a pair of REL G1 subwoofers ($3995 each), all connected by a mix of Transparent Audio and OCOS cabling.
On the fourth floor of THE Show, Tim Ryan of Simpli-Fi was demming the Gradient Helsinki 5.1 loudspeaker ($6500/pair, down from $8000 a year ago). This weird-looking loudspeaker produces anything but weird sound. Designed to avoid reflections from the sidewalls and floor, it has 85dB sensitivity, a nominal 6 ohm impedance, and a frequency range of 200Hz20kHz.