AXPONA 2019

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John Atkinson  |  Apr 15, 2019  |  1 comments
MoFi Distribution's Jonathan Derda was demming the Wharfedale Linton, 3-way stand-mounted speakers ($1498/pair with stands) using a neat little Quad Artera Solus integrated amplifier ($1999), both products making their US debuts at AXPONA. He played me "Sympathy for the Devil" from the Stones' Beggars Banquet album on a MoFi StudioDeck+U player ($1499 with MoFi UltraTracker MM cartridge) and a Tim de Paravicini-designed MoFi StudioPhono preamp ($299) and this relatively inexpensive system had this old geezer rocking.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 15, 2019  |  1 comments
I was greeted by a familiar sound from shows past when I went into the first MoFi Distribution room on the Renaissance's third floor: a track from the All Star Percussion Ensemble LP that showed off the superb imaging and terrific transient reproduction of the Manger P2 speakers ($18,995/pair; $21,995/pair in the Rio Palisander veneer being demmed). Using a bending-wave transducer to cover everything from the lower midrange upward, supported below 340Hz by an 8" woofer with a carbon-fiber cone, the P2s sounded perhaps a bit too sweet in the top octaves when the percussion cut was followed by Vivaldi's Four Seasons.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 14, 2019  |  0 comments
What a difference a change of venue and cabling makes. In the Nagra room at CES, the sound was silvery, glistening, open, and mesmerizing. Here, with smaller Kharma Elegance S7 loudspeakers ($18,000) and mid-priced copper-based Organic Reference cabling that uses a fiber dielectric, the sound was more toned down but no less compelling
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 14, 2019  |  1 comments
An usually synergistic equipment match ruled the 16th floor room sponsored jointly by Jeff Rowland Design Group, Cardas Audio, Grand Prix Audio, and Vivid Audio. Frankly, I don't think I've ever heard Jeff Rowland's equipment produce such mellow and beautiful sound.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 14, 2019  |  2 comments
The North American debut of the DeBaer Saphir turntable with Reference power supply ($57,000) and DeBaer 9" Onyx tonearm with VTA adjustment ($7000) and equally pricey Top Wing Suzaku (Red Sparrow) cartridge ($16,500) was the big news in a room that paired Rockport Technologies Cygnus loudspeakers ($62,500) and high-end Argento Audio FMR silver cabling with a full line of CH Precision electronics. Focusing solely on vinyl reproduction during my time in the room, we began with one of the most overplayed audiophile classical demo tracks, the Reference Recordings version of Rimsky-Korsakov's unquestionably exciting but ultimately tedious Dance of the Tumblers. At least it was only the first time I'd heard it at AXPONA.
Jim Austin  |  Apr 14, 2019  |  13 comments
If you're after an elegant classic look and a compact form factor, you'd be hard-pressed to do much better than the Luxman NeoClassic series, including the SQ-N150 integrated amplifier ($2795) and the D-N150 CD player ($2595). Both are new, and both are now shipping.
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 14, 2019  |  1 comments
The new (world premiere) Laufer Teknik The Note loudspeakers ($29,950/pair) are very hard to photograph because they are very thin line arrays comprised of 48 little metal drivers each in a 87"-tall, 2.5" deep, 2"-wide aluminum enclosure that's heated—it is warm to the touch. They disappeared into space while I listened. Their soundstage went out through the wall behind them while the $1600 SVS SP-4000 subwoofer pushed tight bass down through the floor to the basement. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor rattled the walls, but I couldn't "see" the speakers. Think: Skinny speakers make giant sound.
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 14, 2019  |  0 comments
I admit up front I've been behind the curve in understanding/appreciating the EgglestonWorks house sound. I'm a slow learner, but whenever I finally get something—I've got it. Today, in the room sponsored by retailer Tenacious Sound (with stores in Syracuse, NY, Augusta, GA, Jacksonville, FL, and, soon, Louisville, KY), during the world premiere of EgglestonWorks' very beautiful Nico Evo standmounted speakers, I realized why so many people love this brand . . .
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 14, 2019  |  10 comments
Ever since Magnepan's Wendell Diller married this beautiful former Soviet spy (aka Agent G), he's been doing everything on the down low, hush-hush, totally covert. (Though I must say he does look good in dark glasses.)

This year at AXPONA he has a secret room, at the end of an obscure hall, with no signage. Agent G watches the door from a distance, and you must knock the secret knock to enter.

John Atkinson  |  Apr 14, 2019  |  0 comments
The first of the two ELAC rooms I visited featured the Navis ARF-51 powered tower speaker ($4000/pair). This design from Andrew Jones, shown in my photo, features a coaxial tweeter/midrange unit and three woofers. Level controls allow the balance to be optimized—up to ±1dB for the coaxial unit, up to ±4dB for the woofers.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 14, 2019  |  0 comments
The smallest model in ELAC's Carina series, the BS243.4 ($1200/pair) represents a departure from Andrew Jones' other designs that feature a concentric tweeter/midrange driver in that it combines a folded ribbon HF unit with a 5.25" aluminum-cone woofer. A reflex design, its port fires downward from the bottom of the enclosure with a slot formed between the base and a plate underneath it. This should make the speaker easier to place in a room where it can't be used well away from the wall behind it.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 14, 2019  |  0 comments
Distributor Axiss Audio's main system, built around Air Tight's ATM-3211 211-tube based monoblocks ($72,000/pair), premiere ATM-2Plus KT-88-based stereo power amplifier ($TBD), ATC-5 tube-based preamplifier with phono equalizer ($9500), ATH-3 step-up transformer ($3000), premiere PC-1 Coda cartridge ($8500), and Opus cartridge ($15,000) took pride of place in an all-analog system whose bottom line was tube warmth for days.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 14, 2019  |  1 comments
No less a personage than Jim Austin suggested that I check out all the new products in the T+A Elektroakustik room, presented by retailer Lone Star Audio. Given that every single T+A product was brand new and pressed into service just 48 hours earlier, and that exhibitors are prohibited from running systems at break-in volumes (if at all) at night, the fact that my brief listening session left such a positive impression makes me eager to hear how everything will sound after it settles in.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 14, 2019  |  0 comments
In the inner sanctum, as it were, of distributor Axiss Audio, I discovered what I believe were three premieres: Soulution's 525 preamp ($26,500) and 311 power amp ($12,000), and Piega 511 speakers ($15,000). In a brief listen, this system's notably drier, straight ahead, and detailed presentation was distinguished by a smooth midrange core . . .
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 14, 2019  |  0 comments
On the top floor of the Schaumburg Hotel, retailer GTT Audio assembled an alluring system from many of its top brands. Including three premieres—Kronos Reference Phono stage ($45,000), Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC ($13,400), and YG Acoustics Vantage loudspeakers ($32,800/pair)—the system displayed a finely graded range of colors within a cool color palette. How this particular assemblage of components will sound once its speakers have been broken-in for far more than 48 hours is something I'm eager to find out.

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