AXPONA 2019

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Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 14, 2019  |  0 comments
Across the hallway, Paragon Sight and Sound set up a more "modest," albeit hardly chump-change, system that included Wilson Alexia 2 speakers ($59,900 with this special red finish), brand-new tubed Rogers KWM 88 Corona integrated amplifier ($14,000) plus PA2 phono stage ($7300), dCS Bartok DAC ($13,500), Clearaudio Ovation turntable with 9" arm and custom finish ($11,000) and Clearaudio Jubilee cartridge, Transparent Reference and Reference XL cabling, a Transparent Reference Power Isolator ($5995), and Harmonic Resolution System RXR 4V with R3x base audio rack ($9330).
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 13, 2019  |  0 comments
Loudspeakers by Danish manufacturer Dynaudio were featured in two rooms; both demonstrated exactly how clearly, and authoritatively precise, their speakers could sound when driven by amplifiers from the German manufacturer Octave. In Dynaudio's big demonstration room I heard the $5000/pair Evoke 50 loudspeakers (the floorstanders in the photo above) being driven by an Octave V80SE integrated amplifier ($10,500), itself fed by a dCS Bartok DAC ($13,500), with all Nordost cables. Every musical selection made me think, very consciously, that this is the kind of sound 90% of the audiophiles on the planet would be proud to show off in their homes: well-voiced, properly punctuated, tight as a drum head, and clean as fresh snow.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 13, 2019  |  3 comments
Given that I had recently gushed over the pairing, at one of Definitive Audio of Seattle's Music Matters events, of Wilson Audio's Alexx speakers ($109,000/pair), Sub Sonic Subwoofers (two, at $37,500/each), and Watch Controllers (two, at $4000/each); D'Agostino Relentless monoblocks ($250,000/pair) and Progression monoblocks ($38,000/pair), plus Momentum phono stage ($28,000); a dCS and Clearaudio front end; and lots and lots of Transparent Reference XL cabling plus an HRS VXR-19213V-80 rack with two M3x base audio stands ($57,960 total), I didn't know if I would hear much of a difference from the AXPONA system put together by Michigan retailer Paragon Sight and Sound. If anything, I expected the level of sonic excellence to drop somewhat, because we were moving from a purpose-built, carefully treated store showroom to a far more challenging convention hall space.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 13, 2019  |  0 comments
It was hard to get a good photo of the Aavik/Børresen/Ansuz system from Next Level HiFi of Wayne, IL, distributed by Gated HiFi, because the premiere Børresen 05 loudspeakers with D-TC Resonance Control ($120,000/pair) were spaced so far apart. But that spacing certainly didn't stop the system from wowing listeners with its extremely strong bass, which on genuinely danceable party music was vibrating in my gut and propelling the 05s' drivers back and forth. The exhibitors in the conference room underneath may have been cringing, but I ate up my opportunity to receive my first sonic massage of the day.
Jim Austin  |  Apr 13, 2019  |  0 comments
In room 504 at the 2019 AXPONA, Minnesota-based Bel Canto partnered with Danish company Audiovector to present a really good-sounding system with a small footprint.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 13, 2019  |  1 comments
"OMG, it's music" is the first thing I wrote down in this room. "So much of what I've missed at this show is here." On master recordist Peter McGrath's live 24/88.2 MQA recording of pianist Benjamin Grosvenor playing the Sarabande from Bach's French Suite No.5, I heard the natural ring of his piano's top notes resounding and decaying in an uncannily realistic depiction of a large, open venue. Given that plans to attend Grosvenor's performance at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night were scrapped due to the musician's strike, this was certainly the next best thing.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 13, 2019  |  0 comments
"What the heck?" Behind the Master Class Area was a giant tan-colored hooded construction, looking like a giant Zamboni machine and labeled "Wynn Audio," with a viewing window at the front.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 13, 2019  |  1 comments
Saturday is always the most crowded and intense day of any show . . .
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 13, 2019  |  0 comments
Canada's Wynn Audio sure mixed it up, to good effect, in a system that included two premieres: Crystal Cable's Future Dream 15th Anniversary limited-edition series, which combines proprietary monocrystal silver and silver-gold alloy in a four-coaxial-conductor construction insulated by Dupont Kapton and Teflon, and the Entreq Silver Tellus Infinity ground box ($2400 each), a passive device that, using a different technology to Nordost's QKore grounding units, claims to remove ground noise from components.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 13, 2019  |  1 comments
Vandersteen lovers, of which there are many, may stare in disbelief at these words, but AXPONA 2019 marks the first time that I truly got why so many people rave about Vandersteen's sound. At least I think I did. Even if I didn't fully get what other people get, I got enough to say, "Oh yeah, uh huh, that Vandersteen midrange is surely something worth writing home about." In fact, based on what I heard, I see why some people would prefer to cart up the whole thing and let it do the speaking.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 13, 2019  |  0 comments
Getting ready for the first day's visitors in AXPONA's Ear Gear Expo, Ayre's vice president and CTO, Ariel Brown, was busy setting up the Colorado's company's QX-5 Twenty D/A processor ($8950, right) Codex D/A headphone amplifier ($1795, hidden in center, and the new QX-8 D/A processor ($4450 with S/PDIF inputs, $4950 with asynchronous USB input, $5450 with USB and Roon Ready Ethernet, left).
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 13, 2019  |  1 comments
In front of the room sponsored by GoldenEar Technology and PrimaLuna USA, I saw tube maven Kevin Deal (above)—the latter company's Primary Dude—displaying the insides of a PrimaLuna amplifier. PR man extraordinaire Anthony Chiarella was sitting next to him saying, "Its built like a Fabergé egg." Which indeed it was.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 13, 2019  |  0 comments
Celebrating 21 years of affordable Music Hall turntables, the irascible Roy Hall (right) was in fine form on AXPONA's opening day, offering show specials.
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 13, 2019  |  5 comments
I'm a little old to be a fan (but I am), and some say singer-songwriter Billie Eilish is a little young (just turned 17) to be as famous and successful as she is. But hey, what's-his-name from the Jackson Five was only five years old when he was that famous . . .
John Atkinson  |  Apr 13, 2019  |  0 comments
On my way to AXPONA's Master Class Theater to catch Rob Robinson's seminar on current-mode phono preamplifiers, I was buttonholed by David Janszen. The Janszen name is synonymous with electrostatic drive-units—the midrange unit in the legendary Wilson WAMM was based on Janszen technology—and at AXPONA David was demonstrating prototype electrostatic headphones, the Lotus.

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