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Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 19, 2023  |  0 comments
Last summer, when I went shopping for a pair of standmount speakers for a bedroom, I settled on Monitor Audio Bronze 100s. They ticked the boxes: musical to a T, natural-sounding, not too incisive or fatiguing, and a pretty damn good value at around $700/pair. I dug 'em, and still do.

At AXPONA, the British company demonstrated what happened when it gave its designers license to develop a top-of-the-line floorstander. Fifty years of both incremental improvements and great leaps forward have culminated in the $13,900/pair Monitor Audio 200 3G.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 19, 2023  |  1 comments
In the Ocean Audio room in which Finley Audio, Les Davis Audio, Small Green Computer, Serhan Swift loudspeakers, and Boulder Audio joined forces, my attention was first drawn to Serhan Swift of Sydney, Australia. In 2013, after nearly four decades of producing loudspeakers, Brad Serhan teamed up with Morris Swift of Oneaudio. As a follow-up to their active DSP Active loudspeaker, the men have created the mu2 Mk II passive loudspeaker ($7950/pair).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 19, 2023  |  12 comments
If you wanted to hear an admirably smooth, solid, all-of-one-piece system with a huge soundstage and extremely fast and firm bass, Ed DeVito's Audio-Ultra exhibit was one of the best to visit. It was also the only room where you could hear CH Precision gear with the latest upgrades and the diminutive Magico A1 standmount loudspeakers ($9400/pair in silver finish).
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 19, 2023  |  11 comments
While audiophiles kvetch over the future of this thing we love, rest assured, young audiophiles are growing in number, evidenced by AXPONA halls streaming with under-30 types. Upscale Audio's Kevin Deal, one of the savviest of distributors, introduced me to his young Analog Manager, Kat Ourlian, who discussed specs and brought two terrific-sounding LPs to play on a tricked-out PrimaLuna/Tannoy system.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 19, 2023  |  6 comments
With the assumption of audiophile Cliff Duffey (above) as President of AXISS Audio USA (aka AXISS Distribution Inc.), and the addition of T.J. Goldsby as Vice President of Sales and Dealer relations, the company has added more lines than can comfortably fit into a headline.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 19, 2023  |  1 comments
Børresen has sprung a welcome surprise on audiophiles. Long known for its expensive loudspeakers, Michael Børresen's Danish speaker company has launched the X3 loudspeaker ($11,000/pair). Exhibited by Next Level HiFi, which sells products from Audio Group Denmark, the speaker excelled in a snappy yet pleasing three-dimensional presentation, highlighted by the company's fabled huge soundstage.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 18, 2023  |  1 comments
Industry legend Paul Barton has been designing speakers for more than half a century. He's also quite the speaker himself.

I'd sauntered into the Lenbrook room to check out Barton's new PSB Synchrony T800 floorstanders (PSB is a Lenbrook brand). My visit was serendipitously timed. Not only was the man himself present; he and I, along with the gregarious Joe Corona of Chicago retailer Saturday Audio Exchange, were the only ones left when the doors closed at 6pm. We settled in. Corona provided slices of coffee cake, and Barton supplied wisdom and bon mots.

Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 18, 2023  |  1 comments
On the Renaissance hotel's 16th floor, in the room occupied by PureAudioProject, folks were utterly baffled. Also, occasionally horny.

Apologies. The fact that I'm away from home for four, five days to cover AXPONA means I temporarily don't have my teenage offspring to mortify with dad humor, so now I'm inflicting it on you. PureAudioProject, you see, makes open-baffle speakers. Some have horns. There's a reason I write for Stereophile, not Saturday Night Live.

Ken Micallef  |  Apr 18, 2023  |  3 comments
At AXPONA 2023, Luxman America's Jeff Sigmund and John Pravel brought serious sonic finery from Luxman Japan with the same gracious, enthusiastic, generous manner they've extended for years.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 18, 2023  |  0 comments
I'm an unabashed Audio Note fanboy. You got a problem with that? Audio Note lives deep in not only my sonic soul (an Audio Note M2 Pre was my first serious hi-fi purchase), but those of colleagues Herbert Reichert and Michael Trei, Audio Note distributors back in the 1990s, when tubes were cheap and the only thing Upscale Audio's Kevin Deal sold!

Audio Note returned to AXPONA with nothing to new to spring on the hungry (really) crowds, only the same consistency of sound major domo Peter Qvortrup has offered for decades.

Ken Micallef  |  Apr 18, 2023  |  0 comments
As I think I wrote somewhere, it's one thing to hear equipment at a show, another thing to hear it at home. I meant to imply that, of course, at home is the only way to truly hear a piece, in your reference system.

But at AXPONA, where George Counnas (center) and Carolyn Counnas (right) debuted their new Zesto Audio Eros 500 Select KT-150 equipped, class-A monoblocks, with Zesto Audio's Leto Ultra II preamp, which I reviewed in January 2021, I was flummoxed at the beauty of sound, extravagance of liquidity and detail, and nearly spiritual physicality the system endowed to a variety of music.

Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 17, 2023  |  1 comments
If you're like me and the topic turns to active speakers, you'll probably think of affordable products. Maybe the mighty $649 Vanatoo Transparent One Encore comes to mind, or the sub-$1000 powerhouse that is a pair of SVS Prime Pro wireless speakers. The KEF LS50W is a strong contender even at $2800, and if your budget allows, you might consider Buchardt A5s ($3900/pair).
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 17, 2023  |  1 comments
Two months ago, at the audio expo in Tampa, I stumbled upon a pair of most intriguing French speakers. The $8000/pair Diptyque 107 is a medium-sized planar magnetic whose designers, Gilles Douziech and Eric Poix, make no secret of their love for Magnepan. All the same, the duo has sought to improve on that company's famed panel technology, mostly by addressing a perennial shortcoming of such dipoles: their lack of deep bass.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 16, 2023  |  4 comments
Picture this: the Devialet Phantom, reviewed by Jim Austin here, is suddenly sphere-shaped rather than pill-shaped. Now imagine shrinking it down to the girth of a fat grapefruit (or the size of a Cabasse iO3 speaker)—so, a little under 7" in diameter. The Phantom's push-push configuration remains the same, so you'll see the opposing drivers subjected to violent-looking excursions, tortured by brutal bass notes.

That's the gist of the Mania, a pocket-sized, battery-operated Devialet speaker (well, pocket-sized if you don't mind wearing cargo pants).

Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 16, 2023  |  1 comments
I wasn't necessarily expecting to find Alon Wolf (right) striking dangling bars of aluminum with a small mallet. Had Magico's celebrated designer embarked on a second career as a percussionist? Nah. He was demonstrating to Stereophile Editor Jim Austin (left) and myself that aluminum, which Magico has long used as the ideal material for its enclosures, rings, but can also be very effectively dampened by sandwiching a proprietary elastomer between two layers of it. The first (untreated) bar rang like a bell. The second one had a padded adhesive backing that took away about 80% of the effect. The last bar was the aforementioned sandwich, and yup: dead. No ringing.