Dynaudio and Octave Triumph over Acoustics at AXPONA

Air-walled exhibition rooms are one of the biggest challenges at audio shows. With no solid surfaces, many exhibitors in the large rooms on the first and second floors of the Schaumburg Convention Center had no choice but to struggle to put their best face forward.

Dynaudio and Octave probably had it better than most because, at the end of a row in Utopia D, presumably two of their walls were solid. Their sound on their biggest system certain was solid and all-of-one piece, yet extremely smooth. It had lots of life and flow, especially if you listened to LP and sat in the first row where the sound was at its tube splendor wettest and the low bass clearest.

As good as Paul Simon sounded on a file of "Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes," Roberta Flack sounded far more liquid on the original LP version of "Will You Still Love me Tomorrow?" Most striking were the sounds of Michael Blicher, Dan Hemmer, and Steve Gadd playing sax, Hammond, and drums on a track from their live LP that was mastered by Matthias Lück of Brinkmann Audio (who was in the room).

Doing the honors from Dynaudio: Confidence 50 loudspeakers ($33,500/pair). From Octave: MRE 220 monoblocks ($22,400/pair, above), Super Black ox power supply upgrade modules ($6000/pair), HP 700 SE preamplifier with RIAA phono and tone control option ($18,500) and IN 2 MC RCA phono input module ($8500).

From Simaudio: Moon 780D v2 streaming DAC ($18,000) and 820S power supply ($8500). From multiple companies: Brinkman Taurus turntable with RöNt III tube power supply ($37,560 as shown), EMT JSD Novel Gold MC cartridge ($7995) and HMD 025 MC mono phono cartridge ($1695), Torus RM 20 power conditioner ($3999), and Cardas Clear Beyond cabling.