Sierra Sound, Aesthetix Audio Corp, Analog Manufaktur Germany, Benz Micro Switzerland

First-time AXPONA exhibitor Sierra Sound was founded in 2020 as a distributor for strictly analog hi-fi equipment. Rather high minded, wouldn’t you say? Personally, I’m all in.

With their minds on a new music direction, Sierra Sound hosted Friday and Saturday "metal nights," but I was holed up in my room writing, with copious quantities of English breakfast tea and peanut butter. But I greatly enjoyed their room during daylight hours.

Sierra Sound boasted the world debut of the AMG Giro MK II Wood turntable. Also in room was the semi-new to the USA, ViV Lab tonearm; ViV Lab has never enjoyed US distribution, until now.

Press release: "This new AMG model features a cherry wood sub-chassis. The wood layer is a collaboration with Die Möbelmacher, a carpenter specializing in sustainable organic woods from the Franconia region of southern Germany, where the AMG factory is located. The Giro MK II Wood is 20% more massive than the non-wood version and has improved energy damping characteristics due to the additional material layer.”

Sierra Sound’s Michael Fajen fired up the rig containing the aforementioned turntable with the AMG 9W2 tonearm ($13,500), Benz Micro REF-S cartridge ($2500) the ViV Laboratory Rigid Float CB-9" tonearm ($6500), Sierra Sound NAB-1 tonearm platform ($500), and the Benz Micro SLR Gullwing cartridge ($3500).

Electronics included the Aesthetix Rhea Signature phono stage ($10,000), Aesthetix Pallene line stage ($6500), and Aesthetix Dione power amplifier ($7500). Speakers were the handsome Vandersteen Treo CT loudspeaker, walnut finish ($10,690/pair).

Cables were from Cardas: Cardas Clear Beyond interconnects, speaker cables, and AC cables, and a Cardas Nautilus power strip ($2000). Racks and bases included the HRS E1X turntable isolation base for AMG Giro MK II Wood ($1750), HRS E1X turntable isolation base for the AMG Viella ($1695), and the HRS EXRD-1942-3V Stand system ($10,895).

Fajen played a selection of 1960s jazz that thoroughly warmed my cockles: Count Basie's "Blues for Norman" featured vivid bass punch. A Roland Kirk track displayed fantastic imaging, with crisp castanets over Elvin Jones's dry-sounding drums. From Kirk’s Rip, Rig and Panic, the piece delivered mighty, aggressive energy and abundant reverberation from Elvin's drums and cymbals.

Charles Mingus's "Reincarnation of a Lovebird" was presented on a large scale, flowing while capturing the nuance and subtlety of the title. The staging was exceptional, leading to a generally transcendent, mini-music festival atmosphere.

Anton's picture

What a good looking table.

He would likely not remember me, but I've been to dinner a few times with Jim White and he is a jewel with a good ear and a good wine palate.

gsal's picture

I personally own both Aesthetix and AMG gear. Stellar performance and after market support from both.

gsal's picture

Forgot to mention I also have Vandersteen Quatro Wood CT's. In sum a great system.

giganticnorskie's picture

Their room was great. I was able to listen to a couple cuts off of the Melvin's Stoner Witch album and that's about as good as I've ever heard it. Very welcoming folks.

Glotz's picture

They were brothers / newbies at the event and asked if we could come back at 530pm for the Metal hour and booze they supply. They loved the room and I had to yank them out to roll home. Sounds was very solid. They wanted an AMG turntable until I told them the price... lol.

ken mac's picture

. . .I've heard or seen re this AXPONA. Beautiful.

sierrasound's picture

Thank you for coming to see us Ken, and for the beautiful photos and write-up! We thoroughly enjoyed this show and we plan to be back next year, bigger and better.

We could not have been successful without the support of our partners at Aesthetix, Cardas, HRS, Vandersteen, and Ultra Fidelis. Special thanks to Brad O'Toole for his calm and collected help with a few logistical snags, as well as expert speaker setup.

Thanks also to all those who attended Metal Zone, an idea which has been in my head for over a decade. The overwhelmingly positive response we received from everyone truly warmed our hearts. We plan to make it an annual tradition, so see you again next year.

We will be off to Europe in a few weeks to say hi to Albert at the Benz Micro factory, then we're heading to Munich to spend some time with AMG and show off the new Giro MK II Wood to the rest of the world. We will be in Hall 4, booth S08 for those who are interested. Please come see us!

Michael Fajen

President, Sierra Sound

ken mac's picture


Glotz's picture

They played right at a great volume for metal and selection was great. The AMG tables sounded spot-on. I'm impressed how the Vandy's played music straight down the middle- Goldilocks for Metal!

The bespoke beer was an awesome respite at 530pm, after a ton of moving around all day. I think they may need a bigger room next year...

DaveinSM's picture

So can I ask: what kind of metal/bands did they play?

I imagine something like Metallica’s Black album sounding very good on the fight system. I *know* that AC/DC’s Back in Black sounds great on a good system. Things like that.

Or was it more contemporary metal?

jamesgarvin's picture

During my hour plus in the room Saturday, it was mostly old skool thrash - early Metallica, Suicidal Tendencies, doom metal like Candlemass, early Sabbath, Clutch. I'm tempted to take some vinyl with me next year. And, yes, this system sound great.

DaveinSM's picture

Awesome! Thanks for the info. Sounds like a must-hear for metal fans

Dennis in NJ's picture

Nice report! Unfortunately you forgot to credit Vandersteen Audio in the title; every other Axpona room report lists the loudspeaker used in the demo. I know: picky, picky, BUT the loudspeaker is at least as important as rest of the system that was assembled for the demonstration -- and the loudspeaker brand deserves mention in the title. OK you can call me picayune in NJ!

DaveinSM's picture

Well, at least the room hopefully did justice to the Vandersteens. I don’t normally think about Vandys as rock speakers, but I do know that they sound good with a variety of music types.

This just got me jonesing even more for the Treo CTs.