The Spin Doctor at AXPONA 2024

These days, there's a hi-fi show taking place somewhere on the planet pretty much every weekend, but for me, spring is show season. First, in April, comes AXPONA, which is held near Chicago. AXPONA is the largest North American high-end audio show, making it pretty much impossible for one person to see everything during the three-day event. Even with my focus on record-playing gear, I found myself skipping some rooms, telling myself that I could catch them a month later at High End Munich. Munich is even bigger than AXPONA, so we'll have to see how that plays out.

With that in mind, here are a few things that caught my eye at AXPONA 2024.

John DeVore's EMT record player

John DeVore of DeVore Fidelity (top, in Ken Micallef's photo) shook things up by demonstrating his new Orangutan Bronze speakers by playing 78rpm records on an EMT 928 II turntable with EMT 909 tonearm ($14,995) and an EMT TND 065 cartridge. That's gutsy.

The Aidas Mammoth Gold LE

Aidas from Lithuania was playing a limited edition of their top cartridge, the Mammoth Gold LE. Aidas says that they were able to locate a limited supply of extra-pure mammoth tusk material, which allowed them to create a run of 10 cartridge bodies which could hold larger Alnico5 magnets.

Nick Doshi's Customizable Phono Pre

To amplify the Aidas Mammoth cartridge, Nick Doshi of Doshi Audio was showing a prototype of a fully customizable phono preamp. Details were thin on the ground, but it looked and sounded stunning playing through the latest version of Joseph Audio's Pearl speakers.

The Pro-Ject Premium EVO9 AS

Pro-Ject has really stepped up its tonearm game of late, possibly due to the demise of Jelco, which previously dominated this market. They showed updated versions of most of their arms, including the Premium EVO9 AS ($1999).

Vintage Yamaha

Tucked away in the Yamaha room, I found a very cool display of vintage Yamaha milestone products, including a 1954 turntable called, simply, the Hi-Fi Player F11. Yamaha claims that this was the very first audio component to use the term "hi-fi" in its name.

The Belleson Brilliance phono preamp

I stopped in at the Belleson room primarily to check that the review sample Acoustic Signature turntable I had shipped just before the show had made it safely. While there, I took a listen. I was impressed by their Brilliance phono preamp ($8500), which can be controlled by an app running on your phone or tablet.

The Thiele turntable and tonearm

For many years, Helmut Thiele was the head of turntable and tonearm design for Thorens. His creations include the Thorens Reference turntable that made such a splash at last year's High End Munich show. Recently, he developed a new turntable and tonearm bearing (pun intended) his own name, the Thiele TT01 turntable and TA01 tonearm ($28,000). The arm uses a moving pivot design to remain tangential to the groove, in a way that reminds me of Frank Schröder's LT arm.

Glotz's picture

The EMT and the Thiele especially...

And yes, mammoth tusks sound better than rhino horns or elephant tusks!

It's all about the natural cryogenics...

And that sweet, sweet mammoth!