What I picked up at the Florida Expo 2023—besides COVID

It was bound to happen sometime. The day after my return from the Florida Audio Expo, I tested positive for COVID. I'd worn a facemask on the plane, but not during the three days of pressing the flesh, listening, and reporting. (In fact, no one at the show did.) I suppose I paid for my lack of super-caution with several days of chills, headaches, violent coughing, and brain fog. This also accounts for the delay in getting the final batch of show reports out to you. Apologies!

In any case, COVID clearly isn't a thing of the past. Whatever your take on the whole issue, and however you choose to mitigate the risk, I hope you and yours stay healthy.

Do I regret that I went to the Florida Expo? Not on your life! I loved meeting old friends and making new ones; hearing dozens of systems, many state of the art; and getting introduced to some outstanding recordings. I do regret not visiting more rooms, but there's just no way around that. Given almost 80 spaces filled with high-end audio systems, and more than 250 brands present, I'd have needed two weeks, not three days, to cover all of the Florida expo. No joke: For a slowish writer like myself, penning and fact-checking each show report takes an average of two hours. Postprocessing the photos and transmitting them to John Atkinson, who ably shepherds them and my articles onto the website, typically requires another 15 minutes or so. If I write four reports per day, that's nine hours. Add roughly six hours a day of being out and about at the show, and you can see that Stereophile writers truly have their work cut out for them!

So what's the draw? Easy.

In Tampa, I again realized that being in an environment where we get each other is its own reward. The (sometimes obsessive) pursuit of high-end music reproduction doesn't, as a rule, generate enthusiasm among the uninitiated. People who understand us are few and far between. At a show, there are nothing but people who understand us, and that's pretty cool—liberating even. (My wife calls fellow 'philes "enablers," but she's only kidding. I think.)

Other than the social aspect of the visit, the top three reasons I'm glad I went are the opportunities I had to hear the following breathtaking hi-fi systems. In no particular order:

• High End By Oz with a setup of Lansche speakers and Thrax electronics. My report is here. TL;DR: Immense soundstage, solid, clean, convincing. A complete treat.

• AV Luxury Group with a pair of mid-model Raidho floorstanders driven by Margules electronics. Pure and surprisingly 3D in a way that turns off your brain and connects you to the music in seconds flat. See here for my full assessment.

• Audio Group Denmark with Aavik electronics powering Børresen standmounts. The best "bookshelf" speakers I've ever heard. Out-of-this-world, revelatory clarity. I had a hard time controlling my emotions when listening to this system, as I wrote here.

See you at AXPONA?

remlab's picture

Sorry about the Covid you picked up. The delay now makes total sense.
It seems that based on past Lansche and Acapella loudspeakers reviewed by Stereophile in the past, the tweeter levels were set much too high. Hopefully Lansche's latest iterations have fixed this problem. Yes, this tweeter technology is cool, but not so cool that it has to be heard distinctly from the rest of the musical spectrum in order to appreciate it

bhkat's picture

No problem on the delay. Glad you recovered. Covid is going to be with us for the rest of our lives and will keep mutating and reinfecting people.