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.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 16, 2023  |  9 comments
As audiophiles, we strive almost obsessively for a low noise floor and no distractions, only to be spectacularly thwarted when we evaluate equipment in a retail or show environment. Around us, people are entering and exiting, and often talking up a storm. The air conditioner is set to a low drone. Bass notes leak in from the next room over. AXPONA's cavernous Ear Gear space, where more than two dozen manufacturers of headphones and related equipment were demonstrating their wares, was awash with buzzing, excited people—the best kind of noise, really, even if you have to turn the demo cans way up to block it.

I had come to pay RAAL-requisite a visit, hoping to audition a first for me: a recently-launched ribbon headphone called the CA-1a.

Michael Trei  |  Apr 16, 2023  |  0 comments
Washington DC area distributor Notable Audio showcased products from Joseph Audio, Doshi Audio, J Sikora, Berkeley Audio Design, and Cardas Audio at AXPONA. Notable's Jeff Fox had put together an impressive system, with a mix of brands we have seen used together at many prior shows to great effect, only this time he used the best of everything to create a system that really sung.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 16, 2023  |  0 comments
Jay Rein (right) and Chad Stelly (left) of Bluebird Music Limited presented multiple debuts and US firsts at AXPONA, including a chance to meet SME CEO Stuart McNeilis (center), on hand for the first American spin of his newish SME Model 60 turntable ($71,900; Stereophile review by Michael Trei forthcoming).
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 16, 2023  |  3 comments
Cambridge Audio CEO Stuart George arrived at AXPONA for the debut of the Cambridge Audio MXN10 streamer ($499). The faithful British brand's two hotel rooms were fairly jumping with interested "punters," I think that's a malleable Brit term one could use to describe audiophiles eager to hear more of this legacy brand that has for decades offered incredible value.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 16, 2023  |  4 comments
I admit, I have my preferred rooms, my biases, at shows. Hey, I'm only human! One such joint is the Volti Audio, Border Patrol, Triode Wire Labs room commandeered, respectively, by Greg Roberts (right), Gary Dewes (left), and Triode Pete Grzybowski (center). I favorably reviewed one of Gary's SET Border Patrol amps, and use Greg and Pete's components in my system. So, when I hit their AXPONA room and saw a bust of Beethoven staring glumly at the rig, I asked "Who's the new guy?"
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 16, 2023  |  1 comments
Jeffrey Catalano of Lower Manhattan lives in an ancient building near the South Street Seaport where ghosts of seaman and slaves mingle with investment bankers and tourists. Catalano's High Water Sound is the place where every New York City area audiophile dreams of being invited, cause it's here where this mad audio wizard (and former jazz drummer (1957 Ludwigs) and jazz LP collector, like moi) cooks up the magnificent sounds that appear, like magic, at every show where High Water Sound presents. Year after year, show after show, as consistent as Big Ben.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 16, 2023  |  0 comments
Schofield, formerly of Krell, produced a bevy of smart gear (smart as in cool and hip, not Internet of Things smart) to bear on the AXPONA audience. Terry Medalen's Primare electronics from Sweden, including the Primare PRE 35 preamplifier ($5000, reviewed by Sasha Matson in April 2023), Primare A35.8 Amp, 150Wpc into 8 ohms, ($5500, reviewed by Kal Rubinson in November 2022), and Primare DD 35 Transport ($3800) relaxed my internal grouchy beast with their smooth sound and refined sonic beauty.