Ken Micallef  |  Apr 18, 2023  |  3 comments
At AXPONA 2023, Luxman America's Jeff Sigmund and John Pravel brought serious sonic finery from Luxman Japan with the same gracious, enthusiastic, generous manner they've extended for years.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 18, 2023  |  0 comments
I'm an unabashed Audio Note fanboy. You got a problem with that? Audio Note lives deep in not only my sonic soul (an Audio Note M2 Pre was my first serious hi-fi purchase), but those of colleagues Herbert Reichert and Michael Trei, Audio Note distributors back in the 1990s, when tubes were cheap and the only thing Upscale Audio's Kevin Deal sold!

Audio Note returned to AXPONA with nothing to new to spring on the hungry (really) crowds, only the same consistency of sound major domo Peter Qvortrup has offered for decades.

Ken Micallef  |  Apr 18, 2023  |  0 comments
As I think I wrote somewhere, it's one thing to hear equipment at a show, another thing to hear it at home. I meant to imply that, of course, at home is the only way to truly hear a piece, in your reference system.

But at AXPONA, where George Counnas (center) and Carolyn Counnas (right) debuted their new Zesto Audio Eros 500 Select KT-150 equipped, class-A monoblocks, with Zesto Audio's Leto Ultra II preamp, which I reviewed in January 2021, I was flummoxed at the beauty of sound, extravagance of liquidity and detail, and nearly spiritual physicality the system endowed to a variety of music.

Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 17, 2023  |  1 comments
If you're like me and the topic turns to active speakers, you'll probably think of affordable products. Maybe the mighty $649 Vanatoo Transparent One Encore comes to mind, or the sub-$1000 powerhouse that is a pair of SVS Prime Pro wireless speakers. The KEF LS50W is a strong contender even at $2800, and if your budget allows, you might consider Buchardt A5s ($3900/pair).
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).