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Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 29, 2014  |  2 comments
The truly superior sound in the room co-sponsored by Paragon Sight and Sound of Ann Arbor gave me my first listen to Wilson Audio's Sasha 2 loudspeakers ($30,900/pair) and Doshi Audio electronics. First up was an LP of Ray Brown on bass, performing three days after Thelonious Monk died. Played on a Brinkmann Audio Balanced turntable package with Koetsu Azule Platinum cartridge ($46,500 total), the sound through Doshi Audio 3.0 phono stage and line stage preamplifiers ($31,990 combined) and Doshi Audio 3.0 Jhor 160W monoblocks ($26,995/pair) was warm and inviting, as in "I must hear more" (even if Brown occasionally strayed from pitch).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 30, 2014  |  3 comments
You should have seen the sad sack look on the faces of Your Final System's Kevin O'Brien and Endeavor Audio Engineering's Leif Swanson when I told them I was trying to restrict my coverage to new product introductions. "We were handicapped by a bad cable and bad USB input when you covered us at the California Audio Show last year," Kevin complained. "Give me one reason to stay here and I'll turn around," said I. . .
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 01, 2014  |  6 comments
Not one to think small, Brian Walsh of Essential Audio in Barrington, IL needed a very big room to house the Sound Lab Majestic 845 electrostatic loudspeakers ($35,840/pair), Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk.III.2 preamplifier ($16,940) and MA-2 Mk III.2 output transformer-less amplifiers ($41,600/pair), Aurender W20 reference music server ($16,800), Bricasti M1 DAC ($8995), Kuzma Stabi XL 2-motor turntable with all the trimmings ($32,280 total), Teo Audio equipment racks, and cabling from Teo Audio, Clarity Cable, and Creative Cable Concepts.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 30, 2014  |  0 comments
Since my focus was on new product introductions other than analog, which are being covered by Mikey Fremer on, all I'll say about the new Kronos Sparta turntable ($21,500) with Helena tonearm and AirTight PC-1 cartridge ($34,500 total) is that they sure sounded great in the context of the rest of GTT's system.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 30, 2014  |  1 comments
For the second year in a row, a fire alarm sounded in the middle of AXPONA's busiest afternoon. Although it seems that the warning didn't reach all floors, it sent some who did hear it scurrying. In my case, that meant grabbing my heavy jacket, computer, computer glasses, camera and monopod, and complete collection of show literature and notes and trudging down seven flights.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 30, 2014  |  0 comments
"Is this the same company whose A/D converter Jared Sacks of Channel Classics raves about?" I asked. When Bill Parish of GTT Audio & Video answered yes, I understood why. Grimm's LS1s three-way speaker system ($39,900/pair), which manages to fit hi-res ADC/DACs, a CC1 clock circuit, six amplifiers, DSP processor, integrated bass modules, cables and more into the two speaker cabinets pictured in the photo, is a virtually complete system that calls only for a source. In this case, the LS1s joined forces with a PC running JRiver Media Center and Kubala-Sosna power cords to produce gorgeous layering and tonality on Sacks' unedited DSD master of a Brahms Hungarian Dance.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 29, 2014  |  2 comments
Paddling all the way from NYC, Jeffrey Catalano's High Water Sound, aka “2 channel with attitude,” featured the premieres of Hornning Hybrid Systems Eurfrodite Mark IV Ellipse loudspeakers ($30,000/pair) and Tron-Electric’s flagship Syren II GT preamplifier ($55,000) and Seven phono/mono ($15,000). The speakers have eight 8” bass drivers in push-pull configuration, a back-loaded horn, and a PM 65 Lowther midrange, all of which help account for their 98–99dB sensitivity. Jeffrey called the Tron preamp “a work of art,” with an outboard power supply, “all-silver everything,” and proprietary caps and transformers.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 27, 2014  |  0 comments
Our own Michael Fremer of Stereophile and, in whom the serious and hilarious often vie for supremacy, was quite busy at AXPONA. In addition to covering all things analog for both publications, he also led two installments of "Michael Fremer's Internationally Renowned Turntable Set-up Seminar," moderated a "Vinyl Lives!" panel, and spoke on a "Meet the Editors" panel. One of Mikey's unforgettable lines: "I once did this smashed on Tequila, but I wouldn't recommend it."
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 27, 2014  |  0 comments
I'll be the first to admit that I have champagne tastes and a house wine budget. As proof, no sooner do I walk into the Brown Art Museum exhibit that has been an ongoing feature of AXPONA shows than I fall in love with this statue. Although the person who could have told me all about her was on break, the man taking his place could only share that she was the most expensive work of art in the exhibit. No wonder. Isn't she gorgeous?
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 30, 2014  |  2 comments
I've reported on this pairing before in show reports, but this was, by far, the best and most transparent sound I've heard from JansZen and exaSound. The top was nice and alive, the height and openness quite lovely, and the sound very natural and musical. Doing the honors were the brand new JansZen zA1.1 single-panel loudspeakers ($4495/pair), JansZen zA2.1 loudspeakers ($9400), exaSound flagship e22 native quad-rate DSD DAC ($3499) with "the world's first and exclusive support for DSD256 on Mac" and third-generation headphone amplifier, Emotiva electronics, and a stock USB cable.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 26, 2014  |  4 comments
The big joy of visiting the United Home Audio room, manufacturer of the Phase 11S tape deck with outboard power supply ($23,000 as configured), was reuniting with Michael Allen of Jolida. The good news is that Michael, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, has made a full recovery.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 01, 2014  |  2 comments
"I really wanted people not to say that the electronics are why the speakers sound good, so I brought a very minimalistic set-up," said Milwaukee-based Jeff Permanian of his very first display at an audio show. Granted, his imposing, Internet-direct JTR Noesis 215RT ($7000/pair), a 3-way loudspeaker with a claimed 95dB sensitivity and impressive frequency response of 18Hz–24kHz, may not be a visual work of art. But in the company of an Oppo BDP-95, Adcom integrated, and Cardas cabling, its reproduction of Norah Jones' "Come Away with Me" exhibited sufficient warmth to make me want to hear the Noesis loudspeakers in superior company next time around.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 30, 2014  |  1 comments
Through the excellent Kingsound KingIII electrostats ($14,995/pair), Hegel H30 350Wpc amplifier ($15,000), Purity Audio Design new Reference class-A balanced linestage preamplifier ($10,995), Purity Audio Design Harmonia 300B tube buffer ($5500), M2Tech's new Young DSD/DCD DAC ($1699), Trigon CD II ($4250), and Dana Cables, music sounded very smooth but somewhat damped on top. A tenor sax sounded especially warm and inviting.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 27, 2014  |  0 comments
The ever-kinetic bassist Dean Peer was but one of several musicians providing live music at AXPONA. As you can tell, my camera's indoor, flash-less "Night Scene" setting could not keep up with the movements of Dean and his drummer Bret Mann, who were sponsored by Audio Power Labs and Cardas Audio.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 01, 2014  |  0 comments
Some of the best sound at AXPONA filled Chicago-based dealer/concert pianist George Vatchnadze's room. With more than a little help from industry veteran Dan Meinwald, who not only claimed to have simply plunked everything down, but also called the large room at the end of the 3rd floor of the Westin O'Hare "the best hotel showroom I've ever been in," Ella's "Angel Eyes" from her universally lauded LP, Let No Man Write My Epitaph, sounded drop-dead gorgeous. The midrange felt like a warm embrace, inviting me in without fear of witnessing Fitzgerald's emotion drowned in a sea of euphonia.