AXPONA 2014

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Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 30, 2014  |  2 comments
Released in early April, Channel D's Pure Vinyl 4.0 ($299, or $139 for previous users) enables you to easily split tracks via automation. Rob Robinson (above) describes it as "a major upgrade in usability. We've smoothed the rough edges and made it easier to use, while retaining the same sound." (The list of at least 25 improvements takes up a full sheet.) The software also has a built-in crossover time-alignment feature for time alignment of subwoofers, thereby enabling the sounds of main speakers and subs to arrive at your ear at exactly the same time with maximum impact and slam.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 30, 2014  |  0 comments
Clayton Shaw, who designed Emerald Physics loudspeakers and founded the company, returned last year with Spatial Audio loudspeakers. The Spatial Hologram M2 standard ($1995/pair) contains a new Hologram Circuit, and is a completely passive, analog, high-efficiency, open-baffle speaker. Each baby contains two 12' mid/woofers and one coaxially mounted compression driver. Designed to eliminate floor bounce, it claims not to need DSP or bi-amping.
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
Since my focus was on new product introductions other than analog, which are being covered by Mikey Fremer on AnalogPlanet.com, 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  |  2 comments
There was some booming in the bass, but the really nice highs and openness, as well as the large and engaging soundstage on a 24/96 version of Jennifer Warnes' "Nightingale" convinced me that Daedalus Audio, ModWright Instruments, and WyWires cabling are doing something very right. Reinforcement came from a very nice and smooth, albeit less than brilliantly illumined Red Book track by Chris Jones.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 30, 2014  |  2 comments
Designed by Art Powers Sr., who, I understand, manufactured some of the older Lamm amplifiers and designed their loudspeakers, Madison Fielding's second-generation Flagstone all-weather speakers ($3500/pair) include down-firing 10" Eminence 150W active custom-made woofers, and claim a frequency response of 44Hz–15kHz ±3dB. The Flagstone series consists of two models and three variations, and claims to cover an area of up to 1000 sq. feet.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 30, 2014  |  8 comments
Admittedly, the title seems almost melodramatic, if not messianic. But after Emerald Physics' handicapped presentation at, I believe, the last Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I was not expecting to hear such fine and pleasing sounds. While ample credit is due PS Audio's brand new DirectStream pure 1-bit DSD-decoding DAC ($6000), thanks also be to Mark Schifter's canny programming of the DSP2.4 DSP crossover/equalizer ($850) that comes with Emerald Physics' CSE MK2 Controlled Dispersion, DSP-controlled, open-baffle loudspeakers ($3500/pair). Thanks as well to the new Emerald Physics EP 100.2 power amplifier ($1600), DSPeaker preamp/DAC ($1200), and REL T9 active subwoofer that filled in from 25Hz to 48Hz.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 30, 2014  |  3 comments
Thanks to musician and AXPONA founder Steve Davis, pianist John M. Yurick could be heard throughout the day in various locations on the lobby level of the Westin O'Hare. It's a shame that his piano's lid was closed in order to render his piano less obtrusive amidst the talking, because Yurick is an excellent musician who deserves more than "background music" attention. He also moves faster than my camera's flash-less "Night Setting" could accommodate.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 30, 2014  |  2 comments
Let's hear it for a relatively new dealer and father, Jason Walker of Midwest Audio in South Bend, Indiana. You know someone is an industry virgin when he confesses that he first heard of Rebecca Pidgeon, whose 20-year old "Spanish Harlem" was once a multi-room favorite at audio shows, a whole two months ago.
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  |  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 30, 2014  |  0 comments
In an exhibit surprisingly free of whisky (unless I was too preoccupied to notice), Music Hall offered proof that you don't have to break the bank (assuming you have one to begin with) in order to get good sound. "Very smooth, nice, and pleasant," I wrote of the enjoyable music from the new Music Hall C-DAC 15.3 three-input DAC/CD player ($549), Creek Evo 50a 55Wpc integrated amp ($1195), and Epos Elan15 bookshelf loudspeakers ($1395/pair). The player contains two different DACs, a Burr-Brown for CDs and a Wolfson for external sources. Source was a computer playing Pure Music, and connected to the C-DAC via optical.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 29, 2014  |  12 comments
As if an impressive array of products, great seminars, and lots of other goodies were not enough, AXPONA capped its first day with an hour-long presentation by PONO CEO and confirmed audiophile, John Hamm (above). Even before the talk began, John walked through the audience, giving sneak peak, hi-resolution listens to attendees via Sennheiser HD650 headphones.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 29, 2014  |  1 comments
Show attendees have grown accustomed to hearing Sony's SSAR-1 loudspeakers ($27,000/pair) and other components mated with Pass Labs electronics. This time, however, their appearance with Rogue Audio's Hera II preamp ($8995) and Apollo Dark monoblocks ($14,995/pair), with Nordost Valhalla 2 cabling and power treatment, made for a unique and most successful pairing. This room sponsored by Holm Audio of Chicago was a definite best-of-show contender.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 29, 2014  |  1 comments
One of Musical Surroundings and Quintessence Audio's four rooms paired Aesthetix electronics, including the new Aesthetix Romulus Signature DAC and CD player ($10,000) with Focal Stella Utopia Em loudspeakers ($97,500/pair), HRS (Harmonic Resolution Systems) SXR Signature rack and amp stands, and Kubala-Sosna Elation cables. On a CD of the great pianist Murray Perahia playing Handel, the system's beautiful tonality and very warm, loveliest of midranges distinguished the presentation.

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