Florida Audio Expo 2019

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Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 14, 2019  |  17 comments
As I began Day Three of the FAE, I was surprised to discover that I only had four rooms plus the sole hallway exhibit left to cover. With the realization that I could actually spend some time in the sun before flying home during the Pacific Northwest's most paralyzing Snowmaggedon episode in many a decade, I allowed myself to take more time in each room.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 14, 2019  |  35 comments
Many rooms, such as Vanatoo's, where I snapped the above photo, had SRO crowds. Nor were those crowds limited to exhibits with low-priced products. MBL/UHA, Wilson/Audio Research, and MartinLogan/Parasound, to name but three higher-priced rooms that carried well-known brands, were mobbed. In addition, almost every attendee was respectful during demos, and refrained from the tendency to carry on private conversations. I only heard two cell phones go off in rooms, and no one blinded me by texting on a bright screen and then giving me attitude when I politely asked if they could turn it down. The respectfulness also applied to the exhibitors I encountered, who are sometimes so fried by Day Three that they ignore half the people who walk into their room.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 14, 2019  |  1 comments
It's always nice to encounter fine old friends in new contexts. In this case, it was an all-but-the-speakers system from Germany's AVM, whose MA8.2 monoblocks ($31,990/pair) were the first amplifiers I reviewed for Stereophile. AVM's PA8.2 modular preamp ($18,785) with phono, DAC, tone input card, and tubed output card is no stranger to Stereophile either—it was reviewed by Michael Fremer in our December 2018 issue.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 14, 2019  |  0 comments
Is this report's title referring to sound, substance, or more than a bit of both? As you ponder the not-exactly-hidden nuances of this decidedly less-than-metaphysical tease, you may also wish that you could have experienced both and more in the room sponsored by Audio Advisors of Palm Beach, FL, headlined by Wilson Audio's Sasha DAW loudspeaker ($37,900/pair) and Audio Research's Ref 160M monoblocks ($30,000/pair), Ref 6 stereo preamplifier ($15,000), Ref Phono 3 phono preamp ($15,000), and Ref CD9 CD player/DAC ($14,000).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 13, 2019  |  4 comments
Without question, the 5th-floor room headlined by Joseph Audio Pulsar stand-mounted speakers ($7700/pair) and Doshi Audio's stereo amplifier ($19,995), line-level preamplifier ($17,995) and tape preamplifier ($17,995), connected by Cardas Clear and Clear Beyond cabling, earned its place on many an expo-goer's "Best Rooms of Show" list. Aided by an Aqua La Voce S3 DAC ($4750) and Innuos Zen Mk.3 server ($2600), the system stood out for the beauty of its midrange. I know I've mentioned the midrange a lot in these show reports, but you really needed to hear the glowing warmth of this one.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 13, 2019  |  5 comments
Vanatoo's two diminutive, bargain-priced self-powered speaker models were among the many excellent-sounding exhibits I encountered on the fifth floor of the Embassy Suites by Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore, during my second day at the Florida Audio Expo. Nor was I the only attendee to realize how good Vanatoo's speakers sounded: The Seattle-based company's Gary Gesellchen was DJing to a standing-room-only crowd when I arrived.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 12, 2019  |  9 comments
The apotheosis—some would say the nadir—of country music suffering was reached in the Western Electric Sound System room put together by Déjà Vu Audio South. There, Vu Hoang (above) took the perilous step beyond Steely Dan's "Black Cow" (as in black sheep?) to Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Please Release Me" and The Carpenter's "This Masquerade." The superb sound got me through a succession of despair-laden tracks from Western Electric Sound's The Perfect Vocals CD that were titled—I kid you not—"These Days I Barely Get By" (Daryle Singletary), the aforementioned "This Masquerade," "The Man That Got Away" (Rosemary Clooney), "The Party's Over" (Nat King Cole), "Cry Me a River" (Jack McDuff), and the final track, "Only the Lonely" (Shirley Horn).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 11, 2019  |  24 comments
Without question, some of the best sound at Florida Audio Expo came from the Danish trio of Aavik, Ansuz, and Børresen. This combination of electronics, speakers and cabling, expertly set up by industry pro Lars Kristensen, managed to overcome room-related problems and deliver some of the most spacious sound heard over my three days in Tampa.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 10, 2019  |  9 comments
I spent the entire first day at the Florida Audio Expo trying to get a sense of the acoustics in the basic listening rooms of the Embassy Suites by Hilton at Tampa Airport. At times, just when I'd begun to think that the faults with one system had more to do with room acoustics than anything else, I'd walk into another, totally untreated suite and discover that the sound was superb.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 09, 2019  |  5 comments
My first room, sponsored by House of Stereo, showcased Bob Carver's attractive Crimson 350 monoblock amplifiers ($9500/pair), a Bel Canto Black EX preamplifier/DAC ($18,000), Wolf Audio Systems' Alpha 3 music server with Flux Capacitor Clock ($6750), the striking KEF Blade Two speakers ($25,000/pair), new Audience Front Row cabling, and Stillpoints Aperture room-treatment panels.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 08, 2019  |  1 comments
With our own Michael Fremer drafted to cut the ribbon, the first annual Florida Audio Expo got underway right on time on Friday morning. Alan Nastir, Board member of the local Suncoast Audiophile Society, began the short ceremony by welcoming everyone and thanking the show organizers. From left to right in the photo above: Alan Nastir; Bart Andeer, President of the Suncoast Audiophile Society and Resolution Acoustics; Ammar Jadusingh (aka AJ), owner of Soundfield Audio; Mike Bovaird, proprietor of Suncoast Audio; and John Chait, a longtime DIY audiophile who is a member of both the Suncoast and Sarasota clubs.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 07, 2019  |  3 comments
It's noon and a sunny 76º, and already people are setting up for the inaugural Florida Audio Expo at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore. No sooner do I walk into the Dynamic Sound Associates room than someone asks me if I can please hold three long and hefty Luminous Audio power cables. With those monsters hanging over one shoulder, I snap my first photo.
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