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Julie Mullins  |  Apr 28, 2022  |  2 comments
It's a good sign that at least some AXPONA exhibitors showed systems that were more budget-friendly than most. On the door to room 666 (perfect, right?) was a piece of paper affixed with blue painter's tape. Handwritten in all-capital letters, it read: "WARNING! DO NOT ENTER IF YOU WANT TO SPEND A FORTUNE ON YOUR HIFI."

Behind that door I encountered a simple but really good-sounding system that didn't call for apologists to stumble over themselves 'splaining.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 28, 2022  |  5 comments
Strange as it may seem, this huge air-walled exhibit room's sponsor, AudioQuest with Abt Electronics of Chicago, was the mostly invisible partner that enabled Rotel's Michi P5 preamplifier with phonostage ($4299.99—follow-up coming in our August issue) and Michi S5 stereo power amplifiers ($7499/each—reviewing coming in our July issue) to sing through Klipsch Jubilee loudspeakers ($35,000/pair including outboard electronic crossover).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 28, 2022  |  2 comments
Some would call it a tease; others would call it sheer torture. That's how I, who fell in love with the sound of Stereophile's 2021 Amplification Component of the Year, Gryphon's Essence monoblock power amplifier, felt seeing a static display in place of hearing the new, humongous Gryphon Apex power amplifier ($99,000/chassis).
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 27, 2022  |  1 comments
I'm in the middle of an audition in the room where Raidho TD3.8 speakers ($119,999/pair) are producing sweet music in synergy with two $6000-each Margules Audio U-280SC tube amplifiers running in triode mode. (JVS reviewed the amp in November 2017.) Suddenly some deep-voiced dude speaks up, just to my right: "You guys ever heard of the Purple Man?" Puzzled, I look in his direction. No one's there.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 27, 2022  |  4 comments
A quarter century after Audio Analogue began in Italy, the company's products are again available in the United States. Thanks to Walter Swanborn and Dwight DiMartino of Fidelis Distribution of New Hampshire, visitors to AXPONA discovered the AADrive CD transport ($2850) and AA DAC ($4950), Puccini Anniversary integrated amplifier ($5850), Bellini Anniversary line preamplifier ($7750), Donizetti Anniversary power amplifier ($13,850, below), and AA Phono MM/MC phono stage ($2500).
Julie Mullins  |  Apr 27, 2022  |  21 comments
From a new company came a new loudspeaker design that was four years in the making—thanks in part to the pandemic. But COVID downtime gave Malbork Audio founder and designer Daniel Fajkis (above) one advantage: more time to refine his inaugural Malbork Warsaw loudspeaker design through more math and engineering and simulations, Fajkis told me.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 27, 2022  |  5 comments
AXPONA offered the public a long-anticipated first listen to prototypes of Mytek's forthcoming Empire Streamer DAC ($24,995) and Empire GaNFET class-D monoblock amplifier ($9995/each or $19,990/pair). The former, which I'll review, may be in production by Munich High End in May; the latter is expected to launch in September.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 27, 2022  |  4 comments
If you're a regular attendee to audio shows you'll notice one constant, and that's a lack of consistency. At one show, Acme Turntables represents with Manny, Moe, & Jack's speakers. The next show, Acme has taken up with Beverly's speakers, and MM&J is now with Mr. Big's turntables. It's downright incestuous.

Into this audio polygamy come the good men of Volti Audio (Greg Roberts), BorderPatrol DACs and amplification (Gary Dews), and Triode Wire Labs cabling (Pete Grzybowski). These gentlemen have been hosting hi-fi rooms as a single organism since 2005!

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 27, 2022  |  0 comments
Located just five miles from each other in the beauteous state of New Hampshire, Sonner Audio and Small Green Computer teamed up to present a lovely mid-priced system that quickly won over hearts with its beauty. Yes, every veteran audiophile has heard tenor José Carreras sing "that track" from Misa Criolla, but far fewer have enjoyed all the atmosphere, midrange warmth, and excellent bass that this track can deliver. Carreras sounded especially clear, present, and intimate on this space-considerated system.
Julie Mullins  |  Apr 27, 2022  |  5 comments
Peace and quiet at a busy audio show is hard to come by. I especially wasn't expecting mellow respite on a Saturday show day. But I found some lovely-sounding music and a chilled-out vibe in Vinnie Rossi's demo room 488. Only a couple of listeners came and went during that time. Control of the iPad—and Vinnie Rossi remote control—were mine.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 27, 2022  |  0 comments
I am not making this up. During a particularly burned-out moment in the afternoon, I thought about what might deliver the breath of fresh air I needed to restore my energy and refresh my spirits. Instead of opting for green tea or a walk around the hotel, I realized that some time with Pass Labs amplification might transport back to the pastel paradise I inhabited during my time with the Pass XA200.8 class-A monoblocks.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 27, 2022  |  0 comments
It was Sunday afternoon, and Nick Doshi (Doshi Audio), Jeff Joseph (Joseph Audio), and Jeff Fox (Notable Audio, J. Sikora, Command AV) were relaxing. It was all smiles, jokes, and laughter with this crowd. I scanned the room for illegal substances. Then legal substances. Nothing. Nada. Finally, I got it. It's the music!
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 26, 2022  |  1 comments
Industry veteran P.J. Zornosa and Vancouver, BC turntable designer John Stratton brought a compact system that made sublime sounds to one of Axpona's smaller rooms.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 26, 2022  |  9 comments
If you're like me, when attending audio shows you have your go-to joints, those rooms where the presentation will be engaging, the conversation interesting, and the good vibes effortless. Consistency frames the visit, like a homecoming where nothing has changed, where friends (and their hi-fis) welcome you. At the risk of sounding like a hawker, Credo Audio Switzerland—at Axpona's Nirvana B ballroom—has become one of my go-to joints.