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Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 24, 2022  |  0 comments
In search of beauty and excitement, I struck a lode on the fifth floor, where a pair of just-introduced, double-ported, full-range Revel 328Be speakers ($17,600) played in tandem with a spiffy Mark Levinson front end: the No 5101 streaming SACD player/DAC ($5500), the 5206 preamp ($9000), and the 5302 power amp (also $9000).
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 24, 2022  |  0 comments
For two years now, pandemic-related supply-chain issues have racked (but not wrecked) the high-end industry. Things still aren't back to normal, and sometimes planned product launches have to be pushed back. Today, when I visited the room featuring Magico loudpeakers and Luxman electronics—see KM's report here—I found out we'll have to wait just a little longer for the next Magico speaker, but I can't imagine that anyone was disappointed when the company's Peter Mackay brought the M6s ($185,000/pair) to AXPONA. A known quantity they may be—the product was introduced five years ago—but I was whistling Eric Clapton's "Hello Old Friend" as soon as I saw them.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 24, 2022  |  0 comments
A consistent player both at shows and in the hi-fi world, Linear Tube Audio's Nicholas Tolson brought smart, sparse rigs to two AXPONA rooms that played great music.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  0 comments
Presented in the Nirvana A Ballroom with Val Acora's Acora Acoustics granite SRC-2 loudspeakers ($37,000/pair), Valve Amplification Company (VAC) electronics sounded crisp, lively, and human.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  0 comments
Peter Mackay of Magico Loudspeakers (pictured above) and Jeffrey Sigmund and John Pravel of Luxman America brought a fantastic-sounding system to the Prosperity room. Exceptional scale, resolution, depth, dynamics, precision, and juicy tone could all be heard—audio prosperity of the highest order.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  1 comments
For huge sound in a huge room, you needed to look no further than the Schaumburg Renaissance Convention Center's Schaumburg F. Played at full volume, the momentous, quasi-apocalyptic opening of Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra, aka the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, virtually knocked me back a row. Only the deep bass, which was eaten alive by the room's spongy air walls, suffered. Which means that the deepest organ pedals on the forthcoming superbly recorded 7-CD Strauss set from conductor Andris Nelsons (heard in 24/96) had about the same weight as on the hi-rez digital transfer of Fritz Reiner's famous RCA Living Stereo recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  0 comments
Some audio equipment makes its presence felt simply by its elegance. With its Versailles-like appeal, the colossal Burmester rig in the Schaumberg A room was magnificent to behold, virtually an audio treatise in luxury. A legacy German brand that manufactures everything from nuts and bolts to speaker cabinets and drivers, Burmester, represented at AXPONA by its US distributor Rutherford Audio, brought some of their classiest, biggest, and boldest equipment—all the listener need do was indulge the senses.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  0 comments
"The road to the graveyard is littered with corpses of subwoofer companies that wanted to sell a range of regular speakers," Gary Yacoubian observes with a laugh. We're standing outside the SVS room at AXPONA while on yonder side of the door, a 7.2 SVS Dolby Atmos setup is testing the Renaissance hotel's structural soundness with an explosive fight scene from a Spiderman movie. Fittingly, Yacoubian is ready to, you know, rumble. His company has built a solid reputation by making and direct-selling excellent-value, powerful subwoofers and providing some of the friendliest pre- and post-sale service in the industry.
Julie Mullins  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  0 comments
It's showtime again! With a business and showroom in Toronto, Wynn Wong's Wynn Audio is a next-generation dealer and distributor for a number of luxe European high-design high-end brands, a few of which had new product introductions at AXPONA. Wynn's preferred equipment leans toward striking and colorful rather than gaudy or blingy.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  3 comments
Valve Amplification Company electronics also appeared in the Euphoria room, hosted by The Audio Company, where I believe Von Schweikert's Damon Von Schweikert and Leif Swanson were in attendance.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  1 comments
After a few hours of listening to speakers that cost well into the five and six figures, how much enthusiasm could I muster for a pair that retails for just $995? As it turns out, a lot. I'd heard the $750/pair Magnepan LRS a few years ago and marveled at how low the admission price to true high-end sonics can be. They sounded fast, surefooted, and transparent. Magnepan's new LRS+ speakers offer more of the same but at an elevated level and a slightly elevated price. Wendell Diller, a.k.a. Mr. Magnepan, calls them "higher-resolution" speakers.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  0 comments
Upscale Distribution's Kevin Deal brought his posse to AXPONA (left–right: Randy Bingham, Kevin Deal, Craig Hoffman, Alex Brinkman). Though Deal's room was static, he also sponsored legacy French brand, Cabasse, in an adjacent room, where Cabasse representative Jean-Michel Polit demoed the thrilling flagship Pearl Pelegrina loudspeakers ($20,999/pair).
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  1 comments
The AXPONA experience is head-spinning in more ways than one. So many rooms, so many people to meet, so much gear to listen to. And so much regret when you realize that you can't fit it all into two or three days, unless each day were to last as long as it does it on Mercury. (Maybe one day we'll have audio shows there—sign me up!)

Another head-spinner occurred Saturday morning when I had to almost forcibly drag myself off the listening couch in the 16th-floor Avantgarde Acoustic room, where dCS front-end gear and a pair of gargantuan Trio G3 horn speakers ($180,000) had bowled me over with perhaps the most heavenly, enveloping sound of the entire show. Why did I leave? Because I had an appointment at the Devialet room on the same floor to listen to...(drum roll) a Dolby Atmos soundbar.

Ken Micallef  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  0 comments
Bill Duddleston brought not one, but four of his Legacy Audio systems to Axpona, where he mixed and matched components, but each system was largely unique, especially in the loudspeaker complement.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 22, 2022  |  1 comments
As early as 9AM on Friday, April 22, early registrants began wandering the halls of Chicago's Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center. By 9:30AM, the first semi-crazed rush for vinyl old and new had begun in The Record Fair. And by 10AM, music was resounding in all its glory in the 138 exhibit rooms and 10 floors that comprise AXPONA 2022.