Ken Micallef

Ken Micallef  |  Apr 20, 2023  |  2 comments
Robert Schryer reviewed the KLH Model Three ($1799/pair) in December 2022; I reviewed the KLH Model Five ($1998/pair) in September 2021—we each loved our respective pairs.

There's something honest and immediate about the revived KLH lineup; it feels right, looks right—"mid-century modern!" says Don Draper—and most importantly, sounds right. These are no-nonsense transducers that make exceptional music with most upstream components.

Ken Micallef  |  Apr 19, 2023  |  11 comments
While audiophiles kvetch over the future of this thing we love, rest assured, young audiophiles are growing in number, evidenced by AXPONA halls streaming with under-30 types. Upscale Audio's Kevin Deal, one of the savviest of distributors, introduced me to his young Analog Manager, Kat Ourlian, who discussed specs and brought two terrific-sounding LPs to play on a tricked-out PrimaLuna/Tannoy system.

Ken Micallef  |  Apr 18, 2023  |  3 comments
At AXPONA 2023, Luxman America's Jeff Sigmund and John Pravel brought serious sonic finery from Luxman Japan with the same gracious, enthusiastic, generous manner they've extended for years.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 18, 2023  |  0 comments
I'm an unabashed Audio Note fanboy. You got a problem with that? Audio Note lives deep in not only my sonic soul (an Audio Note M2 Pre was my first serious hi-fi purchase), but those of colleagues Herbert Reichert and Michael Trei, Audio Note distributors back in the 1990s, when tubes were cheap and the only thing Upscale Audio's Kevin Deal sold!

Audio Note returned to AXPONA with nothing to new to spring on the hungry (really) crowds, only the same consistency of sound major domo Peter Qvortrup has offered for decades.

Ken Micallef  |  Apr 18, 2023  |  0 comments
As I think I wrote somewhere, it's one thing to hear equipment at a show, another thing to hear it at home. I meant to imply that, of course, at home is the only way to truly hear a piece, in your reference system.

But at AXPONA, where George Counnas (center) and Carolyn Counnas (right) debuted their new Zesto Audio Eros 500 Select KT-150 equipped, class-A monoblocks, with Zesto Audio's Leto Ultra II preamp, which I reviewed in January 2021, I was flummoxed at the beauty of sound, extravagance of liquidity and detail, and nearly spiritual physicality the system endowed to a variety of music.

Ken Micallef  |  Apr 16, 2023  |  0 comments
Jay Rein (right) and Chad Stelly (left) of Bluebird Music Limited presented multiple debuts and US firsts at AXPONA, including a chance to meet SME CEO Stuart McNeilis (center), on hand for the first American spin of his newish SME Model 60 turntable ($71,900; Stereophile review by Michael Trei forthcoming).
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 16, 2023  |  3 comments
Cambridge Audio CEO Stuart George arrived at AXPONA for the debut of the Cambridge Audio MXN10 streamer ($499). The faithful British brand's two hotel rooms were fairly jumping with interested "punters," I think that's a malleable Brit term one could use to describe audiophiles eager to hear more of this legacy brand that has for decades offered incredible value.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 16, 2023  |  4 comments
I admit, I have my preferred rooms, my biases, at shows. Hey, I'm only human! One such joint is the Volti Audio, Border Patrol, Triode Wire Labs room commandeered, respectively, by Greg Roberts (right), Gary Dewes (left), and Triode Pete Grzybowski (center). I favorably reviewed one of Gary's SET Border Patrol amps, and use Greg and Pete's components in my system. So, when I hit their AXPONA room and saw a bust of Beethoven staring glumly at the rig, I asked "Who's the new guy?"
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 16, 2023  |  1 comments
Jeffrey Catalano of Lower Manhattan lives in an ancient building near the South Street Seaport where ghosts of seaman and slaves mingle with investment bankers and tourists. Catalano's High Water Sound is the place where every New York City area audiophile dreams of being invited, cause it's here where this mad audio wizard (and former jazz drummer (1957 Ludwigs) and jazz LP collector, like moi) cooks up the magnificent sounds that appear, like magic, at every show where High Water Sound presents. Year after year, show after show, as consistent as Big Ben.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 16, 2023  |  0 comments
Schofield, formerly of Krell, produced a bevy of smart gear (smart as in cool and hip, not Internet of Things smart) to bear on the AXPONA audience. Terry Medalen's Primare electronics from Sweden, including the Primare PRE 35 preamplifier ($5000, reviewed by Sasha Matson in April 2023), Primare A35.8 Amp, 150Wpc into 8 ohms, ($5500, reviewed by Kal Rubinson in November 2022), and Primare DD 35 Transport ($3800) relaxed my internal grouchy beast with their smooth sound and refined sonic beauty.