AXPONA 2019

Sort By:  Post Date TitlePublish Date
Jim Austin  |  Apr 18, 2019  |  2 comments
AXPONA 2019 was a good show—I'm tempted to say an important show. It's just an intuition, but I sense renewed vitality.
Jim Austin  |  Apr 17, 2019  |  7 comments
Both the name of the company and the look of their products belie what I found to be the company's spirit. "CAD"—short, in this case, for Computer Audio Design, but more commonly denoting computer-aided design, evokes highly technical, inhuman stuff. The main CAD products on active display in this room at AXPONA—the CAD Audio Transport, the 1543 Mk II DAC, and various "Ground Control" boxes—are squared off and minimalist in design, resembling space objects from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The components' green logos evoked, for me, nothing so much as the eyes of aliens come to abduct us.
Jim Austin  |  Apr 17, 2019  |  2 comments
The racks produced by Butcher Block Acoustics, which were on display in the EXPO at AXPONA 2019, are about what you'd expect from a company with that name: They look like butcher blocks made into shelves, with lots and lots of maple. If you want a softer, warmer wood, you can get walnut instead. Or, you can get walnut shelves with maple legs, or maple shelves with walnut legs. However it's configured, it's a modern, minimalist look--almost Scandinavian.
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 17, 2019  |  18 comments
By the time I knew they were handing out cots, it was too late: They had already run out. The person at the Help Desk at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport said he'd never seen so many people camping out there. (Thanks to Mike Trei for the above photo.)
John Atkinson  |  Apr 17, 2019  |  4 comments
The last room I visited at the 2019 AXPONA was the best-sounding: the big room shared by Kyomi Audio and MBL on the Renaissance Hotel's 15th floor. The system comprised MBL's Noble Line N31 CD player/DAC ($15,400) that I reviewed in February 2018, the N11 preamplifier ($14,600), four N15 monoblock amplifiers ($35,600/pair) and the omnidirectional 101E Mk.2 loudspeakers ($70,500/pair), all hooked up with WireWorld Eclipse Series 8 cables.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 17, 2019  |  0 comments
Florida-based Bending Wave USA were showing the ginormous Divin Noblesse loudspeakers ($220,000/pair) making their US debut—I wrote "ginormous" but these are actually just the second largest speakers in the German company Goebel's line—driven by the Swiss CH Precision phono preamp, preamplifier, and power amplifiers.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 17, 2019  |  6 comments
MartinLogan co-founder Gayle Sanders emerged from retirement at the 2018 AXPONA with a new loudspeaker brand, Eikon. But Eikon is not just a loudspeaker but a complete system ($25,000 in standard finish or $30,000 in the carbon-fiber finish shown in my photo), with DAC, preamplifier, and digital signal processor incorporated into the Eikontrol unit, which has both analog inputs and digital (USB and S/PDIF but PCM only) inputs, and each of the speaker's drive-units has its own amplifier.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 17, 2019  |  5 comments
I sat down in the Playback Designs room to listen to a system featuring Playback's MPS-8 SACD player/DAC ($25,000 plus $2400 for the Stream_X option) and Stream-IF streaming interface ($3300), both from the company's Dream series, with an Playback IPS-3 integrated amplifier ($14,000), these all sitting on an English Lateral Systems 4-shelf rack ($4100), driving Verity Parsifal Anniversary loudspeakers ($25,000/pair) and wired with Kubala-Sosna Emotion interconnects and Fascination AC cord and speaker cables. Playing was the DSD256 file of "Let There Be Love," copied from an analog Ampex 468 ¼" tape running at 30ips that had been recorded in parallel with Lyn Stanley's new direct-to disc album London With a Twist: Live at Bernie's.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 17, 2019  |  3 comments
"Why is there a box of parts next to each of the Evolution loudspeakers?" I jokingly asked Blue Light Audio's Jonathan Tinn. He explained that those were the external crossovers for the three-way Maestoso loudspeakers ($18,900/pair) with their lids off. The speakers were being driven by the darTZeel NHB-108 Model Two power amplifier ($44,000), which was making its North American debut at AXPONA, and preamp was that Mikey Fremer favorite, the darTZeel NHB-18NS Mk.II ($44,000 with phono stage).
John Atkinson  |  Apr 16, 2019  |  3 comments
"Good grief! They are using Quads!" I used to use Quad ESL-57s in the mid 1980s before I moved to the US and in some ways, no other speaker has come close to the sonic transparency offered by these idiosyncratic-looking electrostatic speakers. But to see and hear an original pair dating from 1958 in the room shared by Michigan dealer/manufacturer Nokturne Audio and Lejonklou HiFi from Sweden was a highlight of the 2019 AXPONA.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 16, 2019  |  2 comments
Manley Labs' firebrand CEO EveAnna Manley always seems to enjoy audio shows and AXPONA was no exception, where she was showing off the Absolute Tube headphone amplifier ($4500) in the Ear Gear Expo.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 16, 2019  |  1 comments
I was impressed by the new Monitor Audio Gold 300 speakers when I auditioned them at the recent Montreal Audio fest. At AXPONA, Chicago retailer Saturday Audio Exchange was showing off the smaller Gold 200 tower ($5000/pair) and Gold 100 bookshelf ($2100/pair) driven by a Roksan Blak integrated amplifier ($4499) and Black CD player ($3999) and hooked up with AudioQuest cables. Like the 300, the smaller speakers feature midrange units and woofers that use Monitor Audio's RDT II (Rigid Diaphragm Technology) sandwich diaphragms, with a "Micro Pleated Diaphragm" tweeter.
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 16, 2019  |  3 comments
Jolida Audio began life a fabricator of vacuum tubes. But since the early 1990s, it has been known for its musical-sounding, modestly priced tube amplification. Jolida was also famous for its association with Jim Fosgate, famous for his Dolby Pro Logic inventions and, more important (to me at least), his battery-powered cartridge-azimuth alignment tool, the Fozgometer. Which I use all the time.
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 16, 2019  |  3 comments
My personal selection for Stereophile's 2018 Product of the Year was the super-resolving, highly-involving TAD Micro Evolution One loudspeaker ($12,495/pair). I heard it first at a MoFi demonstration at an audio show. Wherein I repeated the words "wow" and "my god" over and over. Think goosebumps and awe. But I never thought, or imagined, how much more fleshed out and expansive the ME1s could sound with another octave of energy at the bottom. This year, in the second Tenacious Audio room, the $27,995/pair TAD Evolution E1TX-K loudspeakers produced a much larger and more forceful energy field—with an enhanced octave to octave tonal balance. The E1TX-K's dual 7" woofers and CST coaxial mid-tweeter array delivered an extremely beguiling transparency.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 16, 2019  |  1 comments
The impressive-sounding room from dealer Audio Video Interiors featured the Anthem STR integrated amplifier ($4499) that Tom Norton reviewed for Stereophile in July 2018. Speakers were the Paradigm Persona 3Fs ($10,000/pair), a smaller sibling to the similar-looking Persona 5F ($17,000/pair) that Kal Rubinson reviewed in October 2018.

Pages

X