AXPONA 2018

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John Atkinson  |  May 07, 2018  |  22 comments
Photo: Corrina Jones

When JD Events' Liz MiIler invited me to give the keynote speech at the 2018 AXPONA, in Chicago suburb Schaumburg, I was at first not sure what to talk about. But then I realized that not only was 2018 the 32nd anniversary of my joining Stereophile as editor and the 42nd anniversary of my joining Hi-Fi News & Record Review magazine as a lowly editorial assistant, it also marked 50 years since I bought my first audio system!

Jana Dagdagan  |  Apr 27, 2018  |  4 comments
Constellation’s Irv Gross (right) welcomes Jason to the Precision Audio room.

On Saturday April 14, I followed Jason Victor Serinus around AXPONA with my video camera while he played recordings from M•A and John Atkinson.

Jana Dagdagan  |  Apr 23, 2018  |  7 comments
After visiting the Expo Hall with Herb Reichert, we move on to the Schaumburg Renaissance Hotel's upper levels to visit a few rooms, capturing binaural sound so, on headphones, you can hear what Herb heard.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 20, 2018  |  3 comments
Lunch? A quick donut and a Tall Café Mocha at the Renaissance Hotel's Starbucks and I was ready to hit the remaining floors on the 16th floor. "These are not your father's Ohms!" read the poster in the HHR Exotic Speakers room. Looked like 'em to me, but I was quickly enlightened.
Jana Dagdagan  |  Apr 20, 2018  |  2 comments
In the first of the videos we shot at AXPONA 2018, Herb Reichert takes you along with him in a brief exploration of the Expo Hall, featuring Gayle Sanders' Lamborghini, Todd Garfinkle of M•A Recordings, a crowd of headphone wearers, and a mysterious abundance of lab coats.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 20, 2018  |  7 comments
The remarkably relaxed, smiling faces of AXPONA Tradeshow Coordinator Jordan Brereton (left) and VP/Event Director Liz Miller (right) say it all. Photographed after show's close, Jordan and Liz were poised to announce that under the leadership of JD Events Founder and CEO Joel Davis, their team of 8 had sold 8134 tickets—up 21% from 2017—and welcomed 5718 unique visitors to the largest consumer audio show in the United States. The number of tickets sold to students ages 15-25 increased by 27%. This to a show with 165 active exhibit rooms and an over-15,000 square foot exhibit hall that hosted booths from 96 companies, half of which were part of the Ear Gear Expo.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 19, 2018  |  11 comments
The final room I visited on the 15th floor turned out to be one of the best. Thanks in no small part to Jeff Joseph and Lucien Pichette's joint set-up acumen, plus a little help from what Jeff calls the "audio gods," a recording of the great Ella singing, on tape, Johnny Mercer and Richard Whiting's "Too Marvelous for Words" was a total delight.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 19, 2018  |  3 comments
I hit the ground running Sunday morning, with many rooms to visit but only six hours to do so. I started with the 16th floor suite featuring horn speakers from German company Avantgarde. Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the wall" was playing on the humongous, four-way Trio XD horn system ($150,000 with four bass horns) and the kick drum did indeed kick me in the chest. (Peak spls, measured with the Studio Six iPhone app, reached 102.3dBC, slow.) Rest of the system included Esoteric source and amplification, Transparent cabling, and an HRS racks. There weren't any colorations that could be laid at the feet of the horns, though voices were projected forward in the soundstage. An extraordinary sound and a great way to start the day.
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 18, 2018  |  5 comments
I remember the sound character of early (1990s) Audio Physic loudspeakers. They were the first radically slender floor-standers. They generated humongous soundstages, and precise imaging was their raison d'être. Users would position the speakers extremely far apart, usually on the long wall. They used plenty of toe-in, crossing the speaker's direct waves in front of them. Finally, the listener would sit closer to the speakers than the distance between the speakers. Their side-firing woofers made tight-ish bass, but, if memory serves, their midrange, though quite clear, was less rich and dense than I prefer.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 18, 2018  |  13 comments
"The core audiophiles, they are aging," the collective subconscious of exhibitors on the 15th floor seemed to say. "Since they're attempting to bask in the glow of their golden years, they don't want to hear anything in their sonic sanctuaries that might expose them to the harsh realities of the present day. Hence, we shall warm up the sound, add a few tablespoons of sugar, and ensure that everything sounds as safe, warm, and cuddly as those TV commercials for assisted living communities."
John Atkinson  |  Apr 18, 2018  |  2 comments
I started my second day at the Chicago show in the Dynaudio room, where the Danish loudspeaker company's Special 40 stand-mounts ($3000/pair) were being driven by an Octave 80SE integrated amplifier ($10,500) with its Super Black Box external power supply ($3000) . . . this dem illustrated how matching a relatively small speaker to a smallish room can produce optimal and excellent sound quality.
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 17, 2018  |  0 comments
Who doesn't like and admire Elac's chief loudspeaker designer (formally of KEF, TAD, and Pioneer) Andrew Jones? I surely do: but not only for his abilities to create high-value, low-cost, audiophile-quality speakers: I admire him for how he makes me feel when he stands in front of a packed audio-show room and tells stories plays songs…and smiles that wicked British smile he uses to suck us all in.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 17, 2018  |  7 comments
With very few exceptions, the 4th floor of the Renaissance Schaumberg was filled with fine to extraordinary sounding rooms. The sound was so good that Jana Dagdagan and I returned to the floor on Day Two to shoot video in three of the rooms. You'll see what fun we had (in very cramped quarters) when the video appears down the road…
John Atkinson  |  Apr 15, 2018  |  3 comments
"What are you doing here?" MartinLogan founder Gayle Sanders has been long gone from the audio industry but there he was in the corridor of the Schaumburg Renaissance hotel's 7th floor. "I love the industry and I wanted to come back and play," Gayle laughed as he introduced me to his Eikon Image1 digital active loudspeaker ($24,500/system).
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 15, 2018  |  68 comments
Most readers don't know this, but I am measurer. I own oscilloscopes and distortion analyzers and have been measuring amps and speakers for nigh on 30 years. But when I hear some audiophiles say that all cables—and especially AC power cords—sound the same, it makes me reach for the Tequila and pistols. Folks, ya gotta relax, breath air, and listen—the effects are not subtle. And that's what I did in the MoFi Distribution room, where Jonathan Derda (the nicest guy in audio) was demonstrating two power conditioners from IsoTek, the $995 Corvus and the $4995 Titan, and one IsoTek AC cord, the $995 Sequel C15 Link.

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