Last day of the greatest American high-end audio show I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. The impossible energy from those in attendance was something to behold. Everyone had damn great time. I’m already looking forward to AXPONA 2019.
At this point, everyone at the show is looking a bit exhausted, anxious, and hungover. One too many Buttery Nipples from the night before. This means easier access to sweet spots but also means exhibitors will be packing up earlier than scheduled. For that reason, we skipped breakfast (hah) and went straight to the rooms.
Luckily I covered most of the Ear Gear stuff at CanJam Socal the weekend prior so we just blazed through that section. We’re having more fun this time around so a few impressions and lots of photos. Let’s do this.
Room 743: Stillpoints Room. Telos Audio Design Quantum Acoustics Diffuser ($800). At first blush, looks like acoustic treatment, but there’s actually a circuit board and antenna in this device. It involves adjusting the electromagnetic resonance waves in the listening area as it correlates to the Schumann and brain’s alpha wave. I’ll have to get one in for review. Learn more here.
Telos Quantum Acoustics Diffuser
The man himself: Gayle Sanders. He has a predictable sense of style. 😉
A revisit to room 705 (Refined Audio). A very pleasant listening session.
Oracle Audio Paris CD250 ($3,500). The internal structure of the Paris CD250 combines an optimally calibrated power supply stage, a digital to analog conversion board using the Burr Brown PCM1792, 24Bits/192Khz, proprietary fully discrete analog modules and a distinct wiring for the analog and digital signals. For more info.
Schaumburg C: Synergistic Research. SR undoubtedly had one of the most massive rooms at AXPONA. They were debuting their new HFT Wide Angle and Atmosphere X line of cables (We believe they were using all Euphoria). One of our (much smaller) listening rooms is currently filled with SR gear for our full loom review series so we were curious as to how their components will sound in a room of this magnitude. In short, Ted Denney and Andy Wiederspahn of SR did an incredible job treating this room (UEF acoustic panels, Black Box, HFTs, etc). Their system has never sounded this good at a show.
The Synergistic Research Powercell 12 UEF SE ($6,495) power conditioner has the lowest noise floor of any power conditioner we’ve tested. It is QUIET. We’ve done a few comparisons and it is now our reference in our B&W listening room.
Constellation Audio Taurus stereo amplifier ($19,500)
Synergistic Research HFT Wide Angle Debut: For the demo, six of these little guys were placed in specific areas of the room. Music was played with and without the Wide Angles in place. The differences were very clear to everyone in listening in the room. With the HFT WAs in place, the soundstage and resolution improved dramatically. With the WAs removed, the sound was warmer but more closed-in and less resolved. The sound reminded localized in the center of the room instead of filling up the entire space.
Synergistic Research SR25 ($20,000) – For more info
The largest and most knowledgeable Synergistic Research dealer in the West: Scott Walker Audio
Schaumburg B: Audio Union, EnKlein, and Thrax. Thrax Basus ($40,600/pr) and Lyra ($19,600/pr) combination with EnKlein cabling. Unfortunately, they were powering down the amps so we couldn’t get a good listen. Learn more here.
Schaumburg A: Audiophile Direct, Aurum Cantus, Benchmark Media Systems, Danacable, Gingko Audio. Aurum Cantus’s new V80F loudspeakers ($5,250/pr) is a 3-Way floor standing speaker using the award winning Aurum Cantus wide-band aluminum ribbon tweeter technology. Benchmark DAC3/HGC ($2,995), Danacable Diamond Reference cabling ($1,500+), Gingko Audio Mini/Super ARCHs (starts at $299/set). Great acoustic synergy in this configuration. We also had a wonderful time talking shop with Roger DuNaier. One of the funniest guys at these shows.
Another tribute to OPPO…
Nirvana A: Seaton Sound. Great guys in this room. Their signature Seaton Submersive F2+ & F2-Slave subwoofers ($1,595-$3,095). 2 subs piggyback off the active subs for a total of six. Pretty cool stuff. Learn more here.
Seaton Sound in-wall coaxial speakers
Nirvana B: Atma-sphere Music Systems, Classic Audio Loudspeakers, Silent Running Audio, Inc., Tri-Planar, United Home Audio, and Purist Audio Design. Classic Audio T-1.5 ($73,000) driven by Atma-sphere preamp/amps.
Seaton Sound subwoofers
Lots of hype around these LS 2V MKIIs…
Serenity: Next Level HiFi, Aavik Acoustics, Ansuz Acoustics, Borresen Audio, Raidho Acoustics, and Scansonic.
Nirvana C: JTR Speakers, Digital Amp Company, High Impact AV, JRiver Media Center, Lab Gruppen, Seymour-Screen Excellence, Sony. Impressive demo!
Prosperity: Audio Video Interiors of Chicago, Anthem, AudioQuest, Aurender, Martin Logan, Paradigm-Persona, McIntosh. Big Sound.
Ephiphany: Scaena Iso-Linear Array Loudspeakers ($128,000) with High Fidelity Cables Luminance Audio MA-70 ($80-89,000 depending on finish) amps and Ultimate Reference Helix AES digital cables with DCS front-end and Pro Series interconnects, speaker cables, and power cords. The HFC MA70 amplifier with “current Injection” which now has magnetic conduction applied directly to the transistors for a magnetically controlled transistor. The specs on the amp are incredible including a bandwidth of 1 Hz to 2 MHz. That is right “2 megahertz”! Speed is 400V/us! Thing is a monster of the future. As for the speakers, one of the most unique-looking speakers and subwoofers at the show. A line source array using multiple drivers with even dispersion characteristics within their operating range. Lots of exotic finishes for this speaker. This one had some kind of Mother of Pearl. Polite/relaxed with nice spatial imaging and clarity. For more info.
Exotic finishes from Scaena Loudspeakers.
Scaena Loudspeakers subwoofer for their Iso-Linear Array.
Utopia D: Channel D / Vandersteen Audio. Vandersteen Model 5 ($31,300/pr for Model 5A). Great for those who listen to a lot of orchestral music 🙂
Vandersteen Sub Nine subwoofers
This cute little Entreq Poseidon grounding block is $4,999. The easiest way of thinking about the Entreq boxes is to literally consider them a box of “ground”. made up of a controlled quantity of conductive materials known to absorb noise. This provides a far more consistent, reliable and potent grounding for your audio system than a grounding rod in your back yard (which you should have as well).
Utopia C: Wynn Audio. CD Player: Kalista DreamPlay One $48,000 (*new product, just announced at AXPONA, combine DreamPlay CD transport and DAC into one unit). Turntable: Thales TTT-Compact II Turntable $14,850. Tonearm: Thales Statement Tonearm $21,090. Cartridge: EMT JSD VM $4,995. Phono: Karan Acoustics KA Ph Reference Phono $23,995. Preamp: Karan Acoustics KA L Reference Preamp $16,995. Power amp: Karan Acoustics KA M 2000 Monoblocks $59,995 (a pair). Speakers: Penaudio Sinfonia $27,000 Cables: ZenSati Zorro and Seraphim. Spent some quality time in this room. Unequivocally one the best sounds from the show. Very dynamic, resolute, euphoric, and tonally accurate. Piano, in particular, sounds very convincing on this system.
Karan Acoustics KA PH Reference Phono Preamplifier
Been seeing a lot of Benchmark AHB2 amplifiers at the show…
Rear of the Penaudio Sinfonia Signature…
Audio Plus Services: Vicoustic Innovative Acoustic Solutions – Some nice looking panels.
Utopia B: Audio Plus Services – Focal KANTA line-up
Utopia B: Audio Plus Services, Crystal Cable, IsoAcoustics, Musical Fidelity, Naim, Vicoustic.
Cop the new Anne Bisson Trio Four Seasons in Jazz Live at Bernie’s record! Fantastic recording. Top-notch vocals. “It Might as Well Be Spring” would be my pick.
Utopia A: Legacy Audio, Douglas Connection, and Raven Audio. They were showcasing the new flagship VALOR system. There was also the state-of-the-art Legacy Wavelet Processor (room correction/DAC device). Legacy Audio Focus SE (Pictured). Take a look at their products
Euphoria: Von Schweikert Audio. Acoustic Sciences Corporation, Aurender, Critical Mass Systems, Esoteric, J-Corder, Kronos, Lampizator, The Audio Company, and VAC. One of the larger rooms at the show. Huge sound, nice clarity, deep soundstage, and very articulate.
Von Schweikert Audio room: Esoteric and VAC