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AXPONA 2012: Wrapping Up

AXPONA 2012, in Jacksonville this time around, will be wrapping up in a few hours. Sound quality is probably as good as it’s gonna be. And, by now, I suspect that the bulk of the vendors are probably just now starting to feel somewhat human again after yet another night of wild partying till the wee hours followed by more hours of probably ill-advised last-minute tweaks. Never, ever, tweak when you’re blasted. Nothing good ever comes of that.

I fled the scene of the crime after-hours yesterday, having been able to spend two wonderful days wandering the four floors of the Omni Hotel. Was it just me, or did that hotel just smell funny? And yes, Chris Sommovigo, har har — I did shower. So there. Anyway, it must be the humidity. Speaking of which, I was very happy that I stuffed that baseball cap into my bag, so I was able to contain my overgrown thatch which, by Saturday, was actively attempting to to levitate off of my head. Ahh, the sea. How I miss you.

Lots of folks opted for the Symphony on Friday night, and to all reports, it was a wonderful show. Not my cuppa, but it takes all kinds, doesn’t it? Weirdos.

No, on Friday night, I got kidnapped by Peter Lederman and Chris Sommovigo and carted off to a Scottish pub called Finn MacCool’s. Some fish and chips, some Guiness on draft, a wide ranging discussion which only occasionally touched on things audio, and an absolutely gorgeous Florida evening, was far more my speed. All I have to say is this: high-end audio is just stuffed with some of the most interesting people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. It’s not hard to see how veterans never get anything accomplished at shows. Can’t wait for the next one!

I have about 200 pics all loaded up (the other 400 aren’t worth bothering to edit). The AXPONA show this year wasn’t big — somewhat less than 30 rooms, IIRC, all told. Which means that I got to spend actual time in each room (with one notable exception), and visit them all more than once, which was quite a luxury.

Overall, the sound quality at the show was good enough to roundly embarrass those veterans that are a priori convinced that shows suck. True, perhaps, but if so — here was an exception. I had a great time and my ears felt very lucky to have been along for the ride.

Some things that caught my ear:

Joseph Audio and Channel D/Pure Music. The Pulsars are truly, honestly, and I can say this without a shred of irony at the hyperbole, they’re just wonderful speakers. Don’t let their size fool you — these are serious contenders for “best ever”. And at AXPONA, they sounded better than I’ve heard them at the last few shows. Very well done and a happy place to keep returning to.

Smyth Research. Still a contender for “coolest thing in audio” — now, for a second year in a row. Talk about grinning like an idiot.

Avatar Acoustics. Darren did it again. All the bass demons from RMAF had been stuffed into the sock drawer and the sound here was as delightful as the ambiance.

Tyler Acoustics. Ty could not be a nicer guy and the demo system he put together was not only imposing sonically, it’s almost affordable. Well, you know what I mean. But did you see the size of those speakers? I think his Decade D20s might be my favorite in his lineup.

Soundfield Audio. I did not catch them at RMAF. Or at CAF. I’m an idiot. AJ has something remarkable going on here. I didn’t believe it. You won’t either. But then, I’m an idiot — what’s your excuse?

Sound-Smith. Speaking of how much of an idiot I am, I have been visiting Soundsmith rooms at every show I’ve been lucky enough to attend. You know what finally caught my ears? His speakers. These things are tiny and they sound huge. How have I missed them, over and over? Well, okay, Peter usually has his rooms stuffed floor to ceiling in a way that reminds me not a little bit like the treasure room in a dwarven mine, but that only says that there are too many awesome things to get distracted by. Which is why I think his speakers keep getting passed over. Well, no more. I’m watching them now. See? I think one of them moved!

More to come. I bought some CDs. I picked up some cables. I had some delicious pasta. All in all, it was a good show! And besides, how can you beat a live, all-day-long, piano serenade? Nice touch, by the way. 😉

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About Scot Hull (975 Articles)
Founder, Editor and Publisher at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional Magazine.

6 Comments on AXPONA 2012: Wrapping Up

  1. Thanks again, PTA dude…

    Funny, I’ve been a audiophile for like 50 years…I’m mean way back in the days when TAS and Audiophile were the size of a TV Guide and sold like underground literature…back in the days when Advent, KHL, AR-3A/5 and BBC LS35a speakers actually ran at the leading edge (especially the much bally-hoo’d double Advent system which claimed near audio nirvana by stacking two pairs of Advent’s. For the 1%’ers, of which i was the reciprocal, there were the Quad ESL57 and 63’s and Harbeths and Gales. And, if you were lucky you could go to a local stereo shop and listen to Paul Klipsch lecture about his horn-loaded babies and demo the Klipschorn’s with a $1 transistor radio pushing out serious dBs. Marantz and Dynaco were actually equipment you dreamed about buying or building if you were geekly inclined (i wasnt). Mcintosh…was so far out of the realm of possibility but so cool that you saved the brochures to read with the bathroom door locked when you had a free half hour. For the first 20 years of my audiophile journey I read everything and bought like nothing except a KLH combo turntable and speakers that buttoned up with handle that made it look like a smith corona typewriter. After that I bartered with a local dealer for a wicked pretty Marantz Receiver with a built in oscilloscope and an Empire Direct Drive TT with a Shure V15III cartrige. Man, I actually wish I still hadthat cartridge today. BTW, I feel compelled to mention that this was the 60’s and with the right weed, my system was THE magical mystery tour.

    I still read everything as part of my audiophile obsession…but it wasn’t until the past 10 years that I’ve actually started to spend anything meaningful on it. I started slow…but in the last 5 years I’ve laid out ~$60K and have been an active trader upper…artfully waiting after I’ve read about the next best new thing…lurking on Agon. Ebay and about 10 tri-state dealers…springing panther-like when something on my target list comes up for sale.

    So the uncontrollable compulsive thing has started again with the Pulsars. I know the symptoms. Obsessively reading everything that’s in print on the Pulsars. I mean everything…manufacture website, blogs, reviews, old Agon and Asylum discussion groups, calling dealers to let them sell me. We’re talking OCD at a disturbing level. But fortunately it’s only happened like maybe three times over the years where I couldn’t rest until I have found a way to score the Cet obscur objet du désir. And all three journeys produced 150% perfecto/right on the money/ no-trade-away stellar acquisitions. Two of them, I didn’t even audition…I had that total certitude that they would be greater than their reputation. Got that feeling about the Pulsars.

    I toyed with the idea of heading into the City to ‘audition’ them today…but ended up not going. I’m going to continue researching…and when I see the right used pair or, perhaps, even a brand new pair courtesy of my email “buddy” who’s the JA National Sales Manager. I’m just going to do it.

    Julia Rule does not apply here.

    Cheers,

    Bill

  2. More research on the Pulsars, if you have a minute. And I understand if I’m talking advantage of a really good thing.

    Have you heard the Joseph RM25XL’s? If so, in the broadest strokes how do they compare (if at all) with the Pulsars. Different woofer/midrange and tweeter drivers, I know. But they appear to share a similar infinite slope crossover (perhaps not in terms of bill of materials, but they seem to crossover at the same point).

    Wondering if they are 80% of the Pulsars, which I think you suggested delivered like 80% of the Pearls (for a smaller listening room application).

    As always, really appreciate whatever insight you can provide.

    Cheers,

    Bill

    • Part-Time Audiophile // March 11, 2012 at 6:54 PM //

      I own the RM7xl, but I have heard the RM25xl at the dealer, right before I bought the monitors. I like them both quite a bit. Both lines sport the Infinite Slope Crossover (as you mentioned) and while they share a similar cohesiveness, the Pulsars (Perspectives and Pearls) are more refined, more extended, and more “holographic”. No one is really ever able to say what anyone else would find “affordable” or not, but the RM-line is certainly a more affordable entry point. I quite like my RM7xls and use them daily in my home theater rig.

      I did hear that Jeff is planning on rev’ing the RM line next, if that matters. Mostly cosmetic upgrades, he says, but I never feel like I can trust a designer to refrain from making “little tweaks” that dramatically improve the sound quality.

  3. Steve Truett // March 11, 2012 at 4:10 PM //

    Not being in the biz, I pick and choose which audio showcases to attend. The last Axpona I attended was held at Atlanta. Now, when I think of Axpona, I think of it as a mini-RMAF, less gear, fewer people, fewer rooms. Axpona is nice that you can actually spend plenty of time in each room, as opposed to RMAF, if you want to visit most of it, but I prefer the overwhelming experience at RMAF.
    I agree, Peter is an interesting fellow and I enjoyed chatting with him at the last RMAF. I could tell how enthusiastic he was and that, in part, had to do with why I purchased a Voice Ebony cartridge. The incredible sound quality of the cartridge was the other reason. 🙂

  4. doctorcilantro // March 11, 2012 at 1:01 PM //

    Nice! How did the new Carver speakers sound? Any scuttlebutts on the demise of Audiogon?

    • Part-Time Audiophile // March 11, 2012 at 1:20 PM //

      Didn’t hear any rumors about AudiogoN, though God only knows why, those folks are having some serious issues. But I did hear the Carvers. More on that front, very soon. 😉

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