AXPONA 2012: Eggleston Works, Krell, TACT, Tripoint

High End Palace was the first thing I heard when I hit the show floor at AXPONA this year. The doors were thrown open and the melodious music pouring into the lobby pooled around the stairs, washed around the AXPONA check-in table and surged down the hall past the hotel desk and bell stand. It was impressive how much sound, how much clear, beautiful music, came from the $8,000 Eggleston Works The Fontaine Signature speakers that were on display.

I think this speaker is the least expensive in the Eggleston lineup that I’ve heard. And as a first exposure to the show floor, I was impressed. Very. No complaints here at all.

This was the start of a trend here at AXPONA I quickly learned. Not that every room was perfect, no, not at all. But so many of them got it right. Was AXPONA the best show for overall sound that I’ve been to? Yes. Yes it was.

The equipment in the High End Palace’s room was mostly unfamiliar to me, so I’m not really able to take it all apart for you. That said, I’d heard the Egglestons at RMAF in 2011 and was quite taken with them there. Here, power came from a $4500 Krell S-275 stereo amplifier — this was the first of many Krell amps I was to run across at the show. Connections came by way of a $7000 TaCT RCS 2.2 XP preamp with “Dynamic Room Correction” technology, always a smart selection for challenging show acoustics.

The Nirvana Reference Playback Computer Systems was new to me. Since the links point back to High End Palace, so I’m assuming that this is a side venture for them. Not cheap, though, at $8500.

Also new to me were the power conditioning products from Tripoint Audio. Easily the most expensive things in the room, and sporting some of the nicest finishes (African Bubinga!) at the show, the $20,000 Tripoint Orion handled the current distribution and the $12,000 Tripoint Troy (below), did something rather different — grounding. Each chassis in the rig was connected via specialty cables to either a grounding post or chassis screw and wired into a terminal on the back of the Troy.

This addresses EMI/RFI, provides an impedance ground matching for all of the components, and, I was told, generally adds a sense of ease and spaciousness to the sound stage.

I must have looked askance at all that, or had it show on my face, because Miguel Alvareaz of Tripoint very patiently walked behind the unit and quickly unhooked the three wires leading back to the rack. “Notice how the sound stage collapses” he said. I didn’t, really, but he then re-connected everything and sure enough, something seemed to shift around in the music. Huh. How about that? I think Miguel winked at me, then, as if to say “See? Told you so!”

3 comments

  • With $32K in power management/conditioning investment, when you go around back and unhook the wires the entire world should go dark…you should only hear a tinnitus-like white noise buzzing sound…your taste buds should stop working…color blindness should quickly follow. Otherwise you’re better off with a PS Audio Premiere.

    Dude, really? “something seemed to shift around in the music”? Shouldn’t you expect a tectonic plate kinda shift?

    It is nice to know, however, that for $32K it comes in a genuine african bubinga wood box. I mean, if you’re gonna light $100 bills on fire, you should be able to keep the ashes in finely polished box.

    Cheers,

    Bill

    • Part-Time Audiophile

      The high-end in audio is weird. You can pay a lot for, say, a footer. That footer may well be magical (eg, crafted by elves), but if it’s not on the “right” surface, you may never know that it was even there. Stillpoints on carpet are like that. But does that make them “not worth it”? I can’t say that for anyone else but me.

      As for the Tripoint stuff … yeah. I asked Miguel about his stratospheric prices and he responded, quite un-offended, and said “the cheaper bits just don’t work as well”. That was actually refreshing to hear that he’s not planning to sacrifice his design to cost. But that certainly doesn’t make it affordable. Part of that is that his products aren’t sold manufacturer-direct, so expect a three-to-sixfold inflation in his costs over what he’s required to set MSRP at. Not his fault that economics is against him here.

      And getting back to value. It’s rare that a tweak actually has an audible impact. The Troy is a tweak. But … it does something. Something subtle, to be sure, but something. And no, there was no A/B-it-with-a-double-blind-testing-methodology here, it was just me, in a non-empty room, with music playing in the next room and people talking. Something happened to the sound. The sound stage got bigger. Clearer. But was it huge? Was it night-and-day? Did my jaw drop or did my socks get knocked off? No. Not at all. But that said, it wasn’t nothing either.

      Does that make it worth it? How the hell do I know? I’d say this, though — if everything else is great and just the way you wanted it, then and only then would it be worth a look. Assuming the rest of your system warrants it and that you have that kind of disposable cash, of course.

      • I agree with what Bill was getting at in his comment.
        Are you getting $32,000.00 worth of better audio out of your sound system?
        Is a $150K turntable delivering a $150K experience?
        No to both.
        This is Miguel’s effusing about his system from another forum:
        “The Tripoint system is about SPEED that yields to a purity unheard before. This SPEED is not about coloring the midrange to add musicality, this is about being able to bring out more harmonic texture detail in the most natural intoxicating way. It takes a experienced listener to be able to understand and appreciate this new found beauty never heard before until now.”
        Basically, he’s waxing poetical, being condescending and all of the while, saying nothing.
        “more harmonic texture detail” wtf is that? It’s just fluff.. e.g. meaningless commentary.
        Musical harmony relates to the structure of music i.e. musical notes, tones or chords played together.
        Is he claiming that his grounding is affecting the composition of music?
        Or is he speaking of the component frequencies of a complex oscillation or wave?
        Like numerous manufacturers of tweaks and cables, he’s providing little to no technical information (data) to back up his claims.
        And you… You’re saying “something happened to the sound”, but you can’t say what.
        I would be very interested in seeing your responses in a double blind test, between a system using Miguel’s grounding components and the same system without them or against a well grounded system, coming off of it’s own transformer.
        Working in the electrical industry and having worked on supplying electrical for sound systems to live shows and recording studios, I know that separating the grounding for sound from everything else is important.
        But it doesn’t take $32,000.00 or even $5,000.00 to do that in a permanent installation.
        This is must more expensive, unnecessary fluff that is ruining the industry and turning people off to high end audio.