Part-Time Audiophile publisher Scot Hull already has noted that a few of the room locations at AXPONA 2016 left something to be desired (though he may have voiced that in a bit stronger terms), but it’s something I noticed, too. In particular, there was the mystery of the second floor, which held only two exhibitor rooms — way, way down a hall, through several twists and turns, and just short of the hotel’s health club.
One of the outposts crying out from this wilderness was stocked with gear from EgglestonWorks, Skogrand Cables, ModWright Instruments, Triangle Art and Massif Audio Design. Needless to say, I had the room to myself when I popped in on an otherwise-busy Saturday morning.
It was a shame, too, because the companies had put together one of the better-sounding systems at the show. It was made up of the EgglestonWorks Andra III SE speakers ($28,635 a pair), ModWright KWA 150 Signature monoblock amps ($8,995 each), ModWright LS 36.5 DM preamp ($9,995), ModWright Elyse Reference tube DAC ($6,900) and ModWright-upgraded Oppo 105D transport ($3,995).
Turntable was the Triangle Art Signature ($15,995), outfitted with the Osiris 12-inch tonearm ($5,800), Apollo MC cartridge ($8,000), Titan SUT ($3,500) and RA-8 power distribution unit ($3,500). The tube phono stage was ModWright’s PH150 reference ($7,900).
Massif kept things stable with its zebrawood-oak rack ($3,000 each), amp platforms ($700 each), turntable platform ($700 each) and cable risers ($50 each). Cable and power cords were Skogrand’s Beethoven line.
First of all, let me say that I rarely encounter a show room containing at least several ModWright components that doesn’t sound at least darn good. At AXPONA, this ModWright collaboration was performing even better than that. The EgglestonWorks speakers proved to be a great match, displaying stunning resolution, quick transients, deep bass and fine soundstaging.
My MFSL gold CD of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman’s classic 1963 album sounded wonderful, with nice separation of the instruments and plenty of air around Hartman’s vocals.
I followed that with Mark Knopfler’s “Ride Across the River” from my Japanese XRCD pressing of “Brothers in Arms,” the high-water mark for the second lineup of Dire Straits. The tale of mercenary soldiers features buzzing insects, exotic flute and percussion, and some spooky electric guitar work from Knopfler that conjures up a hellish netherworld. With the ModWright gear and the Andras, this stormy soundscape was projected powerfully, but also with little distortion or edginess.
A ModWright representative volunteered to play me the same track, this time in a high-rez format. The bass tightened up slightly and the high frequencies gained an extra degree of ease, but overall it was amazing to hear the XRCD Red Book version hold up so well.
Hopefully, enough other brave adventurers found their way to this room. Those who didn’t definitely missed out.