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AXPONA 2016: Gingko, Wells, Salk, DanaCable raise the curtain on affordable sound

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axponaMusic lovers entering the Gingko AudioWells AudioSalkSound room at AXPONA 2016 encountered a plethora of world premieres.

Wells Audio introduced its Audio Majestic integrated amplifier ($3,499), which was connected to two new products from Salk Signature Sound, the StreamPlayer Generation II mini ($1,195) and a pair of three-way Song speakers ($2,895). The latter featured a 7.5-inch paper woofer, 4-inch bamboo midrange and a ribbon tweeter — an unusually exotic mix of drivers at this price point.

Rounding out the system was a LampizatOr Amber PCM/DSD DAC ($2,200) and wire from DanaCables ($3,780).

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The total cost of the system was an amazing $12,374, with a show discount taking that figure down to a 401(k)-friendly $9,899. The system was the perfect tonic for all the attendees grumbling about escalating prices in the high-end.

Indeed, for the money it would be hard to improve on the sound offered. The system especially excelled at soundstaging and high frequency air, while the midrange also was well-integrated. A Cowboy Junkies track caught not only the loose precision of the band’s rhythm section, but also nicely rendered Margo Timmons’ trademark whispered vocals

That’s not to say that some of the bigger-buck systems elsewhere at the show did not justify their price tags. For those looking for even greater degrees of resolution, weight, imaging or bass response, there were other units on demo that would go as far as your wallet would allow. But for the audiophile with a tighter budget, the Salk-Wells system could bring more than a taste of high-end sound home without endangering the mortgage.

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