AXPONA 2017: Tidal Audio, Pass Labs, McIntosh, CH Precision, Burwell & Sons… you get the picture

Burwell-Rogers-1 copy
Gordon Burwell Jr. spins vinyl in Chicago.
Some may snicker at the suggestion that what I do for a living is work, but most have never been to a large audiophile trade show, and do not understand the level of physical commitment it requires to be able to cover the sheer number of rooms at an event the size of AXPONA. Remember, there are more than 140 exhibitors spread over 12 floors of the Westin O’Hare, and the elevators while not unusable, are simply impassable during show hours, so it’s the stairwells that one must navigate: friends, wonder no longer how I keep my svelte figure.

Tidal Audio Akira loudspeakers in The Voice That Is room.
While I wrote yesterday that I felt the evening before the show launch seemed rather quiet by show standards at AXPONA this year, Friday’s throngs drowned out Thursday’s silence with a deafening rumble. Like a prehistoric herd on an African plain, the audiophiles thundered into the lobby of the Westin O’Hare on Friday morning, and it was every hapless journalist for themselves as I vainly struggled against the surging tide of bodies to get a cup of coffee in the lobby.


Crate diggers rejoice in Chicago at AXPONA.
Once caffeinated I made my way to the top of the hotel, and proceeded to hit as many rooms on my scrawled list as I could before having to break for sustenance. These included Doug White from The Voice That Is with his deeply impressive, and emotionally compelling Tidal Audio system (featuring the North American show debut of the Akira loudspeaker), Burwell & Sons with their gorgeous, captivating, and musical Homage loudspeakers, and Vinnie Rossi with his incredible one-box-stop LIO integrated amplifier powering a pair of Harbeth Super HL5+ loudspeakers.


AXPONA 2017 coverage proudly brought to you by Noble Audio.
McIntosh in charge.
DS Audio and AMG V12 turntable.
Along the way there was CH Precision launching their I1 integrated amplifier, Audio-Video Interiors had huge McIntosh-powered Martin Logan setups, Pass Labs displaying their big iron with Sonus Faber, and Moon by Sim Audio driving Dynaudio Contour 60 loudspeakers.

Dynaudio Contour 60 loudspeakers $10,000 USD ($13,500 CAN).
There was much more, including one of the best-sounding reel-to-reel demos I’ve heard (once again) by Charles King in the Audio Note UK room that Mario Binner was hosting.

The allure of analog tape cannot be denied.
I hope you enjoyed this quick snapshot of Friday, there’ll be more daily coverage from our writers, and of course in-depth reporting on specific rooms once the show has wrapped, and we have enough time to actually decipher our listening notes.


Until tomorrow.

–Rafe Arnott

About Rafe Arnott 389 Articles
Editor of InnerFidelity and AudioStream

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