AXPONA 2017: Fern & Roby, Redgum, GamuT, and Karan Acoustics with PenAudio

Fern & Roby captivated me with their Tredegar turntable.

There’s was pulsating electro music, and a disco ball.

Just kidding, I’m at AXPONA in Chicago, there’s Diana Krall, and Tony Bennet. BUT, and this is a big but, there’s a lot of non-traditional music being played to my ears, and that’s incredibly refreshing from a listening standpoint. No disrespect to either Bennet or Krall – who both have LPs I love – but they are desperately overplayed at audio shows as safe bets for room organizers because that’s what audiophiles are used to hearing, and I guess they’ve become somewhat expected (and somewhat wickedly mocked of late).


Redgum makes waves from down under with incredibly transparent amplification.

My Saturday wanderings through the halls of the Westin O’Hare were wild, and varied with a panel discussion I was a member of thrown in just to make sure I had enough to do. I heard a lot of great systems yesterday, and the hotel was packed to say the least with many a determined audiophile dragging their spouse or loved one behind them with what actually appeared to be smiles on their faces. A first in many respects for me to see, and a very welcoming sight. But to be fair I shouldn’t be surprised because the vibe at AXPONA 2017 is upbeat, and fun with many exhibitors I spoke with positive about not only the show, but high fidelity in general.



Analogue Productions tapes featured prominently in several rooms.

Some major highlights of the day were the Fern & Roby room which had their flagship Tredegar turntable (sporting a Schroder tonearm, and Soundsmith cartridge) paired with Voxitiv loudspeakers, and electronics. Christopher Hildebrand and his cohorts had created a an incredibly atmospheric room that pulsed with good vibes, energy and emotionally-connecting sound that kept me enthralled the entire time I visited. Colleen Cardas Imports was showing off a number of Australian brands with Redgum, and AxisVoiceBox in particular wowing me with the beauty of their sound, and amplification/loudspeaker designs.

Wynn Wong made the long drive from Toronto.

Wynn Wong – of Wynn Audio – who drove down from Toronto, Canada for the show had a lot of audiophiles shaking their heads, and walking in circles around the Penaudio Serenade Signature 2.5-way loudspeakers that were going so low on some tracks that listeners kept asking where the subwoofer was. And last, but not least there was GamuT who was impressing with their RS71 loudspeakers being driven by M250i monoblocs and a Pear Audio Blue Kid Thomas turntable with a reel to reel deck playing Acoustic Sounds tapes thrown in for good measure.

Fern & Roby Tredegar turntable.

It was an exciting day overall, with much more to report, so check back often as we’ll be updating the site as much as possible from Chicago as we head into the final day of AXPONA 2017.

–Rafe Arnott

About Rafe Arnott 389 Articles
Editor of InnerFidelity and AudioStream


  1. Hi Rafe

    I spoke to you in the Gamut room and I found that I not only enjoy your reviews, but you are also a very gracious person as I took up more than a little of your limited time at the show. I found the Gamut room as good as I heard it would be. The day before, the rooms my wife and I particularly enjoyed were KEF (Blade Two and Hegel), Harbeth (HL5plus and Vinnie Rossi), Spatial (M3), Elac (Adante) and Tidal/The Voice That Is. There were many other good sounding rooms, and we certainly didn’t hear everything, but those stood out to us.

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