AXPONA 2017: Music From Another Room, Part 3

A photojournal by Eric Franklin Shook

You can’t just say “It’s awesome, buy it.”

Eliciting a gut reaction of confidence in consumers who speak your name in conversations of top tier service and products is neither straightforward, measurable, or paint by numbers. Decades of experience and market research at all levels of the supply chain are prerequisite to attaining a seat at the table with the most trusted names in hi-fi. Building a good product is not enough. Anyone telling you different has probably watched Field Of Dreams too many times.

Let’s take a stroll down the corridors of sound and visit with folks who understand this all too well.

Quintessence Audio

Featuring: Simaudio, Dynaudio, Critical Mass Systems, Kubala Sosna Research, Clearaudio, AMG, DS Audio, Aurender, Audio Research, Sonus Faber, Pass Labs, and Berkeley Audio Design.

What a list right? Great sound, three large rooms, good vibes.


Featuring: Straight Wire, and VPI

With my deepest of compliments in saying this, but Johan Coorg is one of the slickest tongued devils in the industry. He could sell Ketchup popsicles to a white gloved woman on the 4th of July. Now this isn’t to say he’s a two-bit huckster or a flim-flam man, that he is not, it’s just say that he’s been with KEF through decades of refocused product changes and can see the picture in almost a bigger way than anyone else in his company.

Fern & Roby, Voxativ GmnH

Featuring: Krolo Design

I didn’t spend enough time photographing this room, hence the lack of pictures. However I did use my time and ninja skills to go completely unnoticed to fellow PTA’er Rafe Arnott, and Fern & Roby founder Christopher Hildebrand. I pleasantly eavesdropped on their conversation and inspection of the Montrose turntable.

Daedalus Audio, Modwright Instruments, WyWires

Featuring: OPPO, Marantz, GIK Acoustics

I spent way too much time photographing this room, hence the abundance of pictures. I freely squandered what little time I had socializing with Lou, Daniel and Alex, sharing stories of everything but audio, and maybe even a dram or two. During all of this, I couldn’t help but acclimate to the sound and carry it with me throughout the show. It became my reference, and to memory wouldn’t be topped throughout the weekends many other offerings.

Natural Sound, Audio Tekne

Featuring: Vertere Acoustics, Audio Envy

There might have been another field coil speaker at the show, but I didn’t see it. I owe respect to the design, accordingly I took seat to listen. Field coils were the first hi-fi speakers in my opinion, and with only eight watts driving these 15” drivers and horns, I was flabbergasted for only the second time at the show. The room was technically the same size as the others, but when your eyes were closed and ears attuned to the system, you’d think otherwise.

AXPONA coverage generously provided by NOBLE AUDIO.

Triode Wire Labs, Border Patrol Audio, Volti Audio, Fidelis Music Systems

Featuring: Acoustic Signature Turntables

I’ve probably taken a seat in TWLBPV rooms more than any other in my short history of going to audio shows, especially when you count return visits, because when is once enough. Continually impressive, to enter the room feels like tradition. The action was buzzing; people taking pictures, shifting seats along the back wall, sharing turns in sweet spots, and leaving comments of praise on the whiteboard. The room had flare, and for decoration what I think was a bust of our second president Samuel L Jackson.

Legacy Audio, Metronome Technologies, Raven Audio

Featuring: Toska Audio (dealer)

Joe Jurzec of Toska Audio (and Purity Audio Design) is not the sausage king of Chicago, but he is THE dealer for Legacy and Raven in the Chicago area. As we speak about his experiences with the brands, he exclaims with great passion about how strong the synergy is between Raven electronics and Legacy speakers. So strong it is, that I have to agree, it’s the best sound I’ve ever heard from Legacy speakers and I was once and owner of them. The newest product on my radar the Legacy Calibre was drawing a small crowd and with multiple larger systems in the room, you wouldn’t think the smaller of them would be so popular. But then again the average audiophile is a smarty pants and knows a good deal when they hear it.

Acoustic Zen, Wyred 4 Sound

Axpona ‘17 was held at The Westin O’Hare, but for my own safety and the safety of others I roomed at an undisclosed offsite location. Though not the only audiophile these premises. I had a chance to speak with founder and legendary design engineer Robert Lee while waiting for our morning shuttle to the Westin hotel. Mr. Lee disclosed some of his design philosophy as it is related to the Crescendo Mark II on demo in his exhibit room. I was fascinated. It was exactly what I had pictured from his description, but entirely more than I expected when giving it a listen. Fantastic from top to bottom, dare I say some things are better than lifelike?

Zesto Audio

Featuring: Marten, Merrill-Williams Audio, Cardas Audio

I came to this room just to take a picture of the rooms power couple: George and Carolyn Counnas. But when presented with an opportunity to capture the room they presented, I jumped at the chance. Such an artful display only deserved more time and attention from my camera. No quick action snaps here. Just look at that turntable.