Welcome To Chicago
There are over 160 rooms and exhibits here at Axpona. Making this event the largest audio show in North America. For some this can be overwhelming and cause a bit of anxiety. But have no fear, the Part-Time Audiophile Dream Team of journalists, personalities, and humorists are ready to be your guide.
Here are some surefire rooms to get you started and off on the right foot.
ROOM #1606 HHR Exotic Speakers, Krell Industries
HHR Exotic Speakers are single driver full-range audio speakers and components based upon the Walsh Principal. I thought they looked familiar, but in sound terms, they perfectly stand apart from the rest of the rooms and will provide you with an experience in both texture and space unfamiliar for most audio shows. Don’t skip this one, and be sure to move around the room.
ROOM #1521 Joseph Audio, Cardas Audio, Jeff Rowland
Jeff Joseph should have provided a few boxes of tissue for this room, as things could get very emotional. When on day two I was beginning to doubt that the rooms of our new AXPONA location were possible of getting completely out of the way, the Joseph room was tearing down walls, and setting a very high bar for everything else to come from the weekend. Absolutely magical, and enthralling.
Floor 15 Club Lounge Kimber Kable
A sprawling, hip, and peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the expo hall, the fellas at Kimber, Woo Audio, and Sennheiser have a taken advantage of the Renaissances architecture. If you’ve ever wanted to experience a $55,000 USD headphone system that unpacks and erects itself (and possibly you), then do not miss this room.
EXPO HALL Auris Audio
Amplifiers, DACS, Headphone Amps, and Speakers, this exhibit in the expo hall, could have easily been at home in one of the larger single rooms of the show and been a screaming hit. Stunning finishes, and fresh designs, but also great sound with a myriad of headphones on display. For me this is a standout product that challenges convention and should be a noteworthy addition to many shopping lists.
ROOM #454 High Fidelity Services
One room, from a two room circus helmed by High Fidelity, we have a Neat sounding room. Diminutive looks, with room dominating space and dynamics. To sit before these half-sized four-driver boxes from Neat, is to unknowingly step in the ring with a welterweight boxer and get your own bits handed to you. I’ve not heard so many vocal exclamations from show-goers walking in with skeptical expectations that this room should not be underestimated, and will likely shatter some egos.
ROOM #658 Toska Audio, Gold Note
It’s been a while since I’ve seen a Gold Note product at a show, but man are they back in tremendous style. A complete one brand system, this powerhouse for sure will rock your socks off. Be sure to talk to Joe from Toska, as he’s one of the better gentlemen you will encounter in the industry.
ROOM #714 Sadurni Acoustics, BAT, Stillpoints, Wolf Audio Systems, Audience Cables
Big horns, big sound, and a superb digital playback source that will have you clamoring for your wallet. Bring your camera for sure, but also take notes. The future of digital playback may be upon us with Wolf Audio Systems newest two box, do-it-all digital source. Pictured below is Lenny Mayeux (VP of Audience) holding a guitar belonging to Dean Zelinsky
L-1 Inspiration Goldenear
Sandy Gross has put his thumbprint on many a great speaker branding, and it sounds as if Goldenear history stands to repeat itself. The Triton reference speaker is all-new from the ground up, and boy does it have the minerals to take on some really esoteric and, to be honest, very expensive competitors. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better value and cure for upgrade-itis.
L-1 Perfection, Knowledge, Connection Quintessence Audio
You could almost set aside half of your day to take in this three-room volley of expertly curated and exhibited systems. Quintessence is no stranger to stealing the show, and with strong competition around the corner, they don’t even flinch. Pack a lunch and settle in, the Quintessence rooms more than impress, they inspire.