Bigger and better than ever, this years Expo Hall at AXPONA was alone worth the cost of admission. Vendors were pulling all the stops with their displays and demo exhibits. Traffic was consistent throughout the weekend, and I imagine the Expo Hall will be a popular destination for both attendee and exhibitor next year.
On with the show!
Known for the absolutely dominating sound of their Planter Speakers, Intelligent Audio Products is introducing their new Groove Tone Amp and Preamp at Axpona. Combining vacuum tubes and fully bridged Class D amplifier modules, the new 300 watt at 8 ohm amplifier (600 watt / 4 ohm) features 6922 tubes in the input buffer circuit and ICE Power in the output. The preamplifier is an all tube four-input design with ALPS motorized volume control and operates in in Class A.
A vinyl cleaning and restoration service, Perfect Vinyl Forever revitalizes records using one of our two processes – Ultra Deep or Archival Cleaning. Showcasing their purpose-built equipment, staff members show first hand how effective their process of deep cleaning is when compared to before and after samples.
DIY Vinyl cleaning is a hot topic these days with the recent decades surge in younger people getting into vinyl collecting. Enter the Ultimate Ultrasonic Vinyl Restoration System, which sounds ambitious for a product name, but with demos going on at the show, many believers were being made on site. With a touch screen control, the “UUVRS” can clean two 33-⅓, one 45, and one 78 — simultaneously, in five minutes with no chemicals. It comes with a two year warranty and satisfaction is guaranteed.
ZMF can and should ride the wave of their newest headphone that debuted at Axpona in 2017, and launched the following winter. The Auteur is a departure from the house-sound associated with ZMF’s previous models like the Atticus ($1,100 USD) and EIkon ($1,400 USD), which are both closed back designs. The Auteur is an open back headphone that uses his hallmark biocellulose driver, but in a way that might sound more familiar to the broader head-fi community.
Mark Waldrep being no stranger to the industry or avid reader, was at Axpona this year to feature his new 880 page book on high-end audio titled “Music and Audio: A User Guide to Better Sound”, which includes a Blu-ray disc of real high-resolution audio tracks, format demos, mastering demos, mixing demos, and a comprehensive set of test tones. It’s already been dubbed, “the gold standard” by a few audiophile readers and has been positively reviewed by a few publications. Along with the book, Mark was also promoting many of his well awarded DVD-Audio/Videos and Blu-rays.
What brought me to the table however was the other thing mark was proudly showing off, the YARRA 3DX. An immersive little soundbar if I’ve ever witnessed one. This amazing beamforming, multi-dimensional audio creating sound bar and compact subwoofer could replace a full complement of surround speakers. Sounding much like a binaural headphone experience, but without the sweat. Mark and his team have just finished a successful Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaign, which raised $1.1 million to bring this little wonderment to market. I can’t wait to see how far it goes.
Finally, Reckless Records, a group of three record stores in the Chicago area that started in the late 1980s. Hopefully during our next Axpona trip, we can take a tour of their closest location.