AXPONA 2018: Studio Electric, Fern & Roby, Zu Audio, Modwright; All-American Performance


There have been a growing number of monitor/bookshelf designs that I’ve encountered recently which impress me more than towers from other manufacturers. Segregating speakers firstly by whether they are bookshelf monitors or floor-standing doesn’t make as much sense as it used to.


The Story

I currently have the Studio Electric M4 Monitors in for review, and comparing the looks of the updated models on show at Axpona to the ones I have at home, it seems they have hit maturity. The formerly rudimentary looks in the M4 review samples, have now grown up to include rich maple veneers, and a new aluminum grill worthy of its own photoshoot and review. The M4’s now available in Wenge, Figured Maple, and White cladding.

AXPONA 2018 Coverage brought to you by Zesto Audio

I’ve often felt like raising a question before in an article, but usually never do it. I do wish to be lit up in the comment section for asking this question. Is the Fern & Roby Montrose the best turntable you can buy factory direct that is fully designed and manufactured in the USA? The Montrose Turntable with the Hana EL is $7,900. It comes fully loaded with the onboard Maverick phono-preamplifier (which can be by-passed), Fern & Roby isolation feet, and the Fern & Roby aluminum LP weight and protractor. Shipped in a branded Pelican travel case, anywhere in the continental USA. International shipping costs an additional $500.


The Sound

I first heard the Studio Electric M4 last fall during Capital Audiofest. You can read my initial impression of the M4 HERE. Since then my opinions have grown as the M4 functioning in my personal life has blown away expectations as it has in the audio show atmosphere. The M4 plays deep and does well with generous power, not to say that the M4 is inefficient because it is not, adding power to the fire allows the M4 to show off the same muscle of much larger speakers when given the same challenges.

Here at the Axpona they are mated to serious Modwright Instruments power amplification and with Dave McPherson (Mr. Studio-Electric himself) at the helm, there was no caution used in how loud Dave was able to take the M4’s without fear of distortion or failure. The Studio Electric M4s truly are one of the most capable speakers I’ve come across, even compared to towers, since I’ve been attending audio shows.

The System

The Montrose Turntable w/Maverick – $7,900 USD
– incl. Unipivot tonearm and Hana EL

PH 9.0 *prototype* Phono Preamplifier – $2,900 USD (finished design price)
SWL 9.0 Anniversary Edition Preamplifier – $2,900 USD
KWA 150 Signature Stereo Amplifier – $8,995 USD
Modified Oppo UDP-205 – $4,230 USD
– (fully transformer balanced, tube output stage, outboard power supply)

M4 Monitor shown in Figured Maple w/ optional mesh grills – $3,100 USD (as shown)

Mission Mk.II XLR 8’ (2.5m) – $260 USD
Mission Mk.II 10’ (3.0m) Speaker Cable – $399 pr USD
Mission Mk.II Power 5’ (1.5m) – $276 USD
Mission Mk.II RCA/Switchcraft 5’ (1.5m) – $215 USD


About Eric Franklin Shook 442 Articles
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