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AXPONA 2018: Best of The Show, Wrap-Up, and Why I am an Audiophile

KEF R Series
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(From most high to least high) David Solomon, Steve Guttenberg, Eric Franklin Shook

Audio shows are more than new gear releases and demonstrations to me. They are a chance to connect with the strange personalities that embody what it means to be an eccentric. Sometimes our interests can be socially unfortunate, but it’s during these few moments of the year at audio shows where we audiophiles can feel normal in our priorities, lusts, and musical tastes.

AXPONA 2018 proved to be our largest display of geekdom yet. Sprawling more lateral and vertical real estate than shows of the past, I was pleased with the new spaces and my continued state of awe remains intact at how well organized a show of this size is.

Many trends stuck out for me at the show: the proliferation one-branded systems, the encroachment of digital into the vinyl domain, DSP becoming almost a norm, active speaker systems everywhere, dealer rooms being the best exhibits.

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AXPONA 2018 Coverage brought to you by Zesto Audio

Getting right down to it, here are my personal highlights of AXPONA 2018.

The Best Vibes

The Audio SurgeonQuintessence Audio LTDThe Audio CompanyThe Voice That Is!

All dealer rooms, it goes to show that dealers can bring that showroom atmosphere to the audio show circuit and create an mood most suited to understanding the end user.

The Best Trends

TechnicsEinsteinGold NoteTidal

All one branded systems, you have everything you need under one roof, system synergy is no longer a hunt, it’s a ready end-goal.

The Best Values

SpatialStudio ElectricGoldenEarMobile Fidelity

It should be of note that three of my four picks for best value are made in the USA.

The Best Digital Experiences

Wolf Audio SystemsInnuosLegacyBryston

From music management to shaping the waveforms, all of these rooms exemplified state-of-the-art when it came digital technology and its future role in the industry.

The Best Analog Experiences

Joseph / DoshiFern & Roby

Between reel-to-reel tape and vinyl, there were two experiences that when considering all factors, left me walking away stunned.

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AXPONA 2018 Coverage brought to you by Zesto Audio

The Best In Show (Cost No Object)

Quintessence Audio LTD

Yes, it’s not just a single brand or product, it’s an exhibit/showroom experience — what went down in these rooms sonically and personally was of the highest order.

The Best In Show (Cost Is An Object)

PranaFidelity

Not to be thought alone as a brand, this trio of speakers, electronics, and designer should go down in history as one of our best-kept secrets.

 

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