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Core Power Technologies A/V, Living Sounds Audio (LSA), PureAudio Lab, Emerald Physics, DSPeaker, Underwood HiFi | AXPONA 2019

AXPONA 2019 Show Coverage brought to you by Core Power Technologies

CHICAGO (PTA) — The first time I heard a Living Sounds Audio (LSA) monitor, I was shocked at their near-full-range bass and their ability to play so well after being assembled just one day before the show. No break-in, still in the experimental stages. Despite all, amazing things happened. There at AXPONA 2019, we were in for equal levels of amazement.

The Story

There’s a whole lot to see and hear in an Underwood HiFi exhibition. In truth, there’s enough to cover, that one article doesn’t really seem to do it all justice. For starters there is a new PureAudio Lab Lotus DAC5, essentially two new Core Power Technologies A/V power conditioners, two new loudspeakers from LSA, and if I were to be completely fair, the Emerald Physics power amplifiers and DSPeaker DAC/Preamp are “still new” in my book. Let’s get started.

The PureAudio Lab Lotus DAC5 is a DAC of course, but also a preamp, and based on an ES9038PRO 32-Bit/768k DAC, with 140db of dynamic range, -122db of THD+N, and uses an ESS Sabre (Hyperstream II) architecture and time domain jitter elimination. Computer clocks are bypassed in the XMOS USB input, and does asynchronous transfer. The Lotus DAC5 decodes and upsamples PCM and DSD up to DSD 512, along with MQA. Seven digital inputs around back, and fully balanced XLR and RCAs going out. Available in black or silver. More than just digital conversion, it’s a preamplifier and at just under $2k for all the aforementioned specs and features. Who can complain but the competition?

New from Core Power Technologies is the DEEP=CORE 1800, a multi-function AC Front End. Yes it provides clean, spur-free power, and also user adjustable power delivery. That means noise floor and dynamic range can be optimized by the end user to achieve optimal subjective performance with a wide range of system components. Features like the “DC snubber” stop DC (constant or transient) from passing through the DEEP=CORE 1800 on into the system, where they can saturate transformers and cause voltage fluctuations. Beyond that, RF and EMI suppressors, and then further RF/EMI filters, and then power is handed off to the adjustable power delivery interface. The correct placement of a DEEP=CORE 1800 is directly to the desired system components, as it is the “final word” in AC power processing.

The LSA speakers were hits with the public and press last year, but without resting on their laurels, the new 2019 line-up (four models) all received further refinements. All used LSA’s patented XBL2 drivers. If you remember the LSA of old, you’ll remember three tiers in the product line-up: Standard, Signature, and Statement. Of the current line-up only Signature and Statement remain. Signature sought to improve on the Statement line, and the new Statement treads boldly into new territory of refinement and ability.

Of the four models in the new LSA speaker stable, two were showcased at AXPONA. First, the LSA-10 Signature monitors, a two-way speaker which start with a 1-inch silk dome tweeter and compact XBL2 neodymium magnet structure, and shallow waveguide for better time and phase integration with the woofer. A single 6.5-inch black-anodized aluminum XBL2 woofer round out the front complement of active drivers. Around back a single 5×7-inch sub-bass radiator works passively to augment the monitor, and deliver what is in my opinion the most convincing impression of a floor-stander. Crossover is 4th-order Linkwitz-Riley, sensitivity is a moderate 87db, and is stable at 8-ohms. Specs claim an in-room response at the low-end of 35hz, and upper-end at 30khz.

Secondly is the LSA-20 Statement tower, a three-way four-driver speaker with a custom 1-inch copper berylium dome tweeter and compact XBL2 neodymium magnet structure, and shallow waveguide for better time and phase integration with the woofer. The tweeter is acoustically coupled to a custom 4-inch XBL2 mid-range driver, and dual-6.5-inch XBL2 black-anodized aluminum woofers. Around back are three of the 5×7-inch sub-bass radiators. This being a statement model, it uses a far more sophisticated 8th-order linear phase acoustic crossover, built with the most state-of-the-art components and cable available. Specs claim and in-room response at the low-end of 22hz, and upper-end of 30khz.

The Sound

Over last year’s debut of the LSA monitor, everything is better. Refinement and voicing are tighter. Bass is prodigious on the monitor, and other-worldly on the tower. If I were to stay with the monitor for a while, I can’t stress enough how much the monitor resembles a floor-stander in the way it produces clean and convincingly deep bass. The 35hz in-room response claim made by the specs is no joke. Meanwhile, they image well and disappear just like you’d want in a monitor speaker. It’s duly impressive, and even if I were not cramped for space, I would consider these in any shopping list that was mainly of floor-standing speakers. For now, that makes a total of three monitors that I can say do that well.

The Systems

System #1

Living Sounds Audio (The LSA Group)

– LSA-10 Signature Monitor – $2,495 pr USD

Emerald Physics

– EP100.2SE Hybrid Stereo Amplifier – $2,195 USD


– Anti-Mode 2.0 Preamp/DAC – $1,195 USD

Core Power Technologies A/V

– Equi=Core 1800 – $1,999 USD

– Deep=Core 1800 – $1,295 USD

Syzygy Acoustics

– SLF-870 Wireless Subwoofer – $999 USD (shown as optional)

All cabling by Wireworld

System #2

Living Sounds Audio (The LSA Group)

– LSA-20 Statement Floorstanding Loudspeakers – $5,995 USD

Emerald Physics

– EP200.2SE Hybrid Dual-Mono Amplifier – $3,495 USD

PureAudio Lab

– Lotus DAC5 Preamplifier – $1,995 USD

Core Power Technologies A/V

– Equi=Core 1800 – $1,999 USD

– Deep=Core 1800 – $1,295 USD

All cabling by Wireworld

Sources for both systems: Qobuz (or computer audio) via Auralic ARIES G1 Streamer or a Marantz CD Transport feeding either DSPeaker DAC/Preamp or PureAudio Lab Lotus DAC5

AXPONA 2019 Show Coverage brought to you by the LSA Group

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