My FLAX Saturday Highlights are more about people than gear, and I was pleased to finally connect with industry stalwarts such as Philip O’Hanlon of On a Higher Note. For years people have been telling me I need to meet Philip, starting with a conversation with the legendary British speaker designer Derek Hughes back at the Munich show in 2019. Philip represents Graham Audio in the US, and I’ve been trying to get more seat time with these extraordinary takes on classic BBC designs.
Words and Photos by Marc Phillips
Philip supplied a humorous yet deeply felt commentary with the records he played, but the system had equal billing–Bergmann ‘table, Moonriver electronics, Cardas cabling and, of course, the stunning new Graham Audio LS8/1s. The LS8/1s ($9,700/pr USD) are an update of the classic BC-1, which I’ve heard many times, but they never went this deep, nor did they offer seamless top-to-bottom integration. Wow! I want to review these soon.
There was only one place to buy LPs at the 2023 Florida Audio Expo–from Direct Audio based out of Dallas. I wound up having a great chat with Direct Audio’s Allen Fox, who reads PTA all the time. (Hi, Allen!) He featured some of the hottest audiophile pressings, including ones I thought were completely out of stock. He also sells Cardas and AudioQuest cables, so we had plenty to talk about in regards to hardware. This was an unexpected FLAX Saturday Highlight.
I was supposed to connect with Charles Kirmuss of Kirmuss Audio at the show, but I wound up sitting back and listening to one of his mesmerizing lectures on his record cleaning machines and products–another amazing FLAX Saturday Highlight. This guy has delved deeper into the process of cleaning records more than anyone else I know, and I always learn something from him. My time in the room was brief, mostly because of the enthusiastic and attentive crowd, but this was definitely a FLAX Saturday Highlight.
Whenever Moon Audio is at a high-end audio show, you can guarantee you’ll learn something new about your true headphone preferences. At FLAX, Drew Baird of Moon had a table behind his desk that featured so many of the hottest headphones on the market. It’s like a headphone library where you can check out anything you like, plug into the headphone amp and streamer of your choice, a play “Chocolate Chip Trip” to you heart’s content.
It seems like it’s been forever since I covered a Gershman Acoustics room at an audio show, but this was truly another FLAX Saturday Highlight. The Gershmans are always warm and friendly and genuine, and their speakers are quite stunning as well. They’re celebrating 30 years in the business with an anniversary edition of their Grande Avant Garde speaker, with a new base that is integral to the way the low frequencies are delivered. Fantastic sound.
My last FLAX Saturday Highlight was a night on the town–I’ve heard legendary things about Ybor City and the cigar culture there, so Scot Hull, Brian Hunter, Marc Smazik joined me for a herf at King Corona, a very classy lounge where you can sit outside and watch all the people. I finally got to smoke one of my bucket list cigars–a Fuente Eye of the Shark. It was spectacular.
Stick around for more coverage over the next week. We had five people covering FLAX for PTA, so we’re going to have a huge variety when it comes to commentary!
If you would like to hear even more coverage from FLAX 2023, check out our recap report and highlights from our audiophile-oriented show The Occasional Podcast. You can stream the episode direct from the embed below, or from your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, Android, Google, Deezer, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more.