When I cover high-end audio shows for Part-Time Audiophile, I usually have highlights from Friday, then Saturday, then the in-depth show reports from selected rooms. The AXPONA 2023 highlights are going to be just a tad different. Why? Because AXPONA 2023 was HUGE!
We’re talking over 200 rooms. Ten floors. An estimated 20,000 attendees, all jockeying for position in the sweet spot chair. That’s impossible for me to cover, of course, which is why we’ll have show reports from Scot Hull, Brian Hunter, Matthew Partrick, Graig Neville, Mohammed Samji and Marc Smazik. Even with all of that help, we might not get to all of the rooms–and we apologize in advance.
Words and Photos by Marc Phillips
Not only was AXPONA 2023 huge, but almost every room sounded good. Great, even. When it comes to selecting my Best Sound of Show, I don’t know what I’m going to do. At least a dozen rooms would win Best Sound at any other audio show I’ve covered. If you missed AXPONA 2023, you missed one of the best high-end audio shows ever, as far as I’m concerned. AXPONA in Chicago has become THE premiere show in North America.
My first AXPONA 2023 highlight was the first room I visited–on Thursday, the night before the show actually started. Audio Group Denmark invited the press for a special unveiling of their latest product, one that I didn’t expect at all. It was AXPONA 2022 where I first heard that amazing $100,000 two way monitor, the Borresen M1, which sounded like a pair of big Wilsons or Magicos. That set me off on a months-long adventure where I went to the factory in Denmark to find out how this speaker was possible. Then I reviewed an entire system made up of Audio Group Denmark brands–Aavik, Ansuz and Borresen. And now, the unveiling…
…of the Borresen M3. These are tower speakers, as you can see. Your first question is probably how much–and the answer is $280,000 per pair. But I felt like the M3s took me just a little bit further than any other speaker I’ve ever heard. Amazingly clear and detailed, massive frequency response. Just extraordinary. Even more extraordinary is the fact that Audio Group Denmark is working on the Borresen M6.
Here’s a quick rundown of the other “Best Sounds of Show” at AXPONA 2023:
The Luxman/Magico room, with Melco digital and AudioQuest cabling, sounded better than ever. Was it because of the new flagship turntable from Luxman, the PD-191A? Possibly. I even walked out of the room with the new Luxman cartridge for review.
Credo/Van den Hul/EMM Labs/Meitner was also slamming–especially when I was tricked into thinking that I was listening to the huge Cinema array speakers. I was actually listening to the small floorstanding EV1202s.
Fidelis Distribution had two rooms at AXPONA 2023. One of them featured the Harbeth 40.3 speakers, one of my favorite speakers of all time, mated with JMF amplification, perhaps the finest solid state amplification I’ve heard in a long time. Digital was from Ideon Audio, so of course the room was magical.
Vinnie Rossi brought two of his $39,000 Brama integrated amplifiers to AXPONA 2023. One wound up in the Innuos room, and it sounded fantastic. The other room was manned by Vinnie, and it included Rockport speakers. Both rooms sounded exquisite.
Artisan Fidelity did the impossible–they put a TIDAL Audio system, with the Contriva G2s, into one of the smaller rooms and nothing seemed to be missing.
We have a lot of coverage coming from AXPONA 2023, so buckle up. But I still have a full day left, so who knows what I will hear? Anything is possible. What a show!
If you would like to hear even more coverage from AXPONA 2023, you can listen 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.
Also don’t forget to check out our collaboration to commemorate the event with our solid bronze record weight available only for a limited run. This 800 grams of solid bronze features the PTA roundel on the top with also acts as a 45 adapter. You can purchase direct from the PTA Approved Store here on the site.
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