When I mention that AXPONA 2023 was a great-sounding show, and that room after room hit the mark and provided sound that might win a Best of Show award at any other venue, that might not leave very much room for a system that stands out from the others. In the Vana Ltd. room, I did hear a system that was different enough to catch my attention amid a very big show.
Words and Photos by Marc Phillips
Sometimes that means different, and in high-end audio that’s not necessarily a good thing. But early Sunday morning, I was treated to something different in the Vana Ltd. room, and I’m genuinely happy that I stopped in and visited when I did.
Ostensibly I was in the Vana Ltd. room to hear the new Ferrum Audio Wandla DAC, especially after reviewing the Ferrum Oor and Hypsos as part of one of the most compelling headphone rigs I’ve experienced. The Wandla offers an amazing set of features and innovations, as well as a price tag that’s well under $3,000. Yet the Ferrum Wandla sounded just like a Big Boy DAC–especially in the way it offered a smooth and relaxed sound that reminded me of the best analog playback. Roy Feldstein of Vana Ltd. informed me that one of the Wandlas back at the office has my name on it for review.
The rest of the system in the Vana Ltd, room was sublime–EAT analog rigs with the very gorgeous Jo No. 8 MC Cartridge, and Jadis electronics. But I suspect the reason I loved this room so much was the Marten Mingus Quintet 2 loudspeakers, at $75K/pair USD. A couple of years ago I reviewed the Marten Oscar Duos, a lovely and incisive two-way monitor that still kicks butt for about $7k/pair. While the Marten Mingus Quintets aren’t huge–they’re shorter than they look yet quite stocky, it was evident from the sound that these are remarkable speakers.
The Marten Mingus Quintet IIs did offer that slightly different sound, one that was so calm and seductive and expansive and so perfectly matched to the classical music Roy played. I have to admit–by this point of the show I was dragging a bit, especially after several nights of staying up way too late, but the Martens were an elixir, a gentle reminder why I spend so much time listening to hi-fi. I’m so glad the Vana Ltd. introduced me to this transducer, and I’m hoping we see each other again very soon.
If you would like to hear even more coverage from AXPONA 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.
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.