It was only fitting to visit Gunny Surya at AXPONA 2023–hours before I left for Chicago I finally finished my review of Sonner Audio’s Allegro Unum monitors. I wanted to sit with Gunny, listen to music on his amazing speakers, and discuss the review. AXPONA was so big–how big was it?–that I spent more than a day looking for the name Sonner Audio on the directory. Finally, Gunny texted me and told me to come to the Sonner and Sutherland and Ayre room.
Words and Photos by Marc Phillips
Gunny is fairly agnostic when it comes to room partners, as his speakers tend to shine in all types of systems. But there was a huge surprise waiting for me in the Sonner and Sutherland and Ayre room…Ron Sutherland!
For me, Ron Sutherland is a phono stage-building legend. I first reviewed one of his phono preamplifiers back around 2008 or so–it was the first battery-powered component I’d reviewed. I remember noting how silent it was, and that was the first time “quiet” became one of my main priorities in phono stages after that. I never got to meet the man, or even talk to him, but we had a great time talking about Sonner and Sutherland and everything else under the sun here at AXPONA so many years later.
The system in the Sonner and Sutherland room was focused on Gunny’s Sonner Audio Legato Duo speakers ($9,500/pr USD), which I just reviewed a few months ago. (These looked like my review pair, in fact.) Ron Sutherland played that amazing remastered LP of Masterpieces by Ellington, which is one of those mono recordings that still astonishes with its natural tonality. On the Acoustic Signature rig, this album sounded so beautiful that I listened to an entire side while barely moving. I have to pull the trigger on this recording soon, before it disappears.
I do want to give some love to Ayre Acoustics in this show report that seems transfixed by Sonner and Sutherland. I have been playing with an older Ayre Acoustics V-3 power amplifier, and to my ears it does no wrong. In fact, I use it all the time–especially when reviewing preamps. All of these components worked together to produce a stunning sound that seems impossible with a pair of speakers that still resides in a four-figure part of town.
And of course I asked Ron Sutherland if I could revisit one of his phono stages. While I’m reviewing it, I’ll be sure to play Masterpieces by Ellington as much as I can.
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.