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Eric’s Best of Show | AXPONA 2019

by Eric Franklin Shook™ in AXPONA 2019

CHICAGO (PTA) — Despite the sometimes overwhelming size that shows like AXPONA 2019 portray, for me this exhibition still represents the largest collection of small businesses I have ever seen under one roof. Most of the exhibitors are indeed “mom-and-pop shops”. Most of these audio companies have only five to seven key employees, and often with a single figurehead wearing five of the most crucial hats within that company. Those being: the money, the designer, the face, the [...]


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  • Lee’s Best of Show | AXPONA 2019

    May 8, 2019 // 0 Comments

    Let’s face it.  You need to read all the Best of Show articles to get a real sense of AXPONA.  The reason is that AXPONA has become a HUGE show.  Mere mortals cannot cover the whole show.  It’s just too big.  We can write about the best rooms but there is some chance we will miss a really good one. But here are some items that really stood out for me… Best of Show Sound Wilson Alexx loudspeakers and the D’Agostino Relentless mono block amps.  I have not felt such [...]
  • Marc’s Best of Show | AXPONA 2019

    May 8, 2019 // 2 Comments

    AXPONA 2019 was a high-end audio show that had a little more meaning for me than usual, probably since the last show I did as an exhibitor was AXPONA 2016. I remember enjoying the 630 mile drive between Rochester and Chicago three years ago, along lakes Ontario and Erie, through states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. This time was a little tougher than usual since I had just returned from Hawaii the day before, thanks to Hawaiian Airlines’ new eleven-hour non-stop flight from [...]
  • Paul’s Parting Shots | AXPONA 2019

    May 8, 2019 // 1 Comment

    By Paul Elliott As you have read from all the glowing posts, AXPONA has developed into a great show, well run by JD Events. This is a professional company, and one that understands our industry and our people. Their staff get it, and they are always there with a smile and a hand. This new venue seems to be working for the show. At the least, they have announced the dates for the next two years at the Renaissance Schaumburg: April 17 – 19, 2020, and April 16-18, 2021, so get used to it. On [...]
  • Paragon Sight & Sound had a second room that kind of caught me off guard.  Rogers High Fidelity electronics were featured with Wilson Audio Alexia 2s ($57,900).  Here’s the cool part.  Everything was red!  Paragon mated some gorgeous red Alexias to the red of the Rogers electronics and then Garth Leerer added in a Clearaudio Ovation table ($6,200 and up) with a red plinth!  A very distinctive looking system! The analog rig was really wonderful.  It featured a Clearaudio Jubilee [...]
  • Synergistic Research | AXPONA 2019

    May 7, 2019 // 1 Comment

    It’s almost a tradition now.  I stumble into the Synergistic Research room on the night before an audio show opens and Ted Denney, Andy Wiederspahn, Scott Walker and crew are drinking beer while doing the voicing of the system.  This is one of the hardest working crews in audio.  Usually, it’s mid-evening and people on the team have been working all day to dial stuff in.  Ted and Scott then work to try different “bullets”, silver or gold, which can change the [...]
  • The BIG Raidho Room | AXPONA 2019

    May 6, 2019 // 1 Comment

    It was the big secret of AXPONA 2019. Usually, it was whispered. The BIG RAIDHO ROOM. You have to see it. Go! Go now! And so I went. And went. And went. And did not find it. In fact, I thought it was a joke. I became convinced that the “BIG RAIDHO ROOM” was not a thing. That I was being had. On the last day of the show, I found it. In the afternoon. At the end of the show. It wasn’t until I actually saw Michael and Benno of Dantax (Raidho, Scansonic, GamuT) duck into the room [...]
  • Quintessence Audio | AXPONA 2019

    May 6, 2019 // 1 Comment

    Quintessence Audio makes up half of the floor space under the escalators at AXPONA, opposite two rooms which Paragon takes, both in a prime space.  Usually they have three great rooms and this year was no different.  But before we talk about the rooms, I have to tell you about their customer service.  I was helping a friend of mine buy some premium speakers and Quintessence really delivered excellent service taking into account some very specific challenges by the owner and the music room [...]
  • Gryphon Audio | AXPONA 2019

    May 5, 2019 // 3 Comments

    Two weeks ago, I posted a comment on facebook around the idea that now that the LP has (thankfully) re-emerged, the sound of CD is surprising some people. This got a lot of comments and some of them made for fun reading, many defending both the sound quality of CD and that of LP. I tend to enjoy both but lean a bit heavy in the direction of LP. However, something curious has emerged as a trend lately at audio shows…the CD-based demo. What? CD quality? Not even hirez? Heck, we even get [...]
  • Aurender | AXPONA 2019

    May 5, 2019 // 2 Comments

    Visit any audio show and you will see lots of Aurender music servers in dozens of listening rooms. Before I got further into streaming, I honestly did not pay much attention. But at this show, Aurender brought out the A30 which is so compelling that I feel it was the best new product introduction in a huge show full of them. This is the “Swiss Army knife” of computer audio. I have 5,000 discs and I am too lazy and too limited in bandwidth to have time to do my own DIY rips of the [...]
  • About three years ago, I attended a fabulous demo with Peter McGrath in a room with a humble T+A integrated amplifier. The speakers were the $109,000 Wilson Audio Alexx, fairly large towers. Yet the humble integrated did a great job. Peter was there with Bob Stuart and the Alexx clearly demonstrated the improvements on Peter’s classical recordings had undergone a “white glove” MQA treatment. That was a terrific demo … yet I did wonder what more power would do for these [...]
  • Børresen, Aavik, Ansuz | AXPONA 2019

    May 4, 2019 // 2 Comments

    I’ve been telling folks for about 12 months what an excellent emerging brand Børresen is.  At AXPONA we were finally able to hear the flagship speaker, the Borresen 05.  It was worth the wait.  Michael Borresen and Lars Kristensen were both on hand and, as usual, Lars was spinning a variety of Compact Discs on a Naim CD player feeding his Aavik preamp/DAC. At 165 pounds a piece the 05 towers sounded magnificent.  These speakers have furniture grade dark wood cabinets with a gorgeous [...]
  • SweetVinyl Sugar Cube | AXPONA 2019

    May 4, 2019 // 0 Comments

     by Paul Elliott Full Disclosure, 100% Transparency, no Redaction.  I am a SweetVinyl Sugar Cube beta tester. I think it was 3 years ago, I walked into their room full of bright-eyed curiosity since I am a vinyl guy, ever in search for more “sweetness in my LP’s”. What I found was a device that removes pops and clicks from LP surfaces, and even more exciting, is also a way to rip an LP to digital rather easily. This was my cup o’ tea. If you’re a vinyl guy, either you [...]
  • o by Paul Elliott Jeffery Catalano of High Water Sound is, to say the least, an interesting fellow.  I find that he always has the most interesting collection of music at these shows, pure “music lover’s” music.  I could have lived in his exhibit room for all three days and not notice that I had not gotten any work done … well, there’s always next time. “I proceed carefully as not to stumble on the past. With both eyes open, I view with trepidation, with both [...]
  • Bricasti and Tidal | AXPONA 2019

    May 3, 2019 // 1 Comment

    I covered Bricasti and Tidal last fall during the Capital Audiofest, so this was another case of walking into a room at AXPONA 2019 and thinking that I knew what was going to happen and then being totally wrong. The combination of Bricasti components and Tidal speakers is, almost by definition, a primer in resolution and authority. Or, as I put it last November, “I’m not a music lover who necessarily needs this level of resolution to be happy, but when it’s surrounded by such a [...]
  • Bayz Audio | AXPONA 2019

    May 3, 2019 // 0 Comments

    by Paul Elliott Big Audio shows bring companies showing off new technologies. One I came across was Bayz Audio from Germany.  As you can see from the pictures this is a unique speaker.  The opposing woofers fire into a pure carbon fiber tube that is reflex loaded (port out the back) tuned to 24hz. The opposing woofers cancel out any mechanical vibrations. The pure carbon fiber tube is naturally damped. The only thing moving is the sound pressure wave reaching the ears. There is a solid [...]
  • Voxativ Loudspeakers | AXPONA 2019

    May 3, 2019 // 3 Comments

    by Paul Elliott Voxativ has continually made big statements at Audio Shows. Last year at Rocky Mountain, CEO Holger Adler showed what I thought was the most beautiful amplifier ever produced. The Voxativ T805 integrated amp ($29,880) delivers 30Wpc. The understated visual impact of this amplifier was only magnified many times by the exquisite music it produces. At the 2019 AXPONA Show, Voxativ GmbH is marking the US debut of a new line of affordable, plug+play, all-in-one Absolut systems, [...]
  • AXPONA 2019 Magnepan LRS

    Magnepan LRS Revealed | AXPONA 2019

    May 2, 2019 // 10 Comments

    CHICAGO (PTA) — Under sworn-secrecy and via a private-text-message, I was invited to partake in a time-sensitive meeting with Magnepan marketing manager Wendell Diller. The meeting took place in an unmarked and un-promoted location at AXPONA 2019. In that location, behind closed doors, and with security just outside the room, we sat down for a tremendously mind-opening discussion and listening session. The “Little Ribbon Speaker” On the surface, it might seem that the Magnepan LRS [...]
  • AXPONA 2019 VPI Credo Emm Labs
    CHICAGO (PTA) — Credo’s latest loudspeaker model (Cinema LTM) was presented for the first time at Axpona 2019. Together with Van den Hul, VPI Industries, EMM Labs, Kimber Kable and Falkenohr the system was epic. In case you missed it, the European premiere of Credo’s new loudspeaker will take place at the High-End show in Munich. Second chances. The Story Credo, based in Basel Switzerland, design high-performance loudspeakers. Each are hand-made in-house in their own factory. What [...]
  • SVS Sound | AXPONA 2019

    May 2, 2019 // 1 Comment

    CHICAGO (PTA) — The SVS Sound room will wow you to no end if you are looking for sub-woofer demonstrations that twist your guts around each other. But for the more refined ear, you might notice that everything else upward of the audible frequency range has that same level of ability and energy to present a dynamic and and fun sonic picture. Yes, expect to be kicked, but at the same time, kicked into a thrilling sub-mission that you won’t willingly walk (or limp) away from easily. The [...]

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