For the first time went to Axpona, one heck of a show more audio then we have ever seen, the old New York audio shows were like this.
Anyway walked most of the show and most of the systems heard were just bad, common problems no room tuning, rooms that were too big for the gear or too small. Even some of the really expensive stuff was dissapointing.
There were a few room that were good.
So far winners for us that were very good not in any particular order:
1: Big Horns from Germany forgot the name really famous one, 2: Muiraudio $15k electrostatic hybrid 3: Alta Audio cheapie $5k speakers sounded great 4: Vimburg 5: Paradigm Persona 3F
(not a great setup, but the sound comming out of them for a $10k speaker was very impressive. excellent, midrange soundstage was impressive image floated nicely, even though the speakers were way too close together and the bass response was excellent. Would have been way better with a few substitions.
6: T+A $75k floorstanders were impressive for such a small size reference speaker, don't know if they are worth that kind of money, the electrostatic tweeter coupled to a line array with buillt in subs was very musical in a way too small room. Would have liked them to be taller
Decent but not up to the hype the new PS audio speakers bass was very good for a $12-15k set of speakers filled up a big room ugly, and not the ultimate wow that PS was billing them as.
The Scaena line array when we had them setup in our show and at some of the older New York Audio Shows were mind blowing this setup didn't gel which was sad.
Today to hear the Gryphon room, Golden Ear and a few others.
Scott Markwall gave a great demo of the Furutech NCF products which are really cool.
Innous gave a great demo of the Statement vs the Zenith, and wow what a difference in soundstaging and clarity.
Dave and Troy Audio Doctor NJ Paradigm, T+A, Persona dealers.
Interesting that so many opinions matched what I heard at the 2019 Tampa show, esp the rooms not matching the speakers and either too boomy or no bass at all. Even rooms with active correction had big issues. Has anyone ever seen/heard synergistics research acoustical treatments at shows: Black Box, HFT, panels? They get some great reviews and was wondering if they were really that good when compared dollar for dollar with items like GIK. SR stuff seems a lot more portable than large panels, and I can appreciate the difficulty of hauling many large panels to a show along with everything else.
It would be nice if the show promoters had a large stock of mid-priced treatments kept in a storeroom locally to help people tune their rooms, especially some cantilevered/side supported way to treat the ceilings which are really low. Re being nice to people with bad sounding rooms; shouldn’t we be a little more honest while trying to be remain kind and grateful about their participation? Sounds like Apoxna was larger than Tampa, is Rocky Mtn about as large? I had lots of fun in Tampa in spite of room issues, and am looking to forward to another show someday soon. It’s a great way to learn about our hobby and find items to audition seriously later.
I was at the show for all 3 days and visited every room (nearly 200) in the huge hotel, but I am surprised no one mentioned the hidden (apparently) treasure found on the 14th floor, the amazing Grandinote Mach 4 speakers, powered by the Grandinote electronics and superbly supported by Luna Cables. The sound was the epitome of natural, no coloration whatsoever! The only explanation that seems plausible to me to have not discussed such an incredible sound was that many visitors never made it up to the 14th floor to experience it. That is a shame. The Grandinote equipment is from Italy and the Luna Cables are from Canada.
Muraudio Sp1 is probably one of the best speaker I've ever heard. After hearing it in NY Audio Show, I ended up spending an entire evening at Distinctive Stereo to listen to them. Fantastic all around speaker. Only reason, I didn't end up buying them as it'd require me to switch my amp. But, I totally see myself getting a pair in future.
I found two rooms at AXPONA 2019 to be my personal standouts this year. The first demo'd Rockport Cygnus speakers driven by all CH Precision electronics and an Auralic Aries streamer; "Life" by Ludovico Einaudi was played. This recording was my primary evaluation track, and I heard it on several high end systems. None, even my former favorite (the Sonus Faber Aida II driven by Audio Research electronics), came close in terms of offering a realistic experience. Only this system got both the piano and the strings right! I have a fairly decent system at home, but it paled in comparison to that Rockport/CH Precision system. The second was the Wilson Alexx/D'Agostino electronics/dCS streamer and DAC setup; "You Want It Darker" by Leonard Cohen was played. This was the other track I played in a number of rooms. When the song finished everyone in the went "Wow!" Mr. Cohen was resurrected! Every aspect of his gravelly voice was recreated, emanating from a rock-solid and stable image. Again, my home system disappointed in comparison.
I think it is important to note that, regardless of how good the audio system might be, without outstanding source material, all that technology will be wasted. Both of these tracks are marvelous recordings; these two systems brought them to life.
I was at the show 2 days and heard a lot of good systems. I thought Jeff Joseph's room sounded great, as always. I also liked Jonathan Tinn's room with the Evolution Acoustics speakers and the Wave Kinetics Turntable / Durand tonearm. There were many other rooms including the MBL room which I enjoyed stopping in.
I disagree that the Vandersteen room didn't sound well. I was there on Saturday, after they got the equipment issues resolved. When I walked in the sweet spot was empty so I grabbed it. Van Morrison's Tupelo Honey was playing and the sound stage was a mile wide and quite enjoyable. The room they were in was huge so I can't get worked up over some of the sonic characteristics like there not being enough bass. That is a room issue, not an equipment issue. There is no way the system nine lacks in bass. I have heard it in smaller, better tuned rooms.
I did stop by again later and the "DJ" was playing some unfamiliar music so I really couldn't get a sense for the sound then. I wish these exhibitors would realize that playing well-recorded standards is the way to go. What's the point of playing stuff nobody knows?
I have not seen much mention of it but I was really impressed with the Spendor room and the D7. I kept coming back and stayed longer each time. Wonderful balance for these ears. The Chord dac and integrated seemed to make for terrific value too. The Altas were something special also and some pyramid shaped italion stand mounts I cannot recall the name
Pwhinson, funny thing about the Pass room -- they told me that only one of the amps in the room had any electronics in them! They were just empty cases.
Think you're right about the Sanders vs. the Martin Logans, though I found both too bright (and a 61-year-old pair of Quad ESL 57's just right).
Like everyone else, was disappointed by the AN-3 but in all fairness it was in an absurdly big room and location (a corner!), and I read that the prototype isn't as adjustable as the production models. Like the Vandys it couldn't really be judged. But I suspect it was also overhyped in the videos, a single Neo 10 is never going to sound like an IRS V! Not in a big space, anyway. The comparisons to the IRS set me up for disappointment.
At the opposite extreme, the little LRS was the hit of the show for those lucky enough to hear it. Magnepan was showing it to the press and then letting others discover it through word of mouth.
Audiotroy, I had the impression that the big Magico setup was suffering from the space it was in. It was the sort of space appropriate to a PA system, not a pair of loudspeakers! None of the Magicos I heard this time sounded good. Go figure. But I thought a lot of speakers were suffering from bad acoustics.
I was there two days and saw a lot of very nice rooms. The towering German speakers, Goebel (?) were stunning as was were the Salk Towers... as always a reliable fine speaker in beautiful cabinets. The two MBL rooms were simply amazing, particularly their new standmount speaker for $17K. Now we're talking!
Spatial Audio was in two rooms with the $7500 X3 speakers, which have a powered woofer now and new ribbon, I think, tweeter, driven by a Modwright amp in one room and an LTA ZOTL Ultralinear tube amp.... both set ups sounded fantastic and the X3' are clearly a step up with the M3's... lower LF and clearer HF. The Rockport room was excellent. The T&A room pretty much blew me away with their exotic gear.... a unique preamp/DAC combo that is state of the art for playing hi rez recordings. Their speakers were excellent as well. Magico's $400K system at the end of a hall was quite impressive, to say the least.
Oh, finally Vanatoo demo'd their Transparent One Encore and Transparent Zero BluTooth speakers going for $600 and $360, respectively. Even with no sub playing, these little gems sounded absolutely amazing. I will be ordering a pair for my desktop, yet on stands, they would surely delight most music lovers!
I liked the vibe at the show a lot. My visit with Steve Guttenberg showed him to be just as pleasant and humble of a fellow as he appears to be in his videos. I could have done without the snow storm on Sunday, but you never know in Chicago.
Pwhin: No real surprise re the Sanders advantage. -Roger designed Mls for years -Roger make a transmission line bass (which I am a sucker for) -Roger has room correction +++ -Roger has class a/b power up they ying yang. 2,000 wpc a side. No clipping there -Roger makes one speaker. ML has a dozen. Make sense? Sanders is my next purchase.
It was easy to compare the Sanders electrostat hybrids to the Martin Logans: I thought Sanders had much much better integration between their dynamic sub driver and the electrostatic panels than ML, really surprisingly so since ML has been at this game a very long time now and should have it down. Maybe there was something that was leading me to an incorrect conclusion with regard to the MLs but for me driver integration was much better on the Sanders. Clarity above the bass range I thought was good on both but just a little bit more so on the MLs. I guess Vandy and VS look at this as more of an almost static display than an attempt to make their equipment sound good, maybe they rely more on the generally well established word of mouth that they perform well but this particular showing certainly didn't advance that assertion at all. Pass had a huge display but as I recall it actually WAS static...there was a huge amount of Pass products on display practically the whole line, sitting out on display. I can't recall now if they were actually playing music in that room or not. I do love the Pass products. I didn't see Aesthetix anywhere and its a shame because their preamps are magnificent in my opinion (their power amps very good but maybe just not great). I actually respect the fact that they aren't continuing to churn out new models to feed the upgrade cycle but I DO hope they stick around. Their Calypso line stage and Janus preamp are still A1 in my book.
Pwinson, we couldn’t agree with you more, very astute commentary!
One common issue was rooms with gigantic speakers that were too small and gigantic rooms with speakers that are too small!
In a few rooms that were a bit small there was still good sound. These tended to be speakers with good low frequency response but not crazy deep bass response.
Rooms that sounded really good which matched speaker output to room size:
1: Paradigm Person 3F sounded fantastic and was a compelling demonstration of the power of room correction. The bass was tight and powerful and worked well in the room.
2: Muriaudio, the panels are fantastic and they produced enough bass to work in the room and program material and not too much to overload the room.
3: T+A Compact Metal speakers bass was impressive for the room size and they sounded very good, T+A electronics are amazing.
There were tons of other rooms these were a few of the standouts
4: Vimberg great sound and even though the room was a bit big the speakers sounded fantastic.
Rooms which didn’t work:
1: All Von Schweikert demos, rooms were way too big no room lock.
When you get deep bass to pressurize the room you feel it, even the $300k Von Schweikerts don’t have enough bass for such a huge room.
2: Vandersteen’s way too far apart, not enough bass for such a big room not a great showing.
There were a lot of good sounding rooms but very few standouts.
The Borretson setup was very interesting the image was poor way too spread out, and the bass response in the room was very uneven, the clarity was awesome and the system was setup weird, $90k worth of Avik electronics with a Naim CD player?
Also why does their class D amplifiers have the right to cost $100k? Class D generally costs a lot less to produce than linear amplification.
First time heard a Rahido variation that wasn’t too artificial in the top end.
Stunning looking speakers their pricing is obscene for the lower models $30k for a two way monitor.
Surprising was how good the Wilsons were sounding in a few setups mostly the big rooms. The combo of ARC with Sasha DW was very impressive, way better than the Dagastino setups.
The Magicos were universally just boring and lifeless.
The giant F1 step did capture scale beautifully except there was no magic in the midrange and the sound was uninvolving.
To me the best sound was found in 3 rooms: Sanders, Magnepan and the Martin Logan Renaissance. I missed the Muraudio room darn'it.
These shows make it difficult to appreciate most brands. The Harbeth rooms were the perfect example. Two equal sized rooms. One with the 40.2s at $17k, The other with 30.2s at $5k? The 30.2 room sounded much better.
Those $300k Von Schweikerts were pretty amazing in my book.
New stuff I liked the sound of: Borresson and Lafter. Both ridiculously priced but per a veteran of the business, this is the way they get attention. Who cares about a new $5k speaker when you can hear a $40k model? Some logic there but...
The show had an upbeat vibe. More smiles and less "deals".
I agree that the big surprise for me was the Muraudio room. I had heard of these speakers but they were simply awesome...a revelation in a sea of mediocrity. Beautiful seamless blend between the dynamic and electrostatic drivers...they sounded great despite the small narrow room especially on hard to reproduce orchestral classical music. Just awesome. MBL room sounded awesome, Avantegard good, multi-channel Magnepan room very good, Vimburg good. There was a small outfit from Europe (the Netherlands I think) showing some new electronics and demonstrating with vintage Quads and that system also sounded surprisingly very good. Joseph Audio Perspective 2 sounded very good. Agree with you that the T+A speakers and electronics sounded good despite the small room. THEN...Underwhelming: Vandersteen (massive huge room always empty), Von Schweikert/Audio Company the huge VS speakers were totally underwhelming for me in a design where a huge amount of engineering was thrown at a massive and unnecessarily complex loudspeaker. Many, many other mediocre displays which suffered mostly from being shoe horned into the narrow hotel rooms. The manufacturers/dealers who were displaying on the top two floors suites had wider rooms and did much better I think with setup. Those rooms also reflected more of a real (albeit smallish) living room environment. Vandersteen 9s and VS were displaying in rooms the size of a ballroom i.e., in a totally inappropriate setting and you have to wonder WTF?
I concur about the PranaFidelity speakers. I really thought they sounded great. I enjoyed a number of rooms across the price spectrum. On the affordable front the Ultra Fidelis room with Vandersteen Quatro Wood speakers, the Spendor D7s, the DynAudio Contours, and Ginko Audio stand mounts to name a few all sounded wonderful.
The PranaFidelity room IMO is an excellent example of high value audio. I don't own their equipment, but based on what I heard last year and this year at AXPONA, I wouldn't hesitate to put them on a recommended short list for folks looking for new speakers: The Vayu model has a frequency response of 28Hz-23kHz and 8 Ohm nominal impedance with sensitivity rated at 89.5 dB. They also have a design feature that allows different filtering on the fly to tailor the speaker to the listener's taste. I found it to be a convincing demonstration. All that for $8950 a pair.
Chrshanl37 has it right. It’s nearly impossible to judge components and speakers at a trade show. Very few rooms were suitable for good listening. Even the big Focals were boomy. I wanted to hear Larson and Sanders and both impressed as they are not as sensitive to room dimensions and were well placed. Overall Axpona gave my friends and I the chance to see brands we only read about.
@spoutmouzert, Very different viewpoint on the Spatials from here. On the appearance if someone is trying to add a modern deco theme to their room, I think the Spatials would be an interesting addition. They were shown in a cool looking red color.
Upon listening I felt there was a slight edginess from top all the way through the midrange which lost my interest very quickly with all the stereo candy within a few feet of me. However, based on the positive feedback of this design I attributed this issue to something or things in the set up.
If your interested in this speaker I would recommend holding judgement until you can seriously audition them properly firsthand yourself.
Jab so sorry didn’t feel like we had to look up the product, to remember the name. Two biggest horns Accapella and Avante Garde, Accapella wasn’t there, so felt most people would know which room we were talking about sorry for not having instant recall.
Jab there were many setups that were exceptional sounding and were affordable.
The Paradigm Persona 3 on the Anthem STR sounded really good $10k for speakers $4.5k amp okay add in streamer and cables and it is going to be around $20k but that is still a system someone could move into over time.
The Vu Audio room sounded very good $3k speakers $4k amp? the entire system was around $10k including source.
Another somewhat affordable setup the Alta Audio $5k speakers on the Krell integrated which has the built in streamer that system was $13k other than cabling and it was very musical.
What is interesting about these shows is that you can hear sometimes the same manufactuer setup with different gear and that can help to illustrate two things, one that a product can sound similar no matter what they are being setup with and still manage to sound a bit different.
So far heard Magico S3 Mk II in a few rooms never failed to find them anything other than boring and the gigantic uber setup in the mezzanine sounded flat and artificial compared to some of the other heavy hitters, the sound was big, and had excellent scale is it us or do the Magico’s just sound too flat in the midrange?
The Spatial’s sounded very good, excellent midrange, good bass, ugly as sin but a good sound for the money.
Other stand outs the Focal Grande Utopias looked magnificent and sounded incredible, played one of our favorite demo tracks the Doors Riders on the Storm and it was etherial, with amazing clarity and a magnificent sense of presense.
The Big Gryphon rig captured the sound and scope of a symphony beautifully.
Less enamored by the big Bortoseen rig, speakers too far apart and the room had uneven bass, howerver, first time heard a Rahido or similar such speaker that the detail was finally not too much. System did somethings very well, but would take the Naim/Grande Utopias over this setup anyday.
The Axpona show was excellent. Do not believe a dealer who forgot Avantgarde speakers name, Geez. Is it because he is not a dealer for them?
This thread does seem to have people who have many more dislikes than likes, I on the other hand was amazed at how well the rooms overall were. Some misses but many hits.
I am not rich, but I do enjoy listening to the large rooms with the massive stereos to understand what is possible. So many on this thread seem to only want to listen to what they can afford, which limits them to mediocre sounds. If they would learn from what is possible, well, you can lead them to water but you....
I see the future having many more of these shows around the country, although Chicago is centrally located, and dealers falling off the screen soon. I can listen to most if not all audio products in one location, as going to a dealer and listening to his small lineup, dictated by the manufacturer or importer.
The sound of the PS audio system was disappointing- but it is very much a conscious decision by Paul and team to voice the speaker that way. Overly bassy and soft, very lush and old school sounding. Veiled and lacking any sort of modern speaker transparency. The Whafdale Lintons were all midrange and no bass / treble whatsoever but i wasn't expecting much. Very poor sound. The goldenear 1R sounded artificial and flat in the key upper midrange area. my favorite sounding non-stratosphere costing speakers were the Voxatif Zeth (amazing midrange clarity and coherence), Larsen HiFi, Avante Garde uno (Esoteric room),, Audio Physic and of all things the Klipsch forte III sounded awesome! I loved theway they souded! Biggest disappointment- the Buchardt S400. All bass and a flat midrange that lacked transparency and sparkle. I would rather own many speakers in that price range than the S400.
Rs 507, there were quite a number of people who talked very favorably about this room.
There is no way the 3F sounded like a $2,500.00 speaker if you heard a $2,500 speaker which sounds this good please tell us which one, because in our shop there is no $2,500 speaker that touches them, the 3F's compete with $20k speakers.
The sound in the room was good there were a couple of flaws, the speakers were too close together, and they needed a bit of rake angle to bring up the soundstage, also AQ cables tend to spotlight the top end, so thouse should have been changed to a wamer yet transparent interconnect and speaker cable such as Wireworld, lastly the Aurender server was good, the Innous Zenith allows for upconversion which would have allowed the Anthem STR to output DSD to the Anthem STR which gives you a big boost in system liquidity.
Also considering the speakers and amp was a $14k setup the room sounded very good for gear in that price range.
Please let us know which rooms you liked which will calibrate our understanding of what you like and your biases.
Mountainsong, we heard the Piegas at this show and the CAP show and they sounded good but not that good to us.
They do seem interesting, however for $25k I think based on what we heard with them we would go Paradigm Persona, or Vimberg which are a bit more expensive, but maybe a possible squeeze for some people.
The Kef Blades throw a bigger soundstage, with much greater bass especially the Blades vs the Blade 2, so in the case of the Piega it will all depend on where did your friend hear each speaker and what were each speaker being driven by? Did your friend hear both speakers played on the same system at the same dealers?
Obviously it comes down to personal taste as well.
Really massive show! Way too much to take in with the 1 day I allotted this year. What I did experience was almost unanimously poorly controlled bass, even with additional room acoustics making an effort to address the issue. It would appear to me that a few panels and 1 day of prep can rarely get the job done. I guess listening around the bass response is the way to go at these events. Displays that impressed were the Ayon room, but I would not give them "Best in Show" as they always advertise. My award of the day went to a flagship model being introduced by Bayz audio. I would have really liked to spend more time in this small room but unfortunately I found this system nearly at the end of the day. This large unique design which looks to me somewhat like the monster in "Alien" almost made me scream when the price was revealed at a haunting $97K. A huge relief came over me when the beast began to sing though. What I did get to listen to sounded like the real deal IMO. Would really like to hear them again on a lengthy audition with various forms of music. They do have a slightly smaller version in the $40’s that wasn’t displayed. MBL in their double room easily had the greatest visual room ambiance with a darker setting, soft fine spotlighting, silk plants, and of course the stunning MBL’s which also sounded very good. I do not agree with some of the opinions of the massive KEF’s. The amount of lower energy generated on display in this massive room was very unnatural to me. Maybe best for a movie theater but I’m confused as to what home environment it would blend with. All in all a great time and if the opportunity presents itself all audio fans should try to attend.
to be fair to PS Audio they have been very transparent about prototype status of the product as well as the process they are using to develop this new speaker and eventually a line of speakers. They have in development the largest AMT midrange ( claimed ) and have very publicly admitted it measures well but not up to standard on how it sounds. IMO those are things to be lauded.
Miam, There's large rooms on the first and second floor and then many regular hotel rooms with some vendors renting 2 rooms together. I saw more acoustic panels this year than last and it really helped keep every room sounding just like the last room. ATC was demonstrating they're active against their passive when I was in that room and I can't help but think more attention to setup would have helped because tbh I couldn't hear a difference. I don't want to take shots at ps audio and it takes some balls to display a prototype, but if you ask 10 different audiophiles what they didn't like about the speakers you're, well you know the rest. When 1 aspect is tweaked we won't know how it affects the overall sound until we hear it.
Interesting to hear that Piega sounded good. Way back when I heard them and had a pair at my home that Fremer was reviewing and my old B&Ws were just better. Heard them again at the NY Audio show and was not impressed. Are the ones now a new model?
I believe the large German horn speakers you are referring to are the Avantgarde Acoustics Duo Mezzo XD speakers. $60k and 107dB/Watt efficient! I agree, probably the best (?) sounding demonstration at the show, certainly the most fun. I also liked the MBL setup. My personal favorite, at a reasonable cost, was the Gale Sanders Eikon active loudspeaker system, $25k including the pre-amp/processor. To my ears this system came close in SQ to some of the systems costing 10-20 times the price. Furthermore, the system size and appearance was such that it is not going to make you feel like a guest in your own living room. If I was starting all over again in HiFi, the Eikon system would be my first choice of equipment. Quite simply beautiful sounding and looking.
Fans of Magnepan are buzzing about the debut of the LRS (Little Ribbon Speaker), $650/pair! If you have 3' to put behind each panel, there is no reason to settle a box speaker. All quasi-ribbon drivers mounted on a flat panel (no box resonances to "tune"), for a true low-mass loudspeaker.