Do you have local dealers that carry the speakers you want to hear? What speakers are you looking at?
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Great question. The speakers I'm looking at are as follows:
Endeavor 3 MkII
Joseph Audio Perspective
Marten Django XL
Monitor Audio PL300 II
I currently own PSB Imagine T. I like them, but it is time to move up. I listened to PSB T3 and Vandersteen Treos at Audio Concepts in Dallas using all the same gear. I much preferred the PSB T3. I spoke with Galen Carol, a Bluebird Music rep in San Antonio, regarding the Spendor D7/D9. I arranged to listen to them, but he sold them the week I was to hear them. BTW Galen is a great guy and I'm hoping he and I run into each other at AXPONA. Anyway, from the AXPONA Exhibitors List it appears all these speakers should be present in Chicago.
Most vendors will allow you to play your own music, some will even encourage it. I suggest you talk to to one of the people working the room when you first come in to see if they are amenable to this. Saturday will be the busiest day, so you may have a tough time to get your music played in the busy rooms. Perhaps it's too late or not worth it for one day, but the VIP pass allows you an hour of pre-show listening where there will be fewer people in the room. I've not used this option so I don't have any experience with it, but to get a good listen it might help. No way you can listen to all of those speakers in one hour on Saturday morning though. Another option is to ask in a particular room if they will let you come back at the end of the day and listen after the show closes, As for buying at the show, some direct selling vendors will have "show" prices, but for the most part it's a demonstration atmosphere. Quite often a local dealer is involved, but unless you are also local buying will be hit or miss. Never hurts to ask though!
I could be wrong, but this year the gold pass does not seem to include an extra hour in the rooms. In my experience, while the traffic is lighter Friday, especially after noon, the rooms commonly sound the worst at the start and improve over the weekend. And by "worst" I mean sometimes uselessly bad. Also these days visitors more commonly rely on the large banks of music the vendors have on hard drives for audition rather than plug in their own music. It is not impolite to ask, certainly.
The MBL demo at AXPONA is popular for good reason, even if you'd never want to look at those loudspeakers for one minute in your own home. On the other hand, the Marten Coltrane loudspeaker demo was phenomenal. Expensive, but worth a listen. The big Wilson room was in a room that was . . . big. Awesome sound, but for prairie-sized listening spaces. Last year, a few rooms played R2R tape. You know, the stuff that sounds great but that you'll probably never listen to at your place. Gotta remember that it's about the music that works for you and the musical media to which you have real world access.
Real world demo excellence at AXPONA 2016 (IMO): Bryston, Gershmann speakers, Vandersteen, Harbeth, Salk, McIntosh. Lots of others. It's an excellent show.
Do bring the music you want to hear. Try not to be discouraged by the poor musical taste demonstrated by some convention attendees. Run the other way if you hear movie soundtracks!
Analog: beware many (not all) vendors also have terrible taste in LP selection. Way too many "audiophile" spectacular disks. Let's be honest: no one really likes to hear those at home. Bring along a few LPs that you'd be willing to hear in a demo.
As much as I agree that you should bring some music, you must also be ready for some real disappointment... Most of these rooms will be very busy, some will be hard to get into.... Make it clear that you are in the market to purchase and "This is on my Short List".... that may help, but I suspect that quite often (not always) you won't get your music selection played. Good Luck, Tim
The Endeavors you are looking at are definelity worth the audition time and may be best of your bunch and a listen to the newest Von Schweirkert' s even though out of price limit can give a reference to what is possible. I would narrow down to three serious contenders or a listen and then have more casual fun rest of the day. It will be my first time at a show too, arriving Thursday and staying through Saturday.
I was at the show for 1 day in 2015 and it was just enough if you want to audition loudspeakers. This time I plan on attending Saturday and Sunday.
I carried my USB key with music I am familiar with and the dealers did allow me to play my music - most, if not all.
I would love to hear the Spendor D7/D9. But Kyomi Audio would not be demonstrating them this year. I am hoping some other dealer carries it. I understand that ProAcs would be there. So looking forward to it. I did listen to the PBS Imagine T3s and wanted to like them, but compared to the B&W 804D3, the trebles seems truncated.
Something that is out of my price range - Muraudio - do visit them. In my books, they are the best of the show at Axpona.
Thanks to each of you for the helpful advice and insights. Anyone else who is willing to comment, I'm all ears. In my perfect world I audition with music I know well, but my system's sound is imprinted on my brain at this point, so if my music doesn't happen I'll be fine. I'm bringing the USB and asking anyway.
Come as early as you can, 2 hours of listening then lunch, you can go to market place while trying to digest the food, then back to listening, one day is not enough, last year after I went to Elac room, I went to Technics room, I spend 1 hour each, I end up buying Elac b6, and Technics sb700 speakers,It's really fun,This Year I would concentrate on cables, and digital.Trust me go there with an open mind, you will enjoy it..,, I listen to a lot of systems and I learned a lot...
I'm a three year, three day Axpona attendee. I will be there again this year. As to playing your music, as was said above, it's kinda hit or miss. Some rooms do encourage it. A few just plain don't. It seems that most depend on who's in the room. Early or late in the day. Crowded or maybe you get them when they're not so busy. Definitely bring your stuff and just ask.
Working deals in the rooms doesn't really happen....unless it's a local store. They might tell you to come and see them and they'll work with you. What I do know is that much of the demo equipment is for sale at a discount. Many of the reps would rather sell the stuff instead of paying to have it shipped home. I bought some equipment that way. If you are interested in that you have to remember, in most cases, that piece will have to stay there untill the end of the show. You would then have to pick it up or arrange to have it shipped to you.
As a one day attendee that is looking for something specific I would go to the Axpona websight and make a list of all the products you really want to see. This year they're listing alot more of what will be in the rooms. Then maybe start downstairs and work your way to the top, seeing everything you marked off. Make a note of everything that stood out and then work your way down checking out those special rooms again. If time allows your then able to take in some other rooms or even go back to rooms that you really are intersted in.
astewart8944, we carry 2 lines out the ones you are interested in - Spendor and Marten. We do have Spendor D7 and Marten Django L on display but unfortunately we are not exhibiting them this year. We would be happy to set up an audition should you be able to come earlier or stay longer.
milpai, I would be happy to demo the D7 for you any time before or after Axpona.
goheelz, thank you for the praise on the Marten Coltrane sound, we were very happy with it as well. This year, we are showing the all new Vivid Giya Spirit driven by the new Jadis 200 MKii mono amplifiers producing 200W in class A with KT150 tubes.
@kyomi_audio Thanks for the offer. Unfortunately, I can neither come to Chicago early nor stay late. Since the Spendors won't be playing at the show, I'm hoping to hear them at Galen Carol Audio in San Antonio a week after AXPONA, provided that works for Galen. The Marten Django L I will have to develop a game plan to hear.
Most vendors want to play your music to satisfy you but also don't know if you are pulling out some heavy metal that will clear the room. So tell them what you have or ask if they have such and such.
A memory stick is very handy and should be accommodated. Ask for a late night demo, like just after the show hours, before it gets too late, and you could get a one on one with the speakers.
I'll be volunteering in a room you will probably not target but I would play your music for you and I know the participants in the room want to satisfy you as best they can.
As mentioned above, also check out the big Salk room where they would definitely accommodate you (lower level bottom of escalator).
Room setup is variable at the show. I noticed that some took time to use some room treatments and set things up properly. Others just looked as though they were dropped in place with a rudimentary attempt at proper speaker placement. Let's face it, too, hotel rooms and large ballrooms are atypical compared to where we listen at home. The exhibits are a mixture of manufacturer rooms and dealer rooms (sometimes both, like a dealer with a manufacturer's rep.)
My point? You can get an idea of what something might sound like, but if it were an expensive purchase, I definitely would follow up with a visit to a local dealer to hear them at length. Serious auditions are something that AXPONA really is not intended for. It is good, though, for gathering information. Talk to the reps and the salespeople. Ask the questions. It is worthwhile.
I did find that Friday afternoon was when rooms were beginning to thin out. I forget which room it was on the 12th floor, but I heard a really nice setup with Focal speakers and Pass Labs monoblocks. One of my favorites at the show was the room with the ProAc Response D48R (I forget the dealer's name unfortunately)--great music, a tuned room, and others at the show were recommending it.
I took a USB thumb drive with me last year but never used it. It also doesn't hurt to ask the rooms if they have some of your choices on their servers--they might, and will usually be happy to play it.
@kyomi_audio Thanks for the offer. It is going to be a challenge to stay after the show. We would be visiting family as well. So my family is traveling with me. So it might not be possible.Will your shop be closed during AXPONA?
@astewart8944 , I would be interested to know what you think about the Spendors once you hear them. These are like a mystery to me - heard a lot of good things about them, but not have heard them.
One thing about Axpona is that it is often difficult to find the specific model you are looking to demo. Dealers do not like to lug so much hardware and the rooms are small to begin with. Even dealers that have multiple rooms still select only a few models of speakers to display. Unfortunately I doubt that you will find a single speaker on your list.
Jeff Joseph usually has his own demo material but might allow you to try something off hours. Last year his demo speakers were the Profile model.
A dealer in Woodridge, IL (Holm Audio, 1/2 hr from AXPONA) is a Joseph Audio dealer but I do not think they have the Perspectives. They do however carry a wide line of PSB speakers.
Saturday Audio in Chicago is a Monitor Audio dealer and they are willing to set up any speaker in their stock for you to demo.
All this is not to say you should avoid going, it is a great experience and you get to hear a wide range of products, get familiar with the different "sounds" and products, some of which may surprise you.
I have gone a few years now and was disappointed at the limited models available for demo. But I did hear Harbeth speakers at the Vinnie Rossi room and knew I had to have them. I went for a demo at Decibel Audio in downtown Chicago and bought a pair. Based on the speakers on
@avanti1960 You are confirming a specific concern regarding the presence or probable absence of the speakers I wish to hear. Having said that, I haven't heard the "house sound" of most of these speakers, so if it provides me a auditory window into that aspect of each the manufacturers I will be farther ahead than I am presently. Thank you for providing your insight and experience.
Did you get a chance to listen to the ProAC D30S? I was impressed, with the speakers being driven by Naim. They sounded very dynamic. They are more up-front, than my current system. And the bottom end on these were very deep. One song on which they impressed me was the Boz Scaggs - Thanks to You. They rumbled the room. I had not imagined that these could do it. Last year I was reading a post on this forum where the poster mentioned that he could not get bass from his D30R. Something must have been seriously wrong in his system.
Will wait for you feedback on these, as well as on th Spendor D7, after you audition them.
@milpai I didn't get to hear the ProAC D30S. Thanks for the report. I did listen to several speakers that I listed earlier on this thread, which I now re-list below with my abbreviated report on each:
PSB T3 (The PSB room didn't have T3s, but was playing T2s. It didn't sound very good to me. I previously heard T3s at a dealer and enjoyed their overall presentation. More about the T2s at AXPONA later)
Spendor D7/D9 (These were not at the show--I'm trying to head to San Antonio to hear the D7s later this week.)
Endeavor 3 MkII (I was expecting a lot here and I was underwhelmed. The first time I walked in the room it was straight up 10am, music was blaring out of other rooms and this room was changing a turntable cartridge--for 15 minutes. Once the music started, the sound was, um, non-dynamic. I chalk part of this up to the music selected, a jazz sax number that felt lazy as it wound its way through the middle register. I went back later and listened again. This session provided partial redemption of these speakers. Now the music was dynamic and revealed more of what the Endeavor E-3MKIIs could do. I can see how others would like them; but they did not layer the music in a way I found satisfying. The overall system seemed to lack speed; maybe it was the Jolida tubes driving these things, but it felt like the speakers had a regulator on them that kept them from opening up.)
Joseph Audio Perspectives (Wow. These speakers are smooth....There was a line to get a seat. Both times I visited, I stood in line. I first had to stand in the hallway, then I advanced to standing by the seats. Finally, I graduated to sitting down in the seats--and even got to sit in the favored middle chair on my second visit. And...I didn't want to give that chair up. The mid range and upper range were both captivating, detail without brightness, clarity with warmth. Hard to be too superlative on the sound coming out of a 36" high tower speaker that is 8.5" wide and 13" deep. The bass... it is sufficiently present and overall blends well, but it is these speakers weak point IMO. Specs say 35Hz on the bottom; my Imagine Ts are 38Hz on the bottom and have more bass presence, but admittedly are not as tight in the bass as the Perspectives. I should note here that Jeff Joseph told me he had the plug in the rear port to provide a tighter more focused bass delivery. So, that could explain some of the bass "leanness." However, if you have twin REL subwoofers (like I do) this is not an overwhelming concern. And, if you haven't already guessed, I really enjoy the bass cleft! For folks who focus intently on voices, the upper register and detail, these speakers should rank high on their list. Driven by Rowland Daemon Integrated (1500W @ 8 ohms--no that's not a typo!). Overkill? Yes! Enjoyable? Unquestionably. Doubting D Class amps have the ability to allow extremely musical presentations after listening to that amplifier with these speakers seems hard to fathom IMO. This was my favorite room. BTW I walked into the PSB room playing the T2s right after hearing the JA/Rowland room; that's probably why I was a bit hard on the PSB T2s. I presently own Imagine Ts and I still like the sound for the price. But one of these is clearer way ahead of the other. It stands to reason looking at the disparity in price points, although that is not always the case, I have come to learn.
Marten Django XL (These were not at the show; the Marten Coltranes were. I briefly listened to the Coltranes--$80K MSRP. They seemed terrific--but not $80K terrific. I got up and left without trying to critically evaluate them because, hey, I'm trying to find speakers I'm willing to buy and the clock is ticking.)
Monitor Audio PL300 II (These are great speakers. I listened to them twice and really enjoyed it both times. It is a complete package--presents a very complete soundstage and layers upper, mids and lower registers with seeming ease. I consider them a fast speaker with the PASS amps pushing them. I heard several different kinds of music through them and they excelled at handling each genre I heard: country, blues, rock, orchestral. The MA sales guys were taking all comers--if you had a CD they would play it. Unfortunately I had a USB and nobody in the rooms I visited was taking USB music. These speakers are pretty bulky relative to others I'm interested in (44"x16"x18.5") and, for me, are not as pleasing to look at as some of the other speakers I saw. But, they are not overpriced relative to the overall sound they deliver. They were driven by PASS XA monos and an XP-30 preamp. This is an excellent match. I could happily live with these speakers. Big time bass, direct, tight, not boomy, well integrated into the overall musical presentation.)
I will post some thoughts later about my visits to the Magico rooms and the Modwright/Daedalus rooms. And @milpai as promised, when I return from San Antonio, I will post my thoughts on the Spendor D7 listening session. Most importantly, I had fun at AXPONA! I told my friends that it was Disneyland for guys who like to take electrical stuff apart; men who, as kids, stuck screwdrivers into wall sockets. (I did see a few women at the show who were clearly as into it as the fellows.)
Sorry for the overall length of this report.
Thank You for the detailed report.
I think our experiences match a lot. I heard the PSB Imagine T3s on Sunday at the Saturday Exchange room. They sounded so much better than the demo I have a few weeks back. At that time the dealer was comparing the T3s vs the B&W 804D3s. I think the B&Ws have a hot treble, and so the PSBs sounded a bit rolled off. But on their own in the AXPONA room, they sounded great.
Monitor Audio PL300II were very good indeed. They sounded balanced.
I too was wowed by the Joseph Audio Perspectives. So much heft for a diminutive loudspeaker. They sounded pretty nice too.
I think you would have loved the ProAcs and the Atohm loudspeakers. The bookshelf Atohm GT1-HD was sounding like a medium sized floorstanders. I had to step to the speakers (2 floor standers besides it) to make sure that the bookshelf versions were playing and not the floorstanders. Slight bling factor aside, they sounded very good.
I also liked the TAD and the Kii. The Kii had no business to sound as good as it did in the demo that was given. I believe it is the DSP magic. One speaker that impressed me this time compared to my experience from 2015 was the ATC SCM40. But I was told that the combination of my Parasound A21 and this loudspeaker will not sound good. This speaker requires much more power. Not sure how true that is. But in the actual ATC room the SCM50 was making some of the best music of the show. These can make you get up and dance.
I liked the MBL, Vivid Audio Giya, YG and the Sonus Faber rooms too. These were all the upper echelon rooms. One thing I should mention is that, in general the rooms did not sound bad in this show - unless the speaker was not good. And that leads me to the Endeavor. I was disappointed by them in 2015 and that did not change in 2017 as well.
And I enjoy reading detailed report. So please do not apologize. I am sure folk here also enjoyed your detailed report. If you can get a chance, try to listen to PMC and ProAc when you are in San Antonio. Good Luck, and I will wait to hear your feedback.
Went Sunday after reading one of the earlier posts about smaller crowds that day. What a great suggestion. Very comfortable crowds, and we were able to get seats in every room visited (we got there right at 10 AM). My favorites were the Kii, Spatial (great sound as always), Harbeth, and especially the new ELAC monitors which sounded fantastic (especially at the suggested price of $2,500). I also thought the Salk Song3a sounded very good, and what a gorgeous finish!
Biggest gripe was the choice of music and the volumes which some of the exhibitors used. No need to crank bad rock to '11' in those small rooms and with only 3-4 people in them (actually, shouldn't crank bad rock under any circumstances). Had to repeatedly ask to have the sound turned down to more appropriate levels at which I listen. Otherwise a good show.
@dragon_vibe I did spend some time in this room. When I was there the sound I heard was engaging, really beautiful. If I'm not mistaken, they were featuring the T1.5 Reference--little dog and parrot sitting on top of the speakers. Those speakers take up some significant real estate. Anyway, I would have spent more time in the room, the SQ was very good, but it was a large room and lots of people were there socializing vocally. It simply was too much verbal competition fighting against the music. So I left. What I heard, I would love to hear again--in an otherwise quieter room.
Two rooms I spent time in that are worthy of mention are the Modwright/Daedalus rooms. Overall, I enjoyed them both. One room featured the Poseidon V2 speakers with the KWA 150 SE connected to the SWL 9.0 Anniversary Edition Pre. The other room featured Modwright's new Ambrose A30 Tube Monos and the new Ambrose One Balanced Tube Pre (I think) paired with a new Daedalus speaker model called the Apollo. The KWA 150 SE/Poseidon room was physically bigger (I think) but seemed to have less traffic in it. The room featuring the new products was smaller but packed both times I was there. All seats full, all standing room taken. This was my first time hearing Modwright equipment and Daedalus speakers. The SQ to "value" ratio felt high, meaning for the SQ I was hearing the price points seemed to offer great value. And the Daedalus cabinetry work is very nice. In the new room, the sound seemed significantly warmer than the previous room, as one would expect, with the tube monos. The Apollo speakers are beautiful. I wish Daedalus would load a picture and description of them on their website. Very different design than what they have produced previously, or so it seems. Because I had never heard either the amps or the speakers before I don't think I prejudged these products. (Although I admit to having read many A'gon posts about these companies' products in the past.) My description of the overall sound from both rooms is that it was detailed with a good soundstage, musical, a little sweet. But, in both rooms, more in the solid state room and less in the tube room, something wasn't exactly right. I could hear a very very slight "ring' or 'ting" in the upper register. Not annoying, not unpleasant, not pronounced, and not electric buzz or static....I mentioned this phenomena to a fellow A'goner who has listened to these products much more than I have and he agreed saying he has heard it too, describing the sound as a little "tizzy". Importantly, I reiterate the overall SQ was very good. Of the rooms I visited, these remained high on my list when I left--- products that seemed to offer hearers sound quality that outpaced their price.
I listened to PSB T3 and Vandersteen Treos at Audio Concepts in Dallas using all the same gear. I much preferred the PSB T3.Your experience is very familiar to me. After years in this hobby I thought I had reached a level of acceptable fidelity all the while considering the next upgrade.
By chance a friend introduced me to an audio manufacturers sales person who generously offered to listen to my system. After just a few minutes we repositioned my speakers and the improvement was startling. I confessed after all this time I really didn't know much. As he put it, "how could you." The true professionals in this industry usually have an incredible sonic reference from years of experience a consumer could hardly afford.
Long story short he suggested a higher end speaker. I listened to this speaker at stores and shows and, as you, by comparison it just didn't seem to compete with speakers that provided more of everything and at a much lower price.
A pair popped up locally at a reasonable price and I took a flyer knowing they could be sold easily if I didn't like them. Once at home their superiority was immediately realized and the more of everything I thought was of value was put into glaring prospective.
The T3s have a great deal in common with my old speakers and the Treo's have a great deal in common with my Avalons especially in the area of time and phase. After a week in your home the Treos will sound like a single musical point source and the T3s will sound like a box with big bass and sparkling highs which your ear will point directly to.
Anyway that's what happened to me. Good luck with it and have fun.
@m-db Thanks for the post and insight. At AXPONA 2017 I heard what I I needed to hear and ended up with used Joseph Perspectives in terrific condition. I bought them here on A'gon. Couldn't be happier. I have them paired with a new Jeff Rowland Continuum S2 Integrated (JRCS2). The JRCS2 is still breaking in--it is now at 450+ hours--it grows better with time. @guidocorona has posted elsewhere on A'gon that Rowland amps need lots of breaking in. Everything he has posted, and commented on to me privately has been spot on regarding my Rowland integrated. (Thanks Guido!) As I sit here typing this response, I'm listening to Francesco Cafiso's "3" and it is magic. I've invested the time to place the speakers in what seems to be the ideal location for my room. It makes a significant difference.
I'm also on a possible trajectory towards a purchase of the JA Perspectives. Having heard them several times now...they are special speakers IMO. One often reads descriptors like "quiet" and "low noise floor" of the Joseph speakers and that's exactly what I've heard. There is this amazingly low-hash quality to the presentation, like being able to view into a stream through clear water, through which the timbral qualities of voices and instruments emerge with particular individuality and clarity. They remind me of those times I've bypassed pre-amps - e.g. using passive stages or using my Benchmark Dac directly into my amplifiers. There is a beautiful black noise floor, a relaxed silence around all the notes when I do this. Unfortunately to my ears the overall presentation always went more "dark" as well, and with it some instrumental color. The Joseph speakers seem to present that same feeling of low noise around all the notes, but with full timbral color to the sound. It's pretty intoxicating if this type of presentation is your bag (and it is, mine).