AXPONA 2019 Best sounding demonstrations

The AXPONA yearly event at Chicago’s Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center in Chicago was the first visit for The Sound advocate and in most respects was quite a vividly, rewarding experience.

Many of the most noted high-end manufacturers and distributors were displaying their current and/ or newest products to good effect. Although room size, acoustics and optimum program material left a bit to be desired, for the most part the show was informative and quite demonstrative!

We had prepared a list of manufacturers to visit but quite naturally could not get to everyone. More importantly, it was a revelatory experience to meet many of the talented designers and audio enthusiasts who share the passion for hi-fi and good music.

Without further ado, here is a rundown of what we consider to be some of the best as well as “personal favorite product demonstrations most worthy of mention.


MBL surely entices the most extreme audiophiles for their excellent demonstrations and personal, hands on system coordination. Jeremy Bryan, the President and CEO of MBL North America and Jurgen Reis were quite demanding in making sure of that. 

The system which included Kyomi Audioas co-exhibitor : the MBl 101E Mk.2 loudspeakers ($70,500/pair), 4x N15 monoblock amplifiers ($35,600/pair), N11 preamplifier ($14,600), and the particularly noteworthy,Noble Line N31 CD player/DAC ($15,400)


Michael Vamos, President of Audioskies was presenting the excellent sounding, GamuT preamp/power amp combination along with Larson Ortho-Acoustic loudspeakers. The GamuTDi 150 LE and D200i on display will be replaced soon this year by a new series of GamuT amplifiers.

AUDIO SKIES has recently been assigned to represent the amazingRaidho speakersin the US. GamuT’s Chief Designer Benno Baun Melgaard is now also the chief designer for Raidho and will be the chief designer on all future Raidho speakers as well as continuing to be chief designer for GamuT. The two companies will continue as before delivering the very best in high-end audio.

Alon Wolff was showing the his new Magico$63.5k three-way, four-driver M2 floorstander (1” tweeter, 6” graphene-carbon midrange, and two 7” graphene-carbon woofers in an aerodynamic carbon-fiber and aluminum chassis), driven by CH Precision electronics and sourced by an MSB DAC. Many other of Magico’s models were being displayed by numerous manufacturers at the show including the superb, and relatively speaking, modest priced, A3 loudspeaker.

The Magico loudspeakerswere, arguably, the most accurate sounding speakers at the show. As many who are reading this have heard their speakers, if you have notyet given them an audition, you’re missing a phenomenal experience! Although Alon was showing the M2 in the typically small rooms of the Schaumburg, all one need do was to hear the female voice through any of these models (the A3included) and there is no denying the outstanding neutralityand precise stereo imaging inherent in all his designs!

CH precision had their stunning line of electronics being presented with the Rockport Cygnus loudspeakers. Some of the most enticing and neutral sound at the show was emanating from CH Precision in conjunction with the latest loudspeakers from Rockport and Andy Payor, the Cygnus. The system comprised of the DeBaer Saphir Turntable and the Top Wing Suzaku cartridge. The Rockport’s were sincere, and impartial to the excellent music sources presented to it which, by the way, were expertly presented.! The CH precision electronics seemed to be adding fine amounts of depth, accuracy and exquisitely detailed imaging to the Cygnus given the size of the display room!


I made sure to visit the AVM demonstration and was greeted by the amiable gentleman himself, Peder Baeckman. If you have not had a demonstration of the AVM line, I suggest you do so. The electronics on display included the AVM’s outstanding Inspiration all in one integrated amp (CS2.2- Sound Advocate review coming shortly) as well as their new top of the line Ovation A8.3 amplifier.

What I personally found to be quite exciting, was the Ovation MP.8.2 CD/media playerwith PURE CD drive and a plethora of streaming options. To complement the electronics, Peder had the beautiful Wilson Sabrina’s working with them. All of AVM’s products, to my way of thinking, “have no sound of their own”.Could anything be better than that?

Jay Reinand Richard Colburnof Bluebird Musicwere giving their full force to Spendor’s D7loudspeaker, which arguably, is their most preeminent and most discerning product venture to date. In case you were not aware of it, the D7 is in the process of being updated (D7.2) and at the time of publishing, is currently just being distributed in England. (I still currently use as reference backups, vintage SP1’s and BC1’s which in some ways, have not ever been surpassed!)  

Of course, one can not forget the supremely, majestic sounding Chordline of DAC’s; including theHUGO TT2, HUGO 2,the QTEST(which I currently use) and the incomparable sounding DAVE DAC.

On the main floor,YG Acoustics Sonja 2.2was featured and producing some excellent sounding music as the demonstration area was large and quite ideal. We also got the privilege of hearing the Auralic Vega G.2 streamer/DAC in action as well. The YG Acoustics range of loudspeakers, like the Rockport’s and Magico’s are not by any means cheap, but when demonstrated in a good size, acoustically opportune room, are another of the greatest high-end loudspeakers currently being produced!


The world renowned leaders in definitive digital front ends and amplification were showing all their products in quite an alluring display headed by National Sales Manager Scott Sefton.


There were 2 new and striking entries being shown.The Esoteric Grandiosa P1X Transport ($50k) and the EsotericGrandiioso D1X monoblock processors at a similar price.

Esoteric CD Super Audio players ~~ The well-established K-01 and K-03 were updated about a year ago with the newest “X” versions; the K-01Xs and K-03Xs. Most enthusiasts familiar with Esoteric Audio cannot deny the outstanding musical performance and build quality inherent in their superb line of products. (our reviewer Frank Perraino uses the K-03 and K-01 as his reference digital sources). Yes, the prices are quite prodigious indeed, but if they are within your budget range, one might refer to Esoteric as the place where “The beat meet the Elite”! 


DALI, (Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries) was presenting their relatively new model “The Oberon 7” which is in the process of being reviewed by The Sound Advocate. (watch for our review next month!) (

The Oberon 7 is currently being sold for approximately $1400 in the US and from some early observations, may well give their much higher priced Rubicon model something to ponder about. The demonstration was finely illuminated and set up, giving them one of the finest sounding presentations at the show! 

HM1 we heard the same demos and came away with very different opinions than you, as you seem to aquate high price with higher levels of performance.

All the Magicos sounded similar which was way too dry, you may find them accurate but most of the demo’s didn’t have the life that you find in real music, they seem to have a deadness in the upper midrange and most of these rooms lack any treble sparkle.

The CH Precision setup was ridiculously expensive and sounded okay at best. You also have to consider not just the sound but the total cost of the system does that system sound like it is worth $300k?

The one room which the Magico’s sounded actually quite good for a much lower price point was the new Classe Amp and preamp/Dac which was like a $22k package.

We do agree that the Esoteric setup with the Avante Gardes was a very compelling setup.

All the YG’s sounded decent but in none of the setups did they  sprang to life.

The Wilson Sasha DW sounded amazing with the ARC gear.

The Grande Utopia EM/Naim Statement rig was expensive but sounded absolutely amazing and by our math was the same price as the Magico CH Precion Room.

The MBL room did indeed sound good.

The Vimberg/Karan room was very impressive super musical and engaging and at $36k for the speakres they were a standout in terms of sound quality and value we would have easily taken these speakers over the twice the price Magicos.

We do agree with you that the Dali Oberon’s are fantastic and no they don’t give the Rubicons or the Opticons a run for their money they are fanastic for a cheap loudspeaker.

The Krell Integrated with the Alta Audio speakers was a fantastic room for $12k.

The Golden Ear Triton 1R was another standout for an affordable room.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ

Hi Dave and Troy:

As my full article stated “room size, acoustics and optimum program material left a bit to be desired”
Having said that , Alon Wolff’s M2, while again being in a small room was playing a decent amount of “ classically” recorded acoustical program material that was enabling me to hear the liquid precision of the female voice! ( most of my other mentioned demonstrations were playing such atrocious “sounding” recorded music that it’s a wonder anybody could spend more than 5 minutes in the designated demo room)

I did find a decent presentation of the Rockport / ch precision small room with rockport’s Sigma Loudspeakers which in the drastic room size, made a formidable impression on me.

Indeed, the YG’s never came to full fruition, but you could sense something excellent hidden deep down with the Sonja2 . It needs Room ....and Good Set up! 

Dali OBERON is sounding initially really nice in my listening room at the moment- need more time with it - Review upcoming!
 Thanks for your reply!