Axpona Shout Outs


Enjoyable show again this year. Two rooms really stood out to me, Carver and Austin Acoustics.

The Carver room really had something going for it, especially for a system that probably retails <$75k all-in. I had not heard the Amazing Line Source before and i wasn't sure what to expect. IMHO it didn't do everything, but what it did was executed very well. Speed and articulation in spades, maybe coming up short in tonality but that could have been source material.

Austin Acoustics is obviously "price no object" but holy moly.  I could have stayed in there all day. 

Maybe it was my imagination but it seemed like a wider range of music being played this year. Didn't hear Sera Una Noche once! 

I didn't make it to every room, curious if other attendees found real standouts over last year?

BG
bgoeller
Bgoeller, which room was Austin Acoustics in?  I don't recall seeing that name and a quick search of the program doesn't show it.  I was impressed on an overall sense with the TIDAL Speakers room, very nice sound.  On a budget sense the Hsu monitors and subwoofer were very musical, though for $1200 were missing the articulation you get with the mega bucks speakers.  I was rather disappointed with the Von Schweikert flagship speakers (I didn't get the model number but they were huge).  They had wonderful articulation and seemed tonally to be very nice, but I initially sat one seat off center and the channel closest to me dominated the sound, with almost no image.  Moving one seat over to the center the image snapped into place, but the speakers still did not disappear.  This seemed to be one of the hardest rooms to get a seat in, yet I bet most of the folks didn't hear their best sound.  There were other rooms that sounded very nice, Paradign Personas, Scaena (no model, but it was the "small" ones) with PS Audio (I'm biased), the new ELAC monitors, the Sanders electrostatics (too bad they have a very small sweet spot), and the Auralic Polaris all-in-one streamer/integrated amp.  There are are others but I didn't take notes.

I would like to make a couple of general comments. First, the disparity in sound at shows is really amazing.  All these people think they are providing good sound? This has been noted many times before, but I just had a hearing test done, first time in 30 years or so.  I was surprised to find my hearing was good ... only to about 3k Hz, then it took a dive to about 5k Hz and back up to almost to sub 3K Hz level at 8k Hz where the test stopped.  The doctor said this is textbook noise damage.  Uggghh.  But at the show I was frequently assaulted by what I thought was bright sound.  Are many audiophiles (or manufacturers) afflicted with worse hearing damage?  The second comment is related and is about the two live concerts I heard, one Friday night, the Frank Catalano Band, and one Saturday night, Blues Review & Benefit Concert.  Let me first say the playing was very good, even exceptional.  But the loudness, Friday was loud, Saturday was ear-splitting for me.  I had to put ear plugs in, ruining the tonal balance big time.  The levels were at or near normal concert levels, one reason why I don't go to too many concerts, but the audience here was audiophiles.  We do care about our hearing, don't we?  On Saturday I saw only one person, an audiophiles wife directly in front of me, make an attempt to protect her ears.  This seemed a real disparity, but not a new one nor likely one to be solved ...

I went to Axpona all three days and found the sound varied from good to very good. I did not listen to any bad sounding rooms, but three rooms were simply outstanding. The best sounding rooms had lines out the door with people waiting for an open space, the VAC - Von Schweikert simply blew my mind. All three days even Sunday morning when we shouldn't of been there, the VAC - VonSweikert room was full. 

I also enjoy talking with designers in their rooms and what their goals are. The pride these people have for their products and the appreciation (most have) for their potential customers is nice to be around. 

The market place had the usual record tables, but also many new record labels. New cable companies, room control products, audio furniture, turntables and many more designers discussing their ideas was educational.

Shows are wow factors, which there were many, but I also found this to be a wonderful conference full of ideas.

MBL room on lower level was the best, IMO. The $75K speakers were mind blowing. Wish I can afford them :-)

So many other rooms had good affordable setups. I also liked Avant-garde and Canton speakers. 

Great show overall, enjoyed my time.  




I was able to sit in the center front chair in the mega Von Schweikert room and I was blown away.  That being said the Legacy System V around the corner from Von Schweikert was stunningly good at a fraction of the cost.  Even though VS was my best of show I was more impressed with the Legacy considering the price disparity.  I went back into the Legacy room at 4:30 on Saturday and the guys were kind enough to switch the system back to the V's and let me listen for the last 30 minutes.  Truly outstanding sound.

Other systems I thought were exceptional included the tubed ModWright system with Daedalus speakers.  I sat in that room for 45 minutes and loved it.  Had I not heard the Legacy system I would have been most impressed with this one.

I was super impressed with the Atohm GT2-HD speakers being played with relatively modest electronics.  Very dynamic, big sound from a relatively small and affordable package.  There were some big boys on the 12th floor but I was most impressed with Atohm on that floor.

Hegel CD player demonstration was an eye opening.  KEF LS50 Wireless system presentation on the lower level was pretty impressive considering the entire system including internal amp/dac was $2,200.  Sonus Faber Veneers with Macintosh electronic was fantastic.  Focal Utopia headphones were an eye opener, but I still prefer my HiFiman HE 1000's.

I'm from Lexington, Kentucky which is the former home of Thiel Loudspeakers (Now in Nashville) so I stopped in to the Thiel room to hear how things were going.  I've heard some not very positive things since Jim Thiel's passing and the acquisition but the large Thiels were very good in the relatively small room.  I wish them all the best.

I did not have a chance to listen to the large Wilson speakers (long line to get in the room) nor the Magico room.  Lots of very good rooms and a few not so hot but all in all my buddy and I had a blast for the two days we were there.  Had a great time!
Pmotz - Austin Acoustics was on the main floor at the far north end of the building. I will post a picture later.

Agree the MBL room did not disappoint. Sunday they played Jump by Van Halen at near concert levels and it was eye popping, even if that's not your bag.

My second favorite room was Destination, I guess I'm becoming a sucker for horns in my old age. Though not all the horn rooms were good, IMHO.
The Von Schweikert/ VAC room was clearly best. It was all there - micro and marcodynamics, naturalness, nuance, aliveness and beauty to the sound. I watched them set up as they struggled with a nearly square room, and they were able to get great imaging from listening position but as mentioned, imagining was reduced in other positions. They have set up these speakers to image wonderfully across a range of positions in other rooms, just not able in this room in this short a period of set up time.
Also liked Tidal, Revel, they were showing the smaller MBL and they do indeed disappear as a source but have a bit vague center image, Sonos Faber and Nola sounded OK. Magic Q5 presented well, For me second place was I really liked the Legacy speakers with Raven tube amps.Wilson better than I have heard them but still prefer VSA and others.
To each his own on the sound, though I will say I intentionally stayed away from the MBL room since the three or four times I have heard them in the past it was painfully loud.  Rock concert level is NOT my thing, note my comments on the two live concert.  As for lines into rooms, I didn't see a single line outside of a room, I did go into a few rooms where it was obvious I wouldn't find a seat so I just left.  Quite honestly the show was well attended but not "over" attended, I expected more people.

One thing I forgot to mention, the show is moving next year to Schaumburg, about ten miles away.  Check out the AXPONA website for details.  Won't be as convenient to the airport, but it's a newer hotel and supposedly "better", we shall see.
Magico S3 room was great. Odyssey. Salk speakers. Raidho with AAvik. Paradigm Persona. A few more favorites. Modwright/Daedalus. 

Wish somebody(s) would estimate the average age of those who attended.
@schubert ,
I think I saw those figures on some rag's site. Not sure. It was about "which age group purchased how much % of the tickets" - roughly. Need to search.