Whether it's in spite of the rough economy or because of it, regional audio shows are flourishing in America as never before. In just a few years, RMAF
in Colorado and AKfest
in Michigan have become mainstays of the show-circuit, and by all appearances, Axpona
in Jacksonville, Florida, will do the same for the southeastern region of the US . As we do for all major shows, Audiogon will provide room-by-room coverage
Presented by audio-veteran Steve Davis and his partner Andrew Spaulding, the show will be held at the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk Hotel
in Jacksonville, near the St. Johns River. Hours will be Friday 1-7 pm; Saturday, 10am - 6pm; and Sunday, 10am - 4pm.
Nearly 100 manufacturers and distributors will be exhibiting in 40+ rooms on three floors. There will be many of the usual suspects, mixed with new blood. Some of the brands being shown include Acoustic Zen, Atma-Sphere, Ayon, Boulder, Cardas, Cary, Continuum, Davone, dCS, Epos, Gemme, Jaton, Koetsu, Krell, Legacy, Lumen White, MBL, Rethm, Scaena, Shanling, Soundsmith, Thiel, Tidal, VAC, Vitus, Wadia and YG.
Amongst the larger rooms in the Convention Area are must-see/must-hear exhibits from several Florida manufacturers. Advanced Transduction from Pensacola is showing speakers designed by musician and mastering engineer Bill Roberts over a 20-year period, and making their public debut here. Roberts will be featuring live-vs.-recorded demos in his room, along with playback of a number of master recordings.
Sarasota natives Valve Amplification Company (VAC) will once again be partnering with the King Sound electrostatics, featuring a power-supply designed and built by VAC. The pairing offered dynamic and sweetly musical sound at CES, and should again be a compelling listen.
Longtime Miami dealer Larry Diaz of High End Palace will be introducing new speaker lines from Concierto and the Mark Neumann Audio Collection. Details of the designs are sketchy, but given Larry's long history of offering the best of the best, they should be well worth a listen.
From Plantation near Ft. Lauderdale, Scaena will be showing their well-known line-array speakers, this time powered by the $90,000 32-watt 300BXLS amp from TheLars/Engström & Engström. Both companies always offer compelling demos, and the new partnership should be interesting.
Stereophile continues their tradition of panels and seminars, with longtime Editor John Atkinson chairing panels on "New Frontiers in Digital" and "Loudspeakers", as well as moderating "Meet the Editors". On top of that, John will play bass, in a trio with Steve Davis and John Yurick! No news if he'll be joining his beloved Mets in spring training.
Stereophile's analog guru Michael Fremer will give several seminars on "Turntable Setup", and Jim Smith, the man who literally wrote the book on system-tweaking ("Get Better Sound"), will deliver a seminar on "System Optimization".
AIX Records will present 5.1 surround demos and a live recording demo featuring the Atkinson/Davis/Yurick trio. Boulder electronics and Thiel speakers will be utilized. AIX's Mark Waldrep will also deliver seminars on HD media and computer audio.
A variety of raffles and main-floor programs will add to the appeal of Axpona. For a first effort, the show has an impressive roster of exhibitors, and the Stereophile heritage will make for a solid program. Florida natives may find the mid-60's temperatures a bit chilly, but for many exhibitors and attendees, it will mark the end of winter.
This may be the first year for Axpona, you can bet it won't be the last!