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Those MBL’s were amazing. Such a powerful sound that just happened in the room. Fantastic! The giant Focals were amazing. But when considering cost, size, speakers I would consider real world, without question for me it was the Atohm GT 2. Just stunning what those little things could do. My next speakers hopefully. Doing taxes now, we’ll see.
I agree with all the comments so far that these rooms sounded good with the exception of Vandersteen (at least the big room with the 9s) which sounded truly lousy to me to be honest. That doesn’t mean its not a good speaker but it was in a freaking ballroom for Christ sake, and the two speakers were waaaaaayyy far apart in a virtually empty room 24/7. My best of show goes to Muraudio for producing a moderately priced electrostatic hybrid with a seamless driver blend and absolutely beautiful dispersion characteristics which resulted in a powerful illusion of the real thing when playing classical orchestral works. The Magnepan multi channel room sounded great, as well, as did the Joseph Audio Perspective 2s.
Magnepan LRS and as georgehifi mentioned, the ESL 57!
Kind of scary that speakers that cost $650 a pair were and were 61 years old respectively were beating everything else. The little LRS had the best imaging at the show and some of the best sound. And the old Quads -- a special pair that’s never been rebuilt -- still do things in the midrange that pretty much nothing can match.
Otherwise -- agree with whitestix that the MBL’s were good though when I heard them they weren’t quite doing what they can. I liked the new T+A’s as well, though I thought I heard a slight mismatch between the incredible electrostatic tweeter and the midrange line source and there was too much midbass in the room (a lot of rooms were suffering from this). The Wilsons sounded uniformly good, they thrive in show conditions. They aren’t the most real sounding or transparent speakers, but they’re remarkably free of anything that sounds bad.
The B&W’s sounded good. I liked the new little Elacs, too. And the German Physics was good. The Bayz radial tweeter was superb, one of the few speakers that could do a realistic piano (usually only planars and ESL’s can do that) though as with the T+A’s I thought the sound softened a bit as it got down to the dynamic drivers (in the Bayz, the tweeter crosses over at about 2 kHz to a pair of 9" drivers facing up and down respectively). I didn’t think the Magicos were at their best, but I heard a lot of speakers on Friday and I’ve read that exhibitors had fine tuned their rooms by Saturday and Sunday.
The Sanders was impressively transparent but sounded too bright to me. The Magnepan 3.7i’s were in too small a room for a five channel setup and sounded OK but weren’t showing the magic I’ve heard from them under better conditions. The Carvers were OK but they weren’t quite gelling, presumably also as a result of show conditions (they made a point of not using room treatment). The PS Audio AN-3 prototypes were interesting, but they were suffering badly from room acoustics and a bit overdriven, and are apparently less adjustable than the production model will be.
But the Magnepan LRS was the hit of the show, nothing else touches it for that kind of money and the setup was just great. Interestingly it was using a prototype Magnepan amplifier (fed by a Bryston front end):
From all the posts from Axpona we all hear things differently which is a good thing. I personally loved the Sanders speakers, to me the top end was anything but bright as per @josh358 comment. It was very smooth and extended is what I heard. I loved the Avangarde XD model they certainly grabbed your attention and made you sit-up and listen but don’t know if I could listen to them for hours on end, it was like viewing the new OLED tv’s but on steroids! Another favorite that I haven’t seen anybody mention was a company I never heard about before and that was Tri Art Audio out of Canada. They were using an open baffle speaker that amazed me. Anybody else hear therm?
Don’t know how I could have missed the Tri Arts since they’re so weird looking, but I didn’t hear them.
Always hard to make assessments at audio shows because there are so many variables. For all I know, the recording I heard on the Sanders was bright. Certainly, everyone I’ve ever spoken to who has heard them has spoken positively of them. I heard so many speakers at the show that obviously weren’t doing their best because of the room or bad demo material or even just being played too loud.
In any case, I think that comments here, my own or anybody else's, shouldn't be treated as reviews, rather than show impressions! I've made the mistake of deciding that speakers are bad on the basis of show performance, only to discover later on that the speakers themselves weren't at fault. But if something sounds really *good,* well, you can't fake that. :-)