Axpona 2016 Thoughts, Best Of's and more...
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  1. #1
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    Axpona 2016 Thoughts, Best Of's and more...

    This years Axpona was probably the best they've had. There were lots of vendors and better sounding rooms than in shows past. I felt the traffic was also up, but others were not so sure. The folks at Axpona worked very hard to put on another great show this year. That being said, there is room for improvement. Axpona was marred not by who was there or the rooms, but by who wasn't there. No Pass (except for a pair of amps in one room), no Vitus, no Rockport, no PS Audio and most importantly, no MQA! I had more than a few people tell me, "the whole reason I came to Axpona was to hear MQA." The list of notable no shows was long and frankly, disappointing. Axpona needs to find a way to directly attract more manufacturers and more distributors. All in all, a good show and a nice improvement over last year.

    Biggest surprise:

    As far as sources are concerned, tape stole the show. The tape seminar that Myles put on was good and the number of reel-to-reel machines in use seemingly up 500% over any previous shows. Tape definitely made a strong impact as far as sources were concerned.

    Biggest disappointment:

    No real MQA presence. IMO - there should have been a big MQA room where demos were being held every hour on the hour, not buried on a little Mytek table in the back of the main lobby with the headphones, Record cleaning machines and vinyl for sale. People have heard the hype, Axpona was a perfect time to "show the beef".

    Auspicious debuts:

    Magico S5 mk2. Jadis KT150 integrated. Wilson Alexx. StromTank. New Atmasphere tube amp. Air Force 3 turntable. Wells Audio Integrated. VPI DD Avenger. CAT mk7 amps. Many others.

    Best Budget Speaker:

    The Elac's made another strong showing, but this year, for me, the Aurum Cantus Melody M-102SE's at $2500 a pair. Finished in a gorgeous cherry (or rosewood option), these speakers sounded magnificent. Runner up: Elac's.

    Best Solid State Amp:

    The Wells Audio amp just sounded right. It sounded like music. I was smitten with this amp. Runner up: Parasound JC1's/Rowland (tie). Honorable mention: Gamut amps.

    Best Tube Amp:

    The big CAT amps were sounding magnificent in the Magico room, but I have to say the VAC 200 iQ monos. Paired with the Von Schweikert speakers, these amps sound like music. Runner up: Jadis I-50.

    Best Tape Source:

    Chad's Ampex R2R in the Rowland/Joseph room.

    Best Vinyl Source:

    Kronos Pro with ZYX Universe Premium in the Magico S5 mk2 room/VPI Direct Drive Avenger (tie).

    Best Digital:
    Impressed again with the Chord DAVE. Maybe Suncoast Audio needs another addition to its digital lineup...hmmmm....


    Best Wireless Speaker (could this become a new category?):


    The Goldmund Wireless speakers were awesome! Goldmund speakers with internal Goldmund electronics. How could they be anything but great?

    Best Speaker:

    OK, the MBL 101 Xtremes are insane, needing a massive room and costing $1,000,000 for speakers, amp, cables, sources, etc. so, we almost have to exclude them from this contest and focus on speakers people might actually buy. So, in the speaker category that some will actually buy, the Magico S5 mk2 was the most consistent sounding in the show. As I mentioned in another post, I went back to that room 10-15 times and it was always sounding great. No boom. Just right.

    Runner up's: Avantgarde Uno XD (after I argued with the Avantgarde rep on Saturday morning and he finally allowed me to fix the EQ -- then thanked me afterwards because they sounded WAY better -- long story). He didn't touch my EQ settings and kept saying "these sound so much better, thank you."

    Focal Sopra 2's with the Pass XS amps and Sopra 2's with the MicroMega integrated. Awesome! The big Tidal speakers were also amazing. Loved that whole Tidal room. Big dollars though. The Gamut speakers also sounded awesome. The Monitor Audio Platinum II speakers have to be one of the greatest buys in audio. $27,000 for a speaker that is very reminiscent of the Raidho D5. The D5 still beats it, but boy...for $27,000? These big Monitor Audio's are impressive. I also liked the KEF Blade 2's with the Parasound gear. Very nice sounding. Harbeth SHL5+ with the Vinnie Rossi Lio was also nice, but could get boomy.

    More...Eggleston speakers on the second level with a full ModWright setup and the Scaena speakers with ARC also sounded very nice.

    Finally, in the "what the hell is that?" category, we have the Waveion speaker. Looking inside the speaker, one could see tie wraps and other things.

    Best Overall Room:

    As I've said before, the Magico S5 mk2/CAT/Kronos Pro with ZYX Universe Premium cart was by far the most consistent. No bass humps. No "it was good sometimes." It was consistently excellent. When the Magico/CAT/Kronos combo was playing, nothing could touch it. The ambience, the presence, the realness was unmatched.
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  2. Thanks Tom Z, Steve, Dizzie, apdoc2004, joeinid thanked for this post
  3. #2
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    Re: Axpona 2016 Thoughts, Best Of's and more...

    No MQA presence.....

    Bob Stuart and Meridian never have and never will get what it takes to make something happen, especially here in the States. They don't know a thing about promotion and I truthfully feel they have total disdain for audio shows in general and the US audio market in particular.

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    Re: Axpona 2016 Thoughts, Best Of's and more...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Runner up's: Avantgarde Uno XD (after I argued with the Avantgarde rep on Saturday morning and he finally allowed me to fix the EQ -- then thanked me afterwards because they sounded WAY better -- long story). He didn't touch my EQ settings and kept saying "these sound so much better, thank you."
    YAY Mike! Who was the rep, if you can say here?
    Small Green Computer, gigaFoil 4 Ethernet filter w/ Keces PS-3, Sonore ultraRendu, MBP (3) - stripped down for music only; AQ Diamond USB, Duelund USB, Curious USB; Lush USB, Supra USB; PS Audio LanRover; ISO REGEN w/short Curious USB links; Berkeley Alpha USB; 4 Audioquest Diamond ethernet - 0.75M, 1.5 M, 3M, 5M; Audioquest Diamond AES - 3M; Schiit Yggdrasil - updated; Ayre Codex; ASR Emitter II Exclusive Blue integrated amplifier; Wyred4Sound STP-SE-2 preamplifier, Quicksilver Mid Mono amplifiers, all electronics on Grand Prix Audio stands; mass-loaded Tannoy Canterburys on custom stands; Outboard Duelund xover bypassing internal Tannoy xover & Tannoy EQ; Duelund DCA12GA speaker cables; mass-loaded REL 212 SEs; AV Room Service EVPs, Stein Music Harmonizers, Duelund DCA16GA ICs; Stealth Dream PCs; dedicated custom room; various room treatments; etc.

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    Re: Axpona 2016 Thoughts, Best Of's and more...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Smith View Post
    YAY Mike! Who was the rep, if you can say here?
    A new kid. Forget his name.
    My Systems: http://www.audioshark.org/showthread...481#post158481

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    Re: Axpona 2016 Thoughts, Best Of's and more...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    A new kid. Forget his name.
    New kids and trial by fire. They learn so fast, if they listen.
    Chris

    (2 Chl): Kef 201/2, Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE Lumin D1, VPI Classic 1, Manley Chinook, Dynavector DV20x2L.exaSound e32 mk11, Marantz SA11S2. ( computer) Win7, Synology DS413 NAS ,Vincent SP-331MKII , Quicksilver LS,Vapor Audio Breeze, Rythmik F12se. Cables: Acoustic Zen, DL Labs, Blue Jean.. ,Bryston BCD-1,Timbernation Rack,

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    Re: Axpona 2016 Thoughts, Best Of's and more...

    Mike I heard the Unos both Friday and Saturday and they were in my top 3 for the show regardless what day I listened. You should have tweaked the Zero 1s. I could easily see myself living with the Avantgarde UNO XDs in my system.
    Marty
    Main system: SGC sonicTransporter I7, microRendu,Terminator DAC, Hattor active preamp, Nord B&O 1200as mono amps, Von Schweikert VR5 Anniversary MKII, JPS Labs, Furutech cabling and connectors, PS Audio P15
    Office System: Linn LP12, Aurender N100H, Audio Research LS27, Oppo Sonica, Nord NC500, KEF R500

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  10. #7
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    Re: Axpona 2016 Thoughts, Best Of's and more...

    Quote Originally Posted by nc42acc View Post
    Mike I heard the Unos both Friday and Saturday and they were in my top 3 for the show regardless what day I listened. You should have tweaked the Zero 1s. I could easily see myself living with the Avantgarde UNO XDs in my system.
    I agree. Paired with a little SET amp and you're in heaven!
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    Re: Axpona 2016 Thoughts, Best Of's and more...

    If you were able to get into the MBL room and get a good seat and they had a tape playing on the UHA deck this was no doubt the best sound of the show in my opinion. Nothing can reproduce the scale and magnitude of the MBL speakers and present a soundstage in such a holographic way. Truly remarkable sounding. I guess you gotta pay to play in that league!
    Marty
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    Office System: Linn LP12, Aurender N100H, Audio Research LS27, Oppo Sonica, Nord NC500, KEF R500

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    Re: Axpona 2016 Thoughts, Best Of's and more...

    You know Mike I don't no exactly what my problem was with the S5 room and the high frequencies. I spent a long time in that room in the sweet spot listening to a large number of tracks (mainly jazz with and without vocals and classical). The only thing I regret is not asking for vinyl. All of my time was with tape. (Frankly it never occurred to me to ask to leave tape and go to vinyl in hopes of improving my perception of the speaker, but I wonder to what extent that may have been part of the issue). The tracks were being run by a gentlemen that seemed to take some ownership in the tapes and many of them seemed to me to have a high noise floor. I asked about this and he was not too responsive other than to say his "new" ones were better. ????

    I will say the S5 mkii were incredibly (almost singularly) resolving. I am not sure I have ever heard a speaker that is capable telling you more accurately how a bad recording can sound. Of course the corollary is what I am sure the S5's do on the good ones. Like I said, wish I had forced some vinyl.

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    Re: Axpona 2016 Thoughts, Best Of's and more...

    Quote Originally Posted by FlexibleAudio View Post
    You know Mike I don't no exactly what my problem was with the S5 room and the high frequencies. I spent a long time in that room in the sweet spot listening to a large number of tracks (mainly jazz with and without vocals and classical). The only thing I regret is not asking for vinyl. All of my time was with tape. (Frankly it never occurred to me to ask to leave tape and go to vinyl in hopes of improving my perception of the speaker, but I wonder to what extent that may have been part of the issue). The tracks were being run by a gentlemen that seemed to take some ownership in the tapes and many of them seemed to me to have a high noise floor. I asked about this and he was not too responsive other than to say his "new" ones were better. ????

    I will say the S5 mkii were incredibly (almost singularly) resolving. I am not sure I have ever heard a speaker that is capable telling you more accurately how a bad recording can sound. Of course the corollary is what I am sure the S5's do on the good ones. Like I said, wish I had forced some vinyl.
    I have a hunch it was the tapes. It was things that gentleman had recorded with some unique mikeing techniques. I BELIEVE the R2R was a Sony (not a Studer or Ampex) and using the internal tape preamp (read: 35 year old solid state electronics). When the vinyl was put on - holy smokes - things really went into high heaven mode. I would give them another listen when you can.
    My Systems: http://www.audioshark.org/showthread...481#post158481

    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

    Dealer for: Audio Research, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Ayre Acoustics, Berkeley Audio Design, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Chord, Constellation Audio, FirstWatt, Focal Headphones, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Gryphon Audio, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, iFi Audio, ISO Acoustics, JL Audio, Keces Power Supplies, KL Audio Record Cleaning Machines, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MIT Cables, MSB Technologies, Naim Audio, Ortofon, Pass Labs, PS Audio, Quadraspire, Rega Turntables, Roon Labs, Shunyata Research, SRA, Stein Music Products, Stillpoints, T+A Electronics, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, VPI Industries.

    https://suncoastaudio.com/
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