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  1. #1
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    Axpona 2019 - Best of

    With a two hour delay at the airport, and many friends having flight cancellations, I have plenty of time to write my report.

    At the outset, Axpona 2019 was shaping up to be the largest audio show in America and it didnít disappoint!

    From the wonderful industry reception on the first night to Shelby Lynnís incredible performance last evening, along with seemingly endless rooms of exhibitors, Axpona 2019 proved to be the biggest yet.

    With 9 floors of small exhibit rooms and 1 floor of several large rooms, getting through the near 200 rooms was a real task.

    Itís safe to say that not many rooms were having great sound on the first day, but by day two and three, things were in full swing.

    I can honestly say there was not one single ďbest ofĒ, there were several great stand out rooms.

    In no particular order:

    1. Magico M2ís with MSB Select II DAC and Transport, CH precision amplication. This room just got better and better as the show went on and fully showed the leading edge design of the Magico M series and the most non-digital sounding digital on the planet: MSB. What a wonderful pairing. One which we got to experience again with the MSB Select II and M3ís in another room. I would have preferred an amp with a little more liquidty to the sound. I find the CH still a touch dry, although always beautifully made and staffed by wonderful people.

    2. MBL 101e mk2 with NOBLE electronics and Air Force turntable/Gryphon phonostage. Never one to take second fiddle to anyone, the MBL room once again was a standout performer. I have to say, I think this room evoked the most emotions from its listeners. Very engaging and just closing your eyes transforms you to the performance.

    3. Gryphon Trident II/Mephisto Stereo and new Ethos CD player/DAC. The Gryphon room was set up with 30 minute demos. Rune Skov back from his short stint at Raidho was at the helm providing a wonderful description of the electronics and the music. Despite excessive noise from adjoining rooms, this room was most impressive. The Trident IIís are semi-active speakers and had the best lower midrange I heard at the show. Hands down, a glorious system.

    4. VAC/Von Schwerikert speakers. Finally got to hear this room in all itís glory during the VAC after hours party on Saturday night. With The Eagles Hotel California spinning on the Air Force One turntable, this room was producing concert level sound and had everyone tapping their toes.

    5. Lumin/Vivid Giya G2. Mark Gurvey and the folks from Lumin did a wonderful job with this room. It was clearly the sleeper of the show. The new Lumin amps were doing the duties in bridged mode and had the speakers totally under control and displaying incredible musicality with no faults.

    6. Magico M3ís/MSB. Vince from MSB had this tiny room dialed in beautifully. I know this combination very well and was delighted to hear it work so well here in Chicago. Vince played a wonderful selection of music. The Select II DAC and Select Transport were dialed in beautifully and providing music without any edge or fatigue.

    7. Avantgarde Duo Mezzo XD. Although Iím a tube man at heart, the Esoteric Grandioso stack was providing the source and amplification duties in this room. Sounding good on the first day, by the third day, this room was sounding splendid, dynamic and live.

    8. GT Audioworks planer magnetic speakers. Magnepan has stiff competition. This company based out of New Jersey (I believe) has taken planer magnetic technology to a whole new level. Wonderfully musical and transparent. A true show stopper.

    9. Fonica Loudspeakers. Isodynamic loudspeaker technology from Italy. Offering both powered and passive versions at reasonable prices. This speaker had the bass, dynamics and drive with seemingly better dispersion than a Magnepan or typical electrostatic.

    10.B&W 802D3ís. I went back to this room several times. On the first day, things were not as dialed in with the subs as you would expect, but by the second day, this room was completely dialed in and sounding awesome - DESPITE a bad room. To get an idea of the true tonality of the speaker, I stood off to the side where the recessed ceiling wasnít affecting the sound. Quite a dramatic change.

    Best new digital product (tie):

    Aurender A30. Pictures and specs donít do it justice. Listening is believing. Itís a winner.

    New T+A HV transport and DAC. Taking their digital capabilities to a whole new level. Very smooth and liquid sound.

    Best new amplifier:

    On looks, the DíAgostino Relentless, but Iím afraid on all three days I didnít hear great sound from this room. Music selection was likely the culprit. However, on sound alone, the new Lumin AMP. What a sleeper. Terrific musical sound. Liquid and smooth with perfect balance.

    Best new Analog:

    VPI HW40ís. Pictures donít do it justice. If this turntable was made by anyone else, it would cost $80,000 or more. Sonically exceptional.

    Best new speaker:

    Magico M2. Consistently great and the lack of any flat lines (even a rounded top) really helped create the great disappearing act of this speaker. Bass was far better than I expected. It nips at the heels of the M3.

    A few honorable mentions/pleasant surprises:

    The Audio Net amps were quite good. A nice step away from the old sound.

    The new Esoteric P1X/D1X. No AKM or traditional DAC chip in this baby. This produced a sound I had not yet heard from any Esoteric. Much smoother and more liquid. A nice evolution for sure.

    The Magico M6ís really impressed me on the first day. It was fabulous. When I sat down and listened to three songs, it was outstanding. Perfect. I went back on Saturday and Sunday, but both times the music being played was for a reviewer in the sweet spot. Solo violin and piano just ainít my thing. Hopefully next time this wonderful speaker will be shown in a proper showroom itís worthy of.

    Borresen 01/05 - there isnít much more I can add to what has already been said by others. Seemingly more dynamic and punchy than Raidhoís and definitely playing loud with ease. Bass was excellent, tight and punchy. Like others, the tweeter was just a little hot for my tastes. But letís chalk it up to the rooms. A little absorption would go a long way.

    T+Aís line array/electrostatic tweeter combo speaker was really excellent. It was one speaker I would love to hear in a slightly bigger room.

    Constellation with Martin Logan. Irv Gross had this room sounding excellent - even with just the little Constellation Inspiration Stereo 1.0 amp. Iíll keep saying it: sounds like tubes, doesnít get hot, made in the USA. Whatís not to like?

    Goebel/CH room. I heard it sounding pretty good on Friday and Saturday. Didnít get a chance to return on Sunday. It wasnít the best room to show these big babies (lots of glass).

    Vinburg (Tidal) speakers. This room should really be in my top 10. These speakers for $29K are THAT good. Gorgeous to look at and just as beautiful to listen to. Looking forward to hearing them again. RMAF, now Axpona showed their strong potential.

    Last but not least, the PS Audio AN3 (??) speakers. These show a lot of promise and they are no where near finished. The fit and finish is very nice and I thanked Paul for letting us have a listen even though they werenít anywhere near completion.

    There are many, like the Jeff Joseph room and the Muraudio Room that were excellent as well.
    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: Aqua Hi-Fi, Audio Research, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Ayre Acoustics, Berkeley Audio Design, Boulder Amplifiers, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Chord, EMM Labs, Esoteric, Estelon Loudspeakers, FirstWatt, Focal Headphones, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Gryphon Audio, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, ISO Acoustics, Keces Power Supplies, Kuzma Turntables, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MSB Technologies, MySonicLabs Phono Cartridges, Naim Audio, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, Stein Music Products, Stenheim Loudspeakers, Stillpoints, T+A Electronics, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, Vivid Audio Loudspeakers, VPI Industries, WireWorld Cables.

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  2. #2
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Mike,
    Awesome show report!
    How did the Vimberg room compare to the sound of the more expensive offering -- the Tidal speakers?
    Thanks,
    Anshul

  3. #3
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by apdoc2004 View Post
    Mike,
    Awesome show report!
    How did the Vimberg room compare to the sound of the more expensive offering -- the Tidal speakers?
    Thanks,
    Anshul
    Thank you. I would say ďcloseĒ. Maybe 80%.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    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: Aqua Hi-Fi, Audio Research, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Ayre Acoustics, Berkeley Audio Design, Boulder Amplifiers, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Chord, EMM Labs, Esoteric, Estelon Loudspeakers, FirstWatt, Focal Headphones, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Gryphon Audio, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, ISO Acoustics, Keces Power Supplies, Kuzma Turntables, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MSB Technologies, MySonicLabs Phono Cartridges, Naim Audio, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, Stein Music Products, Stenheim Loudspeakers, Stillpoints, T+A Electronics, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, Vivid Audio Loudspeakers, VPI Industries, WireWorld Cables.

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  4. #4
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    There were definitely a number of great rooms this year. My favorites follow (in no particular order).

    Magico M2, MSB, CH Precision
    T&A Reference system
    Stenheim Alumine Five, VTL, Nordost
    Magico M3, MSB
    Wilson, Audio Research, AMG
    MBL
    Avantgarde, Esoteric
    VSA Ultra 11, VAC - The after hours listening was exceptional. Closest thing to live music I have heard.

    Biggest surprises: Magico M6, D’Agostino making great sound in a very difficult space. Rethm speakers - unfamiliar with the brand and sound was excellent for under $10k.
    Morgan

    SPEAKERS KEF Blade 2
    SUBWOOFERS Four DIY Speaker Hardware 12" passive subs driven by Dayton SA1000 amp
    AMPLIFICATION Pass Labs X350.8, Cary SLP-05 w/Ultimate Upgrade
    DIGITAL Marantz SA-10, Sonore opticalModule and opticalRendu, Intel NUC Roon Core
    VINYL EAT C-Sharp, Hana SL, EAT E-Glo S w/LPS, Bob's Devices Sky 20 SUT
    POWER AudioQuest Niagara 5000, two dedicated circuits
    WIRES AudioQuest William Tell, Earth, Leopard, Tornado
    RESONANCE/ISOLATION Nordost Sort Kones, various Herbie's Audio Lab

  5. #5
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Thanks Mike , now on to Munich ....

  6. #6
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Mike - great effort and display on the show, your insight is meaningful for a lot of people, thank you


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Source Analog: Kuzma Stabi R with 4point 11 arm & Kuzma 50 Cartridge
    Source Digital: Aurender N10 | Brinkmann Nyquist MK II
    Amplification: Dan DíAgostino Momentum Pre Amp and Monos | Boulder Phono 508
    Speakers: Wilson Alexias
    Cabling: Nordost Valhalla 2/Odin: power, interconnects & speaker | Ansuz: C2 power & interconnect | Audioquest Diamond RJ45ís
    Power: Stromtank S1000 | Nordost QRT series | CAD GC1 | Furutech FP55SN cable from 20 amp breakers to Furutech GTX D NSF packages | Keces P3 & P8 | ADD POWR Sorcer 4 | Environmental Potential EP2050
    Other: HRS M3X | Stillpoints Ultra 6, SS & Mini | Nordost Sort Cones TC & BC | etherREGEN | Gigafoil v4 | Vicoustics | Audio Desk Systeme - Glšss








  7. #7

    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    So Guys, according to your comments in both Axpona 2019 topics, despite the "room" etc, it seems Magico M6 pairs wonderfully with D`Agostino M400? Can anyone please elaborate more about this particular combo - wether heard on Axpona or not

  8. #8

    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    hey Mike, did the hailey 2.2 sing at this show or was it not there? if so, any thoughts on that compared to m2 or even the raidho tantalum stuff? i know shows arent the best place for this kind of assessment but just wondering if you had any take aways to share

  9. #9
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by Skanda View Post
    hey Mike, did the hailey 2.2 sing at this show or was it not there? if so, any thoughts on that compared to m2 or even the raidho tantalum stuff? i know shows arent the best place for this kind of assessment but just wondering if you had any take aways to share
    Heard a few pairs of YGís. Not sure if any were 2.2.
    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: Aqua Hi-Fi, Audio Research, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Ayre Acoustics, Berkeley Audio Design, Boulder Amplifiers, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Chord, EMM Labs, Esoteric, Estelon Loudspeakers, FirstWatt, Focal Headphones, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Gryphon Audio, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, ISO Acoustics, Keces Power Supplies, Kuzma Turntables, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MSB Technologies, MySonicLabs Phono Cartridges, Naim Audio, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, Stein Music Products, Stenheim Loudspeakers, Stillpoints, T+A Electronics, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, Vivid Audio Loudspeakers, VPI Industries, WireWorld Cables.

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  10. #10
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Thanks Mike. So little show coverage on the forums this time. Usually a bunch of shutterbugs with comments in the past. Not so much this year. Nice to get a little feedback.
    First Sound Mark3SI preamp, Altec Lansing 1570B modded by Transition Audio Design and myself, Mojo Audio CAT Server running Win Server 2016 AO HQ and Roon, Mojo Audio Mystic 3 DAC, Linear Solution Ethernet Switch, Custom TT with Vertere Arm, Denon 103R Midas with sapphire cantilever line contact diamond, Allnic H1201 phono pre, Pure Audio Project Trio 10 with performance Solen air core chokes and Mundord Supreme oil caps, Power via 10 awg OFC cord from panel to custom distribution strip, Inakustik speaker and interconnect cables, Genesis Interconnect.

  11. #11
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    Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by Kingrex View Post
    Thanks Mike. So little show coverage on the forums this time. Usually a bunch of shutterbugs with comments in the past. Not so much this year. Nice to get a little feedback.
    I noticed that to. I said to Joe. We definitely are the leaders! Great coverage by RITMO and others too!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    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: Aqua Hi-Fi, Audio Research, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Ayre Acoustics, Berkeley Audio Design, Boulder Amplifiers, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Chord, EMM Labs, Esoteric, Estelon Loudspeakers, FirstWatt, Focal Headphones, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Gryphon Audio, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, ISO Acoustics, Keces Power Supplies, Kuzma Turntables, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MSB Technologies, MySonicLabs Phono Cartridges, Naim Audio, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, Stein Music Products, Stenheim Loudspeakers, Stillpoints, T+A Electronics, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, Vivid Audio Loudspeakers, VPI Industries, WireWorld Cables.

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  12. #12
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Well done Mike. I felt like I was there with you guys.
    Wharfedale Linton w/ stands, Avantgarde Duo XD, Klipsch RB-75, Klipsch RP-160M.

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  13. #13
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Thanks for the report and all the pictures.
    Rick

    PS Audio BHK 250 Amp
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  14. #14
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post

    Best new amplifier:

    On looks, the DíAgostino Relentless, but Iím afraid on all three days I didnít hear great sound from this room. Music selection was likely the culprit.
    Mike,

    As a bunch of others have chimed in on this and the pictures thread, thank you very much for your time and work to share your experiences with all of us who were not there. It is truly appreciated.

    With respect to the Relentless....your experience is a shame IMHO as my wife and I have heard them at length a couple of times with music we are familiar with and felt (in our humble opinion) that they were absolutely magnificent. Actually, they are currently the best amplifiers that we have heard in our travels easily beating out mighty contenders. In fact, I have heard and read others stating that they are slightly better than Dan's M400s. IMHO they are seriously better than the M400s and a significant achievement in amplification that is in an entirely different class of products. To each his/her own though.

    If McGrath from Wilson was driving and spinning his usual, well let me be nice, selections; then maybe it was the music. However, I would expect these amplifiers based on my experience with them to shine regardless of what music you throw at them.

    What was it that you didn't like about the sound? I would really be interested in your details to see what I missed when listening to them.

    Thanks again for your show report and the time you took to share.
    Anthony

    Front End:
    MSB Reference DAC/MSB Reference Transport/Femto 33 Clock, Magnum Dynalab MD107T, Aiwa AD-F990
    Amplification: Dan D'Agostino Momentum HD Preamplifier & Momentum M400 Monoblocks, Crown XLS 2502 (x3) (subwoofers)
    Speakers: Scaena La Maitresse Ultime Loudspeaker System
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    Power: GigaWatt PC-4 EVO+, Shunyata King Cobra CX, Jungson Pure Power, JPS Labs AC+, Transparent HPPC
    Miscellaneous: ​Bohmer/Legacy Audio Wavelet DSP/Room Correction

  15. #15
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by laynesaddiction View Post
    Mike,

    As a bunch of others have chimed in on this and the pictures thread, thank you very much for your time and work to share your experiences with all of us who were not there. It is truly appreciated.

    With respect to the Relentless....your experience is a shame IMHO as my wife and I have heard them at length a couple of times with music we are familiar with and felt (in our humble opinion) that they were absolutely magnificent. Actually, they are currently the best amplifiers that we have heard in our travels easily beating out mighty contenders. In fact, I have heard and read others stating that they are slightly better than Dan's M400s. IMHO they are seriously better than the M400s and a significant achievement in amplification that is in an entirely different class of products. To each his/her own though.

    If McGrath from Wilson was driving and spinning his usual, well let me be nice, selections; then maybe it was the music. However, I would expect these amplifiers based on my experience with them to shine regardless of what music you throw at them.

    What was it that you didn't like about the sound? I would really be interested in your details to see what I missed when listening to them.

    Thanks again for your show report and the time you took to share.
    I voted it in my Best New Amp category. I just didnít hear great music selections the three times I went in. Very soft, simple stuff. Would love to have hear some ripping Eagles or big jazz. Iíll hear them in a different setting soon enough. I know how great Danís amps are. I owned them!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

    Dealer for: Aqua Hi-Fi, Audio Research, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Ayre Acoustics, Berkeley Audio Design, Boulder Amplifiers, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Chord, EMM Labs, Esoteric, Estelon Loudspeakers, FirstWatt, Focal Headphones, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Gryphon Audio, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, ISO Acoustics, Keces Power Supplies, Kuzma Turntables, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MSB Technologies, MySonicLabs Phono Cartridges, Naim Audio, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, Stein Music Products, Stenheim Loudspeakers, Stillpoints, T+A Electronics, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, Vivid Audio Loudspeakers, VPI Industries, WireWorld Cables.

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  16. #16
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    I voted it in my Best New Amp category. I just didn’t hear great music selections the three times I went in. Very soft, simple stuff. Would love to have hear some ripping Eagles or big jazz. I’ll hear them in a different setting soon enough. I know how great Dan’s amps are. I owned them!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Sorry, I misunderstood as I thought you only liked the cosmetics and were less enthusiastic about the sound. Given my misunderstanding, I was interested in in learning why.
    Anthony

    Front End:
    MSB Reference DAC/MSB Reference Transport/Femto 33 Clock, Magnum Dynalab MD107T, Aiwa AD-F990
    Amplification: Dan D'Agostino Momentum HD Preamplifier & Momentum M400 Monoblocks, Crown XLS 2502 (x3) (subwoofers)
    Speakers: Scaena La Maitresse Ultime Loudspeaker System
    Cables: Shunyata Aeros Aurora-SP, Shunyata Aeros Aurora-IC, Jungson Golden Dragon
    Power: GigaWatt PC-4 EVO+, Shunyata King Cobra CX, Jungson Pure Power, JPS Labs AC+, Transparent HPPC
    Miscellaneous: ​Bohmer/Legacy Audio Wavelet DSP/Room Correction

  17. #17
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    would love to know more about the Magico M2's from anyone who got a chance to experience them...
    Jeremy

    Speakers: Magico S3 MkII
    Power Amp: VAC 200iQ (stereo)
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    -------------
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  18. #18
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Ive seen NUMEROUS reports on various Axpona threads about what a disappointment the Relentless room was so it aint just Mike's opinion. He's actually being very diplomatic about it...unlike some of the other "bashing" comments that are out there.
    Amps: First Watt SIT-3, Pass XA25, Valvet E2 SE, LTA Ultralinear, ARC 150M, First Watt SIT-1 Mono's, ARC Ref75SE, Luxman M900U, Pass XA30.5, Decware Zen TorII MK4, Line Magnetic 845 Premium, Raven Reflection MK2

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  19. #19
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    The M2's were one of the highlights of the show for me. Bass was taut and impactful. Great sense of space and the speakers totally disappeared. I thought they sounded better than the M3's (which were also excellent) in a similar sized room with a similar front end. I was in the room twice and both experiences left me impressed. I heard a couple of other Magico rooms at the show, and all were excellent, but this was the standout for a medium to small room size.
    Morgan

    SPEAKERS KEF Blade 2
    SUBWOOFERS Four DIY Speaker Hardware 12" passive subs driven by Dayton SA1000 amp
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  20. #20
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by Billion$Baby View Post
    Ive seen NUMEROUS reports on various Axpona threads about what a disappointment the Relentless room was so it aint just Mike's opinion. He's actually being very diplomatic about it...unlike some of the other "bashing" comments that are out there.
    Everyone has different opinions and hears things differently. by Jason Victor Serinus

    Given that I had recently gushed over the pairing, at one of Definitive Audio of Seattle's Music Matters events, of Wilson Audio's Alexx speakers ($109,000/pair), Sub Sonic Subwoofers (two, at $37,500/each), and Watch Controllers (two, at $4000/each); D'Agostino Relentless monoblocks ($250,000/pair) and Progression monoblocks ($38,000/pair), plus Momentum phono stage ($28,000); a dCS and Clearaudio front end; and lots and lots of Transparent Reference XL cabling plus an HRS VXR-19213V-80 rack with two M3x base audio stands ($57,960 total), I didn't know if I would hear much of a difference from the AXPONA system put together by Michigan retailer Paragon Sight and Sound. If anything, I expected the level of sonic excellence to drop somewhat, because we were moving from a purpose-built, carefully treated store showroom to a far more challenging convention hall space.

    Oh, was I wrong. Although, on the dCS end, the system moved down a small notch by the replacement of the four-stack Vivaldi system with this room's not exactly shabby Vivaldi One ($92,000 with special nickel finish), there were two notable system additions: the brand new D'Agostino Momentum HD Pre Line Stage ($40,000), which I'm in line to review, and the Stromtank 2500 Independent Power Source ($19,500). Together with Clearaudio's Master Innovation Turntable with TT1-M1 tonearm ($54,000) and Goldfinger Statement cartridge ($16,000), this system made music like no other system I've ever heard.

    When I entered, Musical Surroundings' Garth Leerer was playing "If I Should Lose You" from jazz ensemble Sphere's LP Flight Path. The bass was solid beyond belief, the control absolute, and the tactile sensation of sticks and brushes touching the skin of a drum positively uncanny. No booming, absolutely no booming, whether from deep drums or double bass. No sense of a separate subwoofer or, on a file of an organ track cued up by Peter McGrath, an iota of strain. None. And the spaciousness was extraordinary.

    One more: McGrath's 24/88.2 live recording of a performance of Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, on which the system's ability to separate the sounds of individual voices in a massed choir was beyond compare. I sat in total awe. If I hadn't been covering an audio show, I would have joined the group of people in the first row who had returned to this room for a second day, and were occupying all the best seats for as long as they could. Smart people, with the ability to recognize a system, conceived by brilliant designers, that can make reproduced music sound like the real thing.

    Jim

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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Here's one of the comments...

    So far, the Wilson Alexx and relentless Monos were the worst price/performance I’ve heard. Sluggish, slow, veiled, no emotion. I went in that room twice and I felt like the music never came out and hugged me.
    Amps: First Watt SIT-3, Pass XA25, Valvet E2 SE, LTA Ultralinear, ARC 150M, First Watt SIT-1 Mono's, ARC Ref75SE, Luxman M900U, Pass XA30.5, Decware Zen TorII MK4, Line Magnetic 845 Premium, Raven Reflection MK2

    Pre-Amps: Luxman 900U, ARC MP-1 Multi-Channel, Conrad Johnson Met-1 Multi-Channel

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  22. #22
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Where to begin…. Axpona 2019 was an interesting show for me, I saw brands I never heard of, heard excellent SET amps that wiped out my stereotype thought, and, I heard good presentations that changed my mind on some brands I wasn’t really a fan of. Now, do I point those out or just let you figure it out from past posts 

    I think I will begin in the more attainable audio realm.

    One very enjoyable room was a Conrad Johnson pre/power playing into Eminent Technologies electrostatic speakers. The CJ was an ET preamp, forgot the model, and a Classic 62 power amp.

    I was smitten by a Triode of Japan 8 watt integrated at around $3k. It was playing into Ginko speakers that were only 87dB, I suspectthe amp may have really shined into a more efficient speaker like Sonist Audio or a horn speaker. Sonist Audio is a high efficient speaker with a ribbon tweeter that sounds good to me. Even so the Triode had excellent control with a lovely midrange.

    I saw a new company called Gill Audio. The owner says he plans to stay direct and based in Georgia. He was showing a $1400.00 integrated with his speakers around the same price. I thought the system sounded good in its weight class.

    A system that surprised me at how much I liked it, the Vandersteen speakers with Vandersteen amps using an Audio Research DAC and preamp. This system knocked me out. One of the few rooms that didn’t try to put you to sleep, playing some Doors it sounded like they were right in the room, such presentation and imaging.

    Yg driven by Niagra was good.

    A system of components that were new to me and really impressed was one of the large rooms with vimberg speakers, driven by Karan amplification and a Metronome CDP. Really liked that.

    Egt amps driving Ocean Wave speakers sounded good. Both new to me. EGT is interesting in that it looks like a tube amp bnside the tube is actually a Class D amp. I thought this to be a bit of a gimmick but considering the EGT was one of the best Class D amps I’ve heard I have to let the result speak for itself.

    I saw two Martin Logan rooms and both sounded great. The DSP in the bass modules used the Anthem room correction and sounded to work very well. One room had the ML’s driven by Luxman and the other room’s electronics I can’t remember. It may have been the Constellation Mike mentioned.

    This room wins for most dynamic. Dynamic in the true form of the meaning, widest space between the quietest and loudest points in a recording. It was Linnenberg amplification driving Yg 2.2 speakers. They were using a turntable and D Agostino phono stage. I was sitting there and the music was a reasonable volume level yet when the horns or other dynamic areas kicked init was unusually stunning, just as with the quality of the presentation. Kudos, after playing a couple tracks of Jazz, he asked what to play and jammed a couple of LZ II tracks for me.

    The Thrax room sounded good. They were playing sleepy time music when I went in though.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the german Physics speakers driven by their own amplifier. The guy told me the amp weighed 165 lbs.

    CH Precision was stellar in both systems I heard. My dream amp if I hit the lottery. Gobel used them in their room. Constellation would also be on that dream list.

    The MBL room was excellent as always

    A good year for horns. Volti with Border Patrol, Sadurni using a David Burning “special” amp both great as always. Both brands sound different but both are able to provide a good bottom end along with the rest of the presentation, many horns just aren’t able to go that low. They do require some real estate though, especially the Sadurni. Not least, the Avantgarde sounded great. They also have the advantage of amplified bass with DSP. I’m not able to put into words the quality of bass from the Avantgarde, it was very good and would have to be heard by you to understand. Also a thank you to AG who played The Allman Brothers, a track from Live at Filmore East while I was there.

    Bryston was showing the tri-amp system where the speakers have no crossovers. This year they used their processor to set and cross the drivers over. Sounded good with a variety of music stylings.

    ATC was showing two of their speakers, one passive driven by their own electronics and the other an amplified version. Both were spectacular but the amplified version had a bit more control and detail. It would come to preference. I really enjoy that type of lively sound.

    I don’t personally believe Imaluna has the best synergy with Golden Ear speakers, or, maybe this year they just weren’t dialed in good yet.

    McIntosh with B&W had a good showing. Mac is one of the best matches for B&W I’ve personally heard.

    Magico was in several rooms this year. I’ve yet to hear a bad Magico presentation.

    Focal and Naim had a large room with at least 3 set ups I’m aware of, one being a home theater I didn’t hear. I heard the Utopia with Naim Statement, it sounded good on an electronic piece but on another song I thought other presentations of piano sounded better. This could be a drawback of such a large room.

    VAC separates were used in one of the rooms I liked a lot but forgot the speakers.

    I heard so much more, some I’m sure is slipping my mind for now and some not so impressionable. I do have to say, as shown above, there was really a lot of good stuff at Axpona this year. Cary Audio was there, I couldn’t get into the room on Saturday and just didn’t make it back. I think Axpona 2019 may be a first for them, to my knowledge. I missed AudioNet and BAT.

    Browsed the head-fi section, Hifiman, Audeze and Mr. Speakers all showing great cans. Sony had a nice pair on display, it had some type of 3D technology, the guy walked away before I could get the low down on how it worked and if in the headphones or some external device. However, it worked, it was stunning, they played a helicopter track and the realism was something to hear. Audeze did have a new gaming headphone, the Mobius or something like that, the sound in the cans tracked the movement of your head. My grandson tried them out. If they ever get them ready for the street, Janzen has an incredible electrostatic headphone with a projected price around $1500.00. In my opinion they will meet or beat many I heard costing much more, they are really good.
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  23. #23
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Very Cool ,


    BTW the Eminent technology speakers are not electrostatics , they are planer magnetics ..

    Regards

  24. #24
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by laynesaddiction View Post
    Mike,

    As a bunch of others have chimed in on this and the pictures thread, thank you very much for your time and work to share your experiences with all of us who were not there. It is truly appreciated.

    With respect to the Relentless....your experience is a shame IMHO as my wife and I have heard them at length a couple of times with music we are familiar with and felt (in our humble opinion) that they were absolutely magnificent. Actually, they are currently the best amplifiers that we have heard in our travels easily beating out mighty contenders. In fact, I have heard and read others stating that they are slightly better than Dan's M400s. IMHO they are seriously better than the M400s and a significant achievement in amplification that is in an entirely different class of products. To each his/her own though.

    If McGrath from Wilson was driving and spinning his usual, well let me be nice, selections; then maybe it was the music. However, I would expect these amplifiers based on my experience with them to shine regardless of what music you throw at them.

    What was it that you didn't like about the sound? I would really be interested in your details to see what I missed when listening to them.

    Thanks again for your show report and the time you took to share.
    The sound in this room was inconsistent. I visited multiple times (once with Mike). On Sunday PM, I stopped by and they played some classical and jazz pieces for me; it was an outstanding experience. However, on a Saturday when I stopped in with Mike and Edward, it was not.
    _______________

    Mike

  25. #25
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Nice write up Peabody

  26. #26
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    I forgot to ask how you Floridians liked the little mini blizzard Sunday?

    I also found a note in my jacket with the names of the equipment in a room I really liked. Both amp and speakers were from Italy.
    Rosso Florentino (pretty sure the speakers) and Audio Triesis.
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  27. #27
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    That would be Skip from Audio Thesis in Dallas. The speaker's were Rosso but the amps if tubes were likely MastersounD.
    Main - JVC QL-Y7/Denon DL-301 Mk II, Gold Note PH-10, Nuprime CDT-8, Auralic Aries G1, Aqua La Voce S3, Supratek Chardonnay, Kinki Studio EX-M7, Verity Otello, (2) Rythmik F12SE, Audio Envy IC's ,SC & PC's, Triode Wire Lab PC's & USB , PS Audio Stellar P3, Timbernation rack

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  28. #28
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Another best of show for MBL.

    https://www.stereophile.com/content/...reworld-cables

    MBL and Avantgarde kicking ass and taking names. Itís why I do these shows: to carry the very best.


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  29. #29
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Great , MBL best AG again ....

  30. #30
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by a.wayne View Post
    Great , MBL best AG again ....
    Not so fast...

    https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/audio...-of-show-r791/


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  31. #31

    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    The only thing that really bewilders me about these shows is the same room gets voted best of show by journalists and everyone time after time and it happens to be the highest priced room. To me that says nobody is really listening to stuff or looking at it. It seems a logical fallacy error that price automatically means best. Just makes no sense or connection to reality for me. I have always found almost the opposite to be closer to truth. In other words, there is tons of gear out there by different makes and much of it on equal footing to each other across the spectrum. If it was just this one make, there would not even be reason for shows, much less anything else.
    Color me lost.

    I'm so glad to be done!

  32. #32
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    https://twitteringmachines.com/axpon...vorite-things/

    And not the most expensive rooms....


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  33. #33

    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    https://twitteringmachines.com/axpon...vorite-things/

    And not the most expensive rooms....


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Am I missing something? This is of course another blog and the opinion is the same - same room as all other shows, past and present. Best of show = MBL six figure room or what ever it is.
    I'm not knocking opinions of course, they are all fine. Opinions do not make facts.
    I'm just wondering why it is always the same room or manufacture and what have you. Very boring if you ask me.
    Like I said, not a big deal, I am just wondering.

  34. #34
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    I enjoyed the Twitteringmachine review. Sometimes it's nice to chill, see pictures of pretty gear and hear a little confirmation that certain pieces of equipment sound very nice.

  35. #35
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by Audiophobiac View Post
    Am I missing something? This is of course another blog and the opinion is the same - same room as all other shows, past and present. Best of show = MBL six figure room or what ever it is.
    I'm not knocking opinions of course, they are all fine. Opinions do not make facts.
    I'm just wondering why it is always the same room or manufacture and what have you. Very boring if you ask me.
    Like I said, not a big deal, I am just wondering.

    In my opinion, if multiple unrelated commentators which include professional reviewers call out a single room or system as being a show best – or one of the best – the collective opinions should not be flippantly dismissed.


    You are correct in saying that opinions do not make facts but given the subjective nature of this hobby, certainties are scarce and truths where they exist are largely confined to the science of engineering rather than the evaluation of sound.


    I don’t own MBL speakers but having heard them on numerous occasions and noting the incredible attention to detail and effort the MBL team make to optimize the systems and integrate them to the rooms at various shows, I have no trouble believing the best of show awards were well earned.


    Congrats to Jeremy Bryan, President and CEO of MBL North America and JŁrgen Reis, MBL’s chief engineer.
    Borresen Acoustics Loudspeakers, Borresen Model 01 Compact monitor loudspeakers with Ansuz Darkz T2s Supreme resonance control, Audio Video Manufaktur GmbH (AVM) Inspiration amplifier & streamer, Innuos Zen MKII music server, Ansuz Acoustics cables & accessories. Please visit my system thread hosted on Audioshark for more details. Disclosure: The author is materially connected to Ansuz, Aavik & Borresen Acoustics via friendship with an owner.

  36. #36
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    That's the end of the pool Mike L. swims in with his own system so no surprises that his choices reflect higher dollar gear.
    Main - JVC QL-Y7/Denon DL-301 Mk II, Gold Note PH-10, Nuprime CDT-8, Auralic Aries G1, Aqua La Voce S3, Supratek Chardonnay, Kinki Studio EX-M7, Verity Otello, (2) Rythmik F12SE, Audio Envy IC's ,SC & PC's, Triode Wire Lab PC's & USB , PS Audio Stellar P3, Timbernation rack

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  37. #37
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    I think 2019 was maybe my 6th Axpona. I'm not a pro, for me a best of show has to stand out. Like last year my pick was the ARC 160M. Some years like this one I couldn't pick a best of. Too many good rooms. I did note some more affordable rooms I was very happy in.

    With that being said, some things are a given, consistent at every show, unless something really messes up, like Thrax last year, I digress. One consistent at each show I was at, MBL kicks a$$. They take the time to treat the room, they play music that don't put you to sleep and the gear just sounds good. It's like why does a certain model stay on a "Class A" list in a magazine for several years.

    If the room is worthy I personally don't put much stock in either, one persons best of show could be another's nightmare.
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  38. #38
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Funny how a guy I know was bagging on MBL saying the non directional sound was tough to set up. The soundstage is not defined. Do you hear that ? Beautiful tone but little placement or staging of instruments? Just curious.

  39. #39
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Perhap you can advise Connaker what amps might truly mate best with AG speakers. I mean you are THE top AG shop in America.
    Nick



    Main system :TAD CR1 speakers, Viola Labs Symphony amp,Pass XP-20 preamp., MSB Discrete DAC with twin power supplies and V2 Renderer module, Gigafoil V4 inline ethernet filter with uptone LPS-1 power supply with Ghent audio Gotham 2.1mm to 2.5mm cable and AG diamond ethernet cable, Sonicorbitor Roon Audiophile 6 TB network server-player , MG Audio Design Planus III jumpers & speaker cables, Zitron Cobra power cords, Shunyata Hydra AV, and acoustic zen absolute copper IC,. Room treatment ASC tower traps, Vicoustic absorber premium cinema wall and ceiling panels, and MSR acoustic trifusser side wall panel

  40. #40
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by Kingrex View Post
    I enjoyed the Twitteringmachine review. Sometimes it's nice to chill, see pictures of pretty gear and hear a little confirmation that certain pieces of equipment sound very nice.
    And, of course, it is never a bad thing IMHO to have a Nikola Tesla shoutout.
    Anthony

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  41. #41
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by Kingrex View Post
    Funny how a guy I know was bagging on MBL saying the non directional sound was tough to set up. The soundstage is not defined. Do you hear that ? Beautiful tone but little placement or staging of instruments? Just curious.
    Yes, exactly like live music.
    Jim

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  42. #42
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by veindoc View Post
    Perhap you can advise Connaker what amps might truly mate base with AG speakers. I mean you are THE top AG shop in America.
    Iím happy to offer advice.


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  43. #43
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by Kingrex View Post
    Funny how a guy I know was bagging on MBL saying the non directional sound was tough to set up. The soundstage is not defined. Do you hear that ? Beautiful tone but little placement or staging of instruments? Just curious.
    There is a center point for the speaker. Itís the logo on the tweeter in down. They are easier to setup than my old Wilsonís. Just saying. You just need 31 inches or more from the MIDDLE of the speaker to any wall.


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  44. #44
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    MBLís room was the one which invoked the deepest emotions. I own the little 120ís at home in my family room with MBL noble electronics. But the 101e mk2ís in the store are on another level and the Xtremes are on another planet. Best advise? Listen with your eyes closed. So much going on. Instruments and vocals floating in space. Absolutely amazing.


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  45. #45
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Coincidentally, at this year's show is the first time I heard, and, heard of Viola. The rep said the designer was with Cello in the day. The room sounded decent.

    Quote Originally Posted by veindoc View Post
    Perhap you can advise Connaker what amps might truly mate best with AG speakers. I mean you are THE top AG shop in America.
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  46. #46
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    I've not had a problem when listening to MBL with imaging or placement of instruments. I mean the cymbals are in one spot, imaging of drums or horns are easily in place. Vocals are centered in the sound stage.

    In my opinion, I would not use "beautiful" to describe MBL, to me, more "accurate". I would use "beautiful" to describe something like Tidal. Piano through Tidal is simply beautiful, however, I don't recall the piano in Powell Hall sounding like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kingrex View Post
    Funny how a guy I know was bagging on MBL saying the non directional sound was tough to set up. The soundstage is not defined. Do you hear that ? Beautiful tone but little placement or staging of instruments? Just curious.
    Aurender ACS10 w/AQ Diamond,
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  47. #47

    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi_1282001 View Post
    In my opinion, if multiple unrelated commentators which include professional reviewers call out a single room or system as being a show best – or one of the best – the collective opinions should not be flippantly dismissed.


    You are correct in saying that opinions do not make facts but given the subjective nature of this hobby, certainties are scarce and truths where they exist are largely confined to the science of engineering rather than the evaluation of sound.


    I don’t own MBL speakers but having heard them on numerous occasions and noting the incredible attention to detail and effort the MBL team make to optimize the systems and integrate them to the rooms at various shows, I have no trouble believing the best of show awards were well earned.


    Congrats to Jeremy Bryan, President and CEO of MBL North America and JŁrgen Reis, MBL’s chief engineer.
    I agree. I have also heard MBL systems at several shows and they never fail to impress - and I have no idea what they cost. Perhaps the simplest explantion is also the correct one - that these systems are simply very good!

  48. #48

    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    MBL represent the ultimate In omnidirectional speakers. Having had the pleasure to live with their first entry into US back in the 90ís that went for 68k, they were a startling revelation to me about the importance and desirability of an expansive soundstage. Unfortunately back then there was little else the speaker could do and they were not yet into the ďsystem approachĒ. Well things have obviously moved in leaps and bounds since then and kudos to MBL for perfecting one of the real time machines in audio.

    Just my opinion and my liking, but once you get caught with the MBL bug and speakers similar to it with huge dispersion patterns itís hard to live with a box speaker. Again, itís a preference, but assuming accuracy is there these holographic soundstages that few are capable of are so unique and engaging itís hard to go back.

  49. #49
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of


  50. #50
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Quote Originally Posted by Priaptor View Post
    MBL represent the ultimate In omnidirectional speakers. Having had the pleasure to live with their first entry into US back in the 90’s that went for 68k, they were a startling revelation to me about the importance and desirability of an expansive soundstage. Unfortunately back then there was little else the speaker could do and they were not yet into the “system approach”. Well things have obviously moved in leaps and bounds since then and kudos to MBL for perfecting one of the real time machines in audio.

    Just my opinion and my liking, but once you get caught with the MBL bug and speakers similar to it with huge dispersion patterns it’s hard to live with a box speaker. Again, it’s a preference, but assuming accuracy is there these holographic soundstages that few are capable of are so unique and engaging it’s hard to go back.

    I rejected box speakers a couple years ago and at this time am not looking back. I like the sound of open baffle and Magnepan better. At this time. Who knows what the future holds.
    First Sound Mark3SI preamp, Altec Lansing 1570B modded by Transition Audio Design and myself, Mojo Audio CAT Server running Win Server 2016 AO HQ and Roon, Mojo Audio Mystic 3 DAC, Linear Solution Ethernet Switch, Custom TT with Vertere Arm, Denon 103R Midas with sapphire cantilever line contact diamond, Allnic H1201 phono pre, Pure Audio Project Trio 10 with performance Solen air core chokes and Mundord Supreme oil caps, Power via 10 awg OFC cord from panel to custom distribution strip, Inakustik speaker and interconnect cables, Genesis Interconnect.

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