Axpona 2019 - Best of
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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.
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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: 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, 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/
    Phone: 941-932-0282
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Suncoast-Au...1105178279194/

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  5. #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

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  7. #5
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    Re: Axpona 2019 - Best of

    Thanks Mike , now on to Munich ....

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  9. #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
    Power Conditioning, Filters & Switch: Nordost QRT Power Product Line, Furutech GTX-D NCF/GTX 105D, 20 AMP Dedicated w/Surge Protection, AQVox SE switch, Keces LPS P3 & P8 w/Nordost AC power and Ghent DC cables for the Gigafoil v4, modem, routers and switches.
    Cables, Isolation, Room Treatment: Nordost Supreme Reference (Odin) Distribution, Reference Line (Valhalla 2) Components and Speakers, HRS M3X Platforms & Damping Plates. Stillpointís Ultra 6/SS and Vicoustic Room Treatments
    Power & Sound: DíAgostino Pre-Amplifier to DíAgostino Momentum Monoís driving Wilson Alexiaís
    Source and Digital: Aurender N10, Brinkmann Nyquist MKII



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  11. #7
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    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

  12. #8
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    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

  13. #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: 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, 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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  15. #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.

 

 
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