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Axpona 2023, my show report

scrubb

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I went to the Axpona audio show this weekend. For the first time in my four years of Axpona, I went for two days. Why two days? Primarily because when tickets went on sale, there was a deal for two day passes. I was glad I did two days as I had a lot more time for detailed exploration and comparison of the vendors. There has been some talk lately about how the Hi-Fi demographic is primarily aging white men and what the industry can do to appeal to a broader, younger audience. While that generalization may be mostly true, I was impressed by the diverse demographics of attendees at the show. There were women there! And young couples, and people of color, and teenagers with their GenX parents. I also felt the crowd, on Saturday at least, was larger than in the past - even pre-pandemic.

I was eager to see some of the new products I've been reading about, and since PS Audio was on the first floor, I went to their room right away. Paul McGowan was showing of his new Aspen FR-30 and FR-20 speakers. There must have been a buzz because the booth was constantly crowded. At first listen, and as first listen of the day, these new speakers
B850EA06-0238-4F33-937E-F2495DF39D36_1_105_c.jpeg


were impressive. Lots of air movement made for impactful lows and room filling sound. As I listened longer I began to feel the might be a little boomy overall with slightly smeared or harsh high-end. I decided to withold judgement until I'd heard some more systems at the show. Turns out, when I returned to the room later to listen, my opinion stuck. Admittedly I may have been comparing his speakers to those costing $100,000 more than his, but even after listening to comparably priced systems, I think there may be better speakers in the same price range.

Next up was the ultra high-end dealer Quintessence Audio Lab's room, which I never miss at this show. To me the system they put together around the Sonus Faber Aide Reference speakers is as probably as good as it gets.

17BF7CD7-BBCB-4DF6-8690-289A32BCEFFF_1_105_c.jpeg


Yes that box in the bottom left of the photo is part of the speaker cable. I guess if you're spending $150,000 on a set of speakers why not go for the cable with the carbon turtle attached to it. The realism of this system was astounding. Totally clean, clear, and loud. I assumed the source was digital, but on further inspection it was actually a record playing on a Clearaudio Statement V2 turntable ($155,000) with the new DS Audio Grandmaster optical cartridge ($20,000). Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of those, nor the amps which I believe were all McIntosh.

Ever since I bought my pair of Goldenear Triton 3+ speakers, I've visited the Saturday Audio Exchange room to listen to the Sandy Gross designed Goldenear Triton One.R which have similar tonality to my plebe model, while blowing them out of the water. Goldenear was sold to Audioquest a few years ago. Given my personal opinion of Audioquest, I've had doubts about the future of Goldenear. They were displaying the brand new T66 (~$8k) which according to the rep, has a re-designed, improved crossover and mid drivers.

EE2A534C-CA06-4015-A9DA-FF55851B030E_1_105_c.jpeg

While it sounded good and maintained some of the tonality of the Triton speaker range, I didn't feel it lived up to the One.R that it is replacing. It might be comparable to the Triton 3+. Still a decent sounding speaker though. I do like the new hard side finished cabinet. It has more eye appeal than the original Goldenears which were covered with a black "sock". On the other hand, the sock saved money vs a glossy finish while not impacting performance.

I was impressed with number of speaker designers who were personally demonstrating their new speakers. While in the Definitive Technology room I noticed that the person sitting in front of me was none other than Sandy Gross. I guess he was checking out how the speakers he designed have evolved since he left the company. There were clear design similarities between the Definitive Tech and Goldenear speaker lineups.

One of the rooms I was most interested in seeing was the MoFi room which was displaying the new Andrew Jones designed SourcePoint 8 and 10. Well luck has it that Andrew Jones himself was doing a demo when we walked in and we learned all about the design theory and challenges in bringing the new speakers to life.


4F12A870-7C03-4C27-8417-C8F74AB9ECA6_1_105_c.jpeg


Apparently both the 8 & 10 share the same voice coil, neodymium magnets, and surround and only the cone and box size differs. It's amazing to hear so much sound out of what appears to be a single speaker in a small-ish box. They're great sounding speakers and I think the concentric drivers do something right with these speakers.

I was also excited for the chance to finally hear the Dutch & Dutch C8, the specs of which I've drooled over. Listening rooms at Axpona are in the hotel rooms. As a rule they're terrible spaces for speaker listening. Too small, cramped, no treatment. You can hear room resonances when someone is simply speaking. Vendors often go to great lengths to try to tame the room with difussion, absorption, bass traps, and keeping the speakers as far from the wall as possible. Not so in the Dutch & Dutch room.

E4CF0FCD-6093-4413-9BA1-3B36101F5872_1_105_c.jpeg


The speakers were pushed into the corners and the window drapes were wide open. Martijn Mensink was there pushing the speakers to high levels. They sounded amazing. The cardioid polar pattern and integrated DSP really works. The 8c had no F@#%s about the room, only delivering clean and clear direct sound. There was plenty of low end but they might still benefit from a subwoofer. The 8c is definitely on my wish list.

There are plenty of strange ideas and products at Axpona as well. The Hill Plasma Tweeter might be at the top of the list.

05BA7588-AF6A-4D74-B18B-71FA0311EE76_1_105_c.jpeg


It uses a modulated plasma flame sourced from a tank of helium to produce audio waves above 1000 Hz. The best part of the demo was when the flames were physically extinguished (blown out) and the high-end suddenly disappeared. They sounded very smooth and clear "airy" but I'd love to see some measurements, particularly distortion. I also question the practicality of the design given a helium gas supply is required. It was an interesting and fun experiment and demo none-the-less.


I'm just a audio hobbyist and consumer with a penchant for objectivitvism and a streak of skepticism. For me Axpona is a place to see new speakers, compare components and learn a few things about the industry. Sure, there's plenty of snake oil across the whole show, but I simply choose to ignore it. Although one person did launch into some nonsense about blind testing being invalid after I made an off-hand comment to someone else about a rediculous power cord. Overall I find the show best for speaker comparison, because honestly how do you compare components whose specs are so similar across multiple listening rooms? You can however get to look at what's new and talk to the designers and other experts. I highly recommend attending Axpona to those with interest in the hobby. And let's continue encouraging the refreshing diversity of attendees.
 
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Purité Audio

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Thanks Scrubb do you have more, always enjoyable to hear a visitors thoughts.
Keith
 
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scrubb

scrubb

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Thanks Scrubb do you have more, always enjoyable to hear a visitors thoughts.
Keith

The plasma tweeter room was warm and smelled funny. The Magico speakers - I think the new S3 - sounded amazing. They were being driven by some gigantic plain looking tube amps which heated the whole room. I guess you do get more when you spend >$30k on speakers. The Gryphon had most of their amps on display in a room. None operating. The Mephisto Solo is as large as a mini-fridge and is class A. I jokingly asked how many kilo-watts it produces and the answer was only approximately 200 watts. I'm sure it heats the whole room too.

Imaging differences in speakers is a real thing. The dipoles and planars really do create a more spectacular image on the whole, though potentially not as accurate or impactful as other designs. (EDIT) Oh, and I can confirm that with Magnepan you should skip the LRS and move on to one of the larger models. The 3.7i sounded very nice. The LRS, left me wanting.

Speaking of tube amps - why?? Same with turntables. There were many rooms which were playing one or the other or both which I thought might have sounded much better with a nice simple affordable Hypex or Purifi amp and a decent streamer.


6930A7B5-3C37-4F81-8FE1-96868DF06399_1_105_c.jpeg
 
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Purité Audio

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Why indeed!
Zeitgeist I guess, valve amps, point to point wiring pretty straightforward to make, and then weave a fantastic ( literally fantastic) back story.
Kondo san died at CES, dedicated his life to silver sulphide , yadda yadda.
Keith
 

ahofer

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Purité Audio

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We had the Lansche version here for a while,
They produce ozone I believe?
Seemed like a good idea at the time.
Keith
 
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scrubb

scrubb

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Oops, that title should be Axpona, not Axopona. Edited title.
 

maverickronin

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Damn. I hadn't had the time to post here recently so I forgot to try and get a ASR meetup at AXPONA going.

I should be used to it by now, but I'm always taken aback by the sheer amount of snake oil so a sanity break would be nice.
 

muslhead

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Strange the cost of the new Goldenear/Audioquest speaker.
About 1/10 the price of the cables they have hooked up to them. Quite the juxtaposition
 

Spocko

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I went to the Axpona audio show this weekend. For the first time in my four years of Axpona, I went for two days. Why two days? Primarily because when tickets went on sale, there was a deal for two day passes. I was glad I did two days as I had a lot more time for detailed exploration and comparison of the vendors. There has been some talk lately about how the Hi-Fi demographic is primarily aging white men and what the industry can do to appeal to a broader, younger audience. While that generalization may be mostly true, I was impressed by the diverse demographics of attendees at the show. There were women there! And young couples, and people of color, and teenagers with their GenX parents. I also felt the crowd, on Saturday at least, was larger than in the past - even pre-pandemic.

I was eager to see some of the new products I've been reading about, and since PS Audio was on the first floor, I went to their room right away. Paul McGowan was showing of his new Aspen FR-30 and FR-20 speakers. There must have been a buzz because the booth was constantly crowded. At first listen, and as first listen of the day, these new speakers
View attachment 279835

were impressive. Lots of air movement made for impactful lows and room filling sound. As I listened longer I began to feel the might be a little boomy overall with slightly smeared or harsh high-end. I decided to withold judgement until I'd heard some more systems at the show. Turns out, when I returned to the room later to listen, my opinion stuck. Admittedly I may have been comparing his speakers to those costing $100,000 more than his, but even after listening to comparably priced systems, I think there may be better speakers in the same price range.

Next up was the ultra high-end dealer Quintessence Audio Lab's room, which I never miss at this show. To me the system they put together around the Sonus Faber Aide Reference speakers is as probably as good as it gets.

View attachment 279837

Yes that box in the bottom left of the photo is part of the speaker cable. I guess if you're spending $150,000 on a set of speakers why not go for the cable with the carbon turtle attached to it. The realism of this system was astounding. Totally clean, clear, and loud. I assumed the source was digital, but on further inspection it was actually a record playing on a Clearaudio Statement V2 turntable ($155,000) with the new DS Audio Grandmaster optical cartridge ($20,000). Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of those, nor the amps which I believe were all McIntosh.

Ever since I bought my pair of Goldenear Triton 3+ speakers, I've visited the Saturday Audio Exchange room to listen to the Sandy Gross designed Goldenear Triton One.R which have similar tonality to my plebe model, while blowing them out of the water. Goldenear was sold to Audioquest a few years ago. Given my personal opinion of Audioquest, I've had doubts about the future of Goldenear. They were displaying the brand new T66 (~$8k) which according to the rep, has a re-designed, improved crossover and mid drivers.

View attachment 279838
While it sounded good and maintained some of the tonality of the Triton speaker range, I didn't feel it lived up to the One.R that it is replacing. It might be comparable to the Triton 3+. Still a decent sounding speaker though. I do like the new hard side finished cabinet. It has more eye appeal than the original Goldenears which were covered with a black "sock". On the other hand, the sock saved money vs a glossy finish while not impacting performance.

I was impressed with number of speaker designers who were personally demonstrating their new speakers. While in the Definitive Technology room I noticed that the person sitting in front of me was none other than Sandy Gross. I guess he was checking out how the speakers he designed have evolved since he left the company. There were clear design similarities between the Definitive Tech and Goldenear speaker lineups.

One of the rooms I was most interested in seeing was the MoFi room which was displaying the new Andrew Jones designed SourcePoint 8 and 10. Well luck has it that Andrew Jones himself was doing a demo when we walked in and we learned all about the design theory and challenges in bringing the new speakers to life.


View attachment 279860

Apparently both the 8 & 10 share the same voice coil, neodymium magnets, and surround and only the cone and box size differs. It's amazing to hear so much sound out of what appears to be a single speaker in a small-ish box. They're great sounding speakers and I think the concentric drivers do something right with these speakers.

I was also excited for the chance to finally hear the Dutch & Dutch C8, the specs of which I've drooled over. Listening rooms at Axpona are in the hotel rooms. As a rule they're terrible spaces for speaker listening. Too small, cramped, no treatment. You can hear room resonances when someone is simply speaking. Vendors often go to great lengths to try to tame the room with difussion, absorption, bass traps, and keeping the speakers as far from the wall as possible. Not so in the Dutch & Dutch room.

View attachment 279862

The speakers were pushed into the corners and the window drapes were wide open. Martijn Mensink was there pushing the speakers to high levels. They sounded amazing. The cardioid polar pattern and integrated DSP really works. The 8c had no F@#%s about the room, only delivering clean and clear direct sound. There was plenty of low end but they might still benefit from a subwoofer. The 8c is definitely on my wish list.

There are plenty of strange ideas and products at Axpona as well. The Hill Plasma Tweeter might be at the top of the list.

View attachment 279870

It uses a modulated plasma flame sourced from a tank of helium to produce audio waves above 1000 Hz. The best part of the demo was when the flames were physically extinguished (blown out) and the high-end suddenly disappeared. They sounded very smooth and clear "airy" but I'd love to see some measurements, particularly distortion. I also question the practicality of the design given a helium gas supply is required. It was an interesting and fun experiment and demo none-the-less.


I'm just a audio hobbyist and consumer with a penchant for objectivitvism and a streak of skepticism. For me Axpona is a place to see new speakers, compare components and learn a few things about the industry. Sure, there's plenty of snake oil across the whole show, but I simply choose to ignore it. Although one person did launch into some nonsense about blind testing being invalid after I made an off-hand comment to someone else about a rediculous power cord. Overall I find the show best for speaker comparison, because honestly how do you compare components whose specs are so similar across multiple listening rooms? You can however get to look at what's new and talk to the designers and other experts. I highly recommend attending Axpona to those with interest in the hobby. And let's continue encouraging the refreshing diversity of attendees.
For those with the budget, the 8C is nearly always the answer from me.
 
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I went on Saturday and really enjoyed the show. I didn't have a lot of time but did catch some nice rooms. I was a little disappointed in the Dali Kore's but I suspect that was due to the room. In fact, I will say I felt like some of the rooms were holding some of these speakers back a little bit. The Magico S3 sounded great and so did the Infigo audio towers.
 

FrankW

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why?? Same with turntables.
Because there are a least 6 Canadian artists you've never heard of that endorse vinyl
Imaging differences in speakers is a real thing. The dipoles and planars really do create a more spectacular image on the whole, though potentially not as accurate or impactful as other designs.
Yes, those added rear reflections definitely make a difference, in a good way IMO. Wish I had room...
Did you hear these? https://www.stereophile.com/content...iptyque-planar-speakers-audia-flight-aurender
 
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scrubb

scrubb

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By the way, did you check out the BACCH room? Our neighbors at the show. Really impressive!

Unfortunately, we missed the BACCH room. So much to see, even in two days. ...and my hearing was shot after your Sunday afternoon demo. :D
 

MarcT

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Thanks for the show report! I've been to Axpona twice, but I don't know if I'll ever go again.

By any chance, did you notice if Martin Logan were showing their new Motion XT F100 or F200 tower speakers? I've heard them about four times at audio stores and to me they have potential.
 
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scrubb

scrubb

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By any chance, did you notice if Martin Logan were showing their new Motion XT F100 or F200 tower speakers? I've heard them about four times at audio stores and to me they have potential.

Martin Logan was there, along with Anthem and Paradigm. Unfortunately I didn't get to their room so I'm not sure what they were showing. Anthem/Paradigm had the STR Integrated amp connected to their XR sub and (I think) Persona bookshelf. The demo was really for the sub and ARC.
 
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scrubb

scrubb

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Oh, I don't have a photo but KLH was demoing the new model 7. For whatever faults a square-ish box design might have, the 7 was doing a lot of things very right. Nice mid-range and clean highs with plenty of bottom end from the large woofer. It's priced about the same as the MoFi Sourcepoint 10 and I would say which one is better may be a matter of taste. I liked the SourcePoint 10 better.
 

ferrellms

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Somewhere in my basement is a pair of Dukane Ionovac tweeters. The bad smell was probably ozone which really is not good for you. At best an irritant and at worst possibly carcinogenic. It also ferociously attacks rubber and to a lesser extent paints ,varnishes and plastics. It probably does the same to your lungs nose and eyes. And even if they are bleeding Helium into the discharge it undoubtedly still converts atmospheric oxygen to ozone. It probably also emits some harmful UV radiation. And it is a high voltage hazard.

Helium has gotten expensive and is supposedly in short supply and big scientific users usually have scavenging systems.

The supposedly massless diaphragm is one of those audiophile holy grail things.
I actually did hear a pair of Plasmatronics about 40 years ago, They were the most transparent and realistic speakers (treble-wise) I have ever heard. Massless drivers are the best (too bad, no one is able to make them well).
 
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