AXPONA 2013 Official Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS - Page 3 - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #21 of 47 Old 03-12-13, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

Saturday afternoon included a visit to the Audio Note room. Audio Note is a company based in the UK. A couple pictures:

The equipment rack:



The K/SPe speaker:




The system configuration included:

Component Description MSRP
CDT Three Top-loading CD Transport $12,000
DAC3.1x / II Balanced DAC (source) $10,000
OTO SE Signature Integrated tube amp / two versions - line and line/phono $5,500 / $6,300
K/SPe speakers can purchase matching stand $3,700 / $650 for stand

The K/SPe is an acoustic suspension speaker with a sensitivity of 90 db. It uses a 3/4" silk dome tweeter and an 8" woofer in a Russian birch plywood cabinet. The prospective buyer can choose from 20 different all-round veneer finishes.

I had just left the Madisound room when I went into the Audio Note room and the first impression I got was that these did not have the "big sound" that the SEAS A26 speakers had. I then got closer to check out the finish of these speakers and I must say - they were quite appealing. I sat down and noticed right off that the soundstage was not very wide - there was a noticeable degradation off-axis. They have a very laid back sound - it reminded me a bit of one of my first auditions with the B&W CM9s. The detail and mid punch that I prefer seemed to be missing. I just did not connect with this setup.

There was no room treatment in use.

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post #22 of 47 Old 03-12-13, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

Saturday late morning took me into the Purity Audio Design room. A few photos:

The front wall:



The front wall again with flash off:



A close up of the Argos speaker:




The system configuration included:

Equipment Components MSRP
Mono Block Amps Purity Audio Design PSE300B $26,000 / pair
Pre-Amp Purity Audio Design Silver Statement Series II $32,000
Speakers Daedalus Audio Argos Loudspeaker $13,000
SACD / CD Player Sony - XA777ES (acting as transport) none given
Source HP laptop Music Server running JRiver Media Center 18 none given
Cables Gingko Audio Diamond Reference IC $1,500 / 1st meter + $400 each additional meter
Cables Gingko Audio Dana Diamond IC $1,100 / 1st meter + $300 each additional meter
Cables Gingko Audio Dana Sapphire Reference $3,950 / 1st two meters + $500 each additional meter
Cables WyWires Silver Power Cables and power distribution box $699 / cable
Equipment Rack Custom Isolation Ball Tech acrylic rack and amp stands $1,200 / shelf


Let me start by saying that if there was an award for the coolest looking display, this one would have won it for me from all the rooms I was able to visit. These guys put quite a bit of effort into making the room feel, well, not like a hotel room. Extremely well done Purity Audio Design!

The Argos speakers use two 1" soft dome tweeters, one 5" midrange, and two 8" woofers with a sensitivity of 97 db. They weigh a solid 103 lbs each and come in three standard finishes with four more at an additional cost. When closing in on the speaker to get a closer look at the finish, I noticed that the front baffle was actually angled. In essence, it toes in the speakers without physically toeing in the speakers - ingenious. The finish was well done, and the angled front baffle helped give the appearance some "personality". The low end was tight and clean without being boomy. Dynamic range of vocal tracks was handled really well. Clarity and detail were good - I especially noticed the cymbols - but I felt the midrange punch was just a little lacking.

The room was treated with plants and some panels.

Last edited by ALMFamily; 03-15-13 at 11:54 PM. Reason: added link to discussion thread
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post #23 of 47 Old 03-12-13, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

Note - I updated the Salk Sound / AVA post (#17) to include a system equipment list. I also erred - I had originally thought the bookshelf speakers were the M7 monitors. They are actually a newly crafted speaker called the Salk Silk which is not currently listed on the website.
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post #24 of 47 Old 03-12-13, 02:23 PM Thread Starter
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

Next up on Saturday was Acoustic Zen - a few photos:

The front wall:



A front view of the speaker:



A side view of the speaker:




While I was in the room, the two exhibitors were talking about a gentleman who had just left - he wanted the system. The entire system as it was set up. It was nice to hear it definitively that sales were actually happening at the show.

The Crescendo speaker uses one horn-loaded ribbon tweeter with a Neodymium magnet, two 5" mids with the Underhung Ultra Linear Motor System (short voice coil in a long magnetic gap), and two 8" woofers with the Underhung Ultra Linear Motor System. They have a stated FR of 20 Hz to 30,000 Hz with a sensitivity of 89 db and weigh in at 125 lbs each. The MSRP of these speakers is $16,000.

The finish on these speakers is very well done - I really like the combination of the dark and lighter areas in the finish. Plus, the cabinet has the C-shaped design which I saw on a number of speakers giving them a bit of character. One of the first tracks they played had a few of us chuckling - it was the theme song to Pink Panther - as it was something we all knew well. However, it was an excellent choice as it really showed off some of the great qualities I found in this speaker. The clarity of the horn was fantastic without reaching that "tense up" level. The low end was a bit boomy, but that was more a function of the room as they probably needed a bit larger space than the room they were in. Also, the detail of each instrument was splendid - you could hear the ping of the cymbol, the snap of the sticks, and the strike of the triangle. Finally, the dynamic range of instruments was handled extremely well - I never felt one overpowered any other.

The room used rear and front corner traps.
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post #25 of 47 Old 03-12-13, 05:47 PM Thread Starter
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

MBL had three rooms set up - the first room had the MBL 120s with the Corona line, the second room had the MBL 116 Fs, and the third room had the MBL 101 E MKIIs. A number of photos here:

The MBL 120s front wall:



Flash off:



A close up of the MBL 120s:



The MBL 116 Fs front wall:



This one is for you Luther - an open-reel system!:



A close up of the MBL 116 F:



The MBL 101 E MKIIs front wall:



Flash Off:



A close up of the MBL 101 E MKIIs:




Honestly, when I first walked into each of these rooms, I felt like I had entered the space age. All three were in gloss white and just did not look like any speaker I have seen previously - I fully expected Twiki to come strolling in!

Seriously though, you could really tell from the systems that MBL targets the high end individual who is just as concerned about their speakers as an art piece as they are about the sound. The components and speakers are all matching gloss white and are fully meant to garner that "Wow, look at that!" response. Did they for me? For the 101 E MKIIs, it did; the other two rooms, not so much. The reel-to-reel was actually the high point for me in the first two rooms as it was a beautiful piece of equipment and gave a very smooth sound. As I had never heard a reel-to-reel system before, I found this quite surprising - I was expecting a sound much like the old projectors we had in school back in the day.

How does the Radialstrahler work you ask - well, the segments around the vertical axis are shaped for specific frequencies and are fastened at the top. The motion is generated by an upward movement of the moving coil and magnet which acts as one unit as the moving coil moves freely in the air gap of the magnet. When the speaker receives the electrical signal, it forces the moving coil to move up and down in the air gap which in turn forces those specific segments to move thus creating vibrations which we hear as sound. As the segments form a sphere, the speaker can spread sound out in a 360 degree pattern making it possible to hear the same sound no matter where you are in the room.

The MBL 120s produced very dynamic vocals - they handled tone change very well. I was not as impressed with the low end and detail - the low end just lacked impact and the detail was not as prevalent as other speakers I had heard to this point. For the MBL 116 Fs, I must say I spent more time watching the reel-to-reel than actively listening (it was my first reel-to-reel experience ) but I do recall being pleased with the sound of the system as a whole.

The MBL 101 E MKIIs were the most impressive of the three (as they should be at over double the cost) - not only were they the most unique of the three, the combination of the white with the silver was quite a stunning effect. The low end felt just a tad loose - like when it was trying to recover from the previous note the next was coming. However, the dynamic range and clarity were utterly fantastic - you could hear EVERY detail.

One disappointment - if these speakers are touted to be able to deliver sound in a 360 degree sphere, why were they in essence pushed to a wall? I would have loved to be able to walk all the way around them to hear this effect and discern just how true that statement was. So, while the look was appealing, I just felt a little letdown by the sound.

The MSRP of the MBL 120s is $21,400 and the MSRP of the MBL 116Fs is $32,500 while the MBL 101 E MKII has an MSRP of $70,500. There were plants in each room, and the 101 E MKII's room had heavy drapes all around.

Please use the AXPONA 2013 Discussion / Comments thread for questions and comments.

Last edited by ALMFamily; 03-15-13 at 11:56 PM. Reason: added link to discussion thread
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post #26 of 47 Old 03-13-13, 11:35 AM Thread Starter
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

Saturday afternoon brought me into the Onkyo room where they were showing the Reference line. A photo of the setup:



I liked the design - very little LED display while the M-5000R amplifier had a very retro meter display on the front. I currently own the Onkyo 809 and the only detraction it has in my opinion is that music has a very processed feel to it. I did not get that feel from this setup - it had a much warmer sound to it. Will it rival some of the other setups that were on display - probably not, but it gets you close at about one-tenth the price. A great system for those of us working on a budget!

The MSRP of the P-3000R pre-amp is $1,699 with the M-5000R amp coming in at $2,499 and the C-7000R CD player listing at $1,499. They were using the Focal 918s for speakers.
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

I visited Echelon Audio right before the fire alarm went off on Saturday. A couple photos:

The front wall:



A closer look:



First off, I must admit it was odd after a day and a half of seeing setups with quite a bit of equipment and then walking into this room and seeing one piece of equipment and two speakers. On the plus side, it really allowed me to focus in on what I was there for - to listen. AXPONA was Echelon's debut event.

The Amoroso uses a 1" titanium dome tweeter, a 5" aluminum cone midrange, and a 10" aluminum cone woofer. It has a stated FR of 45 Hz - 32,000 Hz with a sensitivity of 87 db and weighs in at 125 lbs for the pair. They have a very unique design - it really felt like I was there to see a sculpture. They had a very laid back feel - the soundstage and imaging actually felt like it was behind the middle of the speakers. The Amorosos had good vocal clarity and dynamics, however, the longer I listened, I just did not get a feeling of spaciousness - they just sounded like they were struggling to fill the space.

No MSRP was available.

Please use the AXPONA 2013 Discussion / Comments thread for questions and comments.

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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

Early Saturday afternoon brought me to Soundfield Audio's room. A couple photos:

A front view:



A side view:




This was the debut of the new Monitor 2 developed by AJ, the owner of Soundfield Audio. Unfortunately, no specs were available, but the MSRP is $1,800. I loved the finish of the cabinet - a hardwood front with gloss black for the rest of the cabinet looked very polished.

As for the sound, when I go to listen to a monitor, I like to hear one that "sounds bigger" than it is. And, AJ's Monitor 2 delivers this in spades. They imaged so well - eyes open or closed, I really could not localize the speakers at all. Instrumental clarity was off the charts - you could hear every instrument. I particularly noticed the quality of the horns - not overpowering in the slightest. And, this was another monitor that I would have sworn was crossed to a sub - tight, clean bass. If I had to guess, I would lay bets on clean down to around 30-35 Hz - in a monitor! And, lest I forget, the ability to handle the range of female vocals was excellent as well.

When I was done, I actually wrote "these sounds just as good as my floorstanders" in my notes - a very impressive monitor.
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post #29 of 47 Old 03-13-13, 02:02 PM Thread Starter
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

After the fire alarm on Saturday, I visited the Seaton Sound / Datasat / iRule room. A number of photos:

The front wall:



A closer look at the Catalyst 12C:



The Catalyst 8C center channel:



The Submersive F2 sub:



The Datasat RS20i:




The system configuration included:

Equipment Component MSRP
Left/Right Speakers Catalyst 12C in Red Cherry $3,895 each (not including stands - $475 / stand)
Center / Surround Speakers Catalyst 8C in Red Cherry $2,695 each
Subwoofer (front pair) SubMersive F2 in Red Cherry $2,845 each
Subwoofer (rear pair) SubMersive HP in Rosenut $2,595 each
Digital Preamp, Surround Processor, Room Correction Datasat RS20i


First, as I am using iRule for my own dedicated room, I talked with the iRule exhibitor. As most people already own an iPod, iPad, iPhone or Android-based phone, the additional cost is roughly $350 for the Global Cache network communication device and the iRule software and it offers the end user the ability to create their own interfaces - I personally really like the flexibility.

I did not get a chance to chat with Dusty from Datasat about their unit, but it looks very intriguing and I am planning to contact him for more info - look for an update on that later.

The Catalyst 12Cs use a 8" coaxial midrange with a Neodymium compression tweeter and two custom-built 12" sealed woofers. They are internally powered using 300W for the coaxial 1" Neodymium compression tweeter, 700W for the 8" midrange (coaxial with tweeter), and 1000W for the pair of 12" sealed woofers. The Catalyst 12Cs have a stated FR of 50 Hz - 20,000 Hz with an optional DSP program for 19 Hz - 20,000 Hz.

The Catalyst 8Cs use a 8" coaxial midrange with a Neodymium compression tweeter and two custom-built 8" sealed woofers. They are internally powered using 150W for the coaxial 1" Neodymium compression tweeter, 350W for the 8" midrange (coaxial with tweeter), and 500W for the pair of 8" sealed woofers. The Catalyst 8Cs have a stated FR of 60 Hz - 20,000 Hz.

The SubMersive F2s use two front firing 15" sealed woofers. They have a DSP-controlled 2400W amp with a stated FR of 15/19 Hz - 200 Hz selectable with typical in-room extension to 8-14 Hz. The SubMersive HPs also use dual opposed 15" sealed woofers and have a DSP-controlled 2400W amp with a stated FR of 15/19 Hz - 200 Hz selectable with typical in-room extension to 8-14 Hz.

For those scoring at home, that is a whopping 16,600W of total amplifier power.

The system was set up to crossover to the F2s and HPs at 70 Hz and as a 5.1 surround system with all four subs on the same channel.

For those familiar with my "speaker journey", here is my impression of the Catalyst 12Cs almost a year ago:

The black ash finish on this speaker was well done, but they did not have a wow factor for me. The soundstage was nice and wide with no degradation standing and slight degradation outside 30 degrees. They disappeared well and had a very enveloping sound. They did seem a bit forward to me - I could tell I was getting fatigued toward the end (note that this was the 6th speaker of the day). Now, this may have been due to the SPL - they just seemed so much louder than the others. These are designed to, when shipped, go to about 50 hz but can be adjusted for lower extension and get to 20 Hz anechoic. Orchestral tracks were great - horns sounded incredible with the piano and flute sounding clean as well. The symbols in Hells Bells were very crisp as well. This was the another speaker that stood out for me in bass - most especially in the low end. Sound subtleties and vocals were incredibly detailed - I thought both male and female vocals were a treat. All in all, I think this is a great speaker - but, for my use, I had a concern about fatigue and am not sure I have need of the LFE you can get from this speaker.

At AXPONA, I had a chance to hear the entire system together. First off, the Red Cherry finish is beautifully done - every speaker just really popped out. As with the previous audition, detail and clarity were phenomenal and vocal dynamics were handled really well. They imaged really well - it really felt the vocalist was right dead center. I think the biggest difference was that with the entire system, it just all blended so much better. And, I did not feel the same sense of fatigue that I did the last time I heard them - and this was after all day Friday as well as most of Saturday of listening to other systems.

Another interesting feature - the Catalyst 12Cs can be set up to crossover to subs or they can be run full range. It only takes a push of a button and a power cycle to switch them over.

I asked Mark if someone wanted to buy the system but could not afford everything right away, in what order would you purchase? He suggested the best route would be to go Center / Subs / Towers unless you are very comfortable with your current center. In that case, he suggested Subs / Towers / Center.

This was my best experience of the day for Saturday - and in my top 3 for all weekend. Great job!

Last edited by ALMFamily; 03-15-13 at 11:58 PM. Reason: added link to discussion thread
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post #30 of 47 Old 03-13-13, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

Next up - Icon Audio's room. A couple photos:

The Icon Audio MB 30m Single Ended KT120 Power Amp with the LA5tx Tranformer Line Pre-Amp on the second shelf:



The FRm 2 speaker:




Icon Audio is a UK based company who is just starting to distribute in the US through Music Audio. Their tube amps use the KT120 tubes which have about fifty percent more power than the previous tubes.

The FRm2 speaker was a first for me - I do not recall ever seeing another speaker only using one driver. They are designed this way to remove any crossover in an effort to produce a more seamless sound. I sat and chatted with the designer, David Shaw, for a bit and listened to the setup. I have to agree - it was a very smooth sound, but there was some detail lost that left me wanting more. Low end was a tad muddy but not terribly so. All in all, not a bad speaker, but not one I would personally choose.
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