AXPONA 2013 Official Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS - Page 4 - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #31 of 47 Old 03-13-13, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

I moved on to the Essential Audio room. A couple photos:

The front wall:



A closer view of the M1i speaker:



The gear list includes :

Equipment
Dr. Feickert Analogue Firebird turntable
Reed 3P tonearm with Lyra Kleos cartridge
Kuzma 4Point tonearm with Shelter Harmony cartridge
Vendetta Research SCP-2T phono preamplifier
iFi Micro iPhone phono preamplifier
Abbingdon Music Research CD-77.1 compact disc processor
Abbingdon Music Research DP-777 DAC
iFi Micro iUSB Power
iFi Micro iDAC
iFi Micro iCAN headphone amplifier
Teo Audio transformerless passive line stage
Atma-Sphere MP-1 Preamp
Atma-Sphere MA-1 output transformerless amplifiers
Transmission Audio M1i Reference Monitor speakers
Osiris speaker stands
Teo Audio equipment rack
SK Research shelves and Thorp Audio Group cones under amplifiers
Clarity Cable Vortex power cords
Avatar Acoustics power distributors
Teo Audio ParaHelios Reference interconnects
Teo Audio ParaHelios Reference speaker cables
Teo Audio Standard MKII interconnects
Acoustics System International resonators

Unfortunately, no MSRP information was given. There was very little treatment in the room.

The M1i is a dipole bookshelf speaker that uses one dipole ribbon tweeter with four separate ribbons in a five-magnets Neo motor structure and one 5" diecasted aluminum woofer. The stated FR is 40 Hz - 30,000 Hz. It has a sensitivity of 87 db, comes in four different finishes, and weighs 22 lbs.

The first thing I look for when I see a monitor / bookshelf in 2 channel usage is whether or not it sounds bigger than it is. The M1i definitely meets than standard. Plus, the bass was really good for a 5" woofer - good mid punch and low end impact. The vocals were a bit laid back - it sounded like the vocalist was standing further back than the surrounding instruments. Also, they did not image well - I could hear the vocals more strongly from the left speaker than I could from the right speaker.

Last edited by ALMFamily; 03-15-13 at 11:59 PM. Reason: added link to discussion thread
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post #32 of 47 Old 03-14-13, 06:16 PM Thread Starter
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

As Saturday was starting to wind down, I stopped in at the Benchmark Media Systems / Studio Electric room. A couple photos:

The Benchmark DAC2 HGC:



The Studio Electric Monitor in Pasadena version:



The Studio Electric Monitor in satin black studio version:



The new T5 speaker:



The Benchmark DAC2 HGC (MSRP $1995) offers a few new features over Benchmark's popular DAC1 - for home theater setups, Benchmark has added in the Home Theater Bypass function. The DAC2 will typically drive the left and right amps, and an analog signal from the AVR is connected to either of the analog inputs on the DAC2. The Bypass function sets the pass-through gain to unity when the surround system is active. The DAC2 also has a polarity switch that can be used when recordings are encountered that use inverse polarity.

Studio Electric had two speakers available for listening - the Studio Electric Monitor (MSRP $2,500 for the satin black and $2,850 for the Pasadena) and the Studio Electric T5 (MSRP $5,500). The Monitor uses a 1" silk dome tweeter, a 6.5" copolymer woofer, and has a stated FR of 47 Hz - 20,000 Hz. The sensitivity of the speaker is 87 db and it weighs in at 48 lbs for the pair. The T5 uses a compression driver on a wood horn and a custom 8" woofer. The T5 was debuted at AXPONA, and no specs were available.

The Pasadena monitor was active when I came into the room. When I first saw the Monitor, it reminded me of an old-time radio. While I personally like hardwood, there was just something about the look that did not grab me. That said, this was another monitor that sounded bigger than it was (a recurrent theme for the show - I recall at best two monitors that did not meet this requirement for me) with good low end although not quite as good as the Monitor 2. There was great midrange punch though and vocals dynamics were excellent. The detail and clarity were superb - the snap of the drum and the intake of breaths were readily apparent. The T5 sound was pretty much the same except the sound just felt more open than that from the Monitor. The aethetics of the T5 were OK, but nothing that would really grab the eye so to speak.

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post #33 of 47 Old 03-14-13, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

My next to last stop of the day was in High Water Sound's room. A few photos:

The front wall:



A closer view of the speaker:



A side view of the speaker - notice the grill cover in the back (more on that later):



The equipment rack:




The system configuration included:

Equipment Component MSRP
Turntable TW-Acustic Raven GT with 2 TW 10.5 tonearms $9,500 - $20,500 with tonearms
Amplifier Thoress Systems SE Mono Amp (2) $14,000
Preamp Thoress Systems Preamplifier $9,000
Parametric Phono Equalizer Thoress Systems Phono Enhancer $9,000
Speakers Horning Eufrodite $24,000
Power Conditioner Silver Circle Audio TCHAIK 6 $9,500
Equipment Rack Silent Running Audio Scuttle Rack and Ohio XL Bases none given
Cartridges Miyajima Labs Shilabe (stereo) and Zero (monaural) $3,000 / $2,000
Cables Zen Sati Angel interconnects and speakers cables none given
Power Cables Tel Wire power cables none given

The Eufrodite loudspeaker uses an open Isopunkt modified cone tweeter, a Lowther DX55 midrange, and four 8" woofers. It has a stated FR of 28 Hz - 20,000 Hz with a sensitivity of 97 db and weighs in at 143 lbs each.

And, remember that grill on the back of the speaker? It covers these:




The room was just using plants for treatment.

The speaker looks like your standard rectangle, but it is in actuality much deeper. The finish on it was very well done, but not as eye-grabbing as some of the other finishes I saw over the weekend. The low end was probably one of the best I heard over the weekend for a system that was not crossed to a sub - very impactful and tight. Mid punch was good as well. I did not get a chance to hear a female vocal track, but the male vocal track showed good clarity and detail.
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post #34 of 47 Old 03-14-13, 11:45 PM Thread Starter
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

My last stop on Saturday was in the Indy Audio Labs / Waterfall Audio room. A few photos:

The front wall:



A closer view of the speaker:




That is right folks - the cabinet is glass. The entire cabinet in the Victoria Evo (MSRP $7,000) is 3/8" tempered glass - the pamphlet has an amzing picture of the sunlight coming through these with a very neat prism effect. Quite an artistic statement - and they have a very small footprint. The speaker has 4 drivers - a silk dome tweeter, two woofers, and a passive radiator and has a stated FR of 40 Hz - 28,000 Hz. It has a sensitivity of 89 db and weighs in at 38 lbs.

These speakers imaged incredibly well - eyes open or closed, I could not localize the speakers at all. They had excellent clarity - I felt I heard every detail from the ping of the cymbols to the intake of the vocalist's breath. Low end and midrange punch were both excellent in this speaker as well - note that there was no treatment in this room. The dynamic range of the vocals was superb as well - I stayed for a few tracks and was able to hear both a male and female vocal track - both handled with aplomb.

For those familiar with my system, you know that I am driving my mains with two Aragon Palladium Monoblocks - not the Klipsch version, but the Mondial version. After chatting with Rick from Indy Audio, I was very pleased to hear that they have gone back to the Mondial design for their Aragon amps. The new Iridium (MSRP $4,499) is basically the Palladium with updated parts and some small functionality additions - such as the network connection ability. They even have an app that will provide the current temperature and allow Indy to troubleshoot the amp remotely - very cool stuff. They are also making a new version of the 8008 (MSRP $4,399) as well as a 2-channel (MSRP $2,499), 5-channel (MSRP $3,799), and 7-channel amp (MSRP $4,299) in the Acurus line.

Speaking of very cool, I placed my hand on the amp to see if it ran hotter or cooler than my Palladium. They had not turned them off since Thursday, and I am happy to report they were much cooler to the touch than mine.

From the moment I saw these speakers, I just kept on getting that "Wow!" feeling - this was my second favorite experience of the day and a great one with which to end the day.

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

Last edited by ALMFamily; 03-16-13 at 12:01 AM. Reason: added link to discussion thread
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post #35 of 47 Old 03-15-13, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

Sunday afternoon I went into the Vapor Audio / Antipodes Audio / Arte Forma room. A few photos:

The front wall with the Vapor Audio Stiff Breezes:



A front, close-up view of the Stiff Breeze:



A side view of the Stiff Breeze:



A closer side view of the Stiff Breeze:



The Cirrus Blacks:




The system configuration included:

Equipment Component MSRP
Loudspeakers Vapor Audio Cirrus Black $3,995 / pair
  Vapor Audio Stiff Breeze $1,895 / pair
Amplifier Arte Forma Due Volta Monoblock (2) $5,500 / pair
Preamp Arte Forma Thalia $2,250
Source Antipodes DV2 Music Server $3,299
DAC BMC DAC1 $4,990
Cables Antipodes Reference speaker cables $2,200
 Antipodes Reference interconnects $1,900
 Balanced Power Technologies PC-9LN power cables $499
Power Conditioning Balanced Power Technologies BP-3.5 $2,399



I wanted to make sure I had an opportunity to hear the Vapor Audio speakers - I almost got that opportunity last year at a GTG here in southern Wisconsin but unfortunately Ryan, the owner of Vapor Audio, was not able to make it. It was a real treat to sit and discuss the production process with Ryan as well as discussing other parts of the industry - having a chance to talk frankly with someone on the manufacturing side was an eye-opening experience for me.

The Cirrus Black speaker uses a RAAL 70-20XR tweeter and an Audio Technology C-Quenze 18H52 woofer and has a stated FR of 37 Hz - 38,500 Hz. It has a sensitivity of 87.5 db, uses a stacked ply cabinet, and weighs in at 53.5 lbs. The Stiff Breeze speaker uses a RAAL 70-10D tweeter and two 6" Wavecor Nomex cone Symmetric Motor Drive woofers. It has a stated FR of 44Hz - 39,000 Hz with a sensitivity of 90 db and weighs in at 48 lbs.

The cabinets of both speakers were beatifully done - these cabinets are done in their entirety by Vapor Audio. The cabinets can be done with pretty much any finish the prospective buyer desires. Also, the stands are custom made - notice on the Cirrus Black stands how the veneer was done to match the speaker cabinets. It really gave me a feeling like I was looking at a tower rather than a monitor. Also, notice how the stands on the Cirrus Blacks are constructed to slighty angle them up - about 2% - to focus them more at seated ear height - good design in my opinion (I actually did this with the DIY center stand I made) to ensure more directed sound to the listener. Last, the crossovers and binding posts are actually built into the lower portion of theC irrus Black stands so the owner does not have to worry about the visual of speaker cables hanging from the back - very ingenuitive.

The Stiff Breezes were active when I first came into the room. I was able to get into the sweet spot fairly early and occupied that spot for probably a solid thirty minutes. Again, the first thing I noticed was that they sounded much bigger than they were and that they imaged superbly. On vocal tracks, the artist was locked dead center - speakers could not be localized. On orchestral tracks, you could visualize where each instrument was located - a heady effect. They have a very warm, enveloping sound which, for those that have heard a RAAL tweeter, you have come to expect and adore. Clarity was amazing - I could hear every detail. I especially remember the strike of the piano keys; and then, I heard a cough - from the track! I was so shocked I leaned to the side and asked someone else if they heard that - detail, detail, detail!

Someone else wanted to hear the Cirrus Blacks (and so did I!), so I stayed and listened to those as well. For this listening session, the other person requested that the subs be off. And, they did not lose much running full range - pretty much just the impact from the sub was all that was missing. Midrange punch was very prevalent. They also sounded bigger than they were and imaged incredibly well. The vocals and dynamics were very similar to the Stiff Breeze as I thought it would be using a RAAL as well. The detail was there too - you could hear the male vocalist's intake of breath. I felt the Cirrus Black would handle running full range very well.

I thoroughly enjoyed this room and I am planning to schedule a trip to the shop to hear a few of Ryan's other speakers.

Room treatment included corner traps, some plants, and diffusors at first reflection points. Both sets of speakers were crossed to subs at 40 Hz.

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

Last edited by ALMFamily; 03-16-13 at 12:03 AM. Reason: added link to discussion thread
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post #36 of 47 Old 03-15-13, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

Sunday morning took me into the Marantz (D&M Holdings) room. A few photos:

The front wall:



The equipment rack:




Marantz was displaying three pieces from their Reference series:

Component MSRP
PM-11S3 Integrated Amp $5,000
SA-11S3 SACD / CD Player $4,000
NA-11S3 Network Audio Player / DAC $3,500
Boston Acoustics M350 speakers $2,500 / pair


The system is fully network integrated - you can use the Marantz app to control the source, volume, etc. You can also stream Pandora or other music services as well as play from a USB stick or an HTPC. The warm sound definitely reminded of my new Denon 4520. As with the Onkyo offering, I felt this system definitely had the chops to get you to 80-90% of what some other systems were doing, but at far less cost.

While the room was really about the Marantz Reference line, I did stay for a bit to give the speakers a listen as well. The M350s imaged really well and had fairly decent clarity, but I felt that they were more suited for a small room and would struggle to fill a larger room. The low end also just sounded a bit muddy.

This room used no treatment.
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

Early Sunday morning I stopped in the Audio Power Labs / Laufer Teknik / Leonardo Speakers room. A few photos:

The front wall:



A closer view of the Audio Power Labs 50TNT:



A different view of the 50TNT:



A closer view of the Leonardo speaker:




The equipment in use:

Component MSRP
Audio Power Labs 50TNT Monoblock Amp (2) $47,500 / pair
The Memory Player 64 Music Server $27,000
Leonardo speakers $65,000 / pair


The Memory Player 64 was developed by Laufer Teknik and the 2011 model has a few new features to achieve jitter-free sound such as RUR (Read Until Right) which is unlimited re-reading to capture dropped bits of music without using error correction that tends to cause jitter. It also has upsampling to 32 bits to defeat digital volume control loss and D2D (Direct to DAC) that bypasses unnecessary output circuitry.

The Audio Power Labs 50TNT monoblock tube amp is a push-pull Class A amp that uses directly heated triode output tubes, transformer coupling, and zero negative feedback and delivers 50 watts RMS. The unique part about the design of these amps is the bended glass that comprises the top of the unit that creates a very modern appearance sure to satisfy the WAF. There are two cooling fans that pull air through the assembly that are variable speed for quieter operation while in use and more CFM when powering down. The amps also have a network interface that allow the unit to be troubleshot remotely.

The Leonardo speakers are a full ribbon speaker that has a stated FR of 20 Hz - 100,000 Hz. No, that is not a typo - a full ribbon speaker that goes down to 20 Hz! It has a sensitivity of 93 db and weighs 350 lbs - 110 lbs in magnets alone. These speakers image really well - they just completely disappear which is fairly astounding considering their size. The dynamic range was fantastic - female vocals tracks really showed the range - and they had a very open, natural, enveloping soundstage. The amount of detail in the instruments was off the charts - I could hear everything from the buzz of the horns to the pluck of a string. Last, I was astounded at how low these speakers could go - and cleanly!

A fantastic experience - I would never have believed a full ribbon could dig that deep unless I was there to hear it!

No room treatment was used.
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post #38 of 47 Old 03-15-13, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

It was Sunday afternoon when I strolled into the Sonic Hemisphere room. A few photos:

The front wall:



A closer view of the speakers:



A side view of the Fidelity One:



Sonic Hemisphere is a relatively new company based very close to Chicago, IL. They currently offer two speakers - the Fidelity Monitor (MSRP $1,925) and the Fidelity One (MSRP $5,750) with the Fidelity Reference series to be announced.

The cabinets are made from a combination of MDF and plywood. I really like the finish on the Fidelity One - a rosewood face with the remainder of the cabinet in black grain hardwood. Plus, it had some beveling to the edges of the face and a contoured-shape that gave it some personality. The Fidelity Monitor was done in maple and was very utilitarian in appearance.

The Fidelity One uses a 1" Aluminum/Magnesium dome tweeter, a 7" Poly-weave composite midrange, and a 11" Nomex woofer. It has a stated FR of 29 Hz - 27,000 Hz with a sensitivity of 89 db. The Fidelity Monitor uses a 1" Aluminum/Magnesium dome tweeter and a 7" Poly-weave composite midrange. It has a stated FR of 38 Hz - 27,000 Hz with a sensitivity of 88 db.

I only heard the Fidelity One, which imaged pretty well although I felt it was slightly forward. It had good low end impact with a solid mid punch - both were pretty clean. Clarity and vocal dynamics were both solid as well. While I felt the speaker did everything well, there was no one measureable that really stood out for me. A good performer, but in my opinion you can get a speaker that has a "wow" factor in the same price range.

This room used corner traps and plants for treatment.

Last edited by ALMFamily; 03-16-13 at 12:04 AM. Reason: added link to discussion thread
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Re: AXPONA 2013 Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

Late Sunday morning I visited The Sound Organisation's room. A few photos:

The front (actually, it was the side) wall:



The Rega RP-6 turntable:



The equipment used included:

Component MSRP
Rega RS-3 speakers $1,395
Rega RP-6 turntable $1,095
Rega Brio-R amp (includes phono stage) $895
Rega Apollo-R CD Player $1,095

This was probably the most uninspiring room I visited the entire weekend. The only piece of equipment that really stuck in my mind was the turntable, and that was due to the British flag that was painted on it. The speakers did provide a good separation of instruments, but the clarity was lacking and the low end / mid punch was pretty much nonexistent.

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


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Re: AXPONA 2013 Official Show Report by Joe Alexander of HTS

Late Sunday morning I visited the Linn Audio Loudspeakers room. A few photos:

The front wall:



A closer view of the front of the speaker:



A side view of the speaker:




Background / Specifications

The Linn Audio Athenaeum speaker (MSRP $80,000) is a speaker 3 years in the making. Peter, the owner of Linn Audio, worked with variations of hardnesses in the design to reduce resonance, and, in the end, decided to go with a soft interior to hard exterior to get the effect he desired. The cabinets are made of low grade MDF. The Athenaeum uses a midrange compression driver / horn and a 15" woofer, has a sensitivity of 97 db, and has a stated FR of 30 Hz - 20,000 Hz. The compression driver has a very extended range allowing more sound to emanate from a single driver. They have a shipping weight of 600 lbs (both speakers).

Linn Audio also makes the Acropolis speaker (MSRP $83,000) which is an astounding 7' tall. It uses two ribbon tweeters, a midrange compression driver / horn, and two 15" woofers. It has a stated FR of 18 Hz - 40,000 Hz with a sensitivity of 97 db, and has a shipping weight of 1,100 lbs (both speakers).


Impressions

The finish on the cabinets was beautiful - the cherry really offset the drivers well. The design of the cabinet is rather unique - it allows it to fit into the corner a bit easier. Once I sat down and started actively listening, I was immeadiately struck by the warm, full sound. They image really well - despite their size, they disappeared entirely. I really enjoy it when you can leave your eyes open and still not locate where the sounds are coming from. Clarity was simply amazing - in my notes, I jotted down that I could hear piano key strikes and cymbol pings. They were so amazing that I gave it the double exclamation point - just fantastic detail throughout. Vocal clarity was just as impressive - intake of breaths were readily apparent. The mid punch was superb as well - they also got my double exclamation point notation.

In the end, it was just such a relaxing listening experience - for me, a much different experience than horn speakers I had heard prior to this weekend. The only detraction for me - during the course of chatting about the speakers, too much time was spent "pushing" a sale which I would expect at a big box store rather than talking about the characteristics and production of the speaker itself.

The only room treatment in use was corner traps.
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