Audio Expo North America (AXPONA) 2016 Show Report - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 29 Old 04-15-16, 08:27 AM Thread Starter
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Audio Expo North America (AXPONA) 2016 Show Report


Entryway to Chicago’s Westin O’Hare...



The view of Rosemont from our 9th floor room...


Reporting from the beautiful Westin O'Hare in Rosemont, Illinois for HomeTheaterShack.com, equipment reviewers Dennis Young (Tesseract) - right - and Wayne Myers (AudiocRaver) - left - are on the scene bringing you highlights from the show. This year Home Theater Shack is bringing you in-depth APXONA coverage in collaboration with AV Science, and working with us will be Senior Writer Mark Henninger (Dub King) - center - from the AVS Forum (master thread found here). Join us to vicariously experience the finest audio equipment this side of Alpha Centauri, maybe in the entire galaxy!
Audio Expo North America (AXPONA) 2016 Show Report-img_20160416_093723.jpg




Directory Of Exhibitors Visited:
Adam Professional Audio
AudioKinesis
Campfire Audio
Channel Islands Audio
Chord Electronic
Classic Audio Loudspeakers
Dirac Research
Dolby
Dynaudio
Dynaudio
ELAC
Emotiva
ENIGMAcoustics
Essential Audio
Focal
GIK Acoustics
Hanson Home Theater, Hi-Fi Audio, Home Automation
JBL
JRiver
KEF
Legacy Audio
Madisound
Mark Levinson
MartinLogan
MBL
McIntosh
MrSpeakers Headphones
Nordost Audio Cables
Octave Audio
Odyssey Audio
Parasound
PlanterSpeakers
Seaton Sound
Sennheiser
SMT of Sweden
Sony
Straight Wire
VAC - Valve Amplification Company
Vapor Audio
Von Schweikert Audio
Wilson Audio
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post #2 of 29 Old 04-15-16, 12:29 PM
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Just arrived at the hotel, getting ready to hit the floor in a few to get my bearings. It's my first time visiting AXPONA and I'm excited about what I'm going to hear this weekend as I attend demos with Wayne and Dennis.
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DIY HTPC - 32GB RAM, 4.4Ghz overclocked quad-core i5 CPU -- -- Crown XTi-2002 -- Crown XTi-1000 -- Mains: 4X Sony Xplod XS-GTX121LW 12" subwoofer/woofers & Selenium D3300Ti 2" Titanium Horn Driver (tweeter) -- Subwoofers - 4X DIY 12" Sony Xplod Ported - 16hz tune -- Pioneer Elite SC-55 AVR
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post #3 of 29 Old 04-15-16, 03:35 PM
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After arriving at the show, I grabbed some coffee and joined AVS Senior Writer, Mark Henninger[/URL]. The first room we hit together featured the Focal Sopra No. 2, a $14,000 floorstander from this company headquartered in Saint-Etienne, France.

With the song "Lush Life" by Linda Ronstadt, sweet female vocals reached out and grabbed me, pulling me into my chair, eyes riveted forward, looking toward the source of the sound as I seated myself.

Little Sonny “Don’t Ask Me No Questions” displayed good depth, with images located behind the speaker plane, but midbass was a bit woolly, highs just a bit bright, possibly attributes of the recording. I do find Focal loudspeakers tend to have more energy in the upper frequencies, an quality that many find pleasing. Choices are good. Mark observed "..the demo I attended did nothing to change my feeling that the brand’s speakers are a bit bright for my taste", a viewpoint that mirrored mine.

Overall, it was a good start for the show and whetted my appetite for more.

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"I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit." - Bill Hicks
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post #4 of 29 Old 04-15-16, 04:27 PM
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I must admit to being a huge fan of folded ribbon drivers. Adam Professional Audio seems to also be big fans.

Listening to Chris Brown "Zero", The Adam Active Pencil TMM ($7000/pair) had a lively upper balance, versus the more laid back, dual folded ribbon Column Passive loudspeaker. Ellie Goulding's "On My Mind" revealed a surprising bass capability that had Mark and I looking at each other in amazement. AVS Senior Writer Mark Henninger states "The Pencil ($7000/pair) had that tight, revealing, neutral character that is often associated with active studio monitors. Despite the limitations of the room, the speakers imaged well and sounded neutral."

The Column Passive (also $7000/pair) was my favorite of the two. The 6" wide (unfolded) midrange takes over at 800 Hz, leaving the dual 7 1/2" woofers to handle the bass, with the bottom woofer covering only 150 Hz on down. The 4" wide (also when unfolded) ribbon has duty above 2800 Hz, completing this wonderful 3 1/2 way loudspeaker.


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Of interest to surround sound enthusiasts, but not auditioned, are GTC SUB and Center MK3 Passive.


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Attached Thumbnails
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"I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit." - Bill Hicks
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post #5 of 29 Old 04-15-16, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
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Hanson Home Theater, Hi-Fi Audio, Home Automation - Room 646





Dynaudio Confidence C1 Platinum 2-way speakers, l listening first to a guitar track that gave the impression that the bottom end was not well supported , but the next track showed that not to be true at all. The little woofers can push some serious air. Simple is the first word that comes to mind about the overall sound, but more than that, honest at the same time.

Melody Gardot's voice can challenge a speaker's imaging capability, but the C1 handled it without losing track of what she was singing and how to represent her. Radiohead, Pact Like Sardines, let the C1 show their imaging capability and did manage to show the lower bass registers were slightly under-represented. The Pyramid Song's cymbals imaged perfectly and sounded simple and honest. The soundstage was immense and beautiful. The C1 is a favorite Dynaudio model for me.

National Anthem, Radiohead, again superb imaging and soundstage from the C1. Tonality that is honest enough to make George Washington blush.

At one time I wondered how a 2-way speaker could justify being as expensive as the C1 price tag, at $8750 per pair. Then heard I the C1, and it made perfect sense.

Supporting Equipment:
Octave Audio V80 SE Integrated Amp: $10,900
Nordost Audio Valhalla 2 AC, Cables, Interconnects, package retail approx $46,000

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post #6 of 29 Old 04-16-16, 10:26 AM Thread Starter
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Their banner says, 'You say "Control Freak" like it's a bad thing'. Controlling room acoustics is what GIK Acoustics is all about.

Brian Pape and I agreed that for pinpoint imaging, absorption on the front wall is the way to go. GIK offers such a broad variety of options, it is hard to keep up with. But Brian knows the line well and is an excellent guide when it comes to figuring out and setting up room treatment.'

As a testament, Brian/GIK helped set up at least one excellent room at the show (there may have been others), which we visited, the Odyssey Audio room, which in my assessment, was the best Soundstage and Imaging Room for AXPONA 2016.

Audio Expo North America (AXPONA) 2016 Show Report-img_20160416_101320.jpg
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post #7 of 29 Old 04-16-16, 11:09 AM
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Emotiva had their full complement of electronics, loudspeakers and monitors available to view, with a couple of demonstrations going on in a large conference room, divided into three parts.

I took a few moments to listen to their theater setup in the back, sans video, playing Pink Floyd "Dark Side of the Moon" in Dirac Research corrected surround. The effect was unlike that which I have ever heard before, so big and spacious was the sound, the center channel seemed to extend all the way to the left/right speakers with no audible '"holes" in the soundfield, a Dirac hallmark and powerful demonstration of it's ability to coalesce multi-channel sound, wiping away the audio equipment and room and seemingly transporting the listener to the event.

XMC-1 photo by Mark Henninger
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I stood next to Mark and had a listen as he inquired about one of his many interests, music production. I want a pair of Stealth 8 for computer monitors as a result, they are really just a do-everything-all-in-one type of monitor. Mark states: "I was immediately drawn to the active Airmotiv and Stealth 8 ($750/each) speaker demo. I’m a big fan of powered monitors and have often wondered what the Stealth 8 was capable of. My first encounter did not disappoint, I heard eminently competent speakers that did not need a subwoofer to tackle bass-heavy music like Daft Punk’s “Doin’ It Right.”
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Wayne's Comments

The Emotiva exhibit occupied one of the larger rooms at AXPONA, and they showcased all their product lines, including their powered monitors, which I have worked with and are gaining a footing in the studio industry as a real value in clean-sounding, flexible, near-field monitors. They also displayed their new line of DACs (I will be reviewing one soon).

Emotiva introduced two new lines of speakers for home theater, one powered and the other passive. Both make use of the folded-ribbon tweeter, the standard for all their speaker lines, a favorite tweeter type for me because of its low distortion, smooth response, and even dispersion pattern. I spent some time with the passive setup and enjoyed their performance. Emotiva has established itself solidly in the high-value and great-sound category of audio gear for home and home theater and two-channel.

We got a very good look at the insides of the XMC-1 preamp/processor with Dirac Live and the XPA Gen 3 7-channel power amp, and a great explanation of the flexibility and upgrade paths for both products. Options exist or are in the wings for a variety of channel types and power level and processing options, with ATMOS on the horizon. Emotiva’s strategy is to partner with customers and make those purchases upgradable for many years to come. "Rethink High End," is the company's motto. You can barely hear a product or category name that their products occupy, without doing exactly that. "This is the way it should be done," you find yourself thinking very quickly when looking at their product lines.

Their theater room, with Polk and SVS speakers and Dirac Live correction, allowed them to show their processing and amplification chops,

All product final build and test is done at their facility in Tennessee.

"I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit." - Bill Hicks
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post #8 of 29 Old 04-16-16, 11:42 AM
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PlanterSpeakers outdoor weatherproof potted plant loudspeakers.

Smaller inside loudspeakers are the Flagstone ($3500), Outside speakers are made from Reclaimed Wood (as yet unnamed, new model pricing is $5000).

Lots of fun to look at and listen too, great for the patio!


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"I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit." - Bill Hicks
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post #9 of 29 Old 04-16-16, 11:54 AM Thread Starter
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Legacy Audio








The Legacy V System, driven by Raven Audio Elite Series tube amps, gave the impression that moving air efficiently and accurately is super easy. The sweet spot was very tight, but setup issues in a hotel display room can give a manufacturer fits, so that can certainly vary.

Lyn Stanley's vocals from her Interludes album sounded superb and alive. Oscar Peterson's piano sparkled, although I almost enjoyed the sounds of his band mates' instruments more.

Three additional complete systems were on display and listening rotation.
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post #10 of 29 Old 04-16-16, 12:19 PM
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I only had a short amount of time to spend with the Classic Audio Loudspeakers, and after hearing them numerous times, this audition cemented my previously established preference of the T1.5 Reference as my favorite dynamic coil speaker. Playing Kenny Burrell "Satin Doll" on vinyl, horn players located hard left and right, nice and brassy, trap kit located toward the back wall right where you would expect. There is a lot to be said for horns and field effect coils.

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"I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit." - Bill Hicks
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