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Mark pretty much summed up the show: "Because we can." What a great time to be alive!
So true, Wayne. You really hit the nail on the head with some of the comments you made earlier in the day. All of this tech is amazing.

Great show report...really have enjoyed looking through all of the hard work you and Dennis have laid-out here. :T
 

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Discussion Starter #43
FINAL THOUGHTS:

Another great show. I left thinking about the state of the art and the kinds of advancement we are able to see at a show like this. Audiophile advancements come in many forms.

Great sounding value systems. My favorite 2-channel value system was in the Odyssey room, with GIK treatments, where audiophile quality could be had at a very reasonable price. A preamp, two monoblocks, and a fine pair of speakers, all for under $7,000, is nothing to scoff at.

Bigger and badder flagships. The MartinLogan Neolith was outstanding in its delivery of open, relaxed, natural sound. It would have shown better in a bigger room, but the two big curved panels delivered impressively clear sound of the type one would expect from a leader like MartinLogan. For the two-channel listener who has everything, including a large dedicated room, the big new hybrid electrostatics, along with the blue glow of the all-Macintosh front end and amplification, would be both a statement and a listening delight.

Vapor Audio also premiered a flagship, their Perfect Storm. And perfect was the word that kept coming to mind as I listened to the percussion and complex cymbals with unified impact and realism seldom heard from loudspeakers.

Technology integration that sounds fantastic. Dynaudio's second generation of WIFI-distributed tower speakers, including per-driver digital amplification and phase correction, makes setting up a system a breeze. Fewer pieces of gear, fewer wires, more flexibility, and amazing sound... sure seems like progress to me.

Stretching the limits of audibility. Some will claim that the limits of audibility are already exceeded by technology. While I would never presume to one who might stretch those limits, I have little doubt that listeners will appear who will, perhaps in coming generations who grow up with high-resolution audio playing crib-side.

More is better. A 27,000 watt movie surround system might seem like overkill, especially with 16,000 of those watts dedicated to subwoofers, but if inspiring awe is your goal, the Seaton Sound cinema demonstration was right on the mark.

Bigger, smoother, tighter, faster, cheaper, more beautiful, more natural, in a smaller package, easier to install, in a form that overcomes previous setup challenges, examples of all of these forms of progress were in glorious evidence in rooms throughout the show. In some cases you almost know by the company name that you will love what you hear, in other cases you walk into a room at random and get your socks blown off by a product or innovation you never heard of before. What a delightful way to spend a weekend.

"Because we can," as Mark Seaton put it, summing up the size and power of his massive cinema system, a show like AXPONA is largely about showing what we can do. The state of the art in audio recording and reproduction continues to move ahead at a steady pace. Onward and upward!
 

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Unfortunately I have 3 favorite rooms and it is hard to pick the very best. In the case of this system, the Sonus Faber "Stradivari", it had an incredible, soon to be discovered advantage. This system is not even close to the most expensive speaker, running at about $40,000. I thought I was hearing a little bit of heaven on earth. So beautiful, delicate yet powerful, invisible and as close to what I feel is real as I have ever heard at a show in the room pictured below. Yet what a treat I was in for when I was directed to the room next door which had the same equipment on display with one HUGE difference, namely room treatment. This treatment of absorbers and diffusers took a brilliant speaker to one that sits on the next level. I was ready to put my house up for collateral to obtain the whole system and room treatment. Brilliant I say.

 

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I must admit, I have a strange belief that if a manufacturer is at the show, they should bring their "A" game. By that I mean, everything should be as good as can be from the recording right on down to the transducer. As such, I have never understood why some very capable groups will display their wares with less than the very best, especially when it comes to the source. I cannot remember how many demos started with MP3's or just plain less than top notch recordings. This seemed to happen in the Emotiva room and I cannot imagine why. The music was Hotel California from a known bad recording as such, the sound in the room was not as good as it could be. I own Emotiva stuff and I love it and do not wish to part with it, it just always works. The crew used Polk Audio speakers, their own equipment including the hottest new processor on the market. I still love them and will not be swayed by one show. The are upright folks making some stunning equipment that can and oft times do touch the highest end.





 

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I have always liked British Speakers, they get the mid range right, it seems imbedded in their genes. Thus my affinity for B&W and Quad speakers. And not to be outdone by those companies, one of the more reasonably priced speakers that do the mid range so ravishingly well while at the same time disappearing from the room, is Harbeth. What an excellent product. This would be my favorite almost real world speaker system.

 

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Discussion Starter #48
Unfortunately I have 3 favorite rooms and it is hard to pick the very best. In the case of this system, the Sonus Faber "Stradivari"has a show advantage. This is not even close to the most expensive speaker at $40,000, I thought I was hearing a little bit of heaven on earth. So beautiful, delicate yet powerful, invisible and as close to what I feel is real as I have ever heard at a show in the room pictured below. Yet was a treat I was in for when I was directed to the room next door which had the same equipment on display with one HUGE difference, namely room treatment that took a brilliant speaker to one that sits on the next level. I was ready to put my house up for collateral to obtain the whole system and room treatment. Brilliant I say.
Unfortunately I missed that room. I know Dennis liked it, too. It is already on my RMAF list to see in October.

I must admit, I have a strange belief that if a manufacturer is at the show, they should bring their "A" game. By that I mean, everything should be as good as can be from the recording right on down to the transducer. As such, I have never understood why some very capable groups will display their wares with less than the very best, especially when it comes to the source. I cannot remember how many demos started with MP3's or just plain less than top notch recordings. This seemed to happen in the Emotiva room and I cannot imagine why. The music was Hotel California from a known bad recording as such, the sound in the room was not as good as it could be. I own Emotiva stuff and I love it and do not wish to part with it, it just always works. The crew used Polk Audio speakers, their own equipment including the hottest new processor on the market. I still love them and will not be swayed by one show. The are upright folks making some stunning equipment that can and oft times do touch the highest end.
"A" game, I could not agree more. My three areas of occasional disappointment were:
  • Poorly recorded source material. Tracks should be chosen that give something specific to listen for, good imaging, dynamic impact, inner detail, etc, not just some "old favorite" track.
  • Poor speaker setup. A number of rooms had me moving - forward, usually - to find the true sweet spot for soundstage and imaging. One room had been set up seemingly with no thought for them whatsoever. It took an effort to focus on other qualities, which were actually quite good.
  • Talking in the room. One pair of speakers I really wanted to hear was drowned out by talking in the room, so I left and never made it back. Once the rep himself asked if it was OK for him to continue his conversation. What was I to say?
I have always liked British Speakers, they get the mid range right, it seems imbedded in their genes. Thus my affinity for B&W and Quad speakers. And not to be outdone by those companies, one of the more reasonably priced speakers that do the mid range so ravishingly well while at the same time disappearing from the room, is Harbeth. What an excellent product. This would be my favorite almost real world speaker system.
It looks like a speaker I saw a year ago, although I cannot find a writeup about it. I was totally surprised, too, by this humble little speaker, which appeared to be set up all wrong in the room and sounded GREAT!
 

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To get off the best of show for a bit, I want to mention the Cabasse speakers, namely the system called "La Sphere" or as I seemed to think, a work of art to be sure. I did not ask the price but I knew I could not afford them. These speakers had a certain something that sounded quite good but in a limited frequency range. I did not hear much in the way of sound stage going on but maybe the players on the recorded media were afraid to get burned by all that equipment between the speakers. I need good sound staging so these speakers were not my cup of giant eyeballs.

 

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Discussion Starter #50
To get off the best of show for a bit, I want to mention the Cabasse speakers, namely the system called "La Sphere" or as I seemed to think, a work of art to be sure. I did not ask the price but I knew I could not afford them. These speakers had a certain something that sounded quite good but in a limited frequency range. I did not hear much in the way of sound stage going on but maybe the players on the recorded media were afraid to get burned by all that equipment between the speakers. I need good sound staging so these speakers were not my cup of giant eyeballs.
I heard good imaging from the La Sphere, lots of detail in it. The voicing / tonal balance was a strange choice. The soundstage, as you mention, was pretty non-remarkable, but setup and room might make a world of difference. And the visual aesthetic speaks for itself (someone obviously liked it). The price was $180,000 per pair. Probably not how I would spend my next paycheck, heh heh. But I can see it having its adherents.
 

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I heard good imaging from the La Sphere, lots of detail in it. The voicing / tonal balance was a strange choice. The soundstage, as you mention, was pretty non-remarkable, but setup and room might make a world of difference. And the visual aesthetic speaks for itself (someone obviously liked it). The price was $180,000 per pair. Probably not how I would spend my next paycheck, heh heh. But I can see it having its adherents.
Thank You for another opinion on these speakers. I would bet that we heard different recordings, but I am sure you are right, I did not have the best seat I am sure. Maybe if we pooled out funds, we could buy one speaker :T
 

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On to my second most favorite speaker and another one that sits just outside of my financial reach, but maybe used might be ok if I sell more blood every month.
Quad was more or less the original electrostatic speaker, designed by Peter Walker before many of us were born. (Not me of course). I have been a fan of these speakers since the I first heard them in the late 70's. Fast, clear, clean with spacial soundstaging I had not heard before. At this show, they were in a simple set up in the Mobile Fidelity room and were fed sweet vinyl sounds that MoFi is famous for. MoFi did bring their "A" game to this demonstration and I smiled most heartily.

Amplification by Balanced Audio Technologies



 

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Discussion Starter #53
Thank You for another opinion on these speakers. I would bet that we heard different recordings...
We did. I was able to play my own tracks.

...but I am sure you are right, I did not have the best seat I am sure.
Off-center seating made it difficult to hear the imaging capability.

Maybe if we pooled out funds, we could buy one speaker :T
Pass.
 

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No he is not doing anything but picking a tune from the computer....really

The little KEF speakers really played above their size, very well done Kef.

 

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Back to one of my favorites sub titled, the room with no speakers.

MBL consistently amazes me and this model is no exception. The speakers disappear into the room and leaves only performers on a stage. These little guys run full range and pelt out the jams, top to bottom with very little lacking. The MBL speakers that are one step up from these do a bit better, but frankly I would be happy with these. Not to be outdone, the electronics powering the speakers was stunningly well done.



 

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A kind of a cheater favorite in that while listening I was floored by the amount of bottom end coming out of these big guys only to find that the big black box in back was a hidden subwoofer. Yikes.
Never the less, these Magicos were very will done and provided a very pleasing sound, yet not the best of show.
 

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I really liked the sound of these ZU Audio speakers, not too hot, not too cold, for me just right. They are really the antithesis of what I thought I would hear based on their construction. King Crimson was bloody exciting here.

 

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With only 25 hours on the speakers, these Wilson Audio babies powered by Doshi equipment were really good. I found a bit of hardness in the vocal range but I think the newness as well as room issues were the big factors here. A must hear if you ever get the chance.

 

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The slightly larger Wilson Audio speakers powered by the ex Krell head, Dan Daugustino electronics proved to be a force to be reckoned with. Well done boys.

 

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..and of course, last but by no means least, one of the finest presentations in the hotel. Martin Logan and Macintosh togeter again. These companies danced so well as to be able to name this room, one of the best three of the show.

 
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