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Discussion Starter #21 (Edited)
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:

No code has to be inserted here.

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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Discussion Starter #22 (Edited)
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:

No code has to be inserted here.


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.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
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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Discussion Starter #24
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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Discussion Starter #25 (Edited)
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 :R) 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.
 

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Discussion Starter #26
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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Discussion Starter #27 (Edited)
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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Discussion Starter #28
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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Discussion Starter #29 (Edited)
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:

No code has to be inserted here.


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. :unbelievable:

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!
 

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Discussion Starter #30
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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Discussion Starter #31 (Edited)
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 :

No code has to be inserted here.

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.
 

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Discussion Starter #32 (Edited)
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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Discussion Starter #33
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:

No code has to be inserted here.

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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Discussion Starter #34 (Edited)
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.
 

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Discussion Starter #35 (Edited)
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:

No code has to be inserted here.



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.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
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:

No code has to be inserted here.


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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Discussion Starter #37
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:

No code has to be inserted here.


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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Discussion Starter #38 (Edited)
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.
 

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Discussion Starter #39
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:

No code has to be inserted here.

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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Discussion Starter #40
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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