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AXPONA 2022 Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com

A Music Professor's Guide To AXPONA 2022
Audio Expo North America 2022 Show Report
Show Report By Dr. Michael Bump


AXPONA 2022 Show Report -- Audio Expo North America 2022 Show Report By Dr. Michael Bump


  Although I did not partake this year in the EarGear Expo, it should be noted that it was exceptionally busy during my walk-through on Friday, with a plethora of companies and designs represented with easy accessibility to both audition and education from knowledgeable representatives.



Reflecting on the "big" rooms, the most memorable for me and personally crowned finest sound of the show would have to be from The Audio Company team in the Euphoria room. In recent years, this multi-Best of Show gathering of state-of-the-art designs has been the stuff of audio dreams, establishing 'the' reference and point of conversation for many an audiophile. Usually anchored by the amazing Von Schweikert Audio ULTRA 11 loudspeakers, this year's system featured the second show introduction of the new ULTRA 7 ($180,000). Power was served up via four (two per channel) VAC Statement 452 iQMusicblock amplifiers ($150,000/pr), managed by VAC Statement Linestage and Phono preamps.



Sources included the Kronos Pro table ($51,000), SCPS-1 Super Capacitor power supply ($15,000), supported by a Kronos Black Beauty arm ($11,500) / Hana Umami Red mc cart ($3,950), with a combo of Esoteric K1 Grandioso ($31,000), N-01XD/DAC / streamer/renderer ($20,000), G-01 clock ($20,000) and Aurender W20SE server ($22,000) representing the digital side. All components connected via a full loom of MasterBuilt Audio Ultra cables. All received absolute isolation resting on the incredible Critical Mass Systems Maxxum equipment racks.




It should be noted that the smaller footprint VSA Endeavor Special Edition speakers ($25,000) were also present (new review within Enjoy the Music.com's May 2022 edition) and swapped out on a few occasions with the Ultra 7. All-in-all, a beautiful example of careful, meticulous thought in mating each audio piece to bring forth an unparalleled amalgam of realism. Many thanks to The Audio Company team for consistently providing this experience to the AXPONA community.



Day 2
Saturday was a full touring day. Picking up on the 3rd floor and covering most rooms up to the 16th, here are rooms which, for me, really stood out:



The High Water Sound room (Room 594) had two premieres that I felt had the room's spotlight: The new TW Acustic Raven LS 3-motor table ($24,000) and the German Cessaro Opus One speakers ($45,000). The Raven was set up with two 12" TW Acustic arms, one carrying a Stein Music Aventurin 6 mc cart ($6,500), the other with a Miyajami Infinity mono cart ($3,500). The Cessaro Opus-One are two-way with a beryllium diaphragm horn driver resting at the top.

Rounding out the system was an all-TW Acustic supporting cast – a pair of 300B SE monoblock amps ($18,000/pr), the RLS-100 line stage ($20,000), RPS-100 phono stage ($20,000), Stein cabling, and Codia Acoustic Design 2 Stage 5000s equipment racks ($9,500 ea). Clarity in spades, a dead quiet noise floor, a surreal stage and source placement, and a sense of tactile realism that only a few other rooms equaled or bettered.



One of the most intriguing smaller rooms (Room 458) was hosted by Worldwide Wholesales USA (Robert Do, President), featuring a number of debut designs from the Cyprus company, Aries Cerat. The new passive/active Aurora Reference horns ($105,000 base/$137,500 as-shown w/ super midrange & crossover upgrades) took center stage (serial #1), driven by a full complement of Aries Cerat power, including the Ianus series Essentia single-ended/single-stage, monos ($50,000/pr) and two-chassis IanusAgeto Ref preamp ($72,000), employing what is termed "TriodeFet" technology. TriodeFet is not a hybrid topology, but rather similar to a three-terminal active element (like Mosfet or a triode), scaled in Amperes and not milliamperes, allowing for circuit designs never before possible with either tubes or transistors.

The Kassandra II Ref DAC ($27,000) paired with the premiering Pink Faun 2.16 Ultra Music server ($30,000), handled front-end digit duty. In-Akustik linked everything together with their new pure silver cabling, coupled with the 4500P Signature Edition ($5,500) conditioning the hotel room power. The Auroras seem to function as an open-baffle design, with an adjustable ribbon tweeter and four 12" short-throw woofers arranged in an "X" pattern around a massive driver at the base of the horn. The outboard crossover chassis allows it to be completely configurable to adjust slope, frequency, amplitude, etc.

The eye candy aside, the music emanating from this system was incredibly transparent, full-bodied, and tantalizingly crisp. The soundstage seemed to go well beyond the room size, side-side, and front-back. It would have been preferable to experience this system in a larger space, but it was a surprisingly successful experiment to hear it in this (very) small room.



Those who know audio, know of Siegfried Linkwitz and his profound contributions and theoretical concepts. Perhaps best known for the Linkwitz-Riley crossover alignment, his writings, experiments, and applications regarding the correlation between live musical performance and the authentic replication of such in recordings are equally far-reaching and innovative (The reader is referred to the following informative reading here. His research into and application of psychoacoustics is far-reaching (as were similar observations and innovations brought forth by Albert Von Schweikert). Before his passing in 2018, Siegried Linkwitz handed the torch of his work and company to speaker designer, Frank Brenner, who today continues the Linkwitz Lab work and intent.



The company offers DIY speaker kits, fully-assembled (turn-key) speakers, NCore precision analog amplification, as well as a full array of cables, plugs, drivers, power supplies, and other accessory parts for the DIY'er, available online via Linkwitz or Madisound. Room 725 featured a complete LX521 system consisting of the LX521.4 full-range open baffle dipole speaker ($19,900 to $22,900 depending on wood finish) as many may recall the Orion which this improves upon in every direction as well as a 10-channel NCore analog signal path PowerBox amplifier ($2,800). Admittedly, the speaker's appearance isn't for everyone, but the sound was undeniable.

An amazingly holographic and transparent sound, projecting a stage that went well beyond the walls, perfectly placed instrumental and vocal sources, done so with tonal and timbral authenticity. Lower frequencies were somewhat undefined and a bit too soft for my tastes. I found it particularly interesting that no room treatments were used, and yet it still sounded this good!




---> Next Page Of Dr. Michael Bump's AXPONA 2022 show report.
























































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