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AXPONA 2019 Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com

AXPONA 2019 Show Report -- Audio Expo North America
AXPONA 2019 Coverage By Rick Becker -- Part 1


   Unlike the Montreal 2019 show a month prior, the trip from Rochester to Chicago was uneventful. I simply got up in the morning and drove to Chicago, cutting through Ontario, Canada, to save some miles and tolls. Detouring through downtown Chicago in hopes of getting a glimpse of The Bean in the dark, I ended up winding my way through the west side out to Wheaton where I stayed with the kids and grandkids, a half-hour south of Schaumburg. After a bit of delay in obtaining my Press Pass the next morning, I made my way up to the 16th floor and went to work with a sense of urgency. It was clear that this was a much bigger show than even the New York shows in days of yore.


16th Floor



The T+A Talis S300 speaker ($13,900)were being driven by a rack full of T+A, Roon-ready electronics including the T+A turntable equipped with a T+A cartridge atop a Stillpoints rack sounded quite worthy of that honor. (Room 1609)



In room 1609 I immediately recognized the Codia Stage 3000 Diagon rack from Charisma Audio, which I reviewed, yet shown in titanium gold finish ($6700). This was easily the most luxurious and elegant equipment rack at the show for the audiophile who wants his rack to look as good as it sounds. I found it to be very effective. VAC Statement preamp and monoblocks powered Acora Acoustics speakers ($27,990) with actual granite stone cabinets and drivers that looked to be very expensive.




Also very interesting was the turntable with triple pulleys on the motor housing that gave the effect of a much larger pulley driving the platter. The tonearm was the Musiko from Charisma Audio ($2500), fitted with a Charisma Audio Signature 1 moving coil cartridge ($3800). Very good sound was heard here. Kudos to Valerio Cora of Acora Acoustics and Bernard Li of Charisma Audio.




At the end of the hall in 1604 was a pair of five-driver PureAudioProject tower speakers (sans crossovers) utilizing a full-range Voxativ driver in the center position, flanked by Morel woofers. This is a kit speaker that gives you a “hands-on” relationship with your audio system. Inside was a factory-built version of Pure Audio Project's Trio speaker that is an evolutionary version of the one I reviewed years ago. I didn't buy the review sample, as good as it was, because it was obvious this company was going to grow fast and even better models would be coming in the future. Well, the future is definitely now. Driven by 150-Watt Pass Labs monoblocks, the version of the Trio in the room with a full-range Voxativ driver ($8500) sounded really transparent and open in a way that, with few exceptions, only an open baffle design can. An Axiom II Walker passive line stage from Luminous Audio Technology was used. The crossovers were external, placed on the floor in the corners of the room. Good show, Ze'ev!




Next door, the Lone Star Audio room was not yet open, or giving a private showing. I faithfully doubled back later and grabbed a couple of shots of this very fine sounding room full of T+A gear, much of it on Critical Mass Systems platforms, as well as T+A line source speakers ($73,500). The M40 HV Anniversary Edition monoblocks ($59,000 per pair) looked especially interesting with what looked like tube cages protruding from the top. It featured an Aurender source and Synergistic Research power conditioning. It all looked expensive and sounded very good, but how can every room on this floor be a Best Room?

Snake River Audio is the maker of pure gold and pure silver cables used in Room 1615. The new Concerto 4 Gen2 speaker ($5495 @ show) from Sonist Audio with 97dB/W/m efficiency and solid poplar wood construction was driven by Bruce Moore Designs MX-90 monoblocks putting out 90 Watts in push-pull operation from four EL34 tube amps. The green stain on this pair of speakers really stood out, but there are options. ACE Computers supplied their PerfectBit AX/Ultimate media server ($10,000). Sorry, gentlemen, I missed the photo-op.



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