AXPONA 2019 Show Report --
Audio Expo North America
In the first of two Tenacious Sound rooms they had the world's first active display of the Eggleston Works Kiva speaker, $14,995/pr +$500 for custom Porsche Albert Blue finish, driven by a Coda Technologies CSiB, v2 integrated amplifier operating in Class A for the first 12 Watts and Class AB thereafter up to a rated 250Wpc. At $6200 this was a very handsome beast. As it was, a second rig was playing when I visited starring EgglestonWorks Nico Evo loudspeakers ($4295/pr +$495 for matching stands) in a world premiere driven by a Primare I35 Integrated amplifier w/streaming DAC at $4995. Digital sound coming from a Wolf Audio Systems Luna Music Server ($3600) sounded typically digital, leaving me wishing they had activated the very handsome Wand turntable with a fat carbon fiber tonearm sitting at the top of the rack.
I Googled "Wand Turntable" and came up with a whole lot of data on the table and arm. If you're at all interested in turntables, or looking for a new arm, check this out. I vaguely recall seeing this at RMAF and David Cope of Old Forge Distribution who imports this told me there's has a video segment of this on YouTube documenting a visit to his space. I predict this will become a classic — from just reading the data. It was fitted with a MoFi cartridge and I noted that the front extending point of the cannoli shaped arm acts as the tonearm lift. Note the metal plate for attaching the cartridge. This is a very well-thought out turntable with lots of options, including a separate stand for a second tonearm.
This room (1225, which wasn't identified in the list in the show program) featured a Dr. Feikert Woodpecker turntable with a white top and wood veneer wrapping on the sides — a very sharp and contemporary looking alternative to their usual black look. The turntable was supplemented with a Wolf Alpha 3 music server ($7100). Below that was a topless Coda preamp sitting atop a Coda phono stage. The gloss black speaker was a new TADEvolution E1tx loudspeakers ($27,995) with coaxial driver above two woofers. What looked, at first, like side-firing drivers on each side, were really covered ports, much like what appeared on the TAD Micro Evolution One monitors, except they were round. The power amp on the floor between the speakers was a world premiere of the CODA Technologies Model 8, v2 power amplifier at $6,200. The Tenacious Sound (from Syracuse, NY and Augusta, GA) website has an accurate list of the components in their two rooms, with prices.
Sometimes you come across something far out in left field at shows. This BMS monitor was just such an item. Coming from a German company that has been in business since 1994, making high quality transducers for other companies as an OEM supplier, this speaker houses a coaxial driver with a ring radiator tweeter crossing over at 1200Hz. The separate subwoofer seen on the floor kicks in at 200Hz. Price is $3250 for the sub-sat combo finished in a durable textured finish that seemed to target the pro-audio world. Almost as an afterthought, the host clued me in to the back of the monitor which revealed that they are powered with DSP and have knobs for input gain and presence. Inputs are balanced only on what appears to be model PDA281P. The sound was quite respectable during my short visit here.
Muzen Audio rules with this tiny portable FM radio ($135) that makes you feel like a kid again — a last minute addition to the show in 1229.
Or perhaps you need a table radio for your kitchen? Again, from Muzen, a $599 veritable time machine.
And soon to be released, "The unexpected surprise" Muzen Button Bluetooth speakers.
Audio Note took command of room 1230 with their AN-E speakers ($8160+) angled in the corner where they are supposed to be placed. Less often seen in an Audio Note room was a turntable at the front end, in this case their TT3 starting at $7735, not including the arm. The TT3 is a suspended turntable with a three-point suspension and three motors driving the platter. Lots of technology here from a company that makes everything in-house, from the cartridge to the drivers in the loudspeakers. The drive belt on this table looked wide enough to hold up my pants. Vincent Belanger, the musician spokesman for the company was on hand for live vs. recorded demos, as well as selling of his two LPs produced under the Audio Note label. We passed in the hall once, but the show is so big, that was the last I saw of him. Very good, inviting and warm sound in this room, as always.
My wish from the Montreal show appeared in the Muraudio room (1231, not in the show directory) where they were playing their newest model, the SP1. (The didn't even bring their larger and much more expensive Omni PX2.) The electrostatic hybrid with four dynamic drivers, each pair of 6" woofers in their own sealed compartment, effectively reaches down to 35Hz in room due to the gentle roll-off of the sealed woofer cabinets. While they have a nominal impedance of 8 Ohms, they have a lowest impedance of 2 Ohms @ 20Hz. This suggests a strong amplifier such as the Hegel integrated they were using, at least the H360 with 250 Wpc and a damping factor of 4000, though I wonder if a strong tube amp might sound even better. The sound felt very transparent, immediate and full range. Still, I wonder how they would mate with a fast pair of subwoofers to take them down to a real 20 Hz. At $14,700 for a top shelf speaker like these, several thousand more for a good sub or two could be a worthwhile adventure. Since the SP1 are bi-polar with 120-degree horizontal dispersion and have a dead zone at their sides, they can be placed close to the side walls without destroying the wide soundstage they project. It is easy to call this one of the Best Rooms at the show, perhaps at the peril of their other, more expensive models.