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AXPONA 2022 Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com


Rick Becker's AXPONA 2022 Chronicles
Floors 15 And 16 Of AXPONA 2022
AXPONA 2022 Show Report By Rick Becker



15th Floor
Lone Mountain Audio presented ATC SCM40 passive speakers in white ($8k) driven by their CDA2 Mk II analog preamp / DAC / CD player ($5k) and P2 300 Watts/ch power amp ($5k). Something called a Perfect-Bit AX server ($tbd) along with Mutec master clock and anti-jitter reclocker helped out at the front end.



There was a comparison with a new Sound Anchors speaker stand with a standard metal stand that I couldn't get a grip on (which is not unusual under show conditions.)





MBL put up two systems at AXPONA. The larger one comes close to $300k (plus the Wireworld Eclipse, Series 8 cabling) if the large 9011 monoblocks were indeed $60k each, rather than $60k per pair. This is the traditional high-end territory for mbl with large, separate components such as the 1621A CD transport ($31.5k) and 1611F DAC ($32.5k). And the omni-directional sound here once again falls into the Best Rooms category with its inviting ability to allow people throughout the room to enjoy high-quality music reproduction without having to be in a coveted listening chair. Pure, traditional approach here with large, heavy, and expensive components.



Their second system, while also top-shelf in quality and with a similar acoustic signature, addresses the need for people with less space, a desire for less equipment, and perhaps those with less money. This rig comes in a touch over $50k plus fewer of the Wireworld Eclipse, Series 8 cables. The N31 CD-DAC ($17.4k) handles PCM and DSD playback as well as having selectable digital filters. The N51 integrated amp ($19.9k) is likewise a pretty traditional configuration.

The black and gold theme of their gear projects an image of wealth and tradition and appeals to those with traditional, conservative values. The SRA (Silent Running Audio) audio stand, as good as it may be, looked too informal for the upscale design of the mbl gear. While I find the mbl omni-directional presentation particularly appealing for classical music, one of the most outstanding presentations of any show I've attended was an mbl room pumping out a recording of a Rolling Stones live concert at near concert-level volume with a much larger rig than shown here.



The Valorem Audio ported monitor shown here had a very nice sound driven by a Jadis DA50S tube-powered integrated amp putting out 30 watts in Class A. A Marantz SA-10 CD/SACD player was the front end with Wireworld cables and SolidSteel rack and speaker stands. The front and rear baffles were made from solid wood and the other sides and top were covered in real leather, giving it a very rich look. The price was $8400/pr. They played a curated compilation CD to show off the speaker to the best advantage.




Jeff Joseph of Joseph Audio fame put together a very fine-sounding room featuring his Pearl Graphene speakers ($44k) in a very rich veneer that escaped my camera in the subdued light. A pair of Doshi Evolution monoblocks with Russian KT150 tubes (also $44k/pr) was preceded by a Doshi Evolution preamp, phono stage, and tape stage (to amplify the low signal coming off the tape heads of the reel-to-reel deck.) The J. Sikora turntable ($20k) and tonearm ($8500) from Poland seem to be gaining popularity in the show circuit. The turntable will jump $1k and the tonearm $500 in price at the end of May.




The cartridges were a Lyra Etna SL ($10k) and Benz LP-S ($6k) Cabling was Cardas Clear Beyond, as Jeff has been using for a while now. An Aurender A20 Server/DAC ($14k) was listed as being in the room, but I didn't notice it. This was a small room for such a big and popular rig. I didn't get a chance to sit down here, but it was obviously (and typically) a Best Rooms selection.



Aretai showed a small two-way monitor ($7500) that was driven by Benchmark electronics. My video notes mention two much larger and much more expensive floorstanding models that some of you might have heard if you were there.



Last, but certainly not least, on the 15th Floor was the Bending Wave USA room in the very long Club Lounge. Bending Wave is the exclusive U.S. distributor for Gobel High End speakers from Germany, as well as a distributor for Halcro Electronics from Australia and an authorized dealer for CH Precision, WADAX, and Esoteric brands. This room was superbly set up with the ultra-high-end Gobel Divin Marquis, which is the smallest speaker in this series at $85k. Larger models have been shown here in previous years and I can tell you the Devine Marquis is far less imposing, yet no less musical than its larger brethren (seen on the banner in the background), even in this large room.





There was great synergy with the CH Precision amplification which can be on the dry, sterile side with other speakers and cables. And the WADAX is an acknowledged state-of-the-art (as well as State of the Pocketbook) digital front end. The Divin Marquis features an AMT tweeter, 92dB/W/m sensitivity, and 4 Ohm impedance that might also tempt one to try formidable tube amplification. I regret that I didn't enquire about the source of the very fine-looking wood equipment rack in use here. Everything here combined to make this one of the very Best Rooms at the show.



That's it for the 15th Floor. I'll resume the AXPONA Chronicles on the 14th Floor soon.




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