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AXPONA 2022 Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com


Rick Becker's AXPONA 2022 Chronicles
Rick's 7th Floor Exploration At AXPONA 2022.
AXPONA 2022 Show Report By Rick Becker


Rick Becker's AXPONA 2022 Chronicles Rick's 7th Floor Exploration Of AXPONA Show Report


  The first Upscale Distribution room piqued my interest with an inside look at the Sbooster, a "linear toroidal power supply with heavy shielding and noise filtration." These typically replace OEM wall warts and they come with a variety of connectors for the DC end going into your component. My DIY replacement of just the DC power cord coming from the upgraded power supply to my Calyx 24/192 DAC proved to me how critically important an external power supply can be. My new Charisma Audio Musiko turntable comes with a small switch-mode power supply so a review sample of a Sbooster seems like a golden opportunity. They are available in a variety of voltages for almost any component and range in price from $399 to $514.



Equally intriguing was this miniature Tannoy corner horn, specifically designed for songbirds with a ported entry at the rear. Order a handful and hang them around your yard for a complete wireless surround sound serenade.



More gorgeous than ever was the Pathos Acoustics Inpol Remix Mk II hybrid integrated amplifier, a pure Class A design with 6922 input tubes. It is seen here with an optional matte Zebrawood veneer. Alas, Pathos has not taken my suggestion to reverse the heat sink on the right side so their name reads correctly without having to use a mirror. The amp starts at $5395 in matte black; add $500 for optional finishes, and another $675 if you would like a DAC included.



One of Cabasse's top-selling models is this Pearl wireless active ultra-compact 2.1 system. It's not inexpensive at $3000, but you won't have to buy a bigger desk for your home office. Kevin Deal should be punished for having so much good gear only on silent display.



In the second Upscale Distribution room was this larger swank Cabasse monitor. It reminded me of an even larger Cabasse speaker, about 1m in diameter on a shorter stand, that I saw at Montreal years ago, tri-amplified by Bel Canto monoblocks in a very large room. The Pelegrinas (Cabasse's flagship model) shown here ($30k) was just as impressive and more applicable to normal-size rooms. Lots of resolution and air coming from this point-source coaxial design. A small component off to the side accepts multiple sources and the power amps reside in the balls. The Pelegrinas is unobtrusive in size, though not visually inconspicuous. Aside from the visual presence of the speaker, sonically the speakers disappear — the music just hangs in the air. Given the forward-facing coaxial drivers, you do not notice them moving, unlike the Devialet with their woofers visibly pulsating on their sides.



I met Bruce Jacobs of Stillpoints at several points in the show and was very impressed with his room where they premiered their new ESS Ultra stand that combined their Rail Grids with Ultra 7 and Ultra 6 footers on each of the five levels. A special shelf for turntables did not arrive in time for the show, so they went with a Wolf Alpha SX server ($10.5k). The ESS rack itself was $65k. Yes, I had to ask him twice to verify the price.

A Bricasti M1 SE Mdx DAC ($10k) fed the Viola Audio Labs Sonata two-chassis preamp ($33.8k). A Viola Cadence amp ($35k) drove Rockport Technologies Atria II speakers sitting on Stillpoints Ultra 7 footers for a cost of nearly $38k. There was a Stillpoints Component Stand with Ultra 6 footers (~$6k) and eight Stillpoints Apertures — 2' square room treatment/tuners that can be used on stands out in the room or mounted on a wall. Madison Audio Labs Eclipse AG XLR interconnects and speaker cables tied it all together. Telos, a company Stillpoints imports, provided the QRC line conditioner ($13.2k) and AC cables ($3200). A Shunyata Research Sigma USB cable ($2k) connected to the DAC. I went into the pricing here because the system totaled out close to $247k, far more than it looked at first glance and far more than probably should have been squeezed into this size room. The sound here was very good and also somewhat familiar given my Kharma speakers are close in signature to the Rockport Atria II. It also screamed for a larger room.



Most intriguing was this little antenna-like doobie that plugs in between the power cord and (in this case) the Wolf server. Covid has wiped out my recollection of what Bruce told me about it, but I suspect it is somewhat like the Grounding Devices I've used from Audio Sensibility, though the Stillpoints here has multiple ‘antennae' and looks very durable.



I've seen and experienced the effect of the Stillpoints Aperture squares before and they can be quite effective, particularly on stands placed in front and slightly outside the speakers. In this small room they placed them as shown here, and in the corner behind the speakers, plus two others I didn't notice.




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