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AXPONA 2022 Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com

AXPONA 2022 Show Report
Third Floor Thrills At Audio Expo North America 2022
Show Report By Rick Becker



  Madisound is known for its expertise in DIY speaker kits and they had a room full of drivers on display. What caught my eye was the Linkwitz mid-range/tweeter assembly that I had seen in the Linkwitz presentation in room 725, which was awarded one of the Best Rooms at AXPONA 2022. Madisound sells the drivers as a kit for the entire speaker, including woofers, at a reduced price. They also sell the plans, and even the flat-packed cabinetry (although the latter is currently out of stock.)

I returned to speak with Dr. Frank Brenner about the arrangement with Madisound. He assured me that the wiring, the drivers, and the crossover/amplification provided in his completed speaker surpassed the performance of the Madisound kit. It is well known that manufacturers often tweak the off-the-shelf drivers they use. Still, for a whole lot less, I suspect you can come reasonably close with the Madisound kit if you have sufficient speaker-building skills. In reviewing the Linkwitz photos on the 7th Floor, I realized the open baffle woofer configuration is becoming increasingly recognized by premium speaker builders.




The Malbork speakers follow a long tradition of mounting individual drivers in separate cabinets, infused with a sense of artistic design, more or less. The Malbork speaker falls on the "more" side of artistic design and while they see their vision relating to modern architecture, I see it following in the Cubist tradition even though the modules are designed to overcome the shortcomings of traditional rectangular-shaped boxes. They have done their homework and achieved very decent music reproduction. I didn't catch the price here, but it will be considerably less than an original cubist painting. Nonetheless, you will have to be a person who appreciates fine sculpture as much, if not more than you appreciate fine music reproduction.

The tall mirrors angled in the corner where one might typically put a diffuser or absorber accentuated the design of the speaker. I'd keep the mirrors if they didn't do much damage to the music. It's always refreshing to find a designer willing to step beyond the expected. And who knows, in a few years this might be worth as much as a Duchamp painting, or an Albert Paley sculpture. The speaker was powered by a Moon amplifier. Another influencer seemed to be making a recording, so there might be a YouTube of this speaker online.



Paradigm is another popular brand that ranges from mid-fi to the high-end, so it is never surprising that their room is packed with little movement in or out. I was able to get into the entryway to snap a photo and experience some deep bass from a Chinese drum that sounded like it was coming from a much larger room. I believe the electronics were from their sister company, Anthem. This was the second recent show that I've heard the Paradigm speakers from their Founder series (just below the flagship Persona series) sounding quite good. And while they are not likely to present them in rooms with higher-end electronics, it would be interesting to hear how really good they might be. This may have been the Founder 120H model that features an active bass driver ($8500), which would explain the Chinese drums sounding so tight.





There was excellent music in the Esoteric room coming through what looked to be Raidho TD3.2 speakers with everything connected with AudioQuest cables. All of the gear on the rack has been out for a couple of years now and they will have new models being introduced over the coming year. To that effect, they had a prototype of their new preamp/DAC/streamer/headphone amp that will be coming out this year. Unfortunately placing it on a lightbox made it difficult to photograph. I'll be watching for it at shows this fall when this Best Room may get even "Bester".




The last room on the 3rd floor was the Mytek room (though have heard there are very long shipping delays with their gear, so check online / with others before purchase). On top of the rack was the Empire DAC/Streamer/Preamplifier, the flagship of the new "Empire" Series with 32-bit/768kHz PCM, DSD512, and proprietary lossy compressed MQA. Their website forewarns: Mytek Digital enters the "cost no object" digital arena. And the bottom shelf has the new  Empire Monoblock Amplifiers which were easily driving the Wilson Sasha DAW speakers. The rack was Solidsteel and the cables were Transparent Ultra speaker cables. On the side table was a Mytek Liberty Dac II and a Brooklyn Amp+ Class D amp…designed in Brooklyn, naturally.


That's it for the 3rd floor. Next, I tackle the big rooms on the 2nd floor over in the Convention Center side of the complex. Check back in a few days.




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