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AXPONA 2023 Luxury Premium Audio And Hi-Fi Stereo Audiophile Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com

The AXPONA 2023 Chronicles: Part 7
Many very exciting 6th floor sound systems at AXPONA.
Audio Expo North America 2023 Show Report By Rick Becker

 

The AXPONA 2023 Chronicles: Part 7 Many very exciting 6th floor sound systems at AXPONA. Audio Expo North America 2023 Show Report By Rick Becker

 

  Continuing along around mid-day on Saturday...

 

Wathen Audiophile
I met Don Thomas of Wathen Audiophile out of Houston, Texas, who presented two completely different speakers in a rig that drew considerable attention from people who ventured into this room. Wathen is not a household name in the high-end... yet. The speakers were powered by Decware amps, 20 Wpc on the left and a 6 Wpc amp on the right, which the guy was photographing. These are rarely seen at shows and the production wait list is backed up to the time you will retire.

 

 

The aluminum speaker ($9400) was an open baffle design with 95dB/W/m sensitivity and it was sounding very good powered by the 6-Watt tube amp. The small cube speaker with a full-range driver was $1650 and also sounded very good. I'm a big fan of open baffle speakers and this one sounded right up there with the more well-known brands and appeared to be a good value. Size, styling, and sound will determine the success here and this one checks all three boxes.

 

 

With the crossover mounted on the bottom plate, the wiring was neat and tidy... at least until the rectangular black strip holding the wire to the air-motion driver fell off. Note the cooling fins on the motors of the woofers. The air-motion-driver runs from about 900Hz to 1kHz, on up. The upper woofer takes over at that point, and the lower woofer comes in at about 120Hz. Tonal balance seemed good, judging from my short visit.

 

 

The Decware 20 Wpc amp was used to power the less efficient cube speaker with the full-range driver.

 

 

Triangle Art
The Triangle Art room had a very familiar look. New products were introduced at Capital Audiofest 2022. The speakers ($60k) with the large wooden horns can fill a much larger room with beautiful music. Triangle turntables run from $9k for the Maestro to $48k for the Master Reference... or even higher if you want the one on the banner. Tonearms were listed at $9k and $4.4k with Triangle cartridges at about those same prices.

 

 

Amps ranged from $18k for the tube phono stage to $50k for monoblocks. This was the first time I noticed Triangle offers the RA Ultimate AC power filter ($11.9k). Interconnects and power cords were $3k and speaker cables were $6k. They do it all and it sounded gorgeous!

 

 

Esoteric
This was a strange pair of bedfellows. More and more people have been presenting Klipschorns pulled out from the corners and treating them as typical speakers with surprisingly good results, as I witnessed here.

 

 

Stevie Ray Vaughn was doing "Tin Pan Alley" when I visited, so you know the dynamics were explosive. And tonality was quite decent, displaying very little horn coloration. I loved the resolution, transparency, and dynamics. It gave the Avantgarde speakers a real run for their money, at least sonically.

 

 

On the rack, starting from the top, was a TEAC TN5BB turntable ($1800) with an exclusive SAEC tonearm TEAC being the sister (or mother?) company of Esoteric. Below that was the Esoteric E-02 fully balanced phono preamp ($9,500). That was followed by the N-05XD Network DAC / Linestage Preamp / Headphone amplifier ($11k). Next was the K-05XD SACD/CD Player/DAC ($12k). And at the bottom was the S-05 Class A Stereo power amp ($12.5k).

The cabling was by Audioquest so it was no surprise to see an Audioquest power conditioner peeking out to the left of the Lateral Audio stand. I was surprised to learn Lateral is a British company.                                                                  

 

 

 

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