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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

 

 

Stereo Haven
Stereo Haven is a destination retailer from Edwardsville, IL, four hours south of Chicago, northwest of Nashville, and east of Kansas City. Consequently, Charlie Schnyder works by appointment only.

 

 

The Well Tempered Lab turntables are the ingenious contributions of William Firebaugh and incorporate perhaps the most unique tonearm in the industry. You need to investigate his website. They make numerous models and hit a range of price points. The Amadeus 254 GT ($8,750, including tonearm) has a two-part plinth, each comprised of a layer of Baltic birch plywood and aluminum. The two parts are separated by squash balls for damping and isolation.

The arm tube is filled with special sand to quell vibrations and a golf ball is partially suspended in high-viscosity silicone replacing the typical arm bearing. I could go on. The small black component on the shelf below is the speed controller for the DC motor that allows switching between 33 and 45 rpm. Well Tempered has long been manufactured in China. The cartridge was a Dynavector DRT XV-1t ($9,750).

 

 

The amp on the floor to the left of the Lateral Cadenz rack ($2400) was a Jadis DA88 integrated amp ($17,700). On the lower half of the rack was a Jadis JPS3 phono stage ($17,700), presumably with a separate power supply. Cabling here was a combination of Auditorium A23 and Luna.

 

 

The music here sounded so good and intrigued me so much that I photographed the album cover to remind me to buy a copy.

 

 

Aurender
Aurender hosted a couple of rooms. The first was a silent display of all their products where I found a lot of people studying their lineup.

 

 

 

Aurender
Their second room was just as lively; this time with music streaming from the new Aurender AP20 ($22k).

 

 

The AP20 was an integrated amp as well as a streamer & DAC just add speakers, which they did in the form of the Wilson Sabrina. Power conditioning was through the Shunyata Everest seen to the left of the HRS equipment rack.

 

 

While $22k may seem like a lot, this is an all-in-one (except phono) with analog and digital inputs, headphone output, master clock input for the built-in DAC, 200 Wpc into 8 Ohms, 350 Wpc into 4 Ohms. It is a small wonder that it is already sold out... or that I spotted Kevin and Sean Kim of HiFi Rose checking out the Aurender gear in the previous room. For anyone looking to simplify their rig and be content with streaming, this looks to be the game to beat. Neil Young from Live at Massey Hall was sounding pretty good here, even at 16-bit/44.1kHz.

 

 

Robert Do
I believe Robert Do is a mortgage broker in northern California with a passion for high-end audio. Last year the rig was comprised almost entirely of gear from Aries Cerat that unfortunately should have been in a much larger room to do the large speakers justice.

 

 

This year the room was still relatively small for the rig, but it presented much better. A Pink Faun 2.16 Ultra streamer ($32.7k) was the source, feeding an Aries Cerat Ithaka DAC ($84k). Then, into an Aries Cerat Ageto preamp ($84k) and on to an Aries Cerat Quintessence amplifier ($84k).

 

 

I loved the look of this piece, though I'm not sure it is anything but a sign. It's not listed on their website, but perhaps it is a new introduction. Color me spoofed.

 

 

This is what the Ithaka R2R DAC looks like inside one of its chassis. The other chassis is the power supply.

 

 

I am normally not a fan of Wilson Benesch speakers with exposed baskets and motors but the ACT 3Zero model shown here ($54k, plus $4k for the wood finish) looked a lot more finished with gold plating on the back plate of the two woofers. I'd like to say the system sounded fantastic, but an annoying conversation precluded an accurate evaluation. One guy was telling another all about his wonderful rig and as some of us know, if you're doing the talking, you're not learning anything.

There was a second room attributed to Robert Do, but I have no photos or video notes of it.

 

 

 

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