AXPONA 2023 Was Bigger, Better, And Bolder
The message containing the official attendance for this year's edition of AXPONA (Audio Expo North America) landed in my Inbox Wednesday, April 19th, at 3:35 pm. Coincidentally, that was just about the same time that Audio Group Denmark's Peter Hansen and I had decided to take a cigar break. Peter had swung by my place with a pair of the new Børresen X3 loudspeakers and an assortment of their Ansuz Noise reduction gear... but that is another story.
It was while Peter and I were herfing that I received the email from Liz Miller, VP and Event Director of JD Events, sharing the news that a record 9,115 attendees had assaulted the beautiful Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center and Hotel for this year's event, held April 14th through 16th. Not only did this confirm a twenty percent increase in attendance over last year's event, the first AXPONA to be held in the post-CV lockdown era, but verified it as the largest AXPONA yet. With 12 floors of exhibitors, 200 Listening Rooms, over 500 brands, and with claims of hundreds of product debuts, it was not only the most well-attended, biggest, and most successful AXPONA to date, it was even more unlikely to be comprehensively covered than any previous AXPONA.
Now, as ridiculously large and well-planned as this event was – thank you Liz and the JD Events team! – I was shocked to find that many exhibitors, even ones that should be well enough acquainted with the show circuit and how it works, showed up with neither a printed list nor a QR Code to scan containing all the details on the gear, including brand, model, and price, in play in their room/s. Why would that be an issue? It's really quite simple.
First, in a show of this size, we, as working journalists, simply don't have the time to take down such routine details, especially when so many exhibitors have eagerly adopted this process to save us both the limited resource of the time it takes and the enormous potential it permits for errors, such as mishearing and/or mistakenly writing down a product name, model, or price. Or in some cases, even being given the wrong information by the room representative, for any number of reasons such as being too busy, a slip of the tongue, mistakenly recalling a name, model, or price, etc., for something so essential to covering any room. What was worse was that several of them, with confronted with their shortcomings, either didn't offer or flat-out refused, to text or email those details to me!
So I offer this note of understanding to any and all show exhibitors or sponsors; no equipment list – no coverage. Sorry. By way of illustrating my point, a very well-known reviewer for a large print magazine, one I used to write for published at least three glaring errors in his show coverage, including misidentifying models and prices of some flagship products, and even mixing product lineups between two rooms! Nope, if you can't bother making sure I have the proper information on the gear you want me to listen to, I can't bother covering your room.... Sorry.
With that pet peeve out of the way... let the coverage begin!
This year, well aware that I simply would not be able to cover everything, Friday morning found me headed for the 16th floor after breakfast, with a quick stop on 5, the highest floor that has a view into the Renaissance Atrium area, to make this time-motion lapse video.
Once that was shot, I was on my way to 16, and the game, as Billy Shakespeare first quipped in King Henry IV, "the game was afoot."
1607 Next Level HiFi And
Axxess joins the AGD family of Aavik, Ansuz, and Børresen as their most affordable level of electronics, starting with the featured Axxess Forté 1, an all-in-one-integrated amplifier, DAC, streamer, headphone amp, and more. Here is the system lineup.
Axxess Forté 1 - 2 x 100 Wpc @ 8 Ohm / DAC /
streamer / headphone amp - $5,500
Shut the front door! This sonics in this room really kicked butt. Even though I had the opportunity to hear the prototypical Axxess Forté 1 driving the Børresen X3s during my visit to AGD back in January, I will admit to STILL being stunned by the performance they pulled off in this room. Deep, fast, textured bass, remarkable midrange tonality and smoothness, with airy, spacious treble. JUST AMAZING!
Further, a set of the X3s came to my room right after the show via personal delivery by AGDs North American Sales Manager, Peter Hansen, so watch for my take on this stunning overachiever soon.
1608 Next Level HiFi And AGD
- A Unity Amplifier, 2 x 300 Wpc @ 8 Ohm, DAC
Premium sound, even in this standard-sized hotel room, made it clear why so many of us (journalists and reviewers) are filling up space with coverage of these exceptional Danish products. And as good as this room was, just wait to see what I have to say about their third room, Serenity!
1621 Von Schweikert Audio And Scott
Their proprietary crossover technology, which they describe with the terms A.I.R. (Acoustic Inverse Replication), and G.A.I.N. (Global Axis Integration Network), with their proprietary rear ambiance driver approach, allow them to regenerate a musical envelope with an authenticity I've never heard duplicated by any other loudspeaker manufacturer... period. Here is the system that made all that magic.
Aurender W20SE Music Server - $23,000
This room was nothing less than superb, offering up refined definition and detail, while revealing musical nuance like the luster, sparkle, and shimmer of well-recorded piano, guitar, or human vocals. And GAWD could it hit! Macrodynamic scaling, speed, impact, and extension, in such a modest-sized room, routinely raised goosebumps. This system in this room merely served to highlight how completely and easily the VSA ULTRA speaker systems may be tailored to deliver the very best in any room size or condition. This room easily clinched a place in my Top Five Rooms at this show.