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AXPONA 2024 High-Performance Audio, Luxury Premium Hi-Fi Stereo Audiophile Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com

 

Great Memories Of AXPONA 2024
A renewed energy and inspiration for the art of high-end audio.
Audio Expo North America 2024 Show Coverage By Professor Michael Bump

 

Great Memories Of AXPONA 2024 A renewed energy and inspiration for the art of high-end audio. Audio Expo North America 2024 Show Coverage By Professor Michael Bump

 

  Considering the ever-expanding international stage of high-end audio shows such as HIGH END 2024 in Munich, Tokyo, Bangkok, the UK, Poland, etc., as well as those in the States such as the inaugural Southwest Audio Fest in Dallas, the annual Florida International Audio Expo in Tampa, Pacific Audio Fest in Seattle, and Capital Audio Fest in Washington D.C., I sense we are welcoming a 'renaissance' (no pun intended) in high-end audio. I sense it's also fair to recognize that this global, post-pandemic interest represents a not-so-elite multitude of demographics.

This year's Audio Expo of North America (AXPONA 2024), held once again at the Renaissance Hotel & Convention Center in Schaumburg, Illinois, from April 12th through April 14th, served as an excellent melting pot to this experience. I found it particularly energizing to witness a significant increase in family attendance and youth engagement (this was particularly noted in the Ear Gear Experience hall). Liz Smith, AXPONA's Show Director, states "This year our Gen Z pass doubled".

It was exciting to see so many attendees ages 15 through 26 discovering the world of high-performance audio. The audience growth we experienced at AXPONA 2024 was driven by thousands of first-time visitors to the show, many traveling great distances to attend. We recognize the importance of building awareness of this hobby and industry to music lovers of all ages and backgrounds, so this year we worked on multiple programs to support this mission."

As the largest gathering of high-end audio enthusiasts in North America, AXPONA indeed serves as a key community builder for the industry, especially in the role of education. With an expanded palette of eight seminars and fourteen Masterclasses / Workshops conveniently scheduled throughout the weekend, this year's AXPONA was postured as a unique and comprehensive expanded resource for consumer awareness and inspiration.

Over 200 dedicated listening rooms dispersed among twelve floors provided an opportunity to experience and celebrate some of the finest home audio designs in the world. In all, approximately 600 international designer / manufacturers, retailers, and distributors were represented. AXPONA 2024 broke yet another attendance record with 10,391, representing a 14% increase over last year.

I'm certain many have stated this before me, but it is truly a wonderful time to be an audiophile The high art of musical recreation has never had it so good. No better example of this truth than at AXPONA 2024, as positive vibes and enthusiasm abounded from all directions.

 

 

High-end audio and hotel rooms are quite the enigma (An observation I've mentioned previously that I feel bears repeating). That's why show reports can never be considered "equipment reviews," IMHO. However, I find the irony in it all intriguing when observing the challenge audio teams are faced with. In many ways, I find this element of audio shows almost as interesting as the audio pieces themselves. Room tuning as a concept in hotel rooms seems fundamentally an oxymoron. Sonic maladies abound at these conferences, and the "ideal" listening spot is often lost in the incidentals of room traffic.

This is coupled with the fact that many rooms "premieres" carry with them pieces barely off the workbench with little/no break-in. Those who persevere in doing their best to dial in highly sensitive audio systems over three days have my utmost respect and admiration. And there are many examples of audio teams who consistently overcome these obstacles to great success, which I can't help but interpret as a reflection / extension of their attention to equipment design and sonic objectives.

 

 

The caveat to my visit this year was that I only had two days to peruse (Fri-Sat), as it was necessary to travel back early Sunday for an evening rehearsal. With twelve floors of 200+ listening rooms, the Ear Gear Experience, Expo Hall, seminars, and concerts, a personal master schedule was essential to navigate the weekend (although through visiting/meeting old and new friends, impromptu gatherings, etc., I ended up failing miserably at this). Needless to say, I did not have the opportunity to enjoy what I'm certain were many fine rooms, for which I extend my apologies. In any case, here are those who won over my ears at this year's AXPONA in both sound and design:

Given the long elevator waits and efficient need to use the back stairwells of the Renaissance, I long decided to map my tour by allowing gravity to guide my steps and start at the 16th floor. Happier legs = better listening! ;-)

 

 

Room 1602   PureAudioProject, Mojo Audio, Pass Labs, And Silversmith Audio
I was first introduced to Jeffrey Smith, CEO and Designer of Silversmith Audio, three years ago, intrigued by the efficiency and level of 'musical correctness' of his Fidelium ribbon speaker cables. How naturally revealing this design is a conduit like no other I had known and yet amazingly affordable.

 

 

It wasn't long after the Fidelium found its way to my reference system and I've never looked back, despite having many speaker cable designs in for review at 5X their retail. After many months in development and with great anticipation, AXPONA '24 saw the premiere of Silversmith Audio's Fidelium interconnect cable (XLR & RCA, 3 foot standard length, $975) in Rooms 1602 and 745. Jeffrey tells me that the interconnect utilizes the same foil conductors as the Fidelium speaker cable with the connectors utilizing low-mass, hollow pin designs of an alloy superior to both copper and silver.

 

 

Being difficult to isolate and assess in an unfamiliar system, I look forward to implementing the Fidelium interconnect in my home reference system and will offer my thoughts in an upcoming review for Enjoy the Music.com. I can say that the synergy within this AXPONA system offered effortlessness, dimensionality, and tangible richness that immediately commanded attention. In particular, the Duet15 Modular open baffle speakers ($6,490) provided a marvelous presence musically and visually. Those who were in attendance (and I was there for two listening sessions) stayed at length to enjoy the music.

 

 

 

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