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Southwest Audio Fest 2024 Premium Audio Show Report


SWAF 2024 Show Report Part 4
Featuring PureAudioProject, Pass Labs, Audio Note UK, Semrad Audio, Voxativ, Bella Sound, And More!
Southwest Audio Fest 2024 Show Report By Paul Schumann


SWAF 2024 Show Report Part 4 Featuring PureAudioProject, Pass Labs, Audio Note UK, Semrad Audio, Voxativ, Bella Sound, And More! Southwest Audio Fest 2024 Show Report By Paul Schumann


  As mentioned, I've been reviewing for Enjoy the Music.com for over six years, but this inaugural Southwest Audio Fest was my first show. This meant I was able to meet some of the people who I've been corresponding with via email over the years. The first review I did was of the PureAudioProject Trio 15 Horn1, which is a great way to begin. I stopped by the PureAudioProject room a few times before I spied Ze'ev Schlik. Ze'ev gave me a warm greeting and we had a nice visit while listening to his wonderful system. In the room were his elegant Trio15 Classic Speakers with Voxativ AC-PiFe Center Driver ($9,990).



They were powered by a Pass Labs INT-25 Integrated Amp ($7,250). The digital source was Mojo Audio's Deja Vu Music Server / Streamer ($4750) paired with Mystique Y DAC ($5,990). Power for Mojo Audio equipment was provided by an Illuminati "Brick" power supply ($1,250). The cabling for the system was Silversmith Audio Fidelium Speaker Cables ($1,395 for 8 feet) and Fidelium XLR Interconnects ($975 for three feet). The music that poured out of the Trio15 Classics was open and spacious, inviting the listener to sit and enjoy the music for an extended time. Hats off to Ze'ev for putting together such a warm and inviting listening experience.




Another room where I was hoping to meet some people in person I knew was Audio Note UK. When I entered the room, I was happy to see Adrian Ford-Crush, whom I had traded many emails with while I was reviewing the M2 Linestage / Preamplifier and Conqueror Power Amplifier duo. Also in the room was Eddie Palacios of Audio Note Texas. Audio Note UK was there to herald the launching of Audio Note Texas in Addison, a northern suburb of Dallas. This means Texas will finally get an Audio Note dealership. The room's centerpiece was the pair of Ankoru II Mono Block Power Amplifiers ($52,799).



These substantial amps are similar to the famous Gaku-On amplifier in topology but utilize copper wiring instead of silver. The rest of the system included a M5 Phono Preamplifier ($15,839), a TT-Three Turntable & PSU 1 ($9,412), an IO 1 Moving Coil (MC) phono cartridge ($5028), an Arm Three/II ($2465), an AN-S3 Step Up Transformer ($4525), a CD 4.1x/II CD player ($14,331), and AN E / Spe HE loudspeakers ($12,453). Audio Note cables were used throughout.



The sound in the Audio Note room was simultaneously dynamic and relaxing. One of the times I came in, Adrian played Nat King Cole's "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)" on CD, which sounded amazing. Good old Nat was right there in front of me. Then he played the same song on vinyl and it sounded even better. The vinyl just had more presence and nuance. When the track finished, I muttered to myself, "Stupid records". I guess I'm not abandoning vinyl any time soon.




Even though I'm a big fan of high-efficiency speakers, Semrad Audio was not on my radar before Southwest Audio Fest. So I was pleasantly surprised to see John Semrad's stunning horns making beautiful music when I entered the room. In the throat of Semrad Horns ($54,000) are Rullit Super Aero 8" field coil drivers.



Underneath each horn is a Great Plains Audio 414-8B bass driver which is driven through a 212Hz network. Since the horn drivers are field coils, a power supply for each is provided. The rest of the system included a vintage Garrard 301 turntable on a Panzerholz plinth, a Sorane TA-1 tonearm, and a Mutech Hayabusa cartridge sourced from Mockingbird Distribution. The phono stage was an Aurasound Vida and the linestage was a Thoress FFPre. Driving the Semrad Horns were homemade Type-50 tube single-ended monoblocks.



I visited the Semrad Audio room all three days I was at the show. Every time I walked in, the scene was the same. People were quietly sitting in chairs, transfixed by the music. I was afraid to take a picture or talk to John, lest I break the spell created by this system. When I did take the time to sit down, I fell under the same charm as the other visitors to the room. There was no high-end audio there, just music. I know committing to a system like this is a lifestyle choice, but my mind reeled at the possibilities.




Another single-driver speaker at the show was on display in the Voxativ Room. The room's star was the newly revamped Voxativ Ampeggio ($13,900). This beautifully finished back-loaded horn is an update to the original model released in 2010. The driver for this speaker is the AC-1.9 full-range driver. Powering the Ampeggios was a Voxativ T211 SET Integrated Amp ($23,900).



The music source was a Weiss Engineering DAC502 ($10,695) streaming Qobuz true lossless Hi-Res Music files. Voxativ Due Speaker Cables ($4599) and Black Signal Cables ($899) were hooking everything together. I'm glad to see that Voxativ brought the Ampeggio back for another go-around. This was another room where I felt sucked into the music and I could have spent more time.




Another room I was impressed with was the one set up by Bella Sound. The system they presented featured Analysis Model Omega speakers ($14,990), Hanalei Monoblock Amplifiers ($40,000), a LampizatOr Golden Gate DAC ($18,500), Hana Power Conditioner ($12,000), and a Kalia 2 Power Chord ($5500).



I had the chance to listen to some of Stravinsky's The Firebird and I made note of how smooth and relaxed this system sounded.



Coming soon is my picks for Best Of Southwest Audio Fest 2024. So check back for my final choices for the Best Of Show here in Texas.




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