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AXPONA 2017 Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com
AXPONA 2017 Show Report -- Audio Expo North America
10 Systems That Impressed At AXPONA 2017
AXPONA Show Report By Dave Hanson

 

Scaena Soho Loudspeakers ($56,000) And PS Audio
When it comes to open-sounding setups, few setups at AXPONA 2017 could contest with the massive soundscape of the Scaena Soho loudspeakers ($56,000). Paired with the stellar PS Audio BHK Signature Preamplifier ($5,999) and BHK Signature monoblocks ($14,998/pair), these line array speakers projected a very realistic and well-defined stage with absolute pinpoint imaging. Of the systems I heard at the show, this was easily in the top three or four overall in terms of imaging placement.

Staging aside, I also found that this system had great tonality and a very engaging sound. It walked the fine line between smooth and involving quite successfully. There was a certain delicacy to the sound and a bit of sweetness, but it also packed a very satisfying punch when the musical gods called for dynamic thunder. With such a massive sound, spacially and dynamically, this was easily one of the most interesting setups of the show.

 

 

Emotiva 7-Channel XPA Gen 3 Amplifier ($1999 for 7 channel setup)
Just down the hall from Scaena, Emotiva was packing in the enthusiasts for a stunning home theater demo using their XPA Gen 3 Power Amplifiers ($999 starting, $1,999 for 7-channel surround) in a couple of different configurations. They showcased single and multiple amplifier setups, both of which had a powerful, dynamic sound that would best many theaters.

The Emotiva team played bits from Iron Man and Pacific Rim that left many of us in the sizeable booth audience with our jaws on the floor. From the subtle details to the biggest, loudest explosions, it was all presented with grandiose cinematic bravado. The single, 7-Channel XPA Gen 3 really brought as much or more thunder than anyone would ever need, but adding the additional layer of power with multiple amplifiers made the setup even more effortless, unveiling the sound from the very last morsels of compression remaining in the system. Either way you can't lose with this beastly power behind your home theater system.

 

 

Volya NoLimits Loudspeakers ($33,000)
Introducing their brand-spanking-new NoLimits loudspeakers ($33,000), Volya GmbH came ready to impress. Each of these 420lb. monsters looks like a giant woofer, but there is much more going on under the surface. Fiberglass armored composite material, inner stiffeners, vibration-absorbing filled steel elements, and ultra-pure copper wiring help this stunning speaker stay well-damped, and in-turn, tight and transparent.

The NoLimits features an 11" bass woofer, 5" midrange woofer and 1" tweeter, with crossovers built from high-quality Mundorf components. The speakers were well-powered with Mark Levinson No. 380S and No. 431 pre and power amps, which no doubt helped bring out the firm bass punch and liquid midrange flow.

These speakers were very hard to fault sonically, and in spite of their novel look, the final sound was exceptionally sophisticated and refined. I heard a variety of music on the Volya system, and for hard rock, electronic and acoustic music alike, I felt it offered top-flight performance. 

 

D Digital Sound and Vision Experts, Revel, And Mark Levinson
While this wasn't the newest setup at the show, I applaud Chicago dealer D Digital for putting together one of the most engaging systems at the show. At the foundation of this stellar synergy was a pair of the venerable Revel Ultima Salon 2 four-way floorstanding speakers ($22,000) and Mark Levinson No. 536 monoblock amplifiers ($30,000/pair). The Coup de Grace was the do-it-all Levinson No. 519 audio player ($20,000) as a source.

This system was a mountain of fun energetic with a ton of weight behind the sound. Bass was powerful, to say the least, while staying clean and controlled. Soundscape extension into the room was also quite impressive giving a nice illusion of a 3d stage. I felt like this system leaned a bit more toward power over sweetness (at least with the tracks I heard), and therefore was especially well suited to funky tunes and hard-rocking music, given the exceptional energy, snappy pacing and epic bass impact. Given my own affinity for that type of music, I had a big, silly grin on my face the whole time I was in this room.

 

 

Wells Audio Innamorata ($6,000) And Salk Song3 (starting at $2,895)
On the bottom floor, I found another hard-rocking system I absolutely loved with the Wells Audio Innamorata ($6,000) and Salk Song3 (starting at $2,895). I am a big fan of the Wells Audio sound in general, I find all of their amplifiers provide a clear, open and slightly warm sound with exceptionally powerful dynamics.

The Salk speakers on display proved to be a perfect synergy, effortlessly bringing the dynamics to life with speed and precision. For under $3000, I'm not sure I have heard a better set of floorstanding speakers. Paired with the modestly priced Exogal Comet DAC ($2,500), this system absolutely sizzled with energy and impact. And for 1/7 of the price of the monster Mark Levinson and Revel Ultima system mentioned above, I think I would likely be just as happy with this budget-priced synergistic gem at the end of the day. Well done, indeed!

 

 

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