Nordost, Newvelle Records, Mytek, Morrow Audio, McIntosh Labs And Pro-ject
To anyone paying even the slightest of attention, there is no doubt to the growth of AXPONA. An hour before AXPONA 2018 began there was a large, and building, crowd. Once the show began, vinyl vendors were especially busy selling new vinyl and digital disc releases, plus of course reel-to-reel tapes too.
My first stop was with the always-warm and friendly Meredith of Nordost, who was showcasing the company's new Frey USB C 3.0 and Red Dawn USB 2.0 cables ($599 and $325 for 0.6 meter length respectively). In February we announced that Nordost's Frey 2 USB Cable is the first of Nordost's USB offerings to provide both USB C and 3.0 compatibility. The Frey 2 USB C Adapter pairs with cables using Standard-A USB connectors (both 2.0 and 3.0 compatible), allowing them to be used with components that require a USB C termination. As seen within Enjoy the Music.com's March Industry News page, Nordost is happy to announce the expansion of their acclaimed Blue Heaven Range with the introduction of the Blue Heaven Subwoofer Cable ($349.99 for a two-meter length, additional meter increments are $75). The Blue Heaven Subwoofer Cable makes it possible for music lovers to completely integrate subwoofers with their loudspeakers, creating a truly well-rounded experience, highlighting even the lowest frequency extensions on the spectrum. The Blue Heaven Subwoofer Cable consists of four, 22 AWG, solid core, silver-plated, 99.9999% OFC signal conductors. Its dielectric strength is improved by an innovative precision FEP extrusion process, which further increases signal speeds and accuracy in signal transfer. Nordost's Qv2 AC Line Harmonizer earned Enjoy the Music.com's Great Audiophile Gift recommendation for the 2017 holidays.
Nordost is also supporting Newvelle Records, which is an audiophile-quality music label that employs Nordost Cables for their fourth season's vinyl LP releases. According to the company, "Our records are carefully recorded through extremely high quality and mostly vintage analog equipment by our experienced and accomplished staff of recording, mixing and mastering engineers".
Moving to digital, Mytek's outstanding Mangatten II ($5995, add $1500 for phono card, $995 Roon ready) and new VPI Cliffwood turntable were available for a listen. Most customers go with a Roon network card, as it seems fewer customers desire the analog turntable feature and as we know digital downloads are slowing becoming a thing of the past.
Morrow Audio usually has cables, yet at AXPONA 2018 they were promoting their vinyl LP store in Florence KY. During our discussion they had recently acquired a big vinyl collection from a radio stations, (or was it a library?). In any case, they had a mighty fine selection of vinyl. First come, first server, and why the vendor section at shows always seem to become the busiest the moment a show opens.
Pro-ject's Classic turntable ($1099) includes an Ortofon 2M Silver cartridge, which is specially made exclusively for Pro-Ject. Heather loved the look of the small McIntosh Labs MHA150 ($4500) integrated amplifier with DAC and headphone output. This lovely-looking (my muse/wife Heather ooooh and aaaahed over it) McIntosh Labs stereo unit produces 50 Watts per channel, 1 Watt max for headphone output, and decodes up to DSD256 and 32-bit/384kHz. A special headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD) brings added dimension to your music. Back to the turntable, TPE helps to isolate vibration and for the price it looks like an excellent value. To add in value, a brand new carbon fiber and aluminum sandwich tonearm is also included with the Pro-Ject Classic turntable! You can see our world premiere review of Pro-Ject's Debut Carbon RecordMaster HiRes turntable here.
Another new set of products from Pro-Ject is their S2 line with DACs, headamps, etc. Here the product rep is holding the DS2 BT, which is a compact integrated stereo amplifier that produces 20 Wpc for a mere $299. DS2 lineup consist of Phono Box DS2 USB, Phono Box DS2, Tube Box DS2, and Pre Box DS2 Digital while the DS lineup adds MaiA DS, Power Box MaiA DS, Power Box DS Sources, Phono Box DS, Phono Box DS+, and Tube Box DS. So very many products, so little time to check them all out during a show.