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AXPONA 2019 Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com

AXPONA 2019 Show Report -- Audio Expo North America
AXPONA 2019 Coverage By Rick Becker -- Part 3




In the Harman International room (1234) a pair of floorstanding speakers from their Revel brand were driven by Mark Levinson electronics, another company they own. Two turntables graced the tops of the stands, a VPI 40th Anniversary direct drive model on the left and the Mark Levinson turntable partially developed for them by VPI. I noted the three drive belts used on the ML table and on-the-fly VTA adjustment of the tonearm. Good sound here as you would expect from these long-standing High-End companies.


Upper Floors Completed
That wraps up the upper floors at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel. My game plan was to visit the lower small hotel rooms on Saturday and then do the large conference rooms on Sunday. But it was not quite 6 pm, so I dropped down to the First Floor to browse around and get the lay of the land. I didn't want to repeat my experience at RMAF where I missed an entire wing full of rooms.


First Floor: Brief Exploration



Some of the rooms had already locked up for the night but the door was open to the Imagination Room where I found the theme was red. Red Wilson speakers driven by a red Rogers High Fidelity integrated amp fed by (at times) a Clearaudio turntable with a red banded plinth. Frankly, I wasn't overly impressed with what I heard here, given what I know Wilson speakers are capable of. But it was only Friday and who knows how well the rig had been broken in. At this hour, the hosts in this room as well as others seemed pretty burned out and content to talk among themselves or not talk at all, so I made a mental note to myself to re-visit again on Sunday.

Quintessence Audio, with showrooms in Morton Grove and Skokie to the north side and Naperville out in the western suburbs, bills themselves as Chicago's premier High-End dealer and they commandeered three boardrooms in the bay surrounding the escalators running to the second-floor restaurant area, (Knowledge, Perfection and Connection.) Two of the three were open, still.



In the Perfection room, Moon by Simaudio powered Sonus Faber Amati speakers with a new AMG turntable with a DS Audio cartridge. There was a silver tower-like structure next to the turntable, DS Audio Ion #001, an ionizer that purportedly reduces static electricity in the air above the LP, but in my photos, I did notice some dust had accumulate on the LP. The Ion is set to be formally introduced at the Munich show in May. Critical Mass Systems racks supported the gear while Kubala Sosna cables connected it. Music here was in the upper echelon at the show, though I preferred the next room that featured Sonus Faber flagship speaker, the Aida, driven by McIntosh 1.5kw (1500) monoblocks. I'll write about that room when I returned again on Sunday.




I continued to walk around, scouting the territory I would cover on Sunday when I ran into Andy Weiderspahn of Synergistic Research, whom I thought I would miss at the show. As it turned out, he had changed his flight home to be with his family and first newborn child to Saturday, and he invited me into the Synergistic Research room. It was really a converted office space tucked away between the large Schaumburg room occupied by Emotiva, Pass, et. al. and the large Expo Hall/Café and Ear Gear Expo. Hopefully the numerous large banners in the hallway drew the attention this room deserved. Andy slipped me into a private listening session with other journalists that was already in progress. The music was the now-familiar cut about pushing the Devil down into the hole, and it was far more spacious and liquid than the previous times I had heard it at the show. Likewise with Copeland's Fanfare for the Common Man. With much the same equipment that I heard at RMAF, this room impressed me far more than the one at higher altitude in Denver. In spite of the typical office environment with low suspended ceiling, this room was totally tricked out with SR tweaks and ranks as one of the very Best Rooms at the show.

Afterward, Andy told me about the two major introductions at the show. First was their new SRX power cord which basically has a power conditioner built right into the carbon fiber cylinder built into the cable incorporating their active UEF electromagnetic cell and their active shielding circuit. The active shielding is completely contained within the power cord itself, requiring no other active external connections, though you will experience improvements by connecting it to a SR Grounding block. Like their other premium power cables, it accepts the silver and gold tuning bullets that allow customers to tune their system to their own preference. Andy pointed out that a supreme application of this cord would be to upgrade any of their PowerCell UEF SE conditioners (which take a 30A input connection) giving a very significant boost in performance to every component plugged into the power conditioner. The downside is the cost at $10,000, but still, that is half the price of the previous 25th Anniversary SR25 power cord.



The second new product was the new Galileo power conditioner that will be formally introduced at Munich next month. It will run about $17k, or about $20k with one of the new SRX power cords. It incorporates 50% more filtration, 52 feet of silver wire, a new grounding implementation and a host of other upgrades which they claim more than justifies the $7000 upcharge over the existing PowerCell12 SE.



From there I took a hike up to the second floor of the Convention Center and took note of the big names in the conference rooms that were all locked. At the end of the long hall was a sprawling display of High Fidelity Cables with a rig featuring speakers consisting of dynamic drivers mounted, open baffle style, in large sheet of thick plywood. High Fidelity Cables espouses their theory of magnetic induction to force the music signal through the center of the conductors. As complex the system was with cables that bordered on the steam-punk, I couldn't believe how good the crude open-baffle speakers sounded. Tables with scientific gadgetry that they used on the television program that featured their wizardry were silent at this hour, but when I returned on Sunday everything was in full action.


More Coverage In AXPONA Part 4

Basically, I'm about a third through my AXPONA 2019 show report at this point. Much more to come, so remember to check back daily!



---> Onward to AXPONA 2019 show report by Rick Becker part 4.


---> Back to main AXPONA 2019 show report page.
















































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