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AXPONA 2018 Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com
AXPONA 2018 Show Report -- Audio Expo North America
AXPONA Coverage By Creative Director Steven R. Rochlin

GoldenEar Technology, McIntosh Labs, VAC, Von Schweikert, Scaena, Avantgarde Acoustic, Kimber Kable, And MrSpeakers



  GoldenEar Technology had a truly great location in the main hallway by registration showcasing their very impressive GoldenEar Triton Reference speakers ($8500 per pair). Joining the speakers was Primaluna Dialogue Premium HP integrated amplifier, and a slew of Audioquest products. Within Enjoy the Music.com's world premiere review of GoldenEar Technology Triton Three+ floorstanders it says, "GoldenEar Technology's Triton Three+ floorstanding speaker with 48-bit DSP and powered bass is one hell of an amazing package for only $1249 each. While my only hardcore complaint would be the challenge in positioning to achieve the very best deep bass and in keeping it tight, everything from around 60Hz on up is far more impressive than I felt possible within the price range. Dare I say this, at 160Hz on up the Triton Three+ is right up there with some far higher 'reference' loudspeaker designs that will set you back a small fortune. Imagining is outstanding and the Three+ easily works for audiophiles, home theater enthusiasts and video gamers. Just like the Founder and President of GoldenEar Technology, Sandy Gross, the Triton Three+ floorstanding speakers are no one trick pony." Read the GoldenEar Triton Three+ review at this link.



As you walked into the main lower floor area, you immediately say a full-on McIntosh Labs stereo system. When no one was looking i turned up the volume and cranked it up! Glorious sound! Later in the show they were playing a variety of music from rock and jazz to that new stuff the kids love. Refreshing musical moments that is a nice change from typical audiophile choices of Brubeck, Miles Davis, etc. Within my world premiere review preview of McIntosh's new MC611 quad balanced monoblock amplifiers it says, "As a popular example for imaging, Roger Waters Amused To Death... Never heard the TV to the left sound so physically real. There's what sounds like a truly 3D-sized TV with a tiny touch of depth there. As for all the other audio tracks on the album, it has never imaged solidly better. This includes having the soundscape go to the ceiling, etc during certain songs. Classical orchestra concert hall 'air' and natural reverb into the venue itself sounds so naturally scary-real that the only other time I've heard this effect was within my audio lab in Gainesville, FL." Read the entire review preview of the McIntosh Labs MC611 at this link.



Without a doubt one of the Best Sound At AXPONA 2018 is the VAC and Von Schweikert room. Having heard this combination during HIGH END 2017 in Munich, there's no surprise that within the gloriously large conference room at AXPONA 2018 the sound was even better! The spectacular Kronos Audio Pro turntable ($38,000), Esoteric electronics Grandioso P1 Transport / G1 Master Clock / D1 Monoblock DAC ($35,000, $26,000 and $36,000 per pair respectively) for digital source, VAC's Statement Phono Stage / Line Stage / Statement 450 iQ Monoblocks ($80,000, $75,000 and $120,000 per pair) for amplification, Masterbuilt Audio cables and a variety of ASC TubeTraps round out the system by The Audio Company. For speakers, Von Schweikert's ULTRA 11 ($295,000 per pair) extremely large floorstanders with their Shockwave V12 subwoofer ($11,500 each used for active room correction) delivered a truly great performance! With an abundance of room for the system's sound to fill, plus excellent acoustic room treatment, the imaging, bass, glorious highs, and critical midrange all worked in harmony to deliver hour after hour of great tunes each time I stopped in for a listen. Read our world premiere review of VAC's very impressive Renaissance Preamplifier Mk V with MM/MC phono stage at this link.



VAC's new Sigma 170i ($9990, seen below) stereo integrated amplifier marks their lower priced entry into the company's Sigma iQ design. Producing 85 Watt per channel stereo in Class A, this triode unit incorporates VAC's patented iQ auto-biasing circuit and employs two Gold Lion KT88 output tubes per channel. A remote control, four inputs, preamplifier/subwoofer outputs, cinema bypass for home theater, plus options for a balanced input and MM/MC phono stage is offered (MM/MC phono adds $1500; XLR input adds $500). A real-world bargain from VAC!





Scaena speakers seem to only make a showing during AXPONA and perhaps LAAS. Wish they also made it to HIGH END Munich as these speakers are indeed something very special. 



Avantgarde Acoustic Trio hornspeakers were placed in a very interesting, very close location to the listening position. Not a typical setup for sure, yet the sound was indeed fast, clean, and dynamic! A set of Avantgarde Duos, etc were also at AXPONA 2018 for all to hear and enjoy. Take a flashback to Avantgarde Acoustics' earlier Duo design and read my review at this link.






As my muse/wife Heather and I wandered into the large Kimber Kable room we were warmly met by both Kimber Kable staff and Dan from MrSpeakers. Everything from the top-line Sennheiser headamp/cans system to Dan's own MrSpeakers headphones were joined by an amazing array of Kimber Kables. As a long-term reference within my home, it is easy to love their products for both build and sound quality. Kimber Kable's AXIOS high-end headphone cables are copper, with braided 8 wire (4PR) and 16 wire (8PR) speaker cables. Their AXIOS headphone cable follows this classic Kimber Kable braided design, which has been revisited for high resolution headphones. The cable utilizes a very flexible OFHC copper wire braid comprised of 16 FEP insulated 24 gauge stranded conductors. Check out Enjoy the Music.com's review of MrSpeakers' ÆON open back over-the-ear stereo headphones at this link.



Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin
Creative Director, Enjoy the Music.com



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