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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

Rupert Neve, JH Audio, AIS Audio, GiK Acoustics, AURALiC, YG Acoustics, Kubala-Sosna, Pass Labs, First Watt, Dana Cables, Benchmark, Aurum Cantus And Synergistic Research


  Vintage Lamborghini within the head-fi section at AXPONA 2018.



Rupert Neve not only designs recording and mastering studio gear, their RNHP ($550) has three inputs and a 400ma standard unbalanced headphone output. Based on their 5060 Centerpiece Desktop Mixer, the RNHP is a dedicated 24V reference-quality headphone amplifier with specifically-calibrated +4dBu balanced line, unbalanced RCA and 3.5mm (1/8") inputs. All this is housed within a very rugged VESA-mountable steel chassis. I asked about balanced headphone amplification, and they said it is coming!




JH Audio brought a variety universal and CIEM monitors. Their new lineup looked simply spectacular! Note to self, drive to their manufacturing facility in Orlando, Florida, and check out hot they're made. Perhaps get a new set of CIEMs as my beloved Roxanne are getting a bit long-in-the-tooth so-to-speak.




It's now 10:20am and vinyl LP sales are hotter than the planet Mercury! The smart show attendees know to buy their vinyl first, because all the good stuff may be gone by the end of the event's opening day.



Audio Integration Services (A.I.S.) was founded by Matt Edgar in 2007 as a Chicago based Audio/Visual installation company. The company had immediate success and quickly grew from a home office to a full installation shop. By 2008, AIS began doing installs nationally and internationally while surpassing their clients expectations. In 2008, A.I.S. became the North American distributor for Void Acoustics. To demonstrate the audio fidelity of Void, A.I.S. began to do event productions that quickly created a demand for the supreme sound that Void offers. Rapidly the word spread of A.I.S.'s installation design capability. Here's a lovely hornspeakers, which is available for those who live in high style and the color Ferrari red.



GiK Acoustics offers a glorious variety of room acoustic devices. Since my muse/wife Heather and I are redoing the entire acoustic layout of the first floor of our home, we're very interested in who offers what, and how stylish it will appear within our home décor. Check out our review of the GIK 4A Alpha Panel Diffusors here.



AURALiC room with YG Acoustics was making some very impressive sounds! While I can't find the equipment list, my ears tell me this is a system worthy of the best music! Within Enjoy the Music.com's pre-show report, AURALiC's Aries G2 Wireless Streaming Transporter, Aries G1, and new LEO GX ($3899, and starting out at $2000 and $6500 respectively) were there to be enjoyed. The Aries G2 Wireless Streaming Transporter is the component that links your home audio system to sources of high-resolution digital music, streaming local or Internet content straight to your hi-fi. Adding high-resolution digital streaming to your system is as easy as connecting Aries G2 to your home network via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Once connected, Aries G2 can access digital music that's stored anywhere on your network, and stream it to your DAC for decoding and playback on your system. Your digital library can be stored on any computer that's on your network for example, or on a dedicated media server (NAS drive) if you have one. Their system at AXPONA 2018 was wired with the impressive Kubala-Sosna line of cables.






Pass Labs' 160.8 mono ($29,000 per pair) has been a big boy with 72 output power-MOSFETs, high input impedance, high capacity power supply and the ability to deliver over 320 Watts per monoblock in pure Class A! You can check out a recent review of Pass Labs' XP-12 Preamplifier and XA30.8 stereo amplifier at this link.



First Watt series of amps includes their new SIT-3 amplifier ($4000), which is the successor to their legendary SIT-1 and SIT-2. As other amps in the line, First Watt's SIT-3 uses a Static Induction Transistor (a.k.a. VFET) in the power stage of a simple no-feedback amplifier. This SIT was uniquely fabricated from Silicon Carbide with the character of a tube Triode – acting more like a voltage-controlled resistor than a current source. This character gives it a much more desired audio quality, and is different from ordinary FETs whose character is more like a tube Pentode. One benefit is that the SIT operates at voltages and currents much more convenient for driving today's loudspeaker impedances. Power output is 18 Watts @ 8 Ohms, 30 watts @ 4 Ohms.



Dana Cables, Benchmark, and Aurum Cantus joined forces at AXPONA 2018 to deliver a memorable sound. Fast, precise, and nice harmonics is what my notes say. See our review of Benchmark's DAC3 HGC Hi-Res Audio DAC, headphone amp, and preamplifier at this link. Also see our world premiere review of Aurum Cantus' V30M loudspeaker here.



Synergistic Research's room at AXPONA had a full-on demonstration plus a TV with video featuring their products. It is great to see manufacturers producing their own high quality videos, as this allows them full control of video and sound quality, plus the ability to focus on specific products for each video. Synergistic's Atmosphere X cables (starting at under $1000) and Euphoria were being used (starting at $5500 for 8 ft pair). Their demos are always interesting and I'd be remiss if I did not mention that Synergistic Research's SR BLUE Quantum Fuse earned an Enjoy the Music.com Great Audiophile Gift recommendation for the 2017 holiday season.



Enjoy the Music,

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



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