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AXPONA 2018 Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com
AXPONA 2018 Show Report -- Audio Expo North America

AXPONA 2018 At The Schaumberg Renaissance
This year's Audio eXPO North America was utterly amazing, and on so many levels!
AXPONA Show Report By Greg Weaver



   Austria's Ayon Audio introduced some killer new amps and a preamp in 1633. The new line stage, the Orthos Spheris III ($34,000), boasts a separate tube regulated supply in an outboard chassis to further isolate noise from the delicate low-level signals. The bold looking Orthos XS monoblock power amplifiers ($28,000/pr.), are Ayon's third-generation KT150-based mono power amplifier, offering true balanced or single-ended operation, delivering 300 watts of pure Class A pentode mode power, with zero dB of negative feedback. All the gain stages and power stages were redesigned to achieve the shortest signal path and the most direct signal flow.


Ayon and Lumenwhite


Driven by the Ayon S-10 Signature vacuum tube Network Player ($8,500) and Ayon CD-35 HF SACD Player Preamp DAC/with DSD ($10,500), a pair of Lumenwhite Kyara loudspeakers ($49,000/pr.), in a stunning French Nut natural wood finish, looked as good as they sounded! With vibrant tone, amazing texture, dramatic harmonic weight, expressive inner detail, and welcomed transparency, this system was a treat.

While it is no secret that I was not particularly smitten by the original Mini back in 2005, Magico has long since won me over. It was my pleasure to award the CEA Innovations and Engineering award to the original Q5 in January 2011, and the introduction of the Q7 in 2013 is still one of the most significant and impressive product launches I've ever attended. But the buzz over the launch of Alon Wolf's new sub $10,000 Magico loudspeaker, the A3, made it one of the most anticipated events at this year's AXPONA.


The remarkable Magico A3


When I walked into the Magico suite in 1621, I was greeted by Alon, who was beaming from ear to ear, basking in the near universal praise from all who had come to hear this remarkable new addition to the Magico family. While still using a milled aluminum enclosure, combining a more traditional (for Magico) and cost effective, shape, the interior employs an intricate, lattice-work cross-bracing schema derivative from the Q series. When I quipped to Alon that the A3 was even more attractive than the photos suggested, he playfully accused me of insulting his photography! He is quite the accomplished photographer and shoots all the Magico product images.


The full system in 1621 with the amazing A3


A three-way, four-driver design, the drivers include a beryllium tweeter, akin to that used in the M series (sans diamond coating), and newly designed midrange and woofer, both with graphene diaphragms. The demo system had originally used a Hegel integrated and DAC, but when I got there Saturday, I learned that the Hegel integrated had failed. In its place were a D'Agostino line stage and amplifier.


A look at the A3 enclosure


At $9,800 retail, the A3 is every bit a Magico. I was stunned by the degree of resolution, transparency, and low-level detail it recovered, yet with remarkably ample bass impact and weight, midbass and midrange bloom, and high frequency extension, air, and shimmer. As most may have gathered, building a statement product with an unfettered budget is a much simpler chore than trying to build an overachieving product to a strict and more realistic price point. What Alon has accomplished with the charming and engaging A3 sets yet another Magico milestone.

The UK's Cambridge Audio Celebrated its 50th anniversary with the introduction of several new "Edge" products in room 352. Named for one of Cambridge's original founders, Professor Gordon Edge, the Edge W ($3,000), is their highest-performing power amplifier to date, developing 100Wpc and using just 14 hand-picked components in the entire signal path. Sourced by a matching Edge NQ preamplifier/network player ($4,000), driving B&W 805 D3s ($6,000), all connected with Nordost Frey2 series cables, this system exhibited refined rhythmic coherence, excellent depth of image (if slightly foreshortened), with a surprisingly full presentation, very good texture, nicely focused and individualized voices, and remarkably good detail without being analytical. 


The Cambridge Audio 50th Anniversary celebration


California's Aesthetix launched the Mimas integrated amplifier ($7,000) in room 552, which employs zero feedback and low-flux custom-wound transformers. The Mimas successfully conflates the discrete switched-resistor volume control of their Calypso line stage and features the differential balanced-bridged outputs found in their Atlas power amplifier. As a hybrid, the Mimas uses a bipolar output and driver stage, with a 6DJB/6922 tube-based gain stage, with five inputs, both balanced and single-ended, and allows you to add a phono stage ($1000), or a DAC ($1000), or both! While it already includes a respectable headphone amplifier, Can fans can opt for a headphone update (1 Watt, 32 ohms, fully discrete Class A) for another $500!


Versatility redefined, the Aesthetix Mimas


Driving the Aerial Acoustics 5T loudspeakers ($4,100/pr.), and wired with Bionic AL1 series cabling, the result was a captivating combination of power and finesse; a very engaging performance.



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