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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 5



  Rounding the corner I found a found a very nice entry level rig sponsored by The Needle Doctor in 506. Not surprisingly, it featured a Clearaudio Performance DC Wood table with Tracer tonearm ($5800) fitted with a Hana ML cartridge ($1200). The phono stage was a Musical Surroundings Nova III ($1500) connected to a Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum III ($2995) (again?). Speakers were Dali Oberon 7 ($1399/pr). The little unit on the floor beside the rack was an AudioQuest PowerQuest 3 offering some basic conditioning for $299. Cabling was also by AudioQuest. Obviously the turntable could be trimmed down for some considerable savings, but I though the rig pointed to a very decent upgrade path for someone wishing to escape the mediocrity of mid-fi. My hat's off to the good doctor!




The Spatial Audio Lab room in 510 was one I had been looking forward to since hearing them for the first time at RMAF last October. Clayton Shaw was tied up in conversation with a prospective customer at the time, so I didn't get to sort out the rig with him. As I look at the photos I see the braided power cord coming out of the black box at the back of the speaker going right into the wall outlet. Zooming in, I see it is a Hypex FA251 fusion amp putting out 250 Watts typically used in powered subwoofers. The image of the X3 model on the Spatial website does not show this amp at floor level. So it is unclear if the $7500 price tag includes the powered woofer or not... or whether the powered woofer is now standard or optional.




The sole front end (I thought) in the Spatial room was this beautiful wood-plinth Pure Fidelity Harmony turntable with Maestro power supply ($5295). It was fitted with an Acoustic Signature TA-200 arm ($2995) and a Kiseki Purple heart mc cartridge ($3195). The second shelf held the power supply for the turntable (on the left) and the ModWright PH 9.0 phono stage ($2900). On the next shelf down was an early prototype of a ModWright integrated amp with a tube preamp section and MOSFET power section. A subsequent version of this integrated with bipolar output stage was in use elsewhere at the show. But even more interesting was the write-up for the room that spec'ed the ModWright Ambrose Ai 300B tube integrated amp putting out 25 Wpc from a pair of 300B in push-pull configuration (presumably, per channel) priced at $8495. Now, that would have been something to see and hear!

Word has it a problem developed and they had to revert to the back-up amp that was used here. The cabling was from Anticables, once again... and wait, was that an Apple laptop on the floor leading to a tube DAC on the lower shelf of the rack? I heard some lively jazz coming off that blue LP that sounded well focused, transparent and dynamic. Clayton was tied up with the customer the entire time so I left with a lot of unanswered questions.



Clarus is best known for their cables, designed by Jay Victor, yet here at AXPONA 2019 within 514 it seems they are also into making power conditioners. These are exceptionally well made units of extremely high quality. Look at the multiple transformers, powers caps, etc as shown by Clarus' very knowledgeable Joe Perfito. This is truly a Best Of AXPONA 2019. Well worth checking them out as we all truly need power filtration in these days of AC noise.



Rogers High Fidelity provided the tube amps to drive a KLH Kendall three-way floorstanders ($1298) and Albany stand-mounted monitors ($478). A VPI Scout(?) was doing a nice job with the LPs. Were these mid-fi speakers masquerading as high-end? They sounded decent to me in this noisy room filled with conversations so I look forward to reading some reviews.





Cambridge Audio has undergone a make-over with the product they showed in 534. The Alva TT turntable ($1700) is something new to me at least I've never seen one from them before. It comes with Bluetooth aptX HD, a built-in phono stage and a pre-installed high output MC phono cartridge. The Edge A integrated amp with the big knob in the center is $5k and puts out 100 Wpc into 8 Ohms, 200 into 4 Ohms, and comes with a heavy remote. The unit with the screen is the Edge NQ preamp with network player ($4000) and there is a separate power amp ($3000), too. They were playing the music loud and there were lots of conversations going on, so it was impossible to form an opinion there, but if the past is a predictor of the future, this gear should be something to check out. (Room 534)



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