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AXPONA 2022 Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com

AXPONA 2022 Show Report
The Fabulous 4th Floor At The Audio Expo North America 2022 Show.
Show Report By Rick Becker

 

 

  Moving on to room 440 I found Audiovector speakers being driven very well by bel canto e1x integrated amplifier sourced with a Pure Fidelity turntable with a stunning ribbon candy veneer and their own arm. The turntable can be purchased separately, with the arm, or with the arm and cartridge in the price range of $7k to $11k, depending on the size of your package. A handsome wood equipment rack was a surprise from Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS). I wasn't aware they were combining wood with their high-tech shelves. More commonly we see various levels of their more industrial-looking series. Cabling was by Cardas and the sound was warm and very inviting with some slow jazz playing at the time.

 

 

 

The Aries Cerat room was one of those "Oh, wow!" rooms at the show. It was a room I wanted to like a lot, but with the large components and large speakers, they positioned the rig along the long wall. It needed a bigger room. The candy caramel Aurora horn speakers feature a semi-active bass combining four 12" paper cone drivers. They were eye-popping, but the tubular, saw-horse stands on castors seemed more like a utilitarian afterthought.

 

 

I understand the need for strong support, but speakers with such sculptural beauty, and costing upwards of $105,000 need a more complementary pedestal of some sort. A photo on signage on the floor showed a more integrated support. Inside the speakers are multiple drivers suspended without baffles and there was a complex crossover situated on the floor behind them. I still don't know the purpose or what to make of the black appendage sticking off the upper back side.

 

 

 

In the hallway, I spoke with Robert Do of Worldwide Wholesales about the system. The speakers are over 101dB sensitivity so the Aries Cerat Essentia monoblock amplifiers ($52k/pr.) are designed to work with the new AC Ageto Reference preamplifier ($72k) to feed a high voltage signal to drive the speakers. The amps put out only 40 Watts each at 8 Ohms, but they are high-voltage amps. Using a special link to the preamp that bypasses a lot of circuitry, the preamps push over 50 Volts to the power amps.   The drivers can be upgraded to those used in their $700k Contendo flagship model and you can add a Bluetooth app to the crossovers to fine-tune the speakers live in real-time. A Pink Faun Ultra Server 2.16X ($29k) fed an Aires Cerat Kassandra Mk2 DAC ($27k) that also puts out a high voltage signal that is said to make it very clean. This was obviously a very high-quality system that probably needs to be purchased as a system, though their entry-level preamp is only $12k if you are inclined to cut corners.

Worldwide Wholesales (not "Wholesalers" as listed in the AXPONA program) is a bit of a mystery company. You will have to do some searching to contact them. It is unfortunate that they brought this fine gear from Cypress and didn't show in one of the large rooms on the second floor. With more space to let the speakers sing this could have been one of the best rooms at the show. A friend of mine in Germany attended the High-End show in Munich and said the Aries Cerat room was the best sounding room for him. From the photos he shared, it was evident they were in a larger room there than at AXPONA. I don't mean to berate the folks at Worldwide Wholesales, but rather to suggest they set their bar higher for next year's show and make themselves more prominent on the internet.

 

 

 

 

Woo Audio typically sets itself apart from the headphone bullpen by having its own quiet room among the floors of the hotel. They had multiple listening stations and lots of higher-end headphones to listen to. In the photos, I captured the MySphere 3.1 ($4700), an evolution of earlier AKG headphones and Abyss Diana V2 headphones ($3495) in the optional coffee color, along with a new Woo Audio WA23 Luna headphone amp/preamp (from $1000) with 2A3 power tubes that gives Woo a whole new look. Other brands Jack Woo had on display were DCS, Focal, Kimber Kable, Meze Audio, Nordost, Sony, and Sennheiser. Headphones are not my game, aside from the basic Grado I use with a Clarus Coda plug-in DAC / amplifier on my laptop for taking classes on Zoom and watching YouTube videos. Yet I could see myself easily spending a couple of hours in this room if I were not more disciplined. Lots of good gear here.

 

 

I spoke with Murray Harman, founder and CTO of Muraudio and we chatted about the unfortunate set-up on the diagonal of the room in Montreal due to the dealer's need to set up a second system in that same room. Here at AXPONA they were on their own again and set up with their signature banner, straight along the front wall. The rig was minimal with a single Hegel 390 integrated amplifier with built-in DAC and streaming. The Hegel was sitting atop a stand that looked like a variation of their speaker stands with their "'logo emblazoned on the base. The SP1 model is available in a variety of solid colors as well as natural cherry, red cherry, and a dark espresso cherry veneer. All of these standard finishes are $19,500. (Muraudio is out of Ottawa, Canada.) Custom finishes are also available if there is an interior designer involved. The wood finish I saw 

in Montreal added a touch of elegance that escapes the standard paint finishes. On a higher floor, I had seen the JanZen Valentina A8-SE which initially looks similar in configuration to the Muraudio SP1 with a woofer mounted above and below electrostatic panels. That speaker is considerably different, however, and generates a constrained sweet spot. The SP1 electrostatic panels are curved both horizontally and vertically giving 120-degree horizontal and 16-degree vertical dispersion, making for more listener-friendly seating. I've raved about Muraudio since they were first introduced, but it hasn't been until recently that I've had a strong enough solid-state amp to drive them. Murray was tight-lipped about any future designs. The music was very good here and this speaker is worthy of fine electronics for the very best results.

 

 

 

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