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AXPONA 2022 Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com

A Music Professor's Guide To AXPONA 2022
Audio Expo North America 2022 Show Report
Show Report By Dr. Michael Bump


AXPONA 2022 Show Report -- Audio Expo North America 2022 Show Report By Dr. Michael Bump


  Room 722: I've been an ardent admirer of Alberto Guerra's work via AGD Productions since our first meeting/conversation, and ultimately hearing music through his amplification designs at the 2019 AXPONA. A revolutionary Class D output stage, the whole amplifier is essentially inside the tube... but it's not a tube! Rather, it's fabricated to look like a KT88, with a miniature circuit board inside the tube (The technology within utilizes the unique GaNTube Gallium Nitride MOSFET-based powerstage, which I first became acquainted with through reviewing and owning some of Merrill Wettasinghe's designs).

Looks are indeed deceiving, as what appears to be a low output SET puts out 200 to 400 Watts... and to many a raised eyebrow! On active display were a pair of AGD Gran Vivace Molto monoblocks ($18,500), a pair of Audion MkII SE monoblocks ($8,300), the AGD Tempo stereo amplifier ($5,500), and the Andant pre/DAC/streamer/phono ($12,500).



Paired with the superb Ocean Way Eureka speakers ($14,800 with stands) by Allen Sides (via Ocean Way Recording Studios in Santa Monica), the presentation never ceases to amaze and impress. Within and beyond their price points, AGD offers some true giant-killers in high-end audio. Gorgeous, three-dimensional imaging extending well beyond the room, macro and microdynamics in spades, no noticeable sonic artifacts, all with lightning transient speed and tautness. Always an engaging listening experience.

Enroute to the second evening of Greg Weaver's fantastic vinyl spin in The Audio Company room, I made a point of stopping by to hear Lori Lieberman's performance with Jeremy Kahn and his quartet in the Schaumburg East Ballroom. Jeremy's drummer, Bob Rummage, aside from being one of the busiest drummers in Chicago, is a long-time friend / colleague in percussion who is also Director of Percussion at Elmhurst University. They played to a full house and the sound was impressive (for a convention center ballroom!).



Day 3
Before hitting the road back to Missouri (alas, rehearsals are calling...), I made one final sweep to say hello/goodbye to a few more friends, and a few additional brief listens:



Germany's T+A (Theory + Applications) elektroakustik GmbH & Co. (Schaumburg C) had a plethora of exceptional pieces, including most (if not all?) of their new 200 Series: The MP 200 multi-source streamer and CD player ($4,900), D 200 DAC ($6,900), A 200 stereo amplifier ($4,900), all speaking through the svelte TALIS S 300 three-way floorstanding speakers ($17,500). A brief, but impressive listen suggested a transparent, well-articulated sound, with a nicely balanced frequency spectrum. More quality time would have been needed to garner a more musically critical impression.



George Counnas and his wife, Carol, are truly two of my favorite people in the audiophile world. To have missed visiting with them for even a moment would have been a personal disservice to the weekend! To no one's surprise, George and the Zesto Audio team, along with players from Tannoy (Kensington GR speakers - $18,000), Stillpoints Audio (ESS42-26-4 Rack - $12,600, Aperture Silver stands - $719 / Aperture 2 acoustic panels-$960 ea), and a full loom of Cardas cables, all brought their A-Game to Room 416. Analog was served up care of a Dr. Feickert Analogue Blackbird Deluxe turntable ($8,635), outfitted with two Tri-Planar VII-U2 9.8" arms, mounted with a Benz Micro Gullwing SLR mc, and Ortofon Cadenza Black mc cartridges. I've been the proud owner of an Andros phono stage (1.0 version) some years ago, and know well the Zesto house sound and quality of build.



This year's Zesto rack included two premieres: the incredibly versatile Andros Tessera Reference phonostage ($19,900) and the new Bia 200 Select Class A Stereo amplifier ($15,900). The Leto Ultra II preamplifier ($11,900) also on the rack was launched in the latter 2019, so this was likely the first opportunity for many to hear it. I remain an ardent admirer of the quality, musically-minded objectives, and ultimately, reference sound attained by the Zesto Audio team. With my congratulations on yet another marvelous show presentation!



Alas, all good things eventually come to an end, as "they" say. Plenty of great memories for the drive home Sunday, with renewed energy and inspiration for the art of high-end audio. The determination to reproduce live music as authentically as possible by so many gifted and talented designers has never been more vibrant. From those of us who create the music, I am humbled and most appreciative of these incredible efforts. Until next time....

Keep rockin' in the free world.




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