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AXPONA 2023 Luxury Premium Audio And Hi-Fi Stereo Audiophile Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com

The AXPONA 2023 Chronicles: Part 11
Sound systems singing with two speakers on the second floor.
Audio Expo North America 2023 Show Report By Rick Becker

 

 

Next Level HiFi, Aavik, Ansuz, And  Børresen
As you expect in these rooms along the 2nd Floor, the gear here was expensive. I covered this room extensively in my Introduction to the AXPONA Chronicles here.

The new Børresen speaker was the highlight and the music was tight, transparent, dynamic, very high resolution, and commanded my attention so much so that I highly recommend a personal audition with your familiar music before committing to it.

 

 

These Danish manufacturers always show together as that ensures control over the goals they have achieved. Next Level HiFi carries several very fine lines that would presumably allow you to audition this gear in a system more in keeping with what you already own.

 

 

Luxman And Melco
The Luxman room had some significant changes and some new products. Last year's Magico M6 speakers were replaced with the Magico S5 Mk II speakers ($45.4k) which were driven by the same Luxman M-10x Mono / Stereo amps ($20k ea.) that put out 150 Wpc in stereo mode @ 8 Ohms, and 600 Watts @ 8 Ohms when used as monoblocks as they were here.

 

 

On the left HRS (Harmonic Resolution Systems) rack was the Luxman D-07X SACD player ($10k) on top, with the forthcoming NT-07 Network Streamer below, and an Audioquest Niagara power conditioner on the bottom shelf. Audioquest cables were used throughout.

On the right HRS rack was the new turntable (shown below) followed by Luxman C-900u preamp ($16k), E-250 phono stage ($2395), and a new Melco N1-S38 server ($12k).

 

 

The new Luxman PD-191A turntable ($12,495) was pictured on the cover of the show program and will be coming out in July. It had a Luxman LMC-5 moving coil cartridge ($2695) with a Shibata stylus, introduced last year. The 10" tonearm features a knife-edge bearing. The turntable has design cues rooted in the past, as does the entire Luxman line. Their less expensive PD-151 turntable was introduced last year. A dust cover is available as an option.

 

 

And the new Luxman NT-07 Network Transport (Streamer) ($TBD) will be coming out later this year.

Their switch to Magico speakers drew a big crowd last year with the M6, and while the crowd was thin late morning on Sunday, the music was much more engaging than in previous years when they had been teamed up with B&W speakers.

 

 

Scaena Loudspeakers And Silversmith Audio
The Epiphany room, like the Serenity and Prosperity before it, was smaller than the other very large rooms on the 2nd Floor — more like a very good-sized living room, though with tall ceilings. The Scaena speakers featured here could easily have played in a much larger room.

 

 

The Scaena speakers looked to be the same pair as last year with 12 midrange drivers, but they beefed up the 18" subwoofers from two to eight for an impressive display. The Iso-Linear array is scalable to 18 midrange drivers if you need more height. The planar ribbon drivers are embedded in the machined aluminum backbone of the speaker. A digital crossover is employed and the crossover points are kept to the edges of the 100Hz to 5kHz range of the midrange drivers where most of our music is heard. They were powered by their proprietary amplifiers, so there is no point of reference, other than to say the speakers sounded really good as they typically do.

The Scaena Model 3 with external bass management and bass amplification starts at $90k with two woofers. With four woofers it goes up to $106k, and with six woofers it hits $122k. The Symphony arrangement shown here tops out at $140k and packs the impact of a full symphony orchestra. Your room and the type of music you listen to will determine your need for extra woofers.

 

 

Of particular note here was the gold-colored ribbon speaker cable from Silversmith Audio again this year. I have seen this cable in numerous rooms at the show and they all sounded very good. The word seems to be getting around. Their proprietary metal foil is encased in a synthetic sleeve that allows for an air dielectric to surround virtually all of the foil.

Also in use here was the prototype Silversmith interconnects ($TBD). It was difficult to compare the room this year to last year without the Silversmith interconnects, but I was able to compare them in another room. I heard the PureAudioProject speakers at the show with just the Silversmith speaker cable on my first visit, and then with the addition of the forthcoming Silversmith interconnects on a second visit. The improvement was very evident.

The front end in the Scaena room was from the dCS Vivaldi series with the CD/SACD transport ($49k), APEX DAC ($46.5k), Clock ($21k), and Upsampler ($27k). Nordost supplied the QNET Network Switch ($3200), QB8 (20 Ampere) AC distributor ($2150), and QRT Linear Power Supply ($2800).

I had a listen to one of my favorite Rickie Lee Jones songs here on Qobuz and I was boppin'. This was a very good-sounding room.

 

 

Anne Bisson put on a concert on Friday night in the Schaumberg East Ballroom. I very rarely make space for such opportunities at shows. And besides, after hearing her perform in the intimate setting of the restaurant in the King Edward Hotel at the Toronto show earlier in her career, nothing could compare. It's always a pleasure to connect with her in the hallways for a smile and a photo. This time I caught her unawares. 

 

 

 

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