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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 9
Fantastic fun on the fourth floor.
Audio Expo North America 2023 Show Report By Rick Becker


This room was identified as AMPED, but I saw no AMPED amps here. Perhaps there was a last-minute switch.



A trio of AQ Audio speakers was in evidence, as was a Vincent Audio SV-237 Mk II integrated amplifier beneath the turntable, and a Unison Research CD Due CD player, all upon a Pangea Vulcan rack ($200). I heard Stevie Ray Vaughn coming through the white Passion Teen speaker ($9k) sounding very good.



In an inner room of this suite was a pair of very cool refurbished (?) Pioneer reel-to-reel tape decks that I remember from my much younger days, although they were merely silver back then.



I also diligently followed up here on an invitation to learn about the new, improved Spin Clean record washer with Mark Mawhinney who pointed out the improved snap-in rollers for 7", 10", and 12" records. The unit also has a new mold with a streamlined basin with a new wedge brush mount for precise alignment of the brushes. Plus, there are self-adhesive rubber feet with foot cutouts for improved stability. It looks like Spin Clean did its homework in upgrading this affordable product. And let's face it; not everybody can afford a record vacuum, or has enough LPs to justify such a large expense. (The Mk II is only $80.) This is a great way to get your records considerably cleaner without damaging the labels. Put this on your Holiday Wish List.



Zesto Audio, Reference Analog, And YG Acoustics
George Counnas was multi-tasking preparing to play an LP while enlightening his audience.



The front end was a Dr. Feickert Analogue Blackbird Deluxe turntable (($8,635) with both a Tri-Planar U2-SE 9.8" tonearm ($8,600) and VII-U2 classic 9.8" tonearm ($6,900) equipped with Ortofon Verismo MC cartridge ($7k) and Benz Micro Gullwing SLR MC cartridge ($3,600).

The Zesto tube electronics included the Andros Teressa Reference phono stage ($19.9k), Leto Ultra II preamp ($11.9k), and the new Eros 500 Select Class A monoblocks ($35k) equipped with KT150 Russian tubes. These large monoblocks easily drove the YG Acoustics Hailey 2.2 speakers ($52.8k).



The amp stands ($2k each) and four-tier rack with acrylic shelves ($13,788) were both from Stillpoints. Ultra 6 V2 footers (under the speakers) were $1079 each. Cabling was by Cardas with Clear Beyond speaker cables at $9,200 for 2m, interconnects at $4,250 for 1m, and Beyond XL Power cords were $2,750 for 1.5m. The Cardas Nautilus power strip was $1,500. The complete rig totaled over $200k and it sounded quite good as you would expect.



Grandinote is an Italian company I've known for well over a decade as their amplifiers were shown frequently at the Montreal audio show that I've covered extensively for nearly 30 years. Their styling has a unique vibe and their solid-state electronics are fashioned after tube circuitry and have a signature very close to tube gear.



More recently, they have introduced speakers with high-ish sensitivity to go with their amplifiers that put out modest Wattage. As a tube lover, I've paid close attention to their speakers and I have the Mach 8 XL pair ($30.8k) shown at AXPONA for review where I can run it with tubes as well as solid-state amps. That pretty much tells you what I thought of this room.



The small components on the shelf below the turntable are the Celio Phono stage ($8400) that can be used as a dual-mono stereo with RCA inputs, or as a balanced mono (with a second Celio) using the XLR inputs, and the Volta streamer / DAC ($11.4k) that can be controlled with a tablet, smartphone or personal computer. Both units use the Magnetosolid technology incorporated in their amps.

Below that is the Proemio Preamplifier ($11.4k) which is their entry-level preamp. And dropping down to the bottom shelf is the Silva dual-mono stereo amp ($15k) that puts out 37 Watts per channel and requires two power cords. All prices include shipping from Italy and all import taxes as there is no US distributor involved.

A recent press release of Grandinote announce their new Solo integrated amp ($18,950) to become available in the fall. They are offering a 15% discount on pre-orders, a practice that is becoming more popular in Europe. The new amp will deliver 60 Wpc and have a large 9" display with functions like VU meters, spectrum analyzer, color and brightness adjustments, and more.



The turntable was the J. Sikora Initial and looked very nice.




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