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AXPONA 2024 High-Performance Audio, Luxury Premium Hi-Fi Stereo Audiophile Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com


The Big AXPONA 2024 Show Report
The largest, most well-managed, and most amazing show in North America!
Audio Expo North America 2024 Show Coverage By Greg Weaver



Euphoria Room – Valve Amplification Company And Acora Acoustics
So, the large system at the front of the room shone through quite remarkably to earn its place among the Best Rooms at this year's event. My time there during Saturday evening's After-Hours LP listening session was one of the best events of its kind, and we enjoyed the rapt attention of those in attendance. The two clear highlights of the event as mentioned by many attendees were the playing of the 2015 12" 45 RPM single of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," and my original 1971 UK Island first pressing of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. In the photo below, note that the listeners, many with their eyes closed, were not taking a nap, but were listening intently to the tracks I was playing!



Big System Details:
Swedish Analog Technologies XD 1 Record Player System with CF 1-09Ti arm - $307,500

Lyra Atlas Lamda MC phono cartridge - $13,195
VAC Statement Phono Stage - $82,000

Aurender N30SA Music Server/Streamer - $25,000

LampizatOr - Poseiden DAC - €23,000 - approximately $24,500 at the time of posting

United Home Audio Ultima Apollo Reel to Reel deck/w outboard power supply - $55,000

VAC Statement Line Stage - $82,000

VAC Master 300 iQMusicbloc Amplifiers - $42,000/ea

Acora Acoustics VRC-1 - $218,000 base price
      - Special Sunset Fire edition pricing upon request

Cardas Nautilus Power Strip - $1,200

Clear Digital Coax 75 Ohm - 1.5 M - $800

Clear Beyond Interconnect - 1.5 M - $5050/pair

Clear Speaker - 2.5 M - $5,275/pair
Clear Beyond Power - 2 M - $2965

Acora SRR-V4 shelf vertical in 1.25" Nero Assoluto Granite - $8,500

Acora SRR-H2 Shelf Double width vertical in 1.25" Nero Assoluto Granite - $8,500

Smaller System Details:
Linn Klimax Streamer DAC - $45,000

VAC VAC Master Line Stage - $30,000

VAC Essence 80 iQmonoblocs - $9,990/ea – $19,980/pair

VAC Master 300 iQMusicbloc - $42,000
Acora GEM-SRB Illuminated Loudspeakers - $55,000/pair

Acora Bedrock Subwoofer Loudspeakers - $30,000/pair
      - Standard combinations (i.e., non-illuminated) starting from $38,000

Acora Equipment Rack - $8,500 each

Cardas Clear and Beyond Clear Cables – no pricing provided



What is left to be said about most of the products in this system? My thoughts on the VAC Statement gear are well known, as are those on the LampizatOr product lineup. I have written about both companies' products extensively over time. And though I have been well aware of the attributes of the SAT LP gear, this was my most lengthy and diverse exposure to their abilities and merely served to verify my previous appreciation of their capabilities.

Finally, the way that the flagship Acora Acoustic's loudspeakers gave voice to all the music under their charge is revelatory, especially in the way they maintain their poise and grace across all volume levels, from a mere whisper to a full-throated roar! Words alone do not do justice to the beautiful look of the Acora Acoustics VRC loudspeakers in their limited special finish they call the Sunset Fire edition. This system's performance was clearly among the Top Five Rooms at this year's event.



While the sophisticated and intricate sonics routinely delivered by this large and exotic system easily earned it a place among the best-performing systems presented at this show, presenting everything with its bold, vibrant, and revelatory delivery, it was the introduction of the optionally illuminated GEM-SRB monitor loudspeakers, with their companion illuminated Bedrock subwoofers, that were also perfectly integrated stands for the GEM-SRBs, that garnered the most attention from visitors to the Euphoria room.



Set up just inside the door to the right, there can be no question that this exotic and costly monitor/sub system, presented in a combination of Acora's vibrantly colored Gemstone materials, illuminated by an internal LED option, made for quite a dramatic appearance in the darkened room. Not only were they a striking-looking combination, but they managed to recreate the power and impact of the deepest bass and restore the otherwise missing "air" and "space" of the venue of the recordings they portrayed, with conviction and authority.



Utopia C – Wynn Audio
The ever gracious and engaging Wynn Wong, principal of Ontario Canada's Wynn Audio, was on hand, as was Jean Marie Clauzel, the driving force behind France's Métronome Technologies, Inc., makers of the Kalista products, whom I had the pleasure of meeting last November in Vienna during the launch of their new Mantax DAC, was on hand as well.



System Details:

Thiele TT01 Turntable with TA01 Tonearm - $28,000

Thiele Damping weight - $1,000 - Thiele Platter mat - $230
Thiele Active suspension platform - $18,000

Karan Acoustics PHONOa Phonostage - $38,000

Kalista Dreamplay X CD Transport - $66,500

Kalista Mantax DAC - $64,300

Karan Acoustics LINEa Preamp - $41,000

Karan Acoustics POWERa MONO Amplifiers - $106,000 (pair)

Vimberg Mino Loudspeakers - $40,000

Fono Acustica cabling
Entreq Grounding solution boxes
Critical Mass Systems MAXXUM Ultra Racks and amp stands


This room overwhelmingly earned its place in my Top Five Rooms at this year's event, just as it had done last year. Another multi-national collaboration of products, with the handmade German analog products from Helmut Thiele, the stunningly beautiful, and beautiful sounding, French Kalista digital sources, using the Serbian electronics designed by Milan Karan, to drive the Vimberg Acoustic loudspeakers, designed and built by Germany's Tidal Audio, made for one of the most impressive and engaging sounding systems at this event!

When I walked in to hear an undisclosed female vocal track already queued, I was immediately taken with the visceral sense of air and space of the performance, along with such breathy vocals, that, given this simply amazing performance, I couldn't wait to hear tracks I knew.



Next up came the Music On Vinyl release of Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Tin Pan Alley." Before you respond with the common, "Oh, that gets so overplayed at shows" response, please recall the meaning of a "reference track." It gets played because people have heard it hundreds of times, on as many systems, allowing it to deliver a reference track!

I was simply devastated by this performance; such a fine blend of resolution with texture and body. The track was a revelation on this system, as cymbal dynamics, especially trails, were vivid and so well-articulated, as was Stevie's 1959 Fender Strat guitar string attack, even during almost inaudible parts of his solo on this dirge-like track.

Next up, a CD of the reading of the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13 by Alfred Brendel on piano, played on the flagship Kalista gear. WOW! Yet again, the system's dynamic prowess stood out. This is a recording that I've often heard sound too energized above about 3000 Hz with many digital front ends. Yet this presentation was balanced with tonal honesty, a vibrance, and an amazing sense of harmonic bloom. Bravo, Wynn!



Schaumburg F – Nordost, Stenheim, VTL, dCS, And VPI
This was the first time I'd had the opportunity to hear the entry model to Germany's Stenheim Reference lineup, the Ultime Two SX, resting on their optional reference platforms. A five-driver, passive three-way, full vertical array design (D'Appolito alignment), it uses a 1" soft dome tweeter between a pair of 6.5" midrange drivers, and a pair of their 12" woofers. The fully aluminum enclosure, stands just over 60" tall, 14.5" wide, and nearly 20" deep, weighing in at just over 500 pounds per side. With a nominal impedance of 4 Ohms, and a frequency response of 25 Hz to 35 kHz, the phase-coherent crossover allows passive room control via its fine tuner panel.



System Details:
VPI Titan Direct - $60,000
Lyra Etna - $8,995
dCS Rossini Apex DAC - $32,800
dCS Rossini Master Clock - $10,850
No Server/Streamer listed
VTL TP-6.5 Series II Signature Preamplifier - $15,000
VTL TL-7.5 Seroes III Reference Line Preamplifier - $35,000
VTL MB-185 Series III Signature Monoblock Amplifiers (2 pair used) - $27,000/pair or $54,000 total
Stenheim Reference Ultime Two SX – with Reference Platforms - $186,500/pair
All Nordost cabling Including - Odin 2, Valhalla 2, QBASE, QSOURCE, QPOINT, QWAVE, QKOIL, QVIBE


Not only was I able to catch up, ever so briefly, with DarTZeel's Hervé Delétraz in this room, but hearing standards like "So What," the opening cut from Miles' Kind of Blue revealed this system's extremely wide staging, beautiful tonality balance, and excellent definition and resolution.



But when a test lacquer of an upcoming piano recording release was demonstrated, the dynamics and nuances of the piano were off the hook from the opening key. While we may often forget that the piano is a percussion instrument, this system left no question of that reality, presenting a remarkably clear development of the hammer's attack on the strings. This system conveyed such engagement with the message of the music and delivered an impressively natural reverberant recreation of the front of the sounding board and the room in which the recording was made. This remarkably fine performance earned it my final Top Five Room award for the event.



And So It Goes....
Well, that is about all I could cover over my three-day stay at this monumental North American audio show. My thanks to everyone at JD Events for such an exemplary event, especially to friends Liz Smith, AXPONA Event Director, and Mark Freed, VP of sales for the event.

And my thanks to all my friends, readers, channel viewers, and subscribers for taking the time to introduce yourselves and say hello. What a wonderful brotherhood in music we all share. Please, until next time, be sure to Enjoy the Music!




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