April 21st, 2017
By: Carlin "Rick" Smith
The AXPONA 2017 show has come to end and I was there Friday and Saturday of the show. I will share some pictures take and there are many others out there from various sources.
First some general thoughts.
Completely by feel of foot traffic and hallway congestion Friday attendance seemed a little lighter than last year and Saturday attendance a little heavier.
Lots of discussion about use of MQA (largely through TIDAL streaming) at show. There are definitely strong opinions (pros/cons) but most people are taking an open mind about to see how things develop - myself included. My opinion is at end of day experiential data will be more key than the science and mathematics involved and subjectivity of listening will be key to adoption but not a guarantee of commercial success. After spending some time with an Aurender A10 playing TIDAL Masters (MQA) through a number of different tracks my conclusion that confirmed my assumption going in is that newer tracks that use the process throughout do sound good while older classic albums I could tell no difference albeit with limited track sampling. Extracting that which was never there still seems a pipe dream.
Recording quality is still king in my mind. MQA, DSD, Hi-Res, Redbook, Vinyl, reel to reel - at end of day quality of recording still rules over any format and when purchasing focus on quality first format second. You won't be disappointed.
Our favorite songs of show via TIDAL playlist.
One of our favorite products the Aurender series of players certainly appeared as the dominate digital transport appearing in probably a dozen rooms.
Sonus Faber Homage Speakers - beautiful design
Sonus Faber and Audio Research
Sim Moon and Dynaudio
Sonus Faber and Pass Labs
Berkeley Audio Design Reference DAC 2
Mark Levinson and Revel Speakers (Yet to be released field samples)
Inside Pass Labs AMP
Karan Acoustics and Penaudio speakers
Tubes and horns
Magico speaker model and a MPOD
Studer reel to reel - quite a few of various types in rooms
KEF LS50 Wireless and Classic
Physiks HRS-130 Speakers - distributor was proud of them but I thought room didn't sound good
Synergistic Research demo room with their various products and very good electronics and speakers
Large Paragon room with dCS Vivaldi, Momentum Mono-blocks in bridged mono, Wilson Audio Alexx
Paradigm Persona 9H Speakers
McIntosh with Sanus Faber
McIntosh with Martin Logan speakers
Music Direct room with Focal Sopra 3s - some great vinyl from Musical Fidelity played in this room
TIDAL speakers, Aurender, Briscati Design electronics
Jeff Rowland Integrated and Joseph Audio Perspective - sounded as good as anything at show
An attempt at wife friendly
The strangest speaker at show - admittedly when I went into room playing Metallica at 100+dB and sounded pretty good