AXPONA 2018 Audio Expo: Blog and Recap – Part 1

AXPONA 2018 is over and by all accounts, the show was a great success. Doors opened on Friday the 13th of April 2018 for what has become the largest high-end audio show in the U.S.

For 2018, AXPONA moved to a new venue to provide a weekend of acoustic thrills for attending audiophiles.

AVS Forum coverage of this year’s show consists of the blogged experiences of members who attended. This list is sorted alphabetically by manufacturer, you can click on the name of the author above each group of comments and it’ll take you to the forum post where the comment originated.


This is part 1 of the show coverage from AXPONA 2018, provided by AVS Forum members who attended. This section encompasses companies with names beginning with letters A through E.

Click here for Part 2 (F-P)

Click here for Part 3 (Q-Z)


General Impressions at AXPONA 2018

@Scotth3886 says:

“Got to the convention center parking lot around 10:05 of Friday and it was already almost full. ”

“First impression is how much larger this space than the previous space where were last the eight years I think. I think this show now has potential to be larger than Munich.”

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“So I’m going to have to change my attack plan tomorrow. I was hoping to see every room at the show, but it’s so big this year and with tomorrow being a shorter day I don’t think that’s going to be possible. I have some that I really want to check out, including ESS, Magnepan, and the big MLs in the ML/Paradigm room, plus Legacy and some I’m sure I’m forgetting.”

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“While this show has a ton of incredibly high-end stuff, the budget gear has been some of the most impressive. Maybe they’re just taking the time to get things set up correctly instead of throwing more money and fancy cables at it.”

“Emotiva, Elac, JTR, Revel (not cheap, but compared to a lot at the show…), and the Schiit/Salk room have been some of my favorites.”

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“I could’ve used a fourth day if the show had offered one, I didn’t get a chance to hear everything, and I would have loved to have spent more time listening in a handful of the rooms.”

“I really wish I’d had more time to check out the Headphone Expo that was going on, there were some in the Expo hall, and then a ‘secret’ (I don’t know if it was really secret, but they didn’t seem to publicize it) big headphone room in the two-story suite on the 15th and 16th floors.”


Photo by @Scotth3886

@oldred says:

“I have been attending AXPONA for as long as I can remember. The best part of the show this year was the hotel itself… all I can say is WOW.

“Every year in the past we would always attend on Sunday. It would always take about 4 hours to see what we needed to see. This year it took a full 7 hours and we attended on Friday. I think next year we will be getting the full weekend pass. Fantastic hotel (parking could be better).”


ATC

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“ATC has two rooms next to each other, showing the SC40 Active and the SC50 Active. These are both powered speakers.

“I know I keep saying things “sound nice,” and that’s because many of the speakers here just blend into a pleasant background. These ATCs are different: They have an immediacy and ‘realness’ that many others lack.

“If the Tektons sound like the amplification of love music, these sound like live music. Something that stands out to me is how realistic and visceral percussion comes across on these, as well as how natural voices sound.

“The SC40s for for just under $14,000, the SC50s for $28,000. They sound very similar, the bigger ones dig a bit deeper and may play louder, but the smaller ones easily hold their own.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


Audio Physic at AXPONA

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“I almost walked by, another slim two-way tower, yawn, but something drew me in. These have hidden woofers inside of the cabinets that fire through a hidden slot port underneath the speaker.

“The sound quality is very nice, good bass, clear treble and midrange, lots of detail, nice and tight, I like them.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


Auris

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“They make very pretty (and very expensive looking) headphone amps, speakers, and some other things. They had the big amp hooked to some wooden Kennerton headphones. It sounded very nice, but their main speaker system wasn’t working.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


Aurum Cantus

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“Wow – Aurum Cantus – most of us know them for Parts Express ribbon tweeters, but apparently they make full speakers as well, and they sound Ah-mah-zing! Seriously, these things have imaging and soundstage to die for, a nice sweet tonal balance, and look sort of like me grasshoppers with their unique feet. Some Benchmark amps and an Oppo disc player complete the chain.”

“They didn’t have the bookshelves hooked up, but for the price, I’d they sound like these towers, those could be Sierra killers.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


Bob Carver

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“This is going to be my last room for the day, but I’ll be back tomorrow to cover more, there so much left I want to check out, I feel like I barely scratched the surface today.”

“On to Bob. His amazing line source lives up to the name. Super clear, nice imaging,the little flat panel sub is right and great with music. Apparently Bob Carver is unique in warranting the tubes in their tube amps along with everything else, from 5 to 15 years depending on the model.”

“Frank Malitz was running the demo and holding court, I know he occasionally posts around here.”

Photos by @TuteTibiImperes

@Marc Alexander says:

“I’ve never been a fan of Carver’s marketing but the “Amazings” were nothing short of (they did include a subwoofer though). Easily in my top 5 listening experiences. WOW!

“Also present were the 350W tube monoblocks which I believe he was supposed to release through Emotiva initially. A smaller set of tube monoblocks are on the way. 175W I believe.”

 


Cambridge Audio at AXPONA

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“Cambridge was demoing their new high-end ‘Edge’ series electronics with a pair of B&W 805 D3s (I guess they figured their own speakers weren’t good enough?).

“It sounded excellent, but for the money the 805 D3 still isn’t my favorite ultra bookshelf.

“They were also selling Beryllium earbuds for $50, with half the proceeds going to charity. I bought a pair.”

 


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


Canton/Esoteric

@mtrot says:

“I had been wanting to hear the Canton Reference series for a long time, so I was excited to finally get this chance to hear these Reference 3. Either the room was too small, or the speakers were too big, as it seemed there was a lot of excess bass energy. The mids and highs were good, but not better than many other speakers in this price range.”


Photo by @mtrot

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“Canton Reference 3K Speakers: These use the new ceramic drivers found on the Canton 45th anniversary models.

They sound good, but are too big for the room. Nice treble and midrange, the bass modes are killing it though, these need a huge room or some room correction applied.

There’s a bunch of very pretty, and very expensive Esoteric gear here as well, including a $20,000 ‘master clock’.”


Photo by @TuteTibiImperes


Classic Audio Loudspeakers at AXPONA

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“These speakers sound very nice, great dynamics, wide soundstage, they really fill out the front of the room with what could be a real orchestra. There’s a big red chair at the front of the room. If you sit in that chair everything sounds incredible. Outside of that chair it’s still good, but that chair is magic.”

“Unfortunately they’re being a bit let down with some older recordings being played that aren’t as clear as newer ones. All sources look analog, a departure from most rooms at the show which have embraced music servers and streaming. I think the reel to reel was playing while I was there.”

“Check out the huge midrange compression driver (with Beryllium!). The silver boxes are energizers for the field coils.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


Cube Audio/Pass labs

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“This was a new speaker brand to me, apparently they’re imported from Poland. Single full-range drivers in quarter-wave cabinets, and they sound far, far, far better than they have right to. One of the best sounding speakers I’ve heard all day, with amazing imaging and soundstage, deeper bass than a single full range driver has any business putting out, and just an altogether impressive coherency and tonal accuracy.

These speakers were being powered by a Nelson Pass First Watt amp (20wpc) and has a bunch of other Pass Labs stuff in the signal chain, along with a Denon turntable.”

“They really were surprisingly good, not just for a single driver speaker, but for any speaker. They were playing a lot of old-school jazz in the room, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, etc, and those speakers just sang. Even sitting way closer than I would in my own room they threw a wide soundstage and had pin-point imaging. All that with no crossover elements at all – amp to binding posts to driver. ”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


DynAudio

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“They only had one speaker on display, the Special 40s, by those are super-gorgeous and sound very good. Surprising amount of bass from them, though the deepest bass lacked definition. Pair them with a nice sub and cross them at 80hz and that’s solved though.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“More DynAudio, this time Contour 2s, along with a fancy VPI record player and Pass Labs amps. Nice sound, though the room was a bit small for the speakers. They also have a wet bar, so that’s a plus for this room, run by something or someone called The Audio Surgeon.”


Photo by @TuteTibiImperes


Eikon Audio

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“It’s a fully digital active system. It comes with two speakers (one AMT, one cone midrange, and front and back woofers, all independently DAC’d and amped) and one control device that has all of your inputs and then breaks things down into 8 channels (4 per speaker). With the digital control there’s room correction (custom wavelet setup and it comes with a mic) as well as automatic delay/phase/timing adjustment.”

“It’s all very techy, but they sound great. Gayle played Firebird for me, and wowza, these have some bite, they can handle loud and finesse equally well and switch between the two on a dime.”

“The whole system is $24,000. Given how good it sounds compared to much more expensive setups, that could be a bargain.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes

@Scotth3886 says:

“Another great pleasure (of being at AXPONA) was to see Gayle Sanders, co-founder of MartinLogan about 35 years ago. I haven’t seen him in about 30 years. Super nice guy, too.

“His new Eikon speakers are fully active with class-D amps and DSP. Not sure I could get my arms around that, but they did sound really great, and at $25,000.00 all-in, sort of a bargain.”


Photos by @Scotth3886


ELAC at AXPONA

@Scotth3886 says:

“In the Elac room and Andrew is holding court. Heard the Adantes. Very very nice. Now in the room with the new 5.2s…”

“The big surprise again is what Andrew had at 1/10th the price of the Adantes, and that’s the new B5.2s. What a surprise this is at the under $300 price point, it’s one of the most impressive speakers I’ve heard today at any price. These sounded far, far better than what I heard at a Best Buy a couple of days ago. I don’t understand how Andrew keeps doing this and knocking these out of the park.

“… My Gawd these are fantastic.”


Photos by @Scotth3886

Videos by @Scotth3886

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“ELAC has a new line of electronics under the Alchemy sub-brand. Version 2 still lacks bass management and room EQ. I mentioned how silly that is to the gentleman from ELAC in charge of the Alchemy line, and he mentioned that the reason is that analog people don’t trust products that digitize everything, which is required for the room EQ and proper bass management.

“Thankfully, the ELAC amp that does have bass management and room EQ, the Element, is readying for a Phase 2 is it’s own – gaining more streaming options, including Ethernet, and it’s becoming a Roon endpoint.

“The Adantes sounded phenomenal just like they did in the previous room. The new Debut B6.2s sounded excellent as well. Not as much detail or finesse as the Adantes, but they do have an exceedingly pleasant sound. For $300 they’re a steal.

“The new Alchemy amp does 350wpc into 2 channels for $1,500.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


ELAC/AVM

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“This wasn’t the actual Elac room, but hey has the Adante As61s so I stopped in for a listen.

“Wow, everything I love about my UniFis taken to the next level. More detail, more bass, even more razor-sharp imaging, these are something special. The Matte Rosewood finish is also very pretty.

“AVM’s gear is pricey, but seems very well made, all of it is heavy and aluminum.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


Emotiva at AXPONA

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“Emotiva has their RMC-1 set up with a 9.1.6 surround system, and it’s very very good. They’re using the JVC 4K laser projector for visuals, wow, that’s an impressive piece of equipment, great contrast even in a room with a lot of ambient light.

“I stayed through several demos, it was hard to tear myself away. The C2 center is something special.

“They also have a bunch of clear chassis gear, so photos of stuff.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


Saturday Update from Emotiva

 @TuteTibiImperes says

“Dan Laufman at Emotiva gave us a preshow interview and tour. Yesterday I was very impressed by the Emotiva presentation. After speaking with Dan today I’m even more excited for what the company has coming out.

“Let’s start with an answer to the question above: yes, the RMC-1 is capable of full discrete 16 channel processing, including front wides, with no matrixing.

“There’s also an expansion module for the RMC-1 in the works that will give it support for up to 6 subwoofers, all discretely managed with individual delay, phase, level, and Dirac processing per sub.

“Dan also mentioned that HDMI 2.1 boards are being developed and will be available for all RMC, XMC, and XMR units, with an option for the end user to install it themves to avoid having to ship the whole unit back.

“Speaking of the XMR, the new Emotiva Receiver, it’s coming out late this summer. It uses Pascal amp modules (considered to be some of the best), has 11 amplified channels, and will do 200wpc into 8ohms any 4 channels driven 20hz-20khz, that’s dang impressive. It also will have a 1 kilowatt switch-mode power supply similar to those used in the XPA Gen 3 amps, but larger.

“Some cool new stuff coming:

The DC-2 DAC is a desktop DAC with a very unique feature – a subwoofer output and bass management (user selectable for 60hz or 80hz crossover point).

There are also the PR-1 amps – 150 watts into 8ohms doubling to 300 watts at 4 ohms, $299 each, monoblocks, with RCA sand balanced (combo XLR/TRS) inputs.

Dan also mentioned that Emotiva is the only affordable manufacturer of audio equipment that controls its entire technology path. The software for the RMC-1 was apparently the big bugaboo that’s been delaying things. Now that that’s finished expect an avalanche of new Emotiva gear in coming years.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


This is part 1 of the show coverage from AXPONA 2018, provided by AVS Forum members who attended. This section encompasses companies with names beginning with letters A through E.

Click here for Part 2 (F-P)

Click here for Part 3 (Q-Z)

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