Audio Doctor goes to Axpona observations so far

For the first time went to Axpona, one heck of a show more audio then we have ever seen, the old New York audio shows were like this.

Anyway walked most of the show and most of the systems heard were just bad, common problems no room tuning, rooms that were too big for the gear or too small.  Even some of the really expensive stuff was dissapointing.

There were a few room that were good.

So far winners for us that were very good not in any particular order:

1: Big Horns from Germany forgot the name really famous one,
2: Muiraudio $15k electrostatic hybrid 
3: Alta Audio cheapie $5k speakers sounded great
4: Vimburg
5: Paradigm Persona 3F

(not a great setup,  but the sound comming out of them for a $10k speaker was very impressive. excellent, midrange soundstage was impressive  image floated nicely, even though the speakers were way too close together and the bass response was excellent.  Would have been way better with a few substitions.

6: T+A $75k floorstanders were impressive for such a small size reference speaker, don't know if they are worth that kind of money, the electrostatic tweeter coupled to a line array with buillt in subs was very musical in a way too small room. Would have liked them to be taller

Decent but not up to the hype the new PS audio speakers bass was very good for a $12-15k set of speakers filled up a big room ugly, and not the ultimate wow that PS was billing them as.

The Scaena line array  when we had them setup in our show and at some of the older New York Audio Shows were mind blowing this setup didn't gel which was sad.

Today to hear the Gryphon room, Golden Ear and a few others.

Scott Markwall gave a great demo of the Furutech NCF products which are really cool.

Innous gave a great demo of the Statement vs the Zenith, and wow what a difference in soundstaging and clarity.  

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Paradigm, T+A, Persona dealers.

Those Alta's are fantastic , you can listen 24/7 without fatigue.Very transparent .
Vandy 9 not good.

Best sounds today

Wilson Daw Arc system spectacular.

Vimberg-Karan also sounded spectacular.

Surprise new Golden Ear Triton R fantastic at $6k

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
That's disappointing to hear about the Vandersteen 9. Was it just not pressurizing the room? The bass is supposed to be State of the art.
We were also underwhelmed by the Vandersteens. Went back twice hoping it was just the track or where we were sitting. 

Last year I believe there was a model 5A with an all Acoustic Research front end that we really enjoyed. This year's room was a let down.
Huge room with speakers very far apart.

Personally not Vandy fans even CT tweeter sounds soft. 

Very few giant rooms have adequate bass. 

Lots of cool things very few amazing rooms especially for the money.

I cant think of a worse place to evaluate the performance of a system than a hotel room at an audio show, except maybe a gymnasium. The point of these shows is to see whats new and talk to the manufacturers and designers. Judging performance.... not so much. 
Overall I would say the sound was much better this year. I think the previous attendants learned their lesson last year and really stepped it up. I loved those big a$$ horns and gave myself a chuckle at the thought of using 5 of them in a surround system. The ps audio speakers need more tweaking imo they were to dark sounding.finally got to hear the kef muon in a large room. The $5k speakers from AQ sounded really good and look more expensive than they are. I can’t remember the salk sounds model but it sounded superb. Excellent show.
Which Alta did you hear?  Was going to go this morning but the 5+ inches of snow kept me home☹️
Went to AXPONA on Saturday.  Believe the Vandy System 9 setup was off.  Best in show for me was Ultra Fidelis room with Vandersteen Quatro CT with Vandersteen amplification.  Superb sound from Jon Spelt and staff.

The feedback I got was that this certainly was not like the old RoomTune days. But, I can understand that would come from those who are the RoomTuning followers.

Michael Green

One of my favor room was Piega swiss Speakers with audio note.

I agree with PS audio. I expected more I guess too much hype in advance.

Another excellent room Nagra/ Karma

Luxman triangle.

Piegas were amazing.

Great show and Shelby Lynne concert.

Just my impression. We all hear different things and hotels rooms are not the best to judge equipment.
I got to hear Sasha DAW’s mates to an ARC pre and tubed monos (160’s?). Not anywhere as impressed as it thought I’d be considering the cost.

Dying to hear the Buchardts
I got to hear Sasha DAW’s mates to an ARC pre and tubed monos (160’s?). Not anywhere as impressed as it thought I’d be considering the cost.

Dying to hear the Buchardts
Enjoyed the KEF Muon's I heard yesterday as well.  The ultra low bass was startling in its power and control. Biggest disappointment was the Wilson Audio- Dan D’Agostino room. This massive set up and both times I went to visit they were playing solo piano music. Yes- was nice, but could not appreciate the full capability...

Nice to see my local dealer in Milwaukee getting a shout out- Ultra Fidelis.  They were getting great sound in a small difficult room with the Vandersteen Quattro CT's.
The Salks were the 9's model at $10k I believe. They have one at $5k
with the same mid and uppers just less bass. Value there I think. Loved the Salk sound too.

Heard the Sasha/D'Agostinos and enjoyed that room. Costs aside.

Agreed the PS was BS. They should make a deal with their neighbor Roger Sanders if they wish to make speakers. He nails it.

Loved the Irish guy at Innous. Product is a winner too!

Vandys won the Best Photo Opportunity with the huge Crimson speakers and splashy Blue backdrop. That did make the sound better sadly.

With you AD on the Vimbergs. Lovely. Damn I missed the Electrostatics
from Muir. Not listed in the book!!!

The AN room had a live cellist and that was a classy touch I loved!

Paradigms were good too. Probably because they employed an Anthem
room conditioner. Did not start with it but at least these folks knew they
needed one. (As did ALL the smaller rooms)

A fun show all in all. Even if I had hoped to be home in Phoenix by now.
Thanks weather!

Thanks for brutally honest opinion. It shows there are few good reviewer who cannot be influenced.
If many agree here PS speaker is BS How can they approve & release it? huge dent in brand.
Agree the new PS Audio speakers did not impress. Again the Paradigm Persona 3F were just ok if they were a $2500 speaker. Would have thought with the room correction it would have been much better. 
Fans of Magnepan are buzzing about the debut of the LRS (Little Ribbon Speaker), $650/pair! If you have 3' to put behind each panel, there is no reason to settle a box speaker. All quasi-ribbon drivers mounted on a flat panel (no box resonances to "tune"), for a true low-mass loudspeaker.
I have never been to one of these shows, are they regular hotel rooms, suites or meting rooms?   Seems like a bid investment in time to not have optimal setups.   But like I said I have never been.
I believe the large German horn speakers you are referring to are the Avantgarde Acoustics Duo Mezzo XD speakers. $60k and 107dB/Watt efficient! I agree, probably the best (?) sounding demonstration at the show, certainly the most fun. I also liked the MBL setup. My personal favorite, at a reasonable cost, was the Gale Sanders Eikon active loudspeaker system, $25k including the pre-amp/processor. To my ears this system came close in SQ to some of the systems costing 10-20 times the price. Furthermore, the system size and appearance was such that it is not going to make you feel like a guest in your own living room. If I was starting all over again in HiFi, the Eikon system would be my first choice of equipment. Quite simply beautiful sounding and looking.
Interesting to hear that Piega sounded good.  Way back when I heard them and had a pair at my home that Fremer was reviewing and my old B&Ws were just better.  Heard them again at the NY Audio show and was not impressed.  Are the ones now a new model? 
Miam, There's large rooms on the first and second floor and then many regular hotel rooms with some vendors renting 2 rooms together. I saw more acoustic panels this year than last and it really helped keep every room sounding just like the last room. ATC was demonstrating they're active against their passive when I was in that room and I can't help but think more attention to setup would have helped because tbh I couldn't hear a difference. I don't want to take shots at ps audio and it takes some balls to display a prototype, but if you ask 10 different audiophiles what they didn't like about the speakers you're, well you know the rest. When 1 aspect is tweaked we won't know how it affects the overall sound until we hear it. 
Did you guys stop in the Ryan Audio room? Outstanding sound coming from his bookshelf model. He and his brother have been at it for a long time. $4k. It was one of the sleepers...
to be fair to PS Audio they have been very transparent about prototype status of the product as well as the process they are using to develop this new speaker and eventually a line of speakers. They have in development the largest AMT midrange ( claimed ) and have very publicly admitted it measures well but not up to standard on how it sounds. IMO those are things to be lauded.
Anyone hear the Tri-Art Audio speaker open baffle made of bamboo? I was impressed.
Really massive show! Way too much to take in with the 1 day I allotted this year.
What I did experience was almost unanimously poorly controlled bass, even with additional room acoustics making an effort to address the issue. It would appear to me that a few panels and 1 day of prep can rarely get the job done. I guess listening around the bass response is the way to go at these events.
Displays that impressed were the Ayon room, but I would not give them "Best in Show" as they always advertise. My award of the day went to a flagship model being introduced by Bayz audio. I would have really liked to spend more time in this small room but unfortunately I found this system nearly at the end of the day. This large unique design which looks to me somewhat like the monster in "Alien" almost made me scream when the price was revealed at a haunting $97K. A huge relief came over me when the beast began to sing though. What I did get to listen to sounded like the real deal IMO. Would really like to hear them again on a lengthy audition with various forms of music. They do have a slightly smaller version in the $40’s that wasn’t displayed.
MBL in their double room easily had the greatest visual room ambiance with a darker setting, soft fine spotlighting, silk plants, and of course the stunning MBL’s which also sounded very good.
I do not agree with some of the opinions of the massive KEF’s. The amount of lower energy generated on display in this massive room was very unnatural to me. Maybe best for a movie theater but I’m confused as to what home environment it would blend with.
All in all a great time and if the opportunity presents itself all audio fans should try to attend.

Best Wishes,

The new Piegas Coax 711  were chosen by a friend over KEF blades and many others.
That tweeter is a revelation.

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Mountainsong, we heard the Piegas at this show and the CAP show and they sounded good but not that good to us. 

They do seem interesting, however for $25k I think based on what we heard with them we would go Paradigm Persona, or Vimberg which are a bit more expensive, but maybe a possible squeeze for some people.

The Kef Blades throw a bigger soundstage, with much greater bass especially the Blades vs the Blade 2, so in the case of the Piega it will all depend on where did your friend hear each speaker and what were each speaker being driven by? Did your friend hear both speakers played on the same system at the same dealers? 

Obviously it comes down to personal taste as well. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Kef dealer
Rs 507, there were quite a number of people who talked very favorably about this room.

There is no way the 3F sounded like a $2,500.00 speaker if you heard a $2,500 speaker which sounds this good please tell us which one, because in our shop there is no $2,500 speaker that touches them, the 3F's compete with $20k speakers. 

The sound in the room was good there were a couple of flaws, the speakers were too close together, and they needed a bit of rake angle to bring up the soundstage, also AQ cables tend to spotlight the top end, so thouse should have been changed to a wamer yet transparent interconnect and speaker cable such as Wireworld, lastly the Aurender server was good, the Innous Zenith allows for upconversion which would have allowed the Anthem STR to output DSD to the Anthem STR which gives you a big boost in system liquidity.

Also considering the speakers and amp was a $14k setup the room sounded very good for gear in that price range.

Please let us know which rooms you liked which will calibrate our understanding of what you like and your biases.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Paradigm dealers

The sound of the PS audio system was disappointing- but it is very much a conscious decision by Paul and team to voice the speaker that way.  Overly bassy and soft, very lush and old school sounding.  Veiled and lacking any sort of modern speaker transparency.
The Whafdale Lintons were all midrange and no bass / treble whatsoever but i wasn't expecting much.  Very poor sound.
The goldenear 1R sounded artificial and flat in the key upper midrange area.
my favorite sounding non-stratosphere costing speakers were the Voxatif Zeth (amazing midrange clarity and coherence), Larsen HiFi, Avante Garde uno (Esoteric room),, Audio Physic and of all things the Klipsch forte III sounded awesome!   I loved theway they souded! 
Biggest disappointment- the Buchardt S400.  All bass and a flat midrange that lacked transparency and sparkle.  I would rather own many speakers in that price range than the S400.      
Blimey, this post is not a good advert for audio shows!  Will Denver be better?!  Was thinking of going as never been to this city before, so was going to make a long wkd of it. 

Maybe these audio shows should have more monitors than floor standers.

Wasn't Spatial at the show, any feedback anyone?

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Jab so sorry didn’t feel like we had to look up the product, to remember the name. Two biggest horns Accapella and Avante Garde, Accapella wasn’t there, so felt most people would know which room we were talking about sorry for not having instant recall.

Jab there were many setups that were exceptional sounding and were affordable.

The Paradigm Persona 3 on the Anthem STR sounded really good $10k for speakers $4.5k amp okay add in streamer and cables and it is going to be around $20k but that is still a system someone could move into over time.

The Vu Audio room sounded very good $3k speakers $4k amp? the entire system was around $10k including source.

Another somewhat affordable setup the Alta Audio $5k speakers on the Krell integrated which has the built in streamer that system was $13k other than cabling and it was very musical.

What is interesting about these shows is that you can hear sometimes the same manufactuer setup with different gear and that can help to illustrate two things, one that a product can sound similar no matter what they are being setup with and still manage to sound a bit different.

So far heard Magico S3 Mk II in a few rooms never failed to find them anything other than  boring and the gigantic uber setup in the mezzanine sounded flat and artificial compared to some of the other heavy hitters, the sound was big, and had excellent scale is it us or do the Magico’s just sound too flat in the midrange?

The Spatial’s sounded very good, excellent midrange, good bass, ugly as sin but a good sound for the money.

Other stand outs the Focal Grande Utopias looked magnificent and sounded incredible, played one of our favorite demo tracks the Doors Riders on the Storm and it was etherial, with amazing clarity and a magnificent sense of presense.

The Big Gryphon rig captured the sound and scope of a symphony beautifully.

Less enamored by the big Bortoseen rig, speakers too far apart and the room had uneven bass, howerver, first time heard a Rahido or similar such speaker that the detail was finally not too much. System did somethings very well, but would take the Naim/Grande Utopias over this setup anyday.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
@spoutmouzert, Very different viewpoint on the Spatials from here. On the appearance if someone is trying to add a modern deco theme to their room, I think the Spatials would be an interesting addition. They were shown in a cool looking red color.

Upon listening I felt there was a slight edginess from top all the way through the midrange which lost my interest very quickly with all the stereo candy within a few feet of me. However, based on the positive feedback of this design I attributed this issue to something or things in the set up.

If your interested in this speaker I would recommend holding judgement until you can seriously audition them properly firsthand yourself.


Chrshanl37 has it right. It’s nearly impossible to judge components and speakers at a trade show. Very few rooms were suitable for good listening. Even the big Focals were boomy. I wanted to hear Larson and Sanders and both impressed as they are not as sensitive to room dimensions and were well placed. Overall Axpona gave my friends and I the chance to see brands we only read about. 
Did you wander upon either the PranaFidelity room or Sonist?  Both are mid-priced speakers with good reviews online.  Wonder if you had any direct experience with them.
The PranaFidelity room IMO is an excellent example of high value audio. I don't own their equipment, but based on what I heard last year and this year at AXPONA, I wouldn't hesitate to put them on a recommended short list for folks looking for new speakers: The Vayu model has a frequency response of 28Hz-23kHz and 8 Ohm nominal impedance with sensitivity rated at 89.5 dB. They also have a design feature that allows different filtering on the fly to tailor the speaker to the listener's taste. I found it to be  a convincing demonstration. All that for $8950 a pair. 
I concur about the PranaFidelity speakers. I really thought they sounded great. I enjoyed a number of rooms across the price spectrum. On the affordable front the Ultra Fidelis room with Vandersteen Quatro Wood speakers, the Spendor D7s, the DynAudio Contours, and Ginko Audio stand mounts to name a few all sounded wonderful. 
I agree that the big surprise for me was the Muraudio room. I had heard of these speakers but they were simply awesome...a revelation in a sea of mediocrity. Beautiful seamless blend between the dynamic and electrostatic drivers...they sounded great despite the small narrow room especially on hard to reproduce orchestral classical music. Just awesome. MBL room sounded awesome, Avantegard good, multi-channel Magnepan room very good, Vimburg good. There was a small outfit from Europe (the Netherlands I think) showing some new electronics and demonstrating with vintage Quads and that system also sounded surprisingly very good. Joseph Audio Perspective 2 sounded very good. Agree with you that the T+A speakers and electronics sounded good despite the small room. THEN...Underwhelming: Vandersteen (massive huge room always empty), Von Schweikert/Audio Company the huge VS speakers were totally underwhelming for me in a design where a huge amount of engineering was thrown at a massive and unnecessarily complex loudspeaker. Many, many other mediocre displays which suffered mostly from being shoe horned into the narrow hotel rooms. The manufacturers/dealers who were displaying on the top two floors suites had wider rooms and did much better I think with setup.  Those rooms also reflected more of a real (albeit smallish) living room environment. Vandersteen 9s and VS were displaying in rooms the size of a ballroom i.e., in a totally inappropriate setting and you have to wonder WTF?
To me the best sound was found in 3 rooms: Sanders, Magnepan
and the Martin Logan Renaissance. I missed the Muraudio room darn'it.

These shows make it difficult to appreciate most brands. The Harbeth
rooms were the perfect example. Two equal sized rooms. One with the 40.2s at $17k, The other with 30.2s at $5k? The 30.2 room sounded much better. 

Those $300k Von Schweikerts were pretty amazing in my book.

New stuff I liked the sound of: Borresson and Lafter. Both ridiculously
priced but per a veteran of the business, this is the way they get attention.
Who cares about a new $5k speaker when you can hear a $40k model?
Some logic there but...

The show had an upbeat vibe. More smiles and less "deals".
@firstnot, what did you think of Magnepan's new entry-level model, the LRS?

Pwinson, we couldn’t agree with you more, very astute commentary!

One common issue was rooms with gigantic speakers that were too small and gigantic rooms with speakers that are too small!

In a few rooms that were a bit small there was still good sound. These tended to be speakers with good low frequency response but not crazy deep bass response.

Rooms that sounded really good which matched speaker output to room size:

1: Paradigm Person 3F sounded fantastic and was a compelling demonstration of the power of room correction. The bass was tight and powerful and worked well in the room.

2: Muriaudio, the panels are fantastic and they produced enough bass to work in the room and program material and not too much to overload the room.

3: T+A Compact Metal speakers bass was impressive for the room size and they sounded very good, T+A electronics are amazing.

There were tons of other rooms these were a few of the standouts

4: Vimberg great sound and even though the room was a bit big the speakers sounded fantastic.

Rooms which didn’t work:

1: All Von Schweikert demos, rooms were way too big no room lock.

When you get deep bass to pressurize the room you feel it, even the $300k Von Schweikerts don’t have enough bass for such a huge room.

2: Vandersteen’s way too far apart, not enough bass for such a big room not a great showing.

There were a lot of good sounding rooms but very few standouts.

The Borretson setup was very interesting the image was poor way too spread out, and the bass response in the room was very uneven, the clarity was awesome and the system was setup weird, $90k worth of Avik electronics with a Naim CD player?

Also why does their class D amplifiers have the right to cost $100k? Class D generally costs a lot less to produce than linear amplification.

First time heard a Rahido variation that wasn’t too artificial in the top end.

Stunning looking speakers their pricing is obscene for the lower models $30k for a two way monitor.

Surprising was how good the Wilsons were sounding in a few setups mostly the big rooms. The combo of ARC with Sasha DW was very impressive, way better than the Dagastino setups.

The Magicos were universally just boring and lifeless.

The giant F1 step did capture scale beautifully except there was no magic in the midrange and the sound was uninvolving.

Dave and Troy

Audio Doctor NJ Paradigm, T+A dealers

It was easy to compare the Sanders electrostat hybrids to the Martin Logans:  I thought Sanders had much much better integration between their dynamic sub driver and the electrostatic panels than ML, really surprisingly so since ML has been at this game a very long time now and should have it down.  Maybe there was something that was leading me to an incorrect conclusion with regard to the MLs but for me driver integration was much better on the Sanders.  Clarity above the bass range I thought was good on both but just a little bit more so on the MLs.  I guess Vandy and VS look at this as more of an almost static display than an attempt to make their equipment sound good, maybe they rely more on the generally well established word of mouth that they perform well but this particular showing certainly didn't advance that assertion at all.  Pass had a huge display but as I recall it actually WAS static...there was a huge amount of Pass products on display practically the whole line, sitting out on display.  I can't recall now if they were actually playing music in that room or not.  I do love the Pass products.  I didn't see Aesthetix anywhere and its a shame because their preamps are magnificent in my opinion (their power amps very good but maybe just not great).  I actually respect the fact that they aren't continuing to churn out new models to feed the upgrade cycle but I DO hope they stick around.  Their Calypso line stage and Janus preamp are still A1 in my book.