Axpona 2023


Axpona Show Recap Sunday April 16th 2023- O'Hare Airport


Clarisys Audio-Why these difficult names??

$35k. Easy on the ears at higher volumes.

"Apogee" is what they look like only prettier.


The new T+A $50k speaker model was also excellent. They make smaller models

I plan to look into.


The $43k Joseph Audio is a perennial winner.


The $200k+ Borresen Speakers may still be my all time favorite. Lars was there

but Michael B. was burned out from an Asian tour.


The Vimberg stand mount Speaker they demo'd is a magical speaker. 

Last year they showed Lime Green speaker and sold it at the show.

Makers please note. Focal failed to bring even one "Hot" colored speaker.

And they must have had 25 speakers there. Poor merchandising. 


Did anyone else partake in one of Wendel's 1/2 hour new subwoofer sessions? (Magnepan)

Wendel's contention is that 12  6.25" drivers mounted in a dipole configuration

beats anyone's subwoofer. Not sure about his science on that but he puts on an

impressive demo! 


I am still waiting delivery of my LRS+ speakers ordered Dec 4th. 

I did get to listen to the new LRS+ speakers finally. Interesting back story about

something Sandy Gross had to say in the Bacche room. He thinks the LRS+ are "special".


Mike Fremer debuted his new LP. I won't try to review it but will advise against over paying

for an early copy.


Met some fun people at Cambridge Audio Saturday night!  Their business is good.


Dined with the Black Ice people at the Weber Grill.  Jared has a very

interesting past if you ever meet him. They sold 40 units of one headphone amp

on Friday at the show!


I finally met Fredrik Lejonklou from Sweden. He does things in an all out assault mode.

Also has the best laid out website I've seen. Product history info is wonderful. Other makers note.


I spoke with the Chris Brunhaver, PS Audio Speaker designer, (son of one of the speakerlab founders)

and heard his mid sized $20k speakers. I like the look and the sound is pretty good

for a first effort. I decided against asking him if he missed Darren Meyers the PS audio designer

who was recently hired away by the new Parasound owner. Darren is a very talented guy who will 

benefit greatly from his new association with John Curl. I have to think Parasound will be announcing 

a new Class D amp soon enough.


Rumor has it that PS Audio is shopping for a new software man to fix some long standing glitches. 

When the mute button turns on the TV it is time for a fix.


Andrew Jones was demoing his new Point 8 speaker. $3k. the Point 10 is $4k. 

He had some great demo music I will be including in my next Track du Jour email.

The 8's sounded as good or better than the 10's in that setup.


A fun show overall!!



Did you happen to see any of the Aries Cerat gear while you were there? I heard Audio Research had some really nice sounding demonstrations.

@designsfx  I was a little unimpressed with the Aries Cerat room. Maybe it was the music at the time, but it sounded fairly pedestrian; especially in contrast with the gargantuan scale of the equipment. One of the guys in the room told me that they were limited by the fact that they couldn't put 15' of space between the speakers. Presumably, even more clearance would be needed from the side walls. He went on to tell me that it's always impossible to set up a great system with less than 15 feet between the speakers. So, I may as well give up on the hobby, eh?


I did have a lot of fun at the show and enjoyed some  great conversations with people I've met over the years. The big Borresens sounded absolutely stunning. I'm just glad that Lucifer himself wasn't there with a form I could sign to trade my soul for a $280k sack of cash. I enjoyed the wry humor of Lars, and he played some great tracks including a Beatles song.





That’s unfortunate for everyone involved- you would think if that were the case they would have gone for a larger space (as you pointed out above). It’s hard to imagine 15’ between speakers being a requirement for optimal sound- 

I thought the Borreson X3 for 11,500 were the star of the show. An relatively affordable speaker that sounded as good as the 30k speakers. Should fit into many rooms. Good looking. 

I attended this show and also went last year. I been to many shows over the years including Rocky Mountain twice and several in Southern California. This year I decided to spend MUCH LESS time on the Ultra High-end exhibits and more time in other rooms since I was looking to buy speakers, a power amp and new streamer. My main focus was on speakers in the $4k-$7K range. I targeted rooms to listen to the new KLH Model 7’s, Wharfedale Dovedale, and Audiovector QR7. This was the first time the Wharfedale and KLH models were shown in the US. I thought the KLH speaker was very impressive for a $4K speaker. This is a sealed design meant to go against the wall. I was also very impressed with the Dovedale model. This is a higher end (Ported) speaker that retails for $7K. I did think the quality of the Wharfedale speaker was better than the KLH in both cabinet quality and overall. This speaker has a high quality 2 circuit board crossover and sounds very good.

I had high hopes for the QR7 but to be honest it was very disappointing to me. I don’t know if it was just the music he was playing or the Bel Canto electronics. I have seen where other people who listed to these speakers really like them so maybe it’s just me and not my cup of tea. I also listened to the Dutch and Dutch 8C speakers and was very impressed with their sound. The downside to these speakers are it down samples everything to 48K. These have an active built in amplifier, DAC and DSP. The other problem for me is all of the needed connections needed to the back of the speakers. I was blown away by the bass these speakers had.

I also had a very long talk with one of the tech support people from the Aurender room. I think I’m going to purchase an N200 in the next few weeks. Magnepan was a disappointment for me again and I was unable to get in their room because of the long wait list! The Pure Audio project speakers were also a joy to listen to. Did anyone have any listening comments on any of these items at AXPONA this year? I would love to hear other people’s comments. Also, I have an informational sheet I took a picture off on the KLH 7’s that hasn’t been released to the general public if anyone would like me to send it to you. Also heard from Aurender that they are seeking Roon certification. This has not been announced yet. They will still use the Conductor app but I have no further details except they claim this would be a software update only. Not sure if its only for specific models or not.


benzman, ref Borreson X3.

But it has 4 1/2" woofers? Is that correct?



Black Ice has a new headphone amp that is Jim Fosgates home system in a tube based headphone amp. Is that the one they had at the show?  Prices?

@benzman I'm curious to know more about the Borresen X3 speakers. Your feedback is very encouraging. Can you tell me a little bit more about them? Would you describe them as more on the 'neutral' or 'warm' side of the spectrum? How do they compare to some other speakers based on what you heard? Thanks.

I was with two other friends and we all thought by far that You would call it a affordable mid high end speaker. I think they spec to down to 35hz. I teased he was hiding a subwoofer in there. It was with the Audio Group Denmark. 

Just a great overall balanced sound. I am not good a descriptions but worth a listen for sure.  Very musical. Nothing called attention to itself just a very balanced thru the whole spectrum.   Perfect size for most rooms. Sounded like a much bigger speaker. 

I totally agree with Benzman — the Borresen X3 speakers at $11,000 are one of the best values I’ve ever seen. To my ear, they sounded as good as the $22k Von Schweikerts. 

Another value play — the Scansonic MB 6B (by Raidho) for $15k. Their answer to Børresen’s new X3 — both high quality, exceptional value buys. 

Did anyone check out the Canton room by Bluebird? I was really looking forward to listening to the Reference 3 K floorstanders but was sadly disappointed. Same for the Audio Monitor Platinum 200 3G speakers. Both of those are good brands and I’ve read great reviews. Perhaps they were just victims of the “Hotel Room Curse!”

Though that sure didn’t seem to hurt the Børresen X3s — phenomenal. And Frits (Børresen’s guy) was icing in the cake. Hoping to pull the trigger on those bad boys this fall! 

All in all, a great show. 

I totally agree with Benzman — the Borresen X3 speakers at $11,000 are one of the best values I’ve ever seen. To my ear, they sounded as good as the $22k Von Schweikerts. 

Another value play — the Scansonic MB 6B (by Raidho) for $15k. Their answer to Børresen’s new X3 — both high quality, exceptional value buys. 

Did anyone check out the Canton room by Bluebird? I was really looking forward to listening to the Reference 3 K floorstanders but was sadly disappointed. Same for the Audio Monitor Platinum 200 3G speakers. Both of those are good brands and I’ve read great reviews. Perhaps they were just victims of the “Hotel Room Curse!”

Though that sure didn’t seem to hurt the Børresen X3s — phenomenal. And Frits (Børresen’s guy) was icing in the cake. Hoping to pull the trigger on those bad boys this fall! 

All in all, a great show. 

Talked to Aurender tech too. He talked about Roon coming soon but was convinced it would not be a sonic match to Conductor. Hmm. Did anyone pop into the Carver room? If so, impressions?

If Qualio Audio IQ's or Ocean Way Eureka's weren't represented you didn't hear the best there is!

I’d like to read impressions regarding Carver also.

Did anyone get there and see/hear the RAM 285?
Did they have any other “new gear” on display?


Pretty impossible to go into every room.

Friday I like to check the music sales room

before all the good stuff is gone. Elusive Disc

had a bigger selection of XRCDs than I have ever seen

so they took some of my money. 


I have been Borresen fan since I first heard

them in Axpona or RMAF in 2018. The Clarisys

was new to me and likely the best in show sound. For my ears.

The Linkwitz are always amazing but require a large room

and do provide solid grounds for divorce.


I saw the Ares Cerat tank-sized boxes again. Last year just listening to the sales guy in the room was such a turn off I must say I hate that line. Those dicey speakers were the ugliest speaker known to man.


Someone looking for a Speaker $3-5k may like the Mofi 10s at $4k


Ares Cerat tank-sized boxes again. Last year just listening to the sales guy in the room was such a turn off I must say I hate that line.

OMG that guy was such an a$$hole! He kept saying how he knew what good sound sounded like. You would never know based on that room which was just ok...nothing special IMO. 

+1 @rsf507   Yes, there was an arrogance in that room. Which in most cases does not bother me. I want the sales/rep designer to be proud of the product. My only issue was with the Wilson Benesch sales rep. I asked why the Precision series was absent? Basically he said were paying $30k for the room we want to put our best foot forward not to show entry level gear. 

I stopped in the Carver room for just a couple minutes. I wish I could have stayed longer. I thought it sounded really good. I think he had his new amp and preamp but I did not catch what the speakers were. I didn’t see any literature anywhere to grab. I was curious as to what speakers were paired with the amp and preamp as well as the source. 

I just got an email from Jim Clark. Here is what he said about the Carver room. 

The source was streaming through a Audiolab M-DAC
The preamp was a Carver C11 that was restored while our RPM (reference
preamp model) V-12 preamp (on display) is finishing development.
The amp is our new RAM (reference amplifier model) 285.
We used Elac Adante speakers on Friday and Saturday and Magnepan LRS+
on Sunday. Both were great. The Magnepan guys loved the sound and sent
people to the Carver room to hear their speakers sounding so great.
It was a great cooperation.
Thanks for attending. The comments were very positive.

@jeffseight I'll be in the market for some new reference bookshelf/monitor speakers and the MoFi Source point 8 has me really intrigued since I heard about it. Not just because of the smaller form factor and potential WAF but it appears to be spot-on to sounding as good or better than the SP10.  Any other speakers at  Axpona in that price point that sounded comparable?  I'm trying narrow down a list of 4 or 5 speakers to try on my modest HIFI setup.

Thanks @backdoor , I want the new Carver tube preamp just because I enjoy all of the Sunfire and Carver gear I have tried over the years. I hope it is priced under $5K.


The new Cabasse active speakers are around $3K and sound MUCH more expensive, like large towers rather than small stand mounts.

@kota1 Thanks, I'll check those out. I wasn't thinking of an active speaker set-up but am intrigued by the idea. 

@kota1 I heard the new preamp was going to be 3k to 4k. They had it priced below the 5k new amp. I think the first 50 people to order the amp get it for 4k instead of 5k. 

I took some video of a number of the rooms, some of the vids captured the gear pretty well. Obviously you'll be listening to the audio through some alternative speaker, so the sonic quality is less being captured, than the visuals of the gear, the set-ups, etc. Most of My YouTube Channel is composed of live musical performances, so explore around and subscribe if you are so inclined.  

LINK:  AXPONA 2023 Room video samples from a casual attendee

I did win a NAD wireless headphone set from the Saturday Audio Exchange of Chicago entry contest.  Extending a thank you to the manufacturer and the distributor with a testimonial that they sound great!

I had a great conversation with Matt, and Bob Scranton at the Cambridge Audio Systems room. They are a great bunch, with a practical philosophy about the quality of their equipment matching a truly cost effective level of value for accessibility in the marketplace...heavy on the value. Sure the number of distributorships decreased, to focus their market presence through around 50 high quality knowledgeable reps, to assure that the customers have only great (or at least good) buying experiences, eliminating (or at least minimizing) poor customer service experiences.


Thanks. Both the Carver tube preamp from the nineties and the Sunfire tube preamp from the 2000's are hard to find collectors items. I think this may be Bob's last/best preamp so just want to get one while they are in production.

@kota1 Don’t blame you. I’m thinking of amp and preamp. You’re probably right. Bob could be about done. Hope not though. 

The Cambridge People impressed me as well. And it wasn't only because

of the free beer.


For $3.5k the Fritz Carrera 7 BE's will favor some ears over the MoFis

Dual concentric is usually unbeatable but Fritz uses the same 7" driver found

in several Wilson products. His SB Acoustics BE tweeter is not too harsh.

Series style XO eliminates parts in the way. Yes I own them.


I also thought the Borresen X3's were fantastic.   They paired wonderfully with the Avik integrated/streamer which I think was only about $5500.  They were also using the Ansuz A3 'power and ethernet distribution' systems.  I agree with mikempls that the host in this room was great. 

Another speaker that got my attention was the Vivid Kaya 25 which I believe was also around 11k. I learned from the gentleman running the demos that Vivid was started by the guy who designed the B&W nautilus speakers . . . he has used this elongated tuned port concept in his Vivid creations.  Anyway, loved the sound it produced.

I found it hard to leave both of these rooms.


@bloom How does the Vivid compare with the Borresen. I know the Vivid well and was considering the Kaya 45 in the past. I liked the Yamaha NS5000 a bit more than the Kaya 45 during demo time. Just personal preference.

First time I ever heard the NS-5000 speakers. It was very cool the designer of the speakers was in the room. They sounded very nice but there's lots of competition with speakers in the $15,000 range!

@yyzsantabarbara The Vivid and Borresen are pretty different - both great in different ways. The Vivid caught me by surprise because the great imaging was so apparent - something I didn't hear in many rooms at the show. The Borresen had the sound of a larger speaker and more impressive in filling the room. Bass was tremendous and very tight, treble was smooth. Vivid bass was very good as far as the range goes but not quite as impactful - but treble was super sweet.  I haven't heard the Kaya 45 and this was my first time hearing any Vivids so I don't have much experience with the line.. Certainly the type of music you listen to and the room (listening room vs family/great room) would influence selection.  The Vivid has a small footprint for a floor standing speaker.  Sound wise, I think I'd go with the Borresen if it fit my room... but as you say it's just personal preference.  A nice comparison at a similar price point.. 

@jeffseight thanks for the heads up on Fritz. I've come to realize in short order here the amount of boutique speaker makers out there making great stuff. 

@mikempls   +1  Yes, The Canton room was very disappointing. The Reference 3k sounded sluggish/veiled and unengaging. I talked to the Monitor Audio sales rep. and he was very upfront about the Platinum Series being made in China He was very convincing about the extreme level of quality control in PRC factories. The Platinum 200's were playing and sounded restricted but I could hear the potential. He claimed they need a fairly large room to breath properly. I did mention the budget Roksan Attessa gear could be holding them back, he agreed the better the electronics ect.  I believe the VSA model was the Endeavor SE playing? or was it a new Endeavor 6? If my memory is correct the retail was $29k not $22k. IMO the Endeavor was clearly superior vs. the Borresen X3. The speed/dynamics and tonal balance was near reference level. The X3 had a little of that "fake" HI-FI ish sheen to it that some Focal/B&W speakers "can" have. I do think at $11k they have few if any competition just be careful with component matching.

Thanks, Dayglow — your comments were some of the most helpful I’ve received. I thought you were spot on with comments about the Canton and MA speakers. Good perspectives on the X3 — I was a bit nervous about the “fake” sound myself.

Did you listen to the Scansonics (Raidho’s entry line) by chance? I heard those before the X3s and thought they sounded good also.

@mikempls Thx for the kind words! I did not see the Scansonic MB models but many of the Raidho models the TD 2.2($45k) was exceptional even when playing Tool. Did you hear the MB 5B, the claimed sweet spot in the Scansonic line-up? Also would like to mention the YG Acoustics Talus from the Peak Series. I thought it was the best under $15k speaker at the show. Its best feature was it did not call attention to itself while music flowed in a non mechanical presentation. The $17k Totem Metal V2 had a very neutral pristine "master tape" like sound but the Talus were slightly more engaging. Both speakers IMO are standouts at the crowded $15k area price point. On the budget side <$10k. The Wharfedale Dovetail $8k/$9k w/stands had a commanding presence that was very well balanced. I was most impressed with the treble delivery. A SS amp/larger room would tighten the bass but the Master Sound amp sounded great. The Atohm GT2 HD at $7500 had that neutral pristine sound with solid bass and dynamics and presented the smallest footprint of the 4 mentioned here. I also believe it has the highest ceiling when upgrading electronics. The Audiovector QR7 at $6500 had a big open spacious sound with nice tonality and slightly rounded bass. Much more relaxed then the Dovetail which is listener dependent not a flaw. Finally the Axpona budget winner at $5k is the Acoustic Energy AE 520. Scale/calmness and balance are its positives. it might lack the pristine clarity of the others sounding slightly thick but electronics and cables can easily solve that minor nitpick.

Thanks @jeffseight and all for the reviews. Much more helpful that the professional reviewers that seem to like most everything!  Never made it to Axpona 2023, but I’ll try for 2024!

I totally agree with Curiousjim — dayglow’s reviews are better than anything I can find in the magazines!

I was listening to the Scansonic MB 6B — at $15k I thought it was unbeatable. That was until I listened to the Børresen X3 — it sure sounded good to me although I appreciate your observations. I’d definitely need to listen to those with my own music selections.

THEN I heard the YG Talus and found them to be splendid. 

So now I’m down to three candidates for consideration. All in my price range - $15k - and all with apparently fantastic sound.

The kicker is that the speaker that I really wanted to hear was the Audiovector — and somehow it slipped by me. Now I’ve got to find a dealer. I’ve read good things about the QR7 but truth be told, the R3 Arrete has really caught my attention despite its higher price.

The question I need to answer for myself now is how will any/all of these speakers sound with my Parasound JC1 amps and JC2 BP preamp. That’s my big question now.

The search continues……….   Thanks all!

The best value proposition in loudspeakers is the DIY approach.

If you spend $2,000 on drivers, tweeters and XO parts and another

$1,000 on materials, provide your time and labor free, your $3,000 speakers

will be on a par with $10-12k manufactured brand speakers. If you are inept 

at manual pursuits then hire people to do the assembly. You job becomes

discovering which speaker to build. Companies like Madison, Troes Graven, and

others have box plans designed by experts for you to consider. Look online.


The next best way is to find a smaller company but with great ideas.

This is where John "Fritz" Heilor fits in. You can price his drivers and tweeters,

XO parts and box materials & labor. It will add up to about $2k as I recall. A typical

MFG runs a 5x factor in markup. That comes to $10K. Fritz's  MSRP is $3.5k. 

What the originator of this thread just said above is what I am trying to bring to the market place. That’s why I started Blueprint Acoustic. If you’re not good at building cabinets or assembly, we’ve tried to simplify it. Then if you don’t like it, you can change it and you’re not stuck with an entire speaker that you feel that you have to force yourself to like or sell And get your money back and start over. I’m trying to create a standard with the size of the cabinets that we call modules. You can assemble them in any order, put any kind of finish on the meat you want and use whatever drivers you want or the ones that we recommend. I don’t know how much easier you could make it ? Short of me, bringing my equipment to your house and setting it up in your garage and fabricating the speakers in front of you, L O L. We do all the work box it up and send it to you. You can assemble it, or will assemble it for you. If you don’t like it will buy back or help you change it , you really don’t need to go spend 10 or $15,000. You can spend between two and five and get some thing that’s awesome. If you put them side-by-side like I’ve done with many different speakers might’ve either sounded the same and in some cases it sounded better , please take a look at my I am an advertiser on this site and on US audio. If you’re in the market for some new speakers, I would love to have a conversation with you. Thanks for reading this, Ray.