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I didn't see an impressions thread for axpona so i figured I would start one.
Best of Show:
Borresen 05 with Aavik Amps (Next Level AV) - Superb imaging, clarity, dynamics, and thumping bass power from these speakers. I was impressed by the Raidho 2.1 last year and Borresen continues to impress. Heard a live recording from an artist invited to record a CD for Borresen demos, and Another Brink in the Wall pt.1 on these. Saw Michael Borresen himself which was pretty cool.
Focal Grande Utopia Evo powered by the Naim Statement Amp (Focal/Naim) - Resolving, clear, controlled, tight, and fast as lighting. Definitely reminded me of everything I love in my Kanta 2's but to the 10th degree. Heard a variety of tracks and music on this including some EDM. These were my fiance's favorite. To quote her, "These make that old man music you like sound good." The Focal room itself was very cool, and I wish they rotated the full line instead of just the Utopia. Didn't get to listen to the Naim Mu-So but it was much bigger than I thought it was. Might be the perfect speaker for my office.
Sonus Faber Amati Tradition with SimAudio Moon Amps (Quintessence Audio) - Rich bass, musical, and great transients. I love SimAudio's Moon line. I own a few of their pieces, and every time I listen I'm reminded why. I find myself usually not liking Sonus' offerings, but this was a great showing.
Atohm GT1-HD with Atoll Amps (Audio Excellent) - Fantastic balanced bass, very detailed and resolving. I thought I was listening to the floor stander next to it the whole time. Then someone in the room asked which one was playing and they guy said the bookshelf. I was stunned. This has to be one of the best bookshelf speakers I've ever heard, and it's only $3000. Though to my disappointment switching to the $12000 floor stander I thought the bass was way overpowered and muddied the music.
Abyss Headphones (forgot the amp) - Another known favorite of mine. The new Abyss 1266 Phi TC just continues the legacy of these legendary headphones.
Luxman - I demo'd 3 rooms featuring Luxman and just wasn't impressed. To me each pairing was way too laid back, to the point that I felt the music was very far away from me.
Horns - I'll loop Klipsh and Avant-garde into this. Very cool looking speakers on the Avant-garde side, very true to their name. But wasn't impressed. I thought Klipsh would have something to show with their heritage line, but it was far below my expectations for this pricepoint.
Kii Audio - I was hyped for this room. The sales guy was talking about all the engineering that had gone into this speaker in great detail. Maybe too much because someone in the room audibly said "Play some freakin' music already." They played Bruno Mars on the system and good god it was brighter than the sun coming into the room. Ouch.
Bowers & Wilkins - B&W was the first audiophile grade speaker I ever heard when I first got into the hobby in high school. ABT had just started to carry them back then and I thought they were unbelievable. Fast forward to today, it was definitely on my brands to hear list for buying speakers, and I thought the 804D3 at ABT's listening room was pretty good, and a hell of a lot better than the old D2. So to hear the flagship 800D3 I was expecting a lot, and what I got was very little. I know these speakers are very directional, so perhaps it was the room, but I found myself leaving both rooms they were featured in very quickly.
Before I even walked into a listening room I ran into Steve Guttenberg and Kevin Deal. P̶a̶u̶l̶ ̶M̶c̶G̶o̶w̶a̶n̶ ̶w̶a̶s̶ ̶s̶u̶p̶p̶o̶s̶e̶d̶l̶y̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶r̶e̶ ̶b̶u̶t̶ ̶d̶i̶d̶n̶'̶t̶ ̶s̶e̶e̶ ̶h̶i̶m̶ ̶a̶p̶a̶r̶t̶ ̶f̶r̶o̶m̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶l̶a̶r̶g̶e̶ ̶b̶a̶n̶n̶e̶r̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶f̶a̶c̶e̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶P̶S̶ ̶A̶u̶d̶i̶o̶ ̶r̶o̶o̶m̶.̶ (Paul was there on Sunday for a live Q&A). I saw few people from Stereophile, and also met Angela Cardas.
The Focal Utopia by Tournaire was at the Focal headphone booth (which was gigantic). I pointed at it and told my fiance about them. They guy working asked me if I'd like to try it on which both myself and my fiance took glory pictures with. The guy told us afterwards it's just a replica of the $125,000 limited edition run, but that's not what I'll be telling my friends at work tomorrow
The magenta Blue Hawaii SE amp, another of my fiance's favorites due to the color.
The 1.3 Million dollar cost no object room, though not impressive enough to make it to my best of show list :^)
I listened to 4 things, the most ever for me while being at a show. The EE Legend X, the EE Phantom, the CA Solaris and finally the JH Audio Roxanne. The 2 I would need more time with to give a clear winner for my taste would be the Phantom and the Solaris. Like you and I discussed, James, we both felt there was too much bass kinda taking away from the mid range, another person also said the same thing when he tried it. So I preferred the Phantom much more. The Roxanne was my least favorite
There was a lot of awesome stuff there!
The Bricasti M3 and LTA Z10E/MZ3 and Auris Euterpe stood out again'st a lot the new peices of gear I heard. With the M3 likely being my next Solid State/Dac Amp upgrade.
An the Euterpe is actually pretty nifty, good looking headphone stand and an linear power supply driven Dac/Amp!
I'll also say the new Benchmark system was also good, likely a bit more effortless and truely transparent than the Bricasti but the Bricasti had a the most realistic presentation of low frequancies and while it wasn't in any way forward it was just so powerful and well extended...
So my attention was drawn to the bass as I'd never heard anything with as much defintion down there as this system has! Well... except for maybe an SR009 on the right system. Still I couldn't stop smiling and noticing what felt like electro stat definition/tone/timbre and planar presentation. So in that sense it was "emphasized" or not 100% transparent compared to the Benchmark which wasn't bad but wasn't... as real
Though I still feel like a good SR009 system is better than anything you'd get from an LCD 4/Susvara or Abyss Phi TC reagrdless of your source/amp at least for my tastes!
I also love that 009 in black! But I'm NOT a fan of the 009S
Still though nothing tube based quite caught my attention like the Sonnare Emotion did last year, really sucks they couldn't make it out this year. Though I didn't have my heavymodded/custom ES10 with me either this year... that was such a magical listen!!!
I was also excited to get to hear the new full silver ZMFCable!!!!
I did hear the Manley amp and wasn't crazy about it, really it had no discernable faults and sounded great but it's just lacking in value I feel over simmilar priced options. Still any one buying it will likely enjoy it so while I won't be recommending it I see no reasons to disuade people who simply just want to own and pay for the Manley Brand/Sound
Oh! Ether2 from the Chord X LTA set up was really good to, likely the most... balanced/resolving rendering of a "musical" tuning/system I've heard. Still not 100% my prefferance but quite good for those that like/want that kind of sound!
Audeze also has a new headphone in bound!!
And Schiit had a Rag2 there as well, didn't get a chance to hear it as it was pretty popular
Where did you see and hear a new audeze headphone? I did see an LCD 4z at the kimber table that was modded. I asked about the LCD 24 that was rumored and apparently it is not in the works. I hope that they aren't coming out with a new flagship my wallet can't take it.
What you can't ask about it lol
And the Dragonfire Acoustics room with Doctor see had two unspecified headphones
Though did you ask who modded the 4z is I didn't know anybody was modding LCD 4z's
DAP wise I think the new iBasso DX220 is easily the best on the market, sounded awesome and super fluid GUI
An really I've got @icafalkon to thank for pulling me over the table
But I've been waiting on his permission before I post some of the awesome pics I have there and really go into my thoughts about their lineup
But what impressed me though was number one how easily it is to slide out the amp cards I've seen this system before and it's been a little more difficult to use on other players
Is the thing I dug was how accessible all of the digital input output ports are as well as how they use your face was laid out the GX200 was a little bit different but the 220 is very easy to figure out and very very smooth, and just overall the player felt very polish especially compared to some of the stuff I've handled before from like a A&K which while physically beautiful usually operates a little less seamlessly
Of course it sounded quite good give me the first lesson that wasn't anything offensive that stood out to me I think the clarity and just power of the player or grab my attention
And this was also the first time that Icefalkon got to hear the campfire Cascade without the internal filters and fully balanced out of that pentaconn amp card
And I think his overall reaction was pretty positive compared to how he had heard it before especially with this player as the source
Yes, I loved how it sounded without the filters. It was completely different and sounded twice as better as before.
Meze planar with less damped pads and EE EVR / ESR were my faves for their categories. Didn't listen to the Shure KSE1200 this time but probably deserve mention. ZMF Verite and Campfire Solaris (friend had them there) were also VG.