AXPONA 2016 Show Report

The best AXPONA yet!


AURALiC's new Altair Wireless Streaming DAC

AURALiC has offered some of my favorite digital products. From their highly regarded Vega DAC to their Merak 400W Class D Mono block amps. They began to offer streaming audio with the Aries Wireless streaming bridge a little over a year ago. Now we have their first combination DAC/Streaming device the Altair ($1,899 USD) AURALiC is anticipating a June delivery date on this new device slotted in between the Aries and the Vega for price and performance. Offering 15 input sources and able to play Quad Rate DSD/DXD through your home WiFi network the Altair is fully Tidal and Roon ready. And….For those of you who have been asking for something other than silver from AURALiC, it comes in black!

Vinnie Rossi with the new LIO DHT (Directly Heated Triode Linestage) and Harbeth 40.2’s

Trade shows…You want to listen to music right? Stuff you know and not the usual show stuff. Welcome to the most accommodating room at Axpona! Vinnie Rossi will patiently let you queue up whatever you ask for via Tidal. Or you can bring your favorite album and play it on the Acoustic Signature Thunder Turntable ($10,995 USD) with the 12” Signature Twelve TA-500 arm ($6,495) You can even listen on the new Harbeth flagship 40.2’s ($14,795 USD) or the Super HL5 Plus ($6,995 USD depending on finish). Either way you get your sound via his newest gem of an integrated the LIO DHT. DHT for Directly Heated Triode. A new class-A, OTL, Zero Feedback and convertible Triode linestage that is switchable and compatible with 2A3/45, 300B, PX4/PX25, 101D/205D and SV811/SV575 triode families of tubes. Seen here running a pair of SV811’s and using the 25 wpc amp module the completely configurable LIO is an astonishing work of engineering. It can be a Linestage only, a headphone amp, an integrated amp and it can include MM and MC phono cartridge loading. Maxxed out at $10,470 it is a device you can grow with by starting with the basics and adding on easy to install modules as your budget grows. By the way, it is super capacitor driven too. No fancy cables needed. The power from the wall feeds two banks of capacitors, one feeding the unit and the other charging so the current is always perfect. This room was the second of my Best of show rooms. The LIO and Harbeth combination is pure magic.

The Rosemont 3 room with Mobile Fidelity and Vandersteen Treo CT Speakers

Philip O’Hanlon, Luxman’s US importer teamed up with Mobile Fidelity, VPI, Shunyata, Balanced Audio technology and REL to showcase a wonderful system. The EQ-500 is Luxman’s new flagship phono pre ($7,490 USD). It was paired with a VPI Avenger turntable fully decked out with multiple arms ($21,000) and a Koetsu Blue Lace Onyx Platinum low output moving coil cartridge ($14,995 USD). Quality sourcing needs quality LS and amp so we add the BAT VK53SE Linestage ($14,995 USD) and a VK255SE Stereo amplifier ($8,995 USD) to pair with the Vandersteen Treo CT Speakers ($7,990 USD). The system was showing off a number of pristine vinyl pressings courtesy of the MoFi team. Philip also provided his latest Demo CD (number 18!) with a wonderfully diverse selection of tunes to show off some systems capabilities. Mat Weisfeld from VPI was also on hand to walk us through the intricacies of his newest flagship multi arm VPI Avenger turntable.

Wei Chang from Enigmacoustics and the M1 Mythology speakers

My third top sounding room was in many ways one of the most unassuming. Wei Chang has been impressing the audio world for some time with his Mythology M1 monitors. ($14,995 USD with the super tweeters) They are topped with the superb Sopranino electrostatic super tweeters that project to an amazing 40kHz. The sense of openness you get from the higher harmonics is astounding. The low end is also more than expected from this typically sized stand mount. Paired with Questyle 200 Wpc Class D (Wireless FCC certified 5Ghz!!) monoblocks and sourced from the Questyle wireless preamp and a Questyle QP1r handheld portable Digital Audio Player (DAP $899 USD) the entire system comes in under $20,000 USD. It is a killer system and will not require a massive living room. Alan reviewed the M1 Mythologies in issue 125 and while they do require some time with positioning the results are well worth the time.

David Wilson and Peter McGrath from Wilson Audio

One of the highlights of Axpona was a major new Midwest product release from Wilson Audio. David Wilson walked us through the development process of their new ALEXX Loudspeakers ($109,000 USD) What struck me about the presentation was the thoroughness of the process leading to the release of the ALEXX. The speakers design team was led in total by Daryl Wilson, David’s son. Wilson Audio is regarded as one of the premier US made speaker companies and it was evident why after sitting in on this discussion. Wilson was presenting with their Chicago dealer Paragon Sight and Sound. Paragon was represented by President Larry Marcus. Larry described the other gear being used for this premier. Electronics were Doshi Audio 3.0 Linestage ($16,995), Doshi Audio 3.0 Phonostage ($16,995 USD). Doshi Audio 3.0 Tape Stage (16,995 USD) and a pair of Doshi Audio Jhor Mono amps ($29,995 per pair USD) Tape playback via a Studer A807. Digital via dCS Vivaldi Digital system, ($108,996 USD et al)

A Brinkmann Audio Balance turntable ($27,490 USD) with a Koetsu Azule Platinum cartridge ($10,995 USD) with transparent Opus cabling and power conditioning ($208,360 USD) and HRS Isolation system ($28,175 USD). This brought the system price in total to $573,996 USD not counting the Studer tape player. Let’s round up to an even $600,000 USD. For that you got a powerful presentation that was a bit laid low by the hotel conference room that it was in. I would love to hear the system in a properly set up room. As it was the ALEXX still impressed and I am intrigued by the Doshi Audio tube gear. Larry Marcus said he has had great success with his clients who have enjoyed Doshi Audio electronics for many years. Nick Doshi was on hand and he was enthusiastic and helpful with the questions around his gear.

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