AXPONA 2017: Digital Audio and Amplification (Part Two)

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Hegel was showcasing their new Mohican Redbook CD Player ($5,000). Named so because it is likely the last CD player they will ever make. It was paired with their highly regarded H160 integrated 160 wpc ($3,500) and the terrific KEF Blade 2’s ($22,000) Cabling was all by Nordost. Comparing the sound of Tidal via streaming the Mohican had far more body and clarity on the same Ray Charles track. A no contest win for the Mohican.

The GamuT Audio room as usual was staffed by GamuT Audio lead designer Benno Baun Meldgaard and US distributer Michael Vamos of Audio Sky’s from LA. There was nothing new in the room but it was the most significant listening experience I enjoyed at the show. Sporting the GamuT RS7i speakers ($39,999) and 250 Monoblocks ($25,500 pr) The D3i Dual Mono Pre-amp ($8,250) Benno hooked up an RS62 Revox Reel to Reel and a new Tape pre-amp card inside the D3i. He put on a tape of Pink Floyd’s The Wall after hours and a group of us sat in candle light for the entire album. The sound was astounding. Having heard the album countless times, it was by far the single best presentation of it I have ever experienced. Opportunities like this are rare and cherished. By virtue of this experience the GamuT room is my top room for this year’s Axpona. Well done GamuT Audio!

Aavik’s more affordable room swapped out the Monoblock/Pre-amp for the Aavik integrated amp ($30,000) and the Raidho’s for Scansonic MB5 speakers ($6,950). With the room price dropping 80% in cost the sound barely diminished at all! The Aavik Integrated crunched out a clean 300wpc and the MB5’s were happy to receive the power. Soundstage and instrument position were spot on and virtually holographic. I expected excellence from Aavik. I was pleasantly surprised by Scansonic. Trickle down tech from Raidho indeed!

Constellation has filled a gap in their lineup with the new Revelation Series. Starting with the 250 wpc Taurus amp ($19,500 or Mono @ $39,000 pr), the Pictor Pre-amp ($18,000) and the Andromeda Phono Pre ($18,000) the new line was paired up with Martin Logan Renaissance speakers ($25,000) MIT Cables and Continuum Audio Labs Turntable with Viper Tone Arm and an Ortofon A95 cartridge rounded out this auspicious debut.

Bel Canto has been working for some time to develop an integrated version of the much-awarded Bel Canto Black system. The new C600 Black Integrated ($25,000) is an Integrated, DAC, Streamer and more. It is a gorgeous Black with Red all in one box bringing 300 wpc into 8 Ohms. Add speakers, in this case the Martin Logan Expression ESL’s ($15,000) and Nordost cables and you are ready to play. The system while simple was a wonder to hear. I am hopeful for a review sample!

A show this large presents a challenge to report on everything. I have touched on many of the personal highlights of this now largest audio show in North America. Hat’s off the Steve Davis and his team for a most successful event and best of luck with the move next year to the new venue, the Renaissance Hotel in Schaumberg, Illinois!

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