Publisher Profile

2012 AXPONA Coverage, Part I

House of Stereo/Ayre/Oracle/KEF/Audience, Martin Logan/Krell, Legacy/Ayon/Coda, Bob Carver/Purity Audio Design, Audio Power Labs/Tidal, Beauty of Sound/Ikeda/Tubeguru/Bastanis/Mapleshade, MBL

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AXPONA 2012 was held Friday March 9th through Sunday March 11th. Now in its third year, the AXPONA show organizers Steve and Carmen Davis have brought it back to downtown Jacksonville, Florida where the show debuted in 2010. This year’s venue at the downtown Omni Hotel has proven to be the best yet both in terms of the physical property, location, as well as the over sound quality that the demonstrators are getting out of their respective rooms.

House of Stereo, a local dealer in Jacksonville, Florida had a large room where they were showcasing the new KEF Blade speakers. Rounding out the system were Ayre electronics, Oracle turntable, and Audience cables throughout.

Martin Logan and Krell teamed up in an intriguing larger-than-life demonstration of a full 5.1 Martin Logan CLX electrostatic surround system, which was augmented by five ultrafast Martin Logan Depth-i subwoofers, Krell S-1500 Power amplifier, Krell Evolution 525 CD/DVD player, and Evolution 707 3D Surround processor.

Playback of a first generation stereo master tape was an especially nice treat.

Legacy Audio was producing sweet sounds with their Focus HD speakers that were teamed up with Coda electronics and Ayon digital player.

Bob Carver llc was showing their new lineup of vacuum tube power amplifiers along with electronics from Purity Audio Design.

The speakers are Bob Carver’s latest creations in prototype form, the ‘Amazing Line Source”. The ‘ALS” features a vertical array of forward-firing ribbon drivers, side-firing small cone mids, and a pair of ultra lightweight and fast, flat active subwoofers that are self-powered by a 2000-watt solid state tracking down converter amplifier (a-la-Sunfire). The system response is said to be essentially flat from 40 Hz on up to 40k Hz. I must say that Bob Carver has been working quite diligently with the voicing of these speakers throughout the show. I visited the room each of the three days and found the speakers to sound better and better each day. This is definitely a speaker system to look out for once they are finalized and locked in for production.

I am quite excited to be receiving a pair of Cherry 180 tube power amplifiers for review later this year.

From a personal standpoint it was quite a treat and honor to meet Bob Carver and attend his Q&A session where he shared his thoughts regarding the superiority of vacuum tube amplification and the design concept behind the new Amazing Line Source speaker.

Audio Power Labs was showing their 200-watt, uniquely expressive 833TNT power amplifier in a system which included the gorgeous Tidal Audio Contriva Diacera SE speakers, Laufer Teknik Memory Player 64 digital player, which was designed by Mark Porzilli of Scaena, Pipedream, and Melos fame, the Audio research Reference 5 linestage, and Silver Circle Audio power conditioning.

Beauty of Sound was creating a very special sound with a system that included the Tubeguru 300B SE power amplifiers from Hungary, the Bastantis Mandala speakers, an interesting open baffle design which featured crystal wide bandwidth drivers, and Bastantis cabling throughout. The analog playback was through a modified vintage Garrard 401, Ikeda tonearm, and the fabulous new Ikeda 9TT phono cartridge. I look forward to receiving the cartridge this year for a full review.

MBL had a great sounding room with their more modest, mid line $259k system. This system included the 101E MkII Radialstrahler speakers, 1621A transport, 1611F DAC, 6010D preamp, and 9011 Power Amplifiers.

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