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SY 9th March 2013 11:57 AM

AXPONA 2013
 
Anyone else been there?

I spent yesterday doing a quick tour through and was, frankly, appalled by the sound in most rooms. Really obvious problems for the most part. Much of it MAY have been the demo material, which had an almost generic "high end audio" sound- boomy bottom, cutting upper midrange, hissy sibilants. Best sound I've heard so far was at MBL (but heard them sound much, much better in the past), McIntosh (well and truly spoiled by an interminable marketing presentation), and Janszen (though you wouldn't know it from the awful demo material- I got them to deign to play about 1 minute of one of Scott Wurcer's recordings and found that the speakers were actually pretty good, or at least not obviously bad).

I would say to look for the old, fat, bearded guy and say hi to me, but that describes 80% of the attendees.

After the show yesterday, I visited with a couple of friends- one of them has a set of Fulton Js in his basement driven by an old Harman Kardon receiver. It sounded stunningly better than anything I heard at the show.

scott wurcer 9th March 2013 06:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SY (Post 3402721)
Anyone else been there?

I spent yesterday doing a quick tour through and was, frankly, appalled by the sound in most rooms. Really obvious problems for the most part. Much of it MAY have been the demo material, which had an almost generic "high end audio" sound- boomy bottom, cutting upper midrange, hissy sibilants. Best sound I've heard so far was at MBL (but heard them sound much, much better in the past), McIntosh (well and truly spoiled by an interminable marketing presentation), and Janszen (though you wouldn't know it from the awful demo material- I got them to deign to play about 1 minute of one of Scott Wurcer's recordings and found that the speakers were actually pretty good, or at least not obviously bad).

I would say to look for the old, fat, bearded guy and say hi to me, but that describes 80% of the attendees.

After the show yesterday, I visited with a couple of friends- one of them has a set of Fulton Js in his basement driven by an old Harman Kardon receiver. It sounded stunningly better than anything I heard at the show.

Did you cross paths with the Earl of no fun?

SY 9th March 2013 07:28 PM

No name tags so I don't know. I *think* that we literally crossed paths a few times (a fellow who looked like his photo) but since we never had met face to face before...

I spent some time this morning walking around and doing brief listening. A depressing experience- everything being played was highly processed studio stuff, a lot of audiophile demo material, one minute bits with no time to really listen. At one exhibit, I sat behind the editor of a more-or-less major fashion hifi publication. The guys exhibiting were properly obsequious to him (that's their livelihood), but everything he handed them to play was more of the same, boom-de-boom, tizzle-tizzle. This explains much. A couple of exhibits showed better than yesterday (when I could convince them to play some unprocessed acoustic music), but nothing that grabbed me.

It was great fun to listen to the pitches- sales guys are absolutely dominant, hardly anyone technical at all. One guy was selling wire with a cylinder of donut-shaped magnets around the outside. He explained to a couple of fascinated audiophiles that without this special treatment, the delicate musical signal rattles and bounces around inside the wire. With these magnets, the signal goes through straighter and faster. The $9000 power strip was also fun- it's really dynamic, it'll make your system punch. It was carefully designed so that all wires to each of the outlets was the same length to increase coherence.

Another guy had expensive molded rubber balls for isolation. I asked him if I could drop one on the table and he was nice enough to assent. Bounced like a spaldeen. Okey doke.

My one bit of relief was a fellow who had a super-expensive (by my standards- low five figures) phono stage for sale. The sales guy introduced me to the designer, who walked me through the circuitry- it was actually quite rationally designed.

There was an amusing presentation on (supposedly) how to attract younger people to high end audio. One of the Stereophile editors managed to pack ten mentions of his sexual preference into a five minute oration about music. This was about ten more times than necessary, but the self-indulgence seems to run deep. He also managed to inject his own cartoonish politics into it. One fellow in the audience yelled at John Atkinson for not reviewing Magnaplanars- he described himself as "a Magnepan guy," in the same way teenagers used to be "Ford guys" or "Chevy guys." Afterward, I did talk to one of the audience folks who had asked a question during the presentation- it turned out that we used to hang out at the same jazz clubs during the '70s. That was fun, real music talk.

Turned into a total zoo by 1pm, so I bugged out.

willamp 9th March 2013 07:45 PM

Sorry to hear. We have a small relaxed show in Dallas, the Lone Star Audio Fest. It's pretty laid back. Most of the exhibitors are small one guy operations with a few of the high dollar commercial companies thrown in. My favorite last year was just a guy from Houston who brought his system and a cooler of beer and welcomed you to just hang out and listen to music with him. Nice guy. I'm thinking of doing that myself this year. Maybe I'd promote diyaudio.com a bit. I'm planning on checking with Jason to make sure that was ok first though.

SY 9th March 2013 07:47 PM

There were two rooms at LSAF last year that did that- Dave Slagle's and Pete Millett/mine. I brought a pony of one of the Live Oak beers from Austin (where I lived), Dave had a selection of brews from a place called Black Man. We had quite a blast going back and forth- Dave is a terrific fellow. lots of fun.

willamp 9th March 2013 07:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SY (Post 3403328)
There were two rooms at LSAF last year that did that- Dave Slagle's and Pete Millett/mine. I brought a pony of one of the Live Oak beers from Austin (where I lived), Dave had a selection of brews from a place called Black Man. We had quite a blast going back and forth- Dave is a terrific fellow. lots of fun.

SY, I'll bet our paths crossed somewhere and I must have been in your room. I didn't know of you or Pete at that time, although I do now.

I was really glad to meet Dave Slagle as he built the autoformers for my volume control. I hung out there for several hours and we had a good time spinning vinyl. The guy from Houston I mentioned was named Brad. He was not in the audio business at all, just a music listener.

Is Pete in Texas, would he possibly be going this year? I assume you wouldn't make the trip for it.

SY 9th March 2013 08:21 PM

Pete's in Dallas, so he's very likely to be there. I left Austin, so probably not. We had the room with a rack of super-expensive headphones and a small pair of Jordan speakers- as well as the beer.:D

scott wurcer 9th March 2013 08:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SY (Post 3402721)
"high end audio" sound- boomy bottom, cutting upper midrange, hissy sibilants.

So nothing has changed in the last 20-30yr.? Everyone tries to tell me that I don't get how much better things are now but the Harry Pearson inspired Infinity/Conrad-Johnson/Goldmund/Koetsu system that I heard some 30yr. ago just sang on those old RCA's. Fun.

willamp 9th March 2013 08:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SY (Post 3403365)
Pete's in Dallas, so he's very likely to be there. I left Austin, so probably not. We had the room with a rack of super-expensive headphones and a small pair of Jordan speakers- as well as the beer.:D

Hmmh, don't remember a headphone room. Getting old you know. I just bought my first pair recently. Went with the audeze Lcd-2's. Driving them with an f4 clone currently. No troubles there but I'll be starting a tube amp for them as soon as antek gets restocked. I'll watch for Pete this year. I bought his sound card interface board a while back but haven't started it yet.

cheers

SY 9th March 2013 09:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scott wurcer (Post 3403375)
So nothing has changed in the last 20-30yr.?

Gone backwards, perhaps. The 1980-vintage Fulton system with the cheap receiver was head and shoulders better (in the sense of reproducing the tonal and dynamic qualities of acoustic music) than anything I heard at the show.


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