AXPONA 2018 Audio Expo: Blog and Recap – Part 2

This is a continuation of the show coverage from AXPONA 2018, provided by AVS Forum members who attended. This section encompasses companies with names beginning with letters F through P.

Click here for Part 1 (A-E)

Click here for Part 3 (Q-Z)


Focal

@mtrot says:

“One speaker I really wanted to hear was the new Kanta No. 2, as it is priced in the same relatively affordable range as the Paradigm Persona 3F and new Revel F228.

“These Kanta sounded really nice and went deeper in the bass than I would have guessed, considering the size of the woofers.”


Photo by @mtrot

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“Focal Kanta 2s – Absolutely gorgeous speakers (the French know style). Sound… eh, nice enough? They sound sort of small and boxy to me, not my favs. They come in a wide variety of colors with both wood and piano black side panel options.

“Focal was kind enough to play the Sopra 3s for me, and wow, what a difference, these are the first Focals I’ve heard that I can say I love. The tonal balance trends towards bright, but it didn’t seem fatiguing, and there was plenty of nice bass. They have a very neat color-changing paint job that my photos may not reproduce well.

“The Beryllium tweeter has a unique feature where it’s inverse-horn loaded so the backwave of the tweeter goes through a foam filled horn to absorb the backwave, so as to not create any slap or echo against the dome; the air is then vented silently through the back of the speaker.

“These were being fed by a Clear Audio turntable with a Virtuoso 2 cartridge and Musical Fidelity amps. It all sounded amazing, some of the best vinyl I heard all show.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


@TuteTibiImperes says:

“Focal Spirit Pros – Cool red velour, bright but detailed tonality, small soundstage, but they’re studio monitor closed backs, so that’s to be expected. Probably would be good for mixing.”


Photo by @TuteTibiImperes


GoldenEar

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“Show hasn’t officially started yet, but I’m hanging out in the GoldenEar room. I’ve been a bit dismissive of their products in the past, but with the Triton References set to ‘background’ levels, they sound mighty sweet. Some cool Prima Luna gear here as well.”

“Sandy Gross showed up and turned them up; I take back anything bad I’ve said about Goldenear in the past, these speakers rock.”

@mschott says:

“Why have you been dismissive about Goldenear in the past? My only issue has been aesthetics.”

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“I demoed the Triton Ones and they really underwhelmed me; super harsh treble and no midrange. The Triton Ref demo today was night and day different – no harshness, nice sweet full midrange, just beautiful sounding speakers.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


Hsu Research

@Scotth3886 says:

“These are very nice and image very well, great value. Elac B52s are a very tough competitor. That would be my two top in this price range.”


Photo by @Scotth3886


JBL

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“JBL L100 Classics – The other Music Direct booth had these speakerson display. They have a definite old-school sound to them, with a soft punchyness in the bass and a warm midrange. They do spread a wide soundstage though, with a slightly soft image. Good classic rock speakers, which is probably the demo they’re going for.


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


Joseph Audio

@mtrot says:

“The Pearl 3 was being fed by a reel to reel tape deck, running at 15 inches per second. The sound was very good overall, but the highs somehow seemed a bit thin to me. But, that could have been entirely in the recording.”


Photo by @mtrot


JTR Speakers

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“The holy grail, I’ve been wanting to hear this demo since Mark talked about it last year. 7 JTR 215RTs powered by many kilowatts of Lab Gruppen power… it was everything I’d hoped it would be. Loud, yes, but also oh so clear, with no dynamic compression.”

“The real standout for me though were the little-brother 210RTs playing music in a 2.0 setting. No hormones, no boxiness, nice deep bass, and they could handle any kind of music well. I asked for some classical and got a Rachmaninoff symphonic dance plus some good ‘ole Toccata and Fugue, and those 210RTs shined. They’re a steal at the price, and not too huge for normal sized HTs or media rooms.”

“I also have to give a shout out to Digital Amplifier Company. I chatted with the owner/designer for a while, asked what makes his stuff different from D-Sonic, ATI, etc. He told me he designs all of his own amps top to bottom, and doesn’t use Icepower or nCore modules, so he can tune exactly the sound he wants. He has a new more powerful unit coming out called the Megaschino, those were powering the 210RTs and sounding mighty sweet. They also have free tote bags, so that’s a plus.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


JVC Exofield

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“I did the JVC Exofield demo, it’s by appointment only, they stick microphones in your ears to measure how you hear, run it through an algorithm, and then put headphones on your head and play it through the system and you’d swear you’re listening to speakers in the front of the room. It really is uncanny. They’re expecting to have product out by Q4 this year.”


Photo by @TuteTibiImperes


Larsen HiFi / Pear Audio

@Scotth3886 says:

“Room 1605 was the biggest surprise for me. It had a naturalness and ease that was so welcome after several of the loud and brash rooms I heard just before.

“It was the Larsen 8 speakers with Pear Audio Blue electronics and turntable with a Etsuro Urushi Cobalt cartridge. True, not a cheap cart. at $5200, but the summary of the system is that it was very close to my favorite sound of the show.

“I vegetated in there for about an hour, which is longer than I stayed in any other room. It was in my top two or three when in comes to vinyl playback. I had never heard of the speakers or the turntable before.

“Nothing much to look at, but what sound!”

 


Photos by @Scotth3886


Legacy Audio/Raven Audio

@mtrot says:

“Not only did Bill Duddleston and Legacy show up with their new VALOR model, but they also have AERIS, Focus SE, Calibre, and Signature SE on demo.

“Driven by Raven Audio tube amplification, the AERIS were producing the big, open, and uncompressed sound that Legacy is known for. With the large mid range drivers of the AERIS, male vocals in the baritone range are incredible.”


Photo by @mtrot

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“The Legacy room is open a bit early so I’m sitting here listening to the Aeris speakers, a demo for the bigger Valor should be starting soon.

“The Aeris speakers are very impressive, with the Wavelet processor removing room effects (seems to work similarly to Dirac). The speakers are finished beautifully.

“Legacy’s webpage sort of makes them look like an ‘out of the garage’ (I realize they’re not… ) type of outfit, but apparently the company just won a contract to provide speakers for all of Sony’s movie and music production studios.

“Interestingly, though it’s hard to see from the front, many of these speakers are open baffle.

“They have a number of other beautiful speakers in the room, hard to describe how nice the woodwork and finishing is, these are almost works of art.

“The Aeris sounds very open, natural, and unstressed. There’s a nice rich chesty tone to it, with a solid midbass punch and even some nice deep bass going on. It’s an impressive speaker. Despite having two AMTs, it’s not bright at all.

“Ah, the Valors are on now. These are hybrid powered speakers, they have integrated powered subwoofers, woofers, and midbass driver’s with passive treble and upper midrange drivers, those are being run by Raven Audio tube monoblocks.

“The AMTs on these are in an interesting arrangement, horizontal and angled. These throw an enormous soundstage, but the huge room probably helps. These are enormous speakers and likely need a big room like this to shine.

“The clarity of the treble and midrange, impact of the midbass, and tightness and natural tone and resolution of the deep bass is intoxicating. These are some mighty fine speakers.

“Legacy’s Valors sound huge. It’s like you can imagine a giant Oz head singing the vocals floating between the speakers. It’s a very cool effect.

“The Valors go for $80,000, the Aeris for $21,000. I’d say the Aeris is the clear value winner here, though the Valors sound amazing.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


Magico

@mtrot says:

“The Magico A3 is another new speaker priced at $10K. I thought it sounded very good, but I’m not sure it was better than some of the others I’ve heard, such as the Paradigm Persona 3F or Revel F228Be.”


Photos by @mtrot


MarkAudio-SOTA

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“Mark has reviewed the Viotti Ones*, I just stopped by to listen. They sound pleasant, just like most other speakers here. Nothing really remarkable in their sound, which I guess is either a failure or a triumph of their unique driver arrangement depending on how you look at it.

“The fronts are covered with velvet. I asked if that was to limit diffraction, I was told no, it was purely a cosmetic choice.**”

* (editor’s note) I did not wind up reviewing the Viotti Ones.


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


MartinLogan

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“These are the the Expressions from the new Masterpiece series. They include Anthem ARC to correct the bass of the woofer, which has been activated and calibrated for this demo.

“These sound amazing, very natural vocals and instruments, the complete absence of any box sound, amazingly wide soundstage, nice imaging. The ARC is doing a great job, on one demo track there’s a baritone sax line that transitions back and forth between the panel and the woofer a good bit, and the tonality never changes.

“Right after I posted, they played a symphonic piece and wow, I could visualize the entire orchestra in front of me and the sound was coming from exactly where it should; one of the best imaging demos I’ve heard so far.”


Photo by @TuteTibiImperes


MBL

@mtrot says:

“Having seen pictures of MBL speakers in audio publication websites for years now, I was glad to get to hear these odd looking speakers. All I can say is, wow, these may have produced the best vocal quality I’ve heard to date.

“To my ears, where many nice, expensive systems run into problems is with high volume, high frequency vocals, in that they can take on a “steely” or metallic character. With these MBLs, they played content with vocals of that nature and they remained very natural sounding, even though it was very loud.”


Photo by @mtrot


Paradigm/Anthem

@mtrot says:

“Audio Video Interiors gave a nice narrated demo of the new(ish) Paradigm Persona 5F speakers, driven by the new Anthem STR pre-amp and power amp. Having stopped by several rooms in which the systems cost more than your average house, it was nice to check out some gear that is at least remotely affordable for audiophiles of more modest means.

“I have to say, the sound from this combo was extremely nice, as it combined great and natural highs and mids with great sound stage and imaging, along with fantastic vocals. The Anthem STR power amp seemed to have lots of power.”


Photo by @mtrot

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“I didn’t post about these yesterday, but I checked out the Paradigm Persona 5s before the official open yesterday. Sitting now to listening again, while I wait for the other rooms to open.

“These are pretty magical speakers, they need some space, but this is a big room and they shine. There’s also a photo below of the new Paradigm Premier series, which is coming in beneath the Prestige line, ranging from $800 to $2,000 pair.

“They are powering the Personas with the new Anthem STR separates – tons of power, ARC, real bass management with stereo sub support, this is probably the best and most well-rounded pre/amp combo on the high-end market right now (well, I hope to check out Lyngdorf later today).

“The driver pictured is the woofer used in the step-up Persona 7 and 9. It’s absolutely massive.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes

 


Peachtree/Roon

@TuteTibiImperes says:

“Peachtree has a little pair of $450 powered bookshelves, the M24s, and they pubs pretty kick-ass for the size and price.”

“Roon now comes in a box (it’s the gray one with heat sinks). It’s $1,400 and you still need to buy a software license ($500 lifetime or some lesser amount per year). It does some cool stuff, and can handle multiple sets of speakers with multiple input and output devices. I’ll have to read more about it when I have a chance.”


Photos by @TuteTibiImperes


This is a continuation of the show coverage from AXPONA 2018, provided by AVS Forum members who attended. This section encompasses companies with names beginning with letters F through P.

Click here for Part 1 (A-E)

Click here for Part 3 (Q-Z)