Axpona 2015 – Day Two Report
The show organizers did a smart thing this year by placing the all exhibitors in the main floors two rooms apart. For those who could not afford the 12th floor or the huge rooms in the ground level, having no noise to from your left or right was kind. Like last year, some the presentations were the same. I find no motivation to report on yet another MBL, Wilson or JBL. I am always looking for cool new technologies and ideas. This brings me to Meridian. MQA (http://www.musicischanging.com/) is new and interesting technology that was developed specifically for the emerging streaming market. There was a “sales” presentation and at the end, they took some questions from the audience. Trust me when I say that my questions made them cringe as the GTAA motto is “Tolerate no BS”. To make a long story short, MQA uses the low frequencies between 1Hz to 10Hz to store data that can be used to recreate frequencies higher than 22.5kHz. This allows a company like Tidal to stream redbook specs files (16bit / 44.1kHz) to be used with an MQA capable DAC, the DAC will see the embedded data and will treat the file as a higher resolution bucket. Their demo was impressive but with nothing to compare the file to, we will have to wait. Currently, according to MEridian, there are more than 70 DAC manufactures who have signed on to use this technology. I can cover a day’s worth of technical seminar about this topic. Maybe in the summer…
AIX / Benchmark / Revel
Probably not the first names that come into your mind when you think about ultra high end. Never the less, the 5.1 Hi-Res demo was nothing short of stunning. AIX captured live performance in a studio in stereo and surround. Now, I am not taking about surround sound when engineers use the rear channel to create ambiance. This is a real full range recording with 5 unique full range channels. The .1 channel wen to the two sub-woofers. You need to suspend your faith in two channel audio for this. I had my doubt along with other folks in the room but once the music started, it was very pleasing. The highlight was an unreleased track by Jennifer Warnes. It is a huge financial commitment to set up something life this and very few recordings support this but it was nice to see what can be accomplished.
Legacy / Coda
Another home run was the Legacy room. Here we have another unorthodox setup with active speakers and a DAC / Crossover / Preamp. The sound was excellent. All the things you want to have in your system (for most of us). The room was huge and had three dedicated setups. There is an excellent synergy between those brands. One day, if budget permits, I would like to reevaluate Coda in my system. Bill Dudleston, the designer and CEO of Legacy was there and took the time to answer all questions.
Pure Vinyl / Channel D
I had great time taking to Rob Robinson. The guy designer the software for Pure Music. So here it goes: What if you could archive your vinyl collection on a format that will retain the sound that came from your cartridge, arm ,table and phono stage? Will you do that knowing that you can replay the file at any given time and it will always sound like the original? Interesting idea. The Pure Vinyl software allows you to make vinyl rip (needle drops) of you beloved album via your beloved set up. Once you do that, you can always use the files created to play back the album. The sonic signature will remain, pops and clicks included.
Polymer / Thrax
Excellent room. Thrax is from Bulgaria. $33k for their DAC. I didn’t ask the prices for the rest of the gear but it looks very nice, all machined aluminium.
Very impressive sound. The speakers are from a California based company (Again, forgot the name..). The monoblocks are $9k per amplifier and the pre is $10k. This might fit the 5 year plan. I believe the speakers are going for around $30k.
That is for now. I am going to spend Sunday attending seminars and going through some other rooms.