One of the best things about going to an audio show like AXPONA is coming across extraordinary or unconventional stuff. A big part of designing hi-fi is coming up with new ways of doing things, and as a result, you often see some cool stuff. Here’s a list of the coolest stuff I saw on day one!
1. The very first Wilson Audio WAMM speaker system
It’s not every day that you see a piece of audiophile history. In 1981, the late Dave Wilson came up with the Wilson Audio Modular Monitor system, otherwise known as WAMM, with the desire to recreate the sound of a live performance.
The current WAMM system, the WAMM Master Chronosonic, was his magnum opus (created right before he passed away) and is still considered to be one of the finest speakers available.
According to the dealer, the system you see here was the first WAMM system built by Wilson, which used to reside in his living room (see below). They say they recently purchased it and reconditioned it to its current state.
I have to say it sounded pretty darn good for a (likely) forty-year-old system! I’m sure the top-of-the-line Dan D’Agostino electronics had something to do with it!
2. The humongous (and great sounding) Klipsch Heritage Jubilee speakers with Rotel Michi electronics
I thought this system was one of the most fun to listen to, and I know I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Reviewers were raving about it! I had a lot to do on day one, but I couldn’t pry myself away from the scale and live music quality! If you get a chance to hear these do it!
Here’s some info from the manufacturer:
The Klipsch Jubilee is the final project founder Paul W. Klipsch (PWK) worked on. It was his dream to create a fully horn-loaded speaker that would satisfy the most ardent audiophiles. Originally intended to be the successor to the Klipschorn, PWK soon realized it was much more than that. Twenty-first century advancements in engineering and technology have allowed Klipsch to make his dream a reality.
The Klipsch Jubilee is a fully horn loaded two-way loudspeaker, designed to deliver the ultimate listening experience. It incorporates the latest acoustic technology, including:
- A patented, horn-loaded, vented, low frequency enclosure that delivers unrivaled dynamics and clean bass from its dual 12” woofers and three 4” ports.
- An all-new, horn-loaded, compression driver with a 7” axiperiodic titanium diaphragm provides a wide bandwidth for seamless clarity and accuracy.
- Each component is specifically optimized to operate in its individual pass-band, making it one of the most efficient loudspeakers on the planet.
- An active crossover network ensures the highest degree of accurate, true-to-life sound reproduction through a built-in digital signal processor (DSP) and equalizer. It enables using separate amplifiers for the high frequency and low frequency speakers, eliminates phase cancellation in the crossover region and may be shelf or rack-mounted.
- Two standard real-wood veneer finishes — satin black ash and American walnut to complement modern furnishings.
Like the entire range of Klipsch Heritage speakers, Klipsch Jubilee speakers are designed and handcrafted in the USA and carry an unprecedented 10-year warranty. Each speaker is grain-matched using wood veneer panels from the same timber, resulting in a speaker pair that is virtually indistinguishable from the other.
The Klipsch Jubilee speakers will be available in June 2022 (US MSRP $35,000/pr).
3. A Great sounding T+A headphone rig…ka-ching!!!
I’ve heard a lot about the T+A Solitare P reference headphones, but I finally got a chance to listen to them this weekend. Even though the conditions were less than perfect for listening to open-back headphones, I still couldn’t get over how musical this rig was.
They use a special planar-magnetostatic driver to produce a highly resolving and seamless speaker-like sound, and the experience was out of this world.
At $6900 for just the headphones (add $9500 for the amp and $5700 for the streamer), this setup isn’t cheap, but I would consider putting this gear in my listening room if I had the cash.
4. Check out this Sexy Estelon and Krell system…Breathtaking!
Local dealer Audio Experience had one of the most impressive rooms at the show with this Estelon Forza/Krell KSA-i400 Amplifier (US premiere!) combo. Completing the setup was an MSB Reference DAC and Innuos Statement Music Streamer.
These almost six-foot-tall speakers are composed of a proprietary crushed-marble composite for superior anti-resonance, and they are a thing to behold. The pics don’t do them justice. The sound is also remarkable (what a natural tonality!) and worth a listen if you have 150k (just for the speakers!) burning your pockets.
5. The Amazing Manger Sound Transducer
I’ve heard the Manger P2 Standmount speaker several times, and it never ceases to amaze me with its smoothness and coherence. That coherence is due to its extraordinary and proprietary Manger Sound Transducer which reproduces most of the audio spectrum, reportedly down to 40hz.
The woofers produce nothing but the lowest omnidirectional frequencies, giving this speaker a seamless point source reproduction. This “hornless” transducer has no cone and produces sound by creating vibrations on the unique sandwiched “diaphragm.”
By the way, the manufacturer will not share the exact composition of the transducer, which lets you know just how special it is. You can definitely hear the difference between it and the competition. You may think I’m crazy, but I think their $15k price tag may be a bargain.
6. Four-Speaker Wharfedale Linton system…looks wrong, but it sounds right!
When I first walked into this room with two pairs of Wharfedale Lintons stacked on top of each other, it took me a minute to register what was going on. I’ve heard a single pair before, but this was my first time hearing them in a “double-stack” configuration, which seems to be a thing.
According to the dealer/distributor (and manufacturer), this provides “presence and imaging that will blow you away.” While I can’t say I was quite “blown away”, this setup provided more scale and fullness than the single pair. It actually sounded pretty good, but it looks so wrong to me!
7. A family that makes kick-ass headphone amps and DACs!
I’ve heard many good things about Geshelli Labs’ headphone amps and DACs, but this weekend was my first time hearing them myself. The Geshelli room was manned by the Florida family that hand builds these devices, and it was cool to walk in and be greeted by the Mom/CEO, then introduced to the Dad and Sons, who are also part of the business.
However, while that was nice, the best part of the story was the beautiful sound coming from their gear. The music was crystal clear and powerful, making me spend more time in this room than initially planned. Everything is also super affordable, ranging from $ 189 to $250. Hope to hear a lot more of this stuff in the future!
8. A couple making portable listening rooms…that roll up!!!
Got a listening room that sounds horrible? Don’t have a good space to set up your amp and speakers in an equilateral triangle? Well, this husband and wife have the answer for you! It’s called the Tigerfox Immerse 360, and it’s a portable listening pod that promises to provide the perfect listening space for your stereo speakers. In addition, it’s lightweight and rolls up into a compact package you can stuff in a closet.
I got a chance to listen to it, and with Dolby Atmos surround music tracks, it gives you the impression that there are speakers all around you. With standard stereo tracks, it does provide some nice stereo imaging, albeit in an intimate proportion.
There are some limitations like it only works with one person at a time, and you can’t move around much lest you leave the “sweet spot”, but it does seem to work as advertised! It’s also reasonably priced at $479. By the way, that nice gentleman running the demo is the founder.
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I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My hunger for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.