Get the inside scoop on the latest and greatest products showcased at AXPONA 2023 in our New and Noteworthy Pt.2 Axpona show report.
Last weekend, AXPONA 2023 took place, and as expected, it was a showcase of the latest and greatest in the audio industry. From cutting-edge technology to innovative designs and everything in between, the event was a melting pot of ideas and creativity. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the most exciting new products and trends that were on display at AXPONA 2023.
In particular, we’ll be focusing on the second part of our “New and Noteworthy” series. So, whether you’re a music enthusiast looking to upgrade your audio equipment, a tech geek searching for the latest gadgets, or just someone curious about the future of sound, keep reading to discover some of the most exciting highlights from AXPONA 2023.
Axpona Show Report: Audiolab’s New 7000 Series/Mission 700 Loudspeaker
One of my favorite rooms at the show was the American Audio Video room, where they had two Mission/Audiolab setups playing. The primary system, comprised of the Audiolab 9000 Series and Mission 770 speakers, was excellent. Still, the auxiliary system, comprised of the brand-new Audiolab 7000 series and Mission 700 speakers, was also interesting.
Audiolab’s 7000 Series (announced before the show) includes an integrated amplifier, CD transport, and network audio player, drawing on the technology from the high-end 9000 Series and the basics from the 6000 Series. Sitting between the 6000 and 9000 models, the 7000 Series are said to offer exceptional audio and connection options at an accessible price. In addition, the products feature full-color IPS LCD screens and additional features, with a compact yet ergonomic design and premium engineering.
Additionally, the New Mission 700 model has a similar design to the original Mission 700 that came out in the 1980s but it has many complex innovations and improvements to bring it up to date. This includes a new polypropylene bass/midrange driver and motor system, which enhances power handling, dynamics and strives to maintain the original’s extended response and low coloration. In addition, the driver offers improved rigidity, precision-controlled cone termination, and energetic output.
I didn’t get to hear this combo at the show, but at a combined $4000 for the amp and speakers, I’m very intrigued. I hope to get this gear in for review soon!
Geshelli Labs ZOOFA Integrated Amp
Geshelli Labs, a family-run company known for headphone amps and DACs with handcrafted wooden cases, returned to Axpona this year with an interesting new integrated amp. Named Zoofa, after the mentor of Geno Geshelli (head of product design), it has a handcrafted wooden casing just like the rest of the line, and each unit will be one of a kind due to the variations in the woodgrain.
The unit is still in the development phase, but according to Geno, the final production units will have a Class A/B amp section with output somewhere between 50 and 100 wpc. There is no DAC section in the Zoofa; the company feels a separate DAC like their J2 ($250) will provide a better result.
At the show, they had the J2 DAC running into the integrated as the source, then they had a pair of Mofi Electronics’ SourcePoint 10 Speakers ($3,699.00/pr.) at the end of the chain. The system sounded smooth, with excellent dynamics. It was a lot of fun.
The Zoofa will be priced at around $2000 when it sells in about six months.
Axpona Show Report: JBL L100 Classic Black Limited Edition
JBL has introduced the Black Edition Appearance package for its L100, L82, L52, and L75ms enclosures showcasing a multi-step, labor-intensive painting process resulting in a high-gloss mirror-like finish.
The luxurious finish results from a black base coat with a luxurious high-gloss finish layered on top. It’s a process that also gives a softer look overall to the edges of the cabinet. To complement the black cabinets, the passive hi-fi models have unique gold labels on the front and rear and black Quadrex foam grilles with special gold JBL badges.
At the show, they had a pair of L100 Classic Black Limited Edition ($2600/ea.) speakers running off a JBL SA750 Integrated Amp, and that setup was rocking. It was a very clean-sounding system with all the deep bass response you would expect from a JBL speaker, plus the gloss black finish is super cool!
Cambridge Audio MXN100 & AXN100 Streamers
Cambridge Audio’s Room at the show was primarily based around their new budget network streamers, which seem to be outstanding values. The MXN10 and AXN10 are two streaming devices that add Wi-Fi streaming capability to any music system. The half-width MXN10 is priced at $499, and the full-component width AXN10 is priced at $599. They are identical except for the size, utilizing CA’s excellent StreamMagic technology, which has led to successful products such as the CXN V2 network player and Evo all-in-one systems.
Axpona Show Report: The New Zu Audio Dirty Weekend Bookshelf
Kimber Cable had a fascinating A-B demo showcasing the sonic difference between a $350 speaker cable and a $3500 speaker cable. The demo system was comprised of two pairs of speakers stacked on top of each other, with the $350 cable wired to one pair and the $3500 cable wired to the other.
Then there was a switcher in the back where you could quickly move the music from one pair to another. The demo was fantastic, and I quickly discerned the difference between the two cables, but the most exciting part of the system was the speakers they were using. Making a cameo appearance was the new $1499-$2000/pr. Zu Audio Dirty Weekend Bookshelf, which according to the founder Sean Casey, goes on sale later this year. The speakers sounded good, with an excellent open midrange and outstanding dynamics. They really sang!
Wharfedale Dovedale Speaker
The brand-new Wharfedale Dovedale large format 3-Way speaker (about $7000 with stands) also made an appearance at the show, and I think it was the first time it received a demo at a show stateside. Built in the same British factory as the Mission 700 speaker above, this is yet another entry to the modern “vintage” speaker trend, a trend one could say Wharfedale had a big part in starting.
The original Dovedale speaker was created in 1965 as a two-way model and was later adapted to be a three-way design with separate bass, midrange, and treble drivers. However, the most memorable version is said to be the Dovedale 3, launched in 1971.
The modern Dovedale takes inspiration from the Dovedale 3 and the Unit 5 build-at-home kit, with slightly larger cabinet dimensions. The 10-in bass and 5-in midrange drivers utilize durable woven Kevlar cones with a specific balance of acoustic foam and long hair fiber for optimal damping. In addition, the midrange driver is in its own chamber, allowing for a smooth transition between drivers with an accurate crossover to the bass unit capable of reaching a low frequency of 25Hz.
At the show, these big boys looked amazing perched on their purpose-made stands, and they sounded amazingly liquid and organic, driven by a Mastersound amp and Hifi Rose RS250A streamer.
Look for the Dovedale to hit stores sometime this month.
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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.