Discover the top 5 best rooms from Axpona 2023 in our show report! Get an inside look at the best audio equipment and room setups from the event.
If you’re a music enthusiast, you know that Axpona 2023 is one of the biggest events of the year. It’s the perfect opportunity to catch up on the latest trends in high-end audio, network with industry experts, and experience some of the most incredible sound systems in the world.
But with so many rooms to choose from, deciding which ones to visit can be overwhelming. So that’s where we come in. As avid audiophiles, we’ve scoured the show floor to bring you the best rooms from Axpona 2023. From the latest speakers to cutting-edge amplifiers, we’ve got you covered. So sit back, relax, and get ready to experience the best of the best that Axpona 2023 has to offer.
Axpona 2023 Best Rooms:
1. Hegel/Clarisys Audio (Our Best In Show)
The Hegel P30A ($8995) and H30A ($18,995) reference pre/power combo were part of a masterful system that included a pair of Clarisys Audio Minuet ($33,800) speakers. The H30A amp, introduced last summer, is designed to run as a Mono amp (1100w/8 ohms), but it can also run as a stereo amp, which is how it was used at the show. According to the Hegel rep, they were supposed to have two power amps on hand for the system, but this particular amp is selling so well they could only get one.
Despite only having one power amp, the system sounded excellent, with remarkable dynamics and clarity. I was very impressed with the Minuet speaker. I couldn’t believe how much bass came from the panel arrangement! Very nice system.
2. Falcon Acoustics/Mastersound
If you’ve spent any time reading this site, then you know I have a thing for British Mini Monitors. So I guess that’s why I loved this room featuring Falcon Acoustics’ LS3/5a Gold Badge Golden Madrone 50th Anniversary speaker ($3,995). This small speaker comes in a Gold Madrone Burl wood finish with upgraded Gold Badge crossovers. These crossovers are hand-built using enhanced BBC specification components and mounted on Falcon’s proprietary multi-layer printed circuit board.
The speakers offered the organic, rich midrange I expected to hear from an LS3/5a design, but it also provided an amazing extended bass that I didn’t expect to hear. I was entranced by the richness of these minuscule speakers, a sound augmented by the Mastersound amp they were connected to. The soundstage and imaging were also out of this world!
3. KLH Audio/Bryston
One of the big debuts at the show was the new KLH Model Seven, the latest speaker in their Model Collection. It follows the three-way KLH Model Five ($1,249.99/ea.) and the two-way KLH Model Two ($649.99/ea.)
The New Model Seven is a three-way acoustic speaker that delivers a high-quality audio experience. Its impressive features include a 1″ aluminum-dome tweeter, a 5″ pulp/paper-cone midrange unit, and a 13″ pulp/paper-cone woofer.
The cabinet is crafted from reinforced MDF and has a black, 3″ slanted riser base. The speaker boasts a sensitivity of 91dB/2.83V/m, an impedance of 4 ohms, and a frequency rating of 38Hz—20kHz. The Model Seven also features a three-position “Acoustic Balance Control” to enhance audio quality.
At the show, they were driven by a Bryston Pre/Power combo, and they rocked the house with plenty of tight bass plus superb focus and detail. Due to the Acoustic Suspension design, the well-controlled low end barely overloaded the small space, despite being placed so close to the wall.
To see a near full-range speaker with such refinement for such a low price (about $4k a pair) was surprising. Many people with big spaces wanting to play their music at symphony noise levels will be checking these out. Look for them to hit stores in Q3.
Axpona 2023 Best Rooms
4. Fern & Roby/Linear Tube Audio
Another one of my favorite rooms was the Fern & Roby/LTA room. It was a great example of a room that just sounded right. The system was comprised of a pair of Fern & Roby Raven III speakers ($8500), an LTA Z40+ Integrated ($7,650), and a WEISS DAC501 ($9,645) DAC.
For the Raven III, Fern & Roby collaborated with SEAS to create a Full-Range single-driver solution specifically designed to offer the coherency of a single driver along with smooth bass below 40 Hz. In addition, they’re engineered to be compatible with low-powered tube amplifiers that output as little as 7 Watts per channel.
Unlike many systems at the show that hit you hard with a lot of zing as you entered the room, the Fern & Roby system had an excellent laid-back perspective that enveloped you like a warm hug. In addition, these speakers had one of the purest midranges I had a chance to hear at the show. Very nice.
I was a massive fan of the American Audio & Video room with its two Mission/Audiolab setups. The primary rig comprised the new audiolab 9000 series components and the Mission 770 large format standmount speakers, and I loved this setup’s clarity and dynamic energy. With a discrete Class AB power amp stage, the centerpiece 9000A integrated can deliver an impressive output of 100W per channel into 8 ohms and 160W per channel into 4 ohms. Moreover, it had no problem making the big Mission speakers sing.
Bonus: Arion Audio
Another system that impressed me was the setup from Arion Audio. They had their novel Apollo loudspeaker system ($25000) on demo, which was something to behold. The system comprises five pieces, including two dipole towers and two woofer modules. The bass modules can be positioned anywhere in the room to provide an extended bass response and seamless integration with the towers. Additionally, the system includes advanced DSP room correction technology to ensure perfect integration between the system and the room.
Each tower uses a line array of nine HVTs (High Velocity Transducer), a proprietary AMT driver that Arion builds in-house, and I have to say this system had the purest midrange I heard all day. It sounded so coherent and musical that getting up from my seat was hard, even though this room wasn’t on my schedule for the day. But I’ll tell you this, the Arion Audio system will be on my list next time.
Ed. Note: I neglected to mention that the amplifier in the Arion Audio room was the Aric Audio Super 300B SET which drove the main speakers providing 9 watts per channel to them. Thanks to Aric Kimball of Aric Audio for the update!
Axpona 2023 Best Rooms
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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.