The Audio Expo North America, better known as AXPONA, is the country’s biggest public event for anybody and everybody that loves audio.
Whether you’re looking to listen to a pro-grade, studio-quality system worth hundreds of thousands or you're looking to compare different headphones on your quest for a new pair, you can do that at AXPONA. This year’s event had a staggering 140+ listening rooms, even more exhibitors, and endless things to see and do over the three-day convention held in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg.
In no particular order, here are some highlights from AXPONA 2022…
For decades, Augspurger has been a benchmark for studio-monitor sound with the likes of Jay-Z, Snoop Dog, Dr. Dre, and many more relying on the power of Augspurger speakers to drive their studios. But Augspurger isn’t just for the pros, at least not anymore.
The centerpiece of Augspurger’s AXPONA setup is its two-way nearfield MinimaX monitor built to bridge the gap between consumer hi-fi and the kind of kit you might find in a professional recording studio. The MinimaX has a pure maple horn driven by a 99.97% pure beryllium diaphragm and comes with Augspurger’s in-house SXE Series amplification that includes the company's DSP Tune software for full control over your sound.
At $10,000 a pair even with included amplification, these monitors aren't cheap, but you can check them out on Augspurger's site.
Klipsch demoed its Jubilee loudspeakers alongside a Fender x MoFi PrecisionDeck turntable, Michi P5 preamp, and Michi S5 stereo power amp in a $50,000+ set-up. Then, the legendary audio company partnered with AudioQuest to set up their show system with over $100,000 worth of cabling running the gambit from diamond USB and ethernet cables to $21,400 per pair FireBird speaker cables.
The Jubilees, as you might expect, had no problems filling up a huge ballroom-sized suite with sound, a huge sound stage and lashings of bass you could feel in your bones.
Technical Audio Devices Laboratories, Inc
Technical Audio Devices Laboratories, Inc, better known as TAD (or TADL), is a legendary company in the world of music production with its reference systems often thought to be the best of the best for audio engineers.
At AXPONA, TAD demoed its nearly $150,000 three-way vented box loudspeaker, the Reference One; its $85,000 three-way bass reflex compact monitor, the Compact Reference One; its nearly $30,000 three-way bass reflex floor-standing loudspeaker, the Evolution One; and its $14,500 three-way bass reflex bookshelf loudspeaker, the Micro Evolution One, alongside a host of other kit.
In terms of accuracy, clarity, and detail, the TAD setup at AXPONA offered up some of the best raw audio quality of the show.
SVS gave the public the first taste of its upcoming Prime Wireless Pro speakers launching this June. The Prime Wireless Pros have got 5.25-inch midbass drivers; a 1-inch aluminium dome tweeter; and a 200-watt RMS amplifier alongside a 24-bit/192MHz DAC that supports lossless hi-res streaming.
The Prime Wireless Pros support all kinds of wireless tech, like Chromecast, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Spotify Connect, and Tidal Connect, and they’re also being positioned as a hi-fi Sonos competitor with full multiroom support. SVS is also introducing a new version of its SoundBase multiroom amplifier alongside the Prime Wireless Pros.
The Wireless Pros are expected to retail for $799 a pair, while the Wireless Pro SoundBase amp is expected to retail for $599.
Paradigm demoed its five-driver, three-way Founder 120H floorstanding speakers with internal Class D 1000-watt amplifiers. The Founder 120H speakers come packed with the latest in Anthem Room Correction technology, too, and that undoubtedly helped them sound decent in even the acoustic hellscape of a convention center hotel room.
At $8,500 a pair, the Paradigm 120H speakers offered up some impressive sound during our brief listen, and they’ll fit elegantly into almost any space.
JOCAVI International Acoustic Panels
Jocavi produces high-quality, visually striking acoustic treatments out of a huge variety of materials that have the look and feel of a stylish art piece. And you won’t need to plaster them over every inch of your room to help get the best sound out of your kit, either, accomplishing more with less.
While Jocavi does work with the pros to build studios and listening rooms, the company also sells directly to consumers. You’ll find acoustic treatments starting at reasonable prices for sale on Jocavi’s site.
IsoAcoustics specializes in building isolation products for speakers and turntables that work towards eliminating vibration that can introduce noise and distortion.
IsoAcoustics came to AXPONA with two sets of Focal Aria 936 K2 speakers, one set with IsoAcoustics’ GAIA isolators and one set with standard spikes to let the public hear the difference themselves (the company also has a video demonstration of this test).
Whether you’ve got a simple pair of bookshelf speakers, a turntable, or a high-end hi-fi system, IsoAcoustics has a huge variety of isolation products on offer. Check out the IsoAcoustics site for more information.
Scrawled on a piece of paper taped to a hotel room door was the following message: WARNING! DO NOT ENTER IF YOU WANT TO SPEND A FORTUNE ON YOUR HI-FI. Inside, you’d find the Rega System One package that comes with a Planar 1 turntable, a Regi io stereo amplifier, Kyte loudspeakers, and all the necessary cables for the affordable system price of $2,115. At just over two grand and without a dedicated subwoofer, Rega’s System One sounds so incredible we gave it five-stars in our review.
If you don’t want to spend a fortune, don’t want to spend a day setting up your system, and you want some truly audiophile-grade sound, the Rega System One is definitely worth a look.
Perfect Vinyl Forever: Professional Record Cleaning
This family-run business specializes in professional record cleaning, relying on commercial-grade record cleaning equipment. Results, naturally, vary record-to-record, but Perfect Vinyl Forever claims clearer, more detailed sound and a wider soundstage with a higher degree of separation after cleaning.
Plus, Perfect Vinyl Forever is careful to note that cleaning isn’t just good for old records. Newly-minted vinyl can come out of the factory caked with dirt and debris, both of which can impact sound quality.
Vanatoo is a hi-fi company that makes all-in-one wireless powered speakers you can use as part of a desktop or computer-based system. At AXPONA, the Vanatoo Transparent One Encore speakers ($500) and the Transparent Zero ($340) speakers were demoed, with both sets offering high-res 24-bit/96kHz support, Bluetooth, USB, optical, and 3.5mm inputs, while the Transparent One Encore also packs in digital coax.
TigerFox boldly advertises its Immerse 360 as a $100,000 audiophile experience anybody can order, right now, for just $479. The Immerse 360 is like a portable listening room. It’s an open pod you set up and then fill with your own chair and speakers and works like an all-encompassing acoustic treatment that can open up the soundstage of whatever you’re listening to for a more 3D experience.
Naturally, this effect will be heavily reliant on what kit you use, and the Immerse is only designed for a pair of speakers and not true surround sound, but it's an interesting concept. At the show, listeners filed in and out of the TigerFox demo routinely impressed by TigerFox’s acoustic solution.
Madisound is an electronics company and worldwide provider of high-end hi-fi components from drivers to crossover components to DSP modules to even DIY kits, OEM support, and expert advice about your next hi-fi project.
At the show, Madisound had a huge variety of components on display from major manufacturers like Accuton, Audax, Eton, Fostex, Peerless, SB Acoustics, Raal, and many more. If you’re looking to build the perfect speaker yourself, it could be a brand worth investigating further.
Check out what's coming at High End Munich 2022