Welcome back to HiFiAudio.Guru’s coverage of AXPONA 2023 thanks to the generous sponsorship provided by our good friends at xsa-labs and Vera-Fi Audio LLC.
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This year’s show was the largest AXPONA ever with over 200 Exhibitors and over 9,000 attendees, so while I like to provide in-depth coverage of shows, even that is only going to cover the highlights if for no other reason than I have reviews waiting in the wings, but I will give you the full flavor of the event, and reveal to you the best rooms at the show. I would also like to note that there were extensive seminars and entertainment including Isabeau Corriveau, Anne Bisson, and Amber Rubarth that I did not have time to partake of, still I had a wonderful time.
HeadAmp had two amazing surprises to reveal at the show along with their usual extensive line of products, one was their beautiful new upcoming pure tube HeadAmp Grand Cayman Electrostatic Headphone Amplifier (TBA) which will be a statement piece so it will be a magnitude more expensive than any of their current offerings, the other was the equally fantastic brand new Dan Clark Audio CORINA Reference Electrostatic Headphones ($4,499.99) which together were one of the best sounding things to hear at the show. Mytek Audio was showing their Mytek Audio Empire Streamer DAC ($24,995) in both their shared space with HeadAmp and their separate two-channel loudspeaker room in the tower with their Mytek Audio Empire Monoblock Amplifiers ($9,995).
Newcomer Volumio were showing three different products the Volumio Integro Integrated Network Amplifier ($1,199) a dual mono 50Watt Class D amplifier with both loudspeaker and headphone output and an HDMI video output to run to a display, the Volumio Primo Network Music Player ($799), and the Volumio Rivo Music Player Transport ($989) which supports up to 32-bit/768kHz and DSD256.
ZMF Headphones was offering a bit of zen to accompany their extensive selection of their custom made Headphones including their flagship ZMF Caldera Planar Magnetic Headphone ($3,499.99) employing their patent-pending CAMS (Caldera Asymmetrical Magnet Structure), which is one of the best sounds I have heard coming from the dCS Lina System ($31,150). Also on display with their hoard of amplifiers was the dual chassis Cayin HA-300B MK II Tube Headphone Amplifier ($3,899.99)
Focal Naim USA
Focal Naim USA took up one of the large ballrooms on the second floor which they had stuffed to the gills with gear. While they rotated their demonstrations between their highly respected Focal Maestro Utopia III EVO Speakers ($75,998/pr) and their Focal 1000 IWLCR Utopia In-wall Speakers with two of their Focal 1000 IWSUB Inwall Subs ($2,899/ea) both driven by the Naim Audio New Classic NSC 222 Preamp & Streamer ($8,999), Naim Audio New Classic NAP 250 Power Amp ($8,999), and Naim Audio New Classic NPX 3000 Power Supply ($8,999) all launched this year at CES, the real focus of the show was the launch of their new Focal Dolby Atmos Theva 7.2.4 Home Theater system which consisted of two Focal Theva N°3 Floorstanding Loudspeakers ($2398/pr), four Focal Theva N°3-D Floorstanding Loudspeakers ($2998/pr), one Focal Theva Center ($649/ea), and two Focal Sub 600P Subwoofers with a Focal Astral 16 Audio-Video Processor And Amplifier ($19,999).
Also available for your listening pleasure was their famous Focal Headphone Bar demonstrating the new Focal Bathys Bluetooth ANC Headphones ($799) and the new Focal Utopia 2022 ($4,999). In another section were Focal’s Littora Outdoor Speakers, and Focal’s line of In-wall Speakers, not to mention Naim’s Naim Mu-so 2nd Gen Light Wood ($1,399) all-in-one system.
Thorens/AVID HiFi/Musical Fidelity/IsoAcoustics
Sharing the room with Focal Naim were Thorens, AVID HiFi, Musical Fidelity, and IsoAcoustics. I was really taken by the AVID HiFi Ingenium Turntable, Tonearm, and Cartridge package ($1999) which was supported by an IsoAcoustics zaZen I turntable platform ($199.99), as well as the Thorens TD 201 Turntable ($699). And we cannot forget the Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista PRE Two-channel Pre-amplifier ($24,999), Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista PAS Two-Channel Power Amplifier ($26,999), and Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista PAM Monoblock Power Amplifier ($21,999).
Warwick Acoustics was on hand with their isolation booth demonstrating one of the finest Personal Audio experiences available with their Warwick Acoustics Limited Edition Black APERIO Electrostatic Headphone System ($36,000).
Meza Audio was showing off their new Meze Audio Elite Tungsten Headphones ($3,999) and their Meza Audio 109 Pro Headphones ($799.00) to a captivated crowd along with their Meze Audio Rai Penta IEMs ($1,099.00).
Another surprise in the Ear Gear room was PSB who were launching their new PSB M4U 9 ANC Bluetooth Headphones ($499) and the new PSB M4U TWM True Wireless Monitors ($199), as well as their popular PSB M4U 8 MKll ANC Bluetooth Headphones in Espresso ($399). Of course, they also had their regular ballroom with NAD and Bluesound where they had two systems available for listening, a NAD M33 BluOS® Streaming DAC Amplifier ($5999) driving a pair of PSB Synchrony T800 Tower Loudspeakers ($11,999/pr), and a pretty pair of PSB Passif 50 Standmount Loudspeakers ($2,499/pr) being driven by a NAD M10 V2 BluOS Streaming Amplifier ($2999), and the legend Paul Barton himself was on hand to give talks and answer questions.
A further surprise in Ear Gear was STAX who rarely appears at shows. The highlight of their table was their STAX SRM-T8000 Driver unit for Earspeakers ($6,090) and the STAX SR-X9000 Electrostatic Earspeakers ($6,200).