Better Protection for Buyers and Sellers

Our latest release includes several new features and changes to our Terms of Use designed to help us combat fraudulent activity. Here’s an overview of what’s changing now and what’s coming down the road.

Credit Card Required to Sell or Use Buy It Now

Requiring a valid credit card to list an item allows us to verify the identity of the seller. This creates a significant obstacle for scammers. We are also requiring a credit card for “Buy It Now” to further prevent it being used to lock up listings. Combined with address verification, this new requirement will immediately increase the quality and security of our marketplace.

Automatic Fee Payments

Beginning on November 3rd, 2014 we will automatically charge fees older than 30 days to your primary credit card on the 3rd day of each month. Please note, this only applies to fees incurred after September 24th, 2014, the date this policy was implemented. Any fees incurred prior to September 24, 2014 will need to be paid in full before you will be able to continue using the site.

Avoiding Automatic Fee Payments

You can easily avoid any fees being automatically charged to your credit card by:

1. Paying your bill before it is automatically charged
2. Using Premium listings which do not incur transaction fees
3. Using PayPal as your payment method so that transaction fees are automatically deducted

Simplified Billing

You are no longer required to submit payment for outstanding fees every time you create a new listing. While you can submit payment for oustanding fees at any time by visiting the MyBill page,  you now have the option to do nothing and let us take care of it for you with a single transaction each month. We’ll even send you a line item receipt for your records.

Added Convenience

While adding at least one credit card to your account is required to sell or use Buy It Now, you may add more than one and specify which is Primary if you wish. You can then use any of your stored credit cards when you checkout.

To make it a snap we built a button that defaults to your Primary credit card…

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while allowing you to easily switch to any other credit card:

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Oh Ya, We Don’t Store Your Credit Card Information

In fact, it is never even passed from your web browser to our server. We’re using Stripe for all credit card processing. When you submit your credit card information through a form on our website, it is transmitted directly to Stripe from your web browser over an encrypted (SSL) connection. It is never passed to our server and we don’t store it anywhere within our application or database. Stripe stores your credit card information on their servers and they are serious about security. When it comes time to process a transaction against your credit card we send a charge request to Stripe and they do the rest. That’s it.

What’s Next

While these changes represent a major enhancement of the security of our platform, we are already working on additional measures that will further protect all of our members. Look for these and other changes over the coming weeks and months.

Device Locking

You’ll soon be able to link your account to the specific devices you use to access it. For most of you that’s a desktop or notebook and an iPad. Once you verify your devices, we will block all access to your account from any other device unless you authorize it.

Blocking Anonymous Proxies

While there are legitimate reasons why users need to access Audiogon.com using a VPN or other proxy service, such as connecting from a company network, it is also true that the vast majority of fraudulent activity can be traced to users connecting using technologies that hide their true location, IP address and other information. For this reason we are evaluating various solutions for blocking those services most likely to be used by bad actors.

A New Focus On Security

The changes we’ve already implemented and the ones we are working on now represent a renewed focus on the security and safety of all of our members. As we continue to enhance our platform and develop new services we will remain focused on making sure we are deploying the latest technology and best practices available.

Shipping Made Easy

We are very excited to bring you a complete shipping solution designed as an integral part of our updated listing process. We built it from the ground up to work seemlessly behind the scenes to simplify the entire shipping process for both the buyer and the seller.

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Charge Actual, Exact Shipping Cost

While you can still choose to pay for shipping yourself, specify local pickup only or charge your buyers a flat rate for shipping, you now also have the option to specify which carriers you are willing to use and then let the buyer select which service they would like to pay for when they Buy It Now, make an offer or place the winning bid in an auction. This eliminates the need to finalize shipping costs after a sale but before the buyer submits payment, which often gets in the way of completing the transaction leading to a lost sale.

See Estimated Shipping Costs While Creating Your Listing

When you enter the dimensions of your packed item while creating your listing, our Shipping Estimator will show you the estimated fee for each service available from the carriers you select. In the example below the seller selected that the buyer will pay shipping.  The seller will then select where they will ship from and where they are willing to ship to.  Upon entering the dimensions of your shipment box, the shipping estimator will display estimated rates.  The seller then selects the carriers they are willing to ship with.  The seller then determines if they want to offer a flat rate for shipping based on the estimator, or if they want the buyer to select the “actual cost”.

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Buyer Selects the Shipping Service They Want

When you configure your listing to have the buyer pay the “actual” cost for shipping, they will select which service they want when they use Buy It Now, make an offer or win your auction.  The example below show a buyer making an offer to a seller who has selected for the buyer to pay shipping using the “actual cost”.  When a buyer goes to make an offer, we now have the ship to address and we are able to return the true cost of shipping for that item based on the dimensions the seller provided.

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Shipping Cost Included at Checkout

The cost for the service the buyers select will be added to their total when they checkout and be passed on to you along with their payment for your item.

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Print Shipping Labels

Once you’ve received payment for your item and the shipping charges you can purchase a shipping label directly from the Order confirmation page.

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Babybear’s System

In 2007 we started a home remodel project that included re-building our dedicated music room from the ground up. The finished product turned out very well.

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The room dimensions are 20 feet wide, 33 feet long with 12 foot ceilings and is suspended above our garage.

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We used 3 layers of 3/4″ plywood for the subfloor and included ASC’s wall damp material between the top 2 layers. The walls and ceiling were built using ASC’s Iso Wall and Iso Ceiling products and techniques. We then used a combination of Real Traps, RPG and ASC on wall acoustic treatments with an emphasis on diffusion to treat the interior of the room.

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The electric power design includes the use of a 10Kva isolation transformer, feeding a dedicated sub panel with bolt-in breakers with 12 dedicated 20 amp outlets. The wiring is manually twisted 10 gauge solid copper strands for positive, neutral and ground, run through flexible steel conduit and uses Hubbell isolated ground outlets.

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The transformer itself has its own dedicated ground rod – the ground rod has a copper exterior, 2″ in diameter with a ceramic center fill. The 11 foot long rod ground hole is back filled with a mixture of betonite and water to achieve very low resistance. We also installed a dedicated central air conditioner unit for the room to insure very quiet and comfortable temperatures even with tube electronics in the summer heat of Texas.

Discuss Babybear’s room in the Forum

Add Bold or Featured to an Active Listing

We just pushed an update that adds an “Upgrade Listing” button to your active listings:

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Click it and you’ll be presented with a form giving you the option to add Bold or Featured to your active, running listing. Upgrades take effect immediately. Please note, they do not extend the time left until your listing expires.

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Choose one or both upgrade options, click the Add to Cart button and checkout, that’s it.

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New Website Features

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Shopping Cart

Until now, paying for multiple listings meant individual PayPal or credit card transactions for each one or using your Account Balance to pay for them all at once. Not anymore. With our most recent update we’ve deployed a shopping cart that makes it a snap to pay for multiple listings (or listing upgrades, see below) all at once with a single PayPal or credit card transaction.

You’ll now see an “Add to Cart” button on the Preview pane of the New Listing form where you used to see a “Checkout” button. When you add a Listing to your cart you’ll get a summary with an itemized list of charges. If necessary, you can edit or remove Listings or add-ons without leaving the cart.

Pay Audiogon for Listings and Sellers for Items Purchased From One Screen

Your personal shopping cart will combine all items for which you need to pay Audigon into a single transaction. That includes as many Listings as you’d like to create and pay for all at once. It will also list all items for which you need to pay individual Sellers seperately so you can pay each seperately.

Shopping Cart Icon

The new shopping cart icon in the menu bar will let you know when you have something to pay for. That includes Listings you’ve created but not paid for, items you’ve won or chosen to buy directly from a Seller and upgrades to existing Listings.

Upgrade Active Listings

If you’ve got a Listing that needs some more attention you can now add Bold or Feature it to help it stand out, after it goes live. Previously the only time you could do either was while initially creating the Listing. To do this look for the “Add Bold” and “Add Featured” links in the Actions dropdown on any of your active listings.

Edit Listing Title

You can now edit the Title portion of your Listing’s headline. Just click the Edit link in the Actions dropdown on any active listing. Brand and Model cannot be edited.

Zu Modern Console No. 1

Zu Modern integrates Bauhaus design philosophy, creating a total work of art by combining all arts and architecture: American Mid-Century Modern, which took from Bauhaus and combined emerging technologies of the modern world, pushing design, engineering, and fabrication to truly inspirational levels; and Zu Audio’s proficiency in engineering and building intelligent, realistic sounding audio systems.

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Sure this stereo console looks gorgeous, and yet it sounds even better. Its unrivaled bandwidth, timing, presence and relaxed easy to love fidelity give the listener a spacious, naturally resolving, room-filling playback experience, all while looking and handling like the premium furniture it is.

How do we get realistic high-fidelity sound from this looks-first but apparently lo-fi form? Simple, we know how sound works and what makes playback emotionally engaging—this is after all furniture engineered and made by Zu Audio.

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First, we made sure the architectural design supported a matched set of Zu Nanotech 10” full-range speaker-drivers. Next, we were set on fitting the Zu Submission subwoofer engineering into the bottom section. Third, structural and wave mechanics engineering of both sections to tone down cabinet resonance. And finally, like icing on the cake, float the top half from the bottom using magnetic levitation—and make it easy to adjust. Yep, the top section (the full-range drivers, shelving and turntable deck) floats above the bottom subwoofer section, further minimizing deleterious structural vibrations ensuring your needle-in-groove remains totally happy, even at club-level playback.

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Designed to look fantastic, engineered to sound the equal, built to last generations.

Specifications / Electroacoustic, Basic

Bandwidth: 20–20,000 CPS
Impedance: 8 Ω
Efficiency: 99 dB-SPL
Dynamic Range: 120 dB SPL
Full-Range Recommend Power: 2–100 W/Ch
Full-Range Efficiency: 99 dB-SPL
Full-Range Bandwidth: 60–20,000 CPS
Full-Range Impedance: 8 Ω
Subwoofer Recommend Power: 500–1000 W
Subwoofer Efficiency: 80 dB-SPL
Subwoofer Bandwidth: 20–160 CPS
Subwoofer Impedance: 8 Ω

Electronics not included. For recommendations or additional details please contact us at +1-801-627-1040 or see www.ZuAudio.com…we’re happy to help.

Member Review of Axpona 2014

Thank you to member escritorjuan for providing this to us.

Searching for the ‘Right Stuff’ – ‘Mooo Mats’, Monolithic Speakers and Mega DACS at AXPONA 2014

Ayllon Media-Report by Juan C. Ayllon

 

CHICAGO, April 26, 2014 – I was first smitten in 1994.  Behind their ivy-covered brick entry in the well-heeled Lincoln Park neighborhood, Pro Musica played music so pure, so otherworldly that I spent hours in their listening rooms. Scrimping for months, I bought my first serious speakers there as a first year teacher – a pair of black, piano lacquered towers for $900.

Twenty years later, I’ve bought and sold thousands of dollars’ worth of audiophile gear, and now I’m standing in their display room at the Westin O’Hare, where 4,372 people flock to attend Audio Expo North America 2014.

Why the draw?  For some it’s curiosity, but for others like me, it’s a quest to grasp and, if possible, obtain the ultimate in home theater sound.

It’s a subjective pursuit.  Some favor vinyl records, spending upwards of $30,000 or more on turntables alone. Others prefer reel-to-reel tape.  For many, the end-all is digital sourcing that emulates the warm analog sound of vinyl, while others yet find that too romantic and colored, like a Hallmark movie filmed through a Vaseline-smeared lens; they prefer a dryer, more resolved presentation.  Then there’s digital delivery:  Some stalwarts favor red book (standard CDs at 44.1 kHz); others prefer downloading high resolution PCM (Pulse-Code Modulation, a means to digitally convey sampled analog signals) at frequencies of 96 and 192 kHz, yet others champion DSD, a format developed by Sony and Phillips to digitally encode audio signals from “64 times the sample rate of a CD… [to] 128 times faster,” according to PS Audio’s Paul McGowen.  Then, there’s tube versus solid state amplification.  The permutations are endless!

I attend Saturday’s session to survey the offerings and audition a handful of high end digital to analog converters (DACs) and music servers that might best link computer-based music to my home stereo.  Topping the list are the Meitner MA-1 DAC, the Lumin Network Media Player, and the Abbingdon Music Research DP-777 DAC.

My search begins in the packed Audiophile Marketplace room, where merchants hawk premium cable, records, CDs, media players and accessories to the throng.   Surveying the room, I spot a gorgeous black and white cowhide turntable mat astride an Ikura turntable.   It’s simply too cool to pass up.

“What we have is a cowhide record mat with cork on the underside and real dead cow on the top,” Jeff, a Mooo rep, touts with cheek.  “It eliminates static, reduces vibration, enhances bass response, and smoothes out the highs.”

It’s worth a try on my turntable, I muse.  And at $60, the wife would like it, as they’d go well with the new hardwood floors!

“It can improve the sound quality of any record player or record you play on it,” he crows, adding that Music Hall distributes their mats, which are currently in 50 to 100 stores.

He turns to the gleaming white Ikura, resplendent in black and white Mooo, and proclaims, “This sound table came out last week, and we hooked it up and listened to it for the first time – and I was blown away!  It’s an absolutely amazing value at $1,195 and comes with an Ortofon Blue Cartridge and is fantastic!”

 

Hap-Z Feet

My new Mooo Mat in hand, I spot a Sony Hap-Z1 ES DAC with a set of headphones at the Super HiRez booth and, seeing that it scored the cover of May’s issue of Stereophile and is reportedly flying off the shelves, I give it a listen. The experience is quite pleasant. Cannonball Adderley’s “Something Else” on a DSD 2.8 mHz recording is crisp and dynamic. I notice a slight hiss similar to that of a cassette tape (but cassette tapes were never so good) and mention it to the sales rep.  He says that’s from the original master reel-to-reel recording.  That’s especially impressive at just over $1,000, but I’m anxious to hear the premium players and DACs at higher price points.

 

I Could Have Had a V-8…Ultrasonic Record Cleaner

I surrender my headphones to a patron who’s been waiting and visit David Ratcliff of Ultrasonic Records.  He’s pitching a stainless steel tub with a small spigot on one side and several vinyl albums soaking in distilled water via a horizontal spindle on top.  Ratcilff, who’s sold five units of his Ultrasonic V-8 and is taking orders for more says, “There are a couple other machines on the market that use ultrasonic technology, but this is the first machine that allows for cleaning multiple records up to eight.   And in a 10-minute cycle, the machine will stop automatically, and you remove the records, putting them in a drying station, and reload.”

He sets washed records in a drying rack and continues, “We use air drying for a couple reasons:  one, it eliminates extra equipment and technology, but more importantly, there’s no static introduced on the clean record. Using a vacuum and brushes can reintroduce static, which would attract dust.  We’re trying to avoid that.  After the records are dry, we will wipe them with a carbon fiber brush and put them in a fresh, new sleeve.  This is really not about clean one record and play one record; this is about blocking out an hour of time and cleaning a large quantity of records.”  Priced at $1,495, sales are strong, he says with pride.  Rock on.

 

Cable Me, Audio Art

Next door, Rob Fritz of Audio Art Cable showcases impressive looking audio cables.  “We’re the direct seller of some premium audio cable products without the dealer markup involved,” he says.  “We do business from a home office, cut down on our expenses and feel that we provide a real strong value model for the customer by running our business in that fashion – very high quality parts, very high quality cabling materials.  We’ve been around for nine years and we have four industry awards to show for it.  We’re glad to be here at the show.”

 

The Skinny on the Scaenas

Strolling down the hallway, I discover one of the prettiest and more esoteric setups in the Scaena room, which features their loudspeaker system and Mainframe Music Server.  Two white tower speakers of 12 stacked small elliptical ceramic pods (designed to eliminate cabinet resonance and back waves, dissipating their energy as heat) house midrange drivers and are attached to vertical milled aluminum beams armed with nine planar ribbon drivers each to create the high frequencies.  In between the speakers are two separate 18 inch woofers encased in short, cylindrical frames that produce the bass.

Its principal, Sunny Umrao, says, “It’s one of a kind. It’s the first in the world to have error correction and do it, and that’s what we’re showing at the show.”  It’s also one of those systems where if you must ask the price, you probably can’t afford it, so I shove off.

 

African Art and Book Signing

I traipse through an enchanting display of carved African art was showcased at the Brown Art Museum exhibit and, in the hallway, encounter the slender, stately Robert Harley of Absolute Sound Press, who’s giving a video interview at his table where he’s signing copies of his book, “The Illustrated History of High End Audio.”

“We set out to create the definitive history of high end audio in a series of lavish, large format books, so we went back and interviewed the founders of these iconic companies,” he says.  “We created profiles of their companies, their unique technologies, their technical achievements and asked them for photos from their family photo albums of their thoroughly prototyped laboratories, things like that.”

“The book is filled with these fascinating, never before seen archival photos.  And it spans the entire history of the loudspeaker, going back to General Electric and Bell Labs all the way to the modern era.”  It’s available at  www.tasbook.com for $129 where, he says, viewers can watch him give a seven minute walk-through of his book from his listening room.

I snap a photo of the Lawrence Audio room, which sports their resplendent double-bass speaker looking like Pablo Picasso’s interpretation of an upright acoustic bass! And then it’s off to the Essential Audio room to hear the Abbingdon Music Research DP 777 DAC.

 

Monolithic Speakers and the Amazing AMR  

Make that the AMR CD-777 ($9,995), which is essentially their CD player melded with the DP 777 DAC, in between the largest pair of speakers I’ve seen in my life!  They’re monoliths, standing roughly eight feet tall, three feet wide and maybe a foot thick.  They’re a pair of Sound Lab Majestic 845 electrostatic speakers driven by a pair of Atma-Sphere MA-2 Mk. 32 Monoblock amps that, with the AMR, sound ethereal.  Have I died and gone to heaven?  My shoulders relax as I plop down in the center of the second row and listen for 20 minutes.

People weren’t kidding – the AMR really allows the listener get into their music.  Bassist Jim Ferguson’s soft spoken vocals sound accurate, but when the sax, piano and drums lock into a fast Samba beat in “Another Early Autumn,” an elderly African American man sidles up for a closer listen.  Like bobbing ocean swimmers overtaken by large swells, the music washes over us in successive waves.

Kurt Elling’s lush baritone vocals shine in “Nancy with the Laughing Face”, but then I notice something else.  The infamous Vaseline smudged camera lens Hallmark movie comes to mind as I listen to the high hats and cymbals, which are pushed back a bit and subdued.  It all sounds wonderful, but here’s the rub:  It’s a little too colored for my tastes.  As if roused from a pleasant dream, it’s for me to go.  The proprietor, Brian Walsh, tells us we can get Sound Lab speakers today for only $35,000. Yeah, I think, in my dreams.

 

The Lumin in Absentia

The Lumin Network Media Player, which can serve double duty as a media player and DAC, has been advertised as the Muhammad Ali of this niche.  It first caught my attention when the owner of a ground-breaking DAC admitted that he was selling it online to buy the Lumin.  I soon discovered a plethora of praise on message boards all over the Internet, and the reviews sounded amazing:  They claimed that it sounded the most analog of any digital player, with some favoring it over DACs costing tens of thousands more!  After some months passed, I recognized that some message board posters were blatant in spouting pro-Lumin propaganda. Rumors were afoot that this was part of a media blitzing strategy. They’d have you believe that their media player walked on water.

Then, a few reviewers broke lockstep and suggested that it could be “too polite” (as in understated).  Ouch.  I can’t stand “too polite.”

I also started noticing the Lumins popping up for sale on www.audiogon.com.  They weren’t flooding the markets, but one or two a month were now popping up used at around $5,000.  Had the afterglow faded, or were people unloading their initial purchase (about $7,400) for an upgrade to their new flagship model that sells for $10,000?  I wanted to hear for myself.

So, it’s off to the Source Systems room, where the Lumin Network Media Player awaits.    I arrive to find the music heavenly.  Unfortunately, not only does it sound like vinyl, it is vinyl!  I am told that they demoed the Lumin for about an hour, but now they’re playing records.  Ugh.  At least they sound marvelous playing through this elegant – and very pricey – system.

I ask their principal, Ken Stevens, to tell me about it and he responds, “It’s the best of AXPONA.”  Pausing for effect, he laughs and says, “Oh, you wanted more details?” and gives me the lowdown:

“The JL-5 – that’s what I make – that’s $12,000 – one-hundred watt triode amp.  The SL-1 Renaissance is $10,000, (which) includes the phono stage.  The Bird speakers, here, are $32,000 – all ceramic drivers, except for the tweeters – diamond.  We have the Aria and the Linium digital server front end.  First servers are heard; they really do a good job digitally, and they’re about seven grand.  And, the turntable is – it’s called the “Thunder” – from Acoustic Signature.  I think it’s like 18 or 20 (thousand dollars).”

Someone pass me the Grey Poupon.  I had merely come to see the Lumin Network Media Player, which retails for a paltry $7,000.  Or is it the new flagship $10,000 unit?  I didn’t ask.  Unfortunately, they’d just finished running it for about an hour and won’t be playing it for a good while, so I shove off.

 

The EMM Labs’ DAC 2X, a Legend’s Brainchild – and Electron Microscope

My blood is pumping.  I’m finally about to hear a brainchild of the legendary Ed Meitner, who was among the first to produce a DAC that up-sampled digital feed “without ringing or overshoot” and, as a result was commissioned by Sony in 1997 to “build A to D and D to A converters in the studios that were to make the first DSD recordings,” according to The Absolute Sound, (February 3, 2010).

I arrive at Your Final System’s room, which is displaying Ed Meitner’s EMM Labs’ DAC 2X – and, I’m hoping, its less expensive cousin, the Meitner MA-1 DAC.  It turns out I’m wrong, but enchanted, I stay.  The suite is packed with listeners, so I have to stand.  The jazz playing through the speakers is lush, vivid and very precise, underscoring the differences between the AMR CD-777 and the DAC 2X.  If they were saxophone players, the AMR would be Stan Getz and the DAC 2X would be John Coltrane.  Getz dripped of well-varnished sentimental flourish with his “I never played a note I didn’t mean” approach, while Coltrane’s was typically faster, mathematical and analytical.  But, let’s not forget, just when critics claimed he couldn’t play a ballad, Coltrane produced his lovely album, Ballads, which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.

The DAC 2X is an electron microscope, revealing previously missed detail and nuance in startling clarity.   At its core is a hand-built DA converter chip that allows it to up-sample standard CDs up to 5.6 mHz (twice the standard Super Audio CD rate), support up to 24 bit, 192 kHz, play DSD and strip jitter (a slight signal unsteadiness) completely out of the audio signal, according to the EMM Labs site.  Bottom line, like a glass of red Bordeaux, it’s a tad dry, but elegant, and clearly belongs in the category of “Your Final System.”

The host, Kevin O’Brien (a mechanical engineer who, along with his aerospace engineer dad and several techies, own the Internet-based YFS) calls to mind Sean Astin in his lead role in Rudy, the movie where the lovable little guy tries out for the Notre Dame Football team, as he intones his narrative: “We basically have our custom Windows-based server and our custom USB cables, along with the EMM Labs DAC 2X and, from there, we’re going into the Vertigo 2 Preamp from Constellation.”  He’s on a roll.  “And then we also have the Constellation Centaur two channel power amp – and that’s 500 watts into four ohms! And, we’re also showing the Endeavor Audio Engineering E-3 Loudspeaker, and that’s a four ohm load.”

He’s genuinely sorry for not bringing the Meitner MA-1, but reassures me that, at $7,000, it sounds surprisingly close to the EMM Labs DAC 2X, which retails for $15,500.  In fact, he brags, his father owns and prefers the MA-1, which he says “is normal,” while he owns the DAC 2X which, at twice the price is “insane.”  But, isn’t that the nature of our obsession?

I note that the DAC 2X sounds very resolving and he responds, “Well, thank you, yeah!  It’s all high res and red book files played back through the DAC 2X, so it’s as good as we can get it right now.”   You’re not kidding!

 

Fire Alarms and Bad Manners 

Satisfied, I make it to the elevators to catch the next ride to the 12th floor when the shrill bleats of a fire alarm bring processions to a halt.   As people file to exit the stairwells, a security guard informs us that everything is fine, that they are looking for the malfunction, but in the meanwhile the elevators will be shut down.

It’s eerie clambering up a cement stairwell, sirens blaring, as an ominous recording warns all to exit and scads of people pass you going the other direction, rushing to comply.  Talk about peer pressure!

Eight stories later, I arrive on the 12th floor, puffing, to crowded hallways.  I’m informed that it’s upwards of 100 decibels in the display rooms, so everyone is waiting in the halls until the alarms shut off.  I start to panic.  What if the security guard is wrong?  What if this is my last day on earth?  I imagine my wife crying at my graveside.   Will she blame my death on audio addiction? Just as I’m about to dash, the alarm shuts off.  Like mother ducks leading ducklings, the pitchmen return to their rooms with enthusiasts in tow.

Everything’s well – almost.  I enter one of AXPONA’s marquee dealer’s room and, admiring the equipment, tell the salesperson that I’m doing a review of the show and wanted his synopsis of their display.

“A REVIEW?!?  You call that a review?” He protests.  “I don’t have anything to say,” he quips, folding his arms with a compressed smile.  He rethinks his position and says, “I know I’m being a dick.” Yes, he is.  He blathers on about their equipment; I record it, but round file it later.  It pays to be nice.

Holm Suite Home

I take port in the friendlier  waters of Holm Audio, who this last year let me home audition the Mytek 192 DSD DAC and the Bel Canto DAC 1.5, both fine DACs in their own right.  The room sports a gorgeous black banner with the emblazoned words, “Rogue Audio”, on top and a graphic of a sphinx below, sandwiched in between two yellow banners covered in cool hieroglyphics behind their stacks of electronics.

“We’re highlighting our new Pharaoh amplifier, their spokesman says.  “It’s a hybrid tube/solid state, 185 watts per channel; about 400 watts into four ohms.”  Pointing to the pair of towers, he says, “These are the Dali Epicon Six Loudspeakers, which are brand new – they sound terrific with our gear. We’re playing a lot of vinyl (and)… using our Aries phono stage, which is an all tube phono [preamplifier].  The Pharaoh has a phono in it, but we also like these Aries as well.”

Again, the sound is lovely.  As I visit other rooms, I come to the realization that most of the reference systems showcased at AXPONA sound wonderful.  Some, of course, have marginally better engineering, components and synergy, which are often reflected in the price.  But, when it comes down to it, this experience is like entering into an ice cream parlor offering 31 flavors – everyone has their own palate.  Everything else equal, who’s to say chocolate mint is better than pistachio?

This brings me to my last entry.

 

A Love Revisited at Long Last at Pro Musica

Loud, well-defined jazz trumpet captivates 20 intent listeners leaning forward on folding chairs in the Pro Musica suite.  The highs and midrange are still sublime as I remember it – maybe even a tad better.

“We’re showing two of the products we really like a lot: Dave Audio and Dyne Audio,” John Schwarz, one of three partners who founded Pro Musica in 1983, says.  “We’re doing Naim’s current, top of the line electronics with Dyne Audio’s Competency C-IV [speakers].  And we think it sounds pretty good!”

It’s actually very good, but like a well-traveled man revisiting his first love years later, for me, the Naim sound doesn’t quite hold the same enchantment it once did.  Our visit is brief.  He informs me that they’re moving seven blocks away to 2713 Wrightwood, tells me to checkout partner Ken Christianson’s recordings at their site and be sure to see them at their new store. And, then, it’s goodbye.  Ken, whom I spot later at another exhibit, gives me a warm smile and handshake.

In retrospect, I gave them a little business and they, in return, sparked a passion that led me here to AXPONA 2014 20 years later.  My tastes have changed and now; I’m leaning towards names like Meitner and Mooo Mats but, nevertheless, it’s darned good to see them in this celebration of all things audio.

 

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