Best Of Show – AXPONA 2023
Words and Images By Grover Neville
Tidal Artisan Fidelity
This room by Artisan Fidelity which consisted of Tidal Contriva G2s and all Tidal amplification, DA conversion and linestage were amongst my top rooms of the show. Tones were pure, smooth and crystal clear in a way only Tidal does. The level of overall refinement of this brand is hard to beat, and top to bottom technical capability and musicality is always spot on. This room was no exception.
Dutch & Dutch 8C
The buzz around Dutch & Dutch has been going on in the pro audio world for several years now, and I’m glad to see them expanding their terrific product into the consumer realm. I’ll echo what many have said: this is the best all-in-one powered, room-corrected monitor I’ve ever heard. Setting aside the fact that setup is so easy with these, the home version can also be equipped with an ethernet port and streamer, making for the ultimate all-in-one system. The sound from this system is not only technically correct, but also lacking in that overprocessed or artificial tone that some dsp-corrected active monitors can tend towards. $15,000 gets you a top tier hi-fi with maximum ease and convenience.
This room was smooth, musical and clear as a bell. I’ve heard Zesto only a few times, and YG speakers many times, but never together. Working in tandem, I was treated to one of the best balanced systems at the show. Frequency response top to bottom was even, dynamics excellent, soundstage cohesive and timbre and tone were liquid smooth and unobtrusive. Add in how friendly the lovely folks at Zesto are and this was another top pick for me.
I had a brief opportunity to try out the new Ferrum Wandla, and while I already own an OOR and Hypsos as my studio headphone setup, I wasn’t sure what to expect. One word: wow. The Wandla reminded me a bit of a Weiss DAC502 in tonality, dead neutral but so uber smooth that you can’t help but feel everything else is lying to you afterwards. You want to experience true level morty? Listen to the Ferrum Wandla.
As an aside, I’ve not frequently been a fan of Apodizing filters, but my favorite of the selectable filters was the HQ player upsampling Apodizing filter. Smooth as glass and just as transparent. I’ll be digging deeper into this one very soon.
Perhaps my awareness of this brand’s storied legacy colored my view… but I don’t think so because I’ve heard the previous generation of these speakers and loved them too. Everything in this room was classy looking and classy sounding. While other rooms wowed more in particular ways, this room had such even, clean and ever so slightly warm and lit-up sound that I couldn’t resist adding it to the list. TAD is back baby, and I’m liking what I’m hearing.
You can see our review of the TAD Micro Evolution One here.