Odds and (the) End(s) – AXPONA 2014

Since this is the last update for AXPONA this year, I thought I would just wrap it up with a few odds and ends I found about the show floor. Overall it was a great trip, with an extremely fine group of fellows, friends and amazingly great products to wrap my head and ears around. AXPONA management reported that ticket sales were up 40% over last year, and from my vantage point everything was a fruitful success.


Spaced out along the Audiophile Marketplace was a selection of tables featuring a few audiophile nicknacks and such. One of said tables gave some representation to our abundant DIY population. The kit above from VK Music and designed by Koichi Futatsumata called the 22 [tutu] (see what they did there?) definitely caught my eye. It pushes out 12W to 8 ohms via a hybrid 6SN7GT tube stage. The company also sells the TU-8100 power amplifier with 2W output and PCL86 tubes.

I ran into Mike from LocalHfiShop on the Audiophile Marketplace floor. A very amicable gentleman, Mike has put together a community site where people can locate, discuss and recommend local Hifi stores within any specific geographic location across the states. Very cool.

Not to be overlooked, D&M holdings did have a room with their more modern headphone line on display. The demo units were connected to a new desktop DAC and headphone amplifier called the DA-300USB with a USB interface (obviously) and 32/192 and DSD capabilities. The new unit retails for $500 and has a motion sensor that allows the OLED screen to rotate automatically (like your phone) for either vertical or horizontal positioning.

Although not your typical audio show fare, the room did have Maratz’s top of the line home theater separates on display as well. I have heard a killer demo out of the previous generation models, so even though it may break the sacred 2 channel rule, I wish I would have had time to hear the new AV8801 and MM8077 pictured above.

Jack Woo brought a whole host of gear with him to his lower level room. To say it was packed in there would be an understatement. I have heard many of his pieces and all of them impress with very clean, robust tube-but-not-too-tubey sonics.

The build quality of his products is one of the best in the business, no corners are cut even with the less expensive models of his expansive headphone amplifier line. The newest product on display was his USB DAC/Amp combination called the WA7d ($1,200).  The “D” option includes an additional optical input over the standard WA7. In addition to the D, Jack now offers a separate tube power supply for the WA7 called the WA7tp for an extra $400. The new WA7d and WA7tp is currently in the Audio Head lab here running through the paces, so expect a full review up on the site in the next few weeks.

I found this tiny little guy setup in the audiophile marketplace. Its called the Carrot One Fabriziolo ($300) and is perhaps the most compact headphone amplifier I have ever seen. It is also very orange.

There were a massive amount of things to see and do, so my apologies to everyone I wasn’t able to visit or spend adequate time with this year. Time restrictions forced me to speed through a few sections I would have another wise spent days hanging out in. Given unlimited time I would follow the following procedure in every room:

1. Proper introductions including a respectful two handed exchange of business cards

2. Small sample of at test track of my choosing (same for every room)

3. Small sample track that showcases the best sound for the rig

4. Vinyl track

5. High Resolution DSD track

6. Reel to reel track

7. A new or great song I haven’t heard before

8. Personal favorite song of the manufacture/retailer

9. A track from a source I provide

10. Drinks

11. Someone tells their best joke

12. Someone tells that story from college where they did that crazy thing…

13. Quiet meditation