AXPONA 2019 Turntable Round Up

AXPONA 2019 held this past April 12th-15th at the Schaumberg Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center, established the show as North America's pre-eminent audio event. It was the largest show of its kind in terms of industry participation and when the attendance numbers are announced probably attendance-wise as well.

The show was too big for any one individual to fully cover yet that was the task for AnalogPlanet editor Michael Fremer who early on decided to concentrate solely on turntables and other vinyl playback gear (cartridges, tone arms, phono preamps and accessories) rather than on room-by-room coverage, which was how Stereophile covered it using a team of writers. So go there for that kind of reporting.

For analog-centric coverage—the Internet's best— you've come to the right place! This hour long plus video strictly covers the above named subject matter and nothing else. In fact, providing this level of comprehensive coverage meant that Fremer did not have an opportunity to actually sit down and listen to anything! But no matter, these hotel room venues are generally poor indicators of actual sonic performance.

Another video will follow shortly and the accompanying text will include more detailed written coverage as well but for now feel confident that after watching this video and the next you will have seen just about everything analog offered at AXPONA 2019.

COMMENTS
theboogeydown's picture

Top quote from your broadcast, "Can you get up from that?" Thanks Michael, always fun to have been shown around the joint!

Michael Fremer's picture
I got right up from the "lunge"
EdAInWestOC's picture

The new pressing of Hell Freezes Over is superb. If you like the album it is highly recommended.

Ed

Fsonicsmith's picture

You may not remember me but I was the guy who "snagged your attention" as you were busy taking photos to ask your opinions of Van den Hul cartridges as I had just purchased a Crimson Stradivarius after having the thrill of meeting AJ Van den Hul himself. I love it that you chose the shot of the Steve Dobbins Garrard 301 as your cover shot for the hour long video and is a nice surprise as I have a nearly identical deck with a Reed arm purchased from Steve Dobbins and bought the Crinsom Strad from him at the Show. You were kind and gracious even though I could fully understand that after so many shows over so many years that grow mundane and with all the attendant fatigue and chaos, wild questions from a wide-eyed attendee must be tiresome. I have no doubt that if you had a nickel for every wild question posed by a show attendee you would have banked even more money than you did from your Wally-mentored turntable set-up video. I thank you for your patience and graciousness and hope you will remember that it means all the world to folks like me-someone who had never attended an audio show previously and got up at 4:00 am and drove six and a half hours to get there that morning.
On a different note, your comment about shows in general; "But no matter, these hotel room venues are generally poor indicators of actual sonic performance" resonates (pun) with me as it was my conclusion as well. Nice to look at cool gear and get reinforcement that you are not alone in the world of audio geekdom, but all said and done, these shows are much to do about nothing.

Michael Fremer's picture
Take for granted readers or people who come up to me at shows. Without them (you) where would I be?
FvkedVpRoman's picture

In prison.

misterc59's picture

Well, I suppose if that was actually the case, you would have some company, assuming of course you have been let out of solitary

Cheers!
Terry

Michael Fremer's picture
Your projection. I've done nothing to end up in prison, "toots".
FvkedVpRoman's picture

... how British wankers pronounce "superb".

RH's picture

Thanks for the video Michael.

The record cleaning machines in the video reminds me:
Are you aware of a particular new kid on the block in the record cleaning market? The Degritter Ultra Sonic Record cleaner?

Here:

https://degritter.com/

It was something of a kickstarter/indiegogo business started by some young, bright guys in Estonia. They drummed up quite a bit of interest with the previews of the machine, and very positive reports from beta testers. So I got in and ordered one early in their campaign.

It looked like the perfect design for folks like me. I have gotten heavily back in to vinyl and have many used records (and new ones) that could benefit from cleaning, but I just didn't want to turn record owning/listening in to any more of a chore than necessary.
And pretty much every version of record cleaning I've ever seen looked to me like a chore - and often a noisy one. And, it may seem silly, but I'm not fond of the industrial-type aesthetics of most record cleaners, including the Audiodesk/KLaudio units.

Whereas the Degritter promised to be an actually aesthetically pleasing design, ultrasonic cleaning, fully automatically cleaning and drying, water filtered as it works, with a very flexible, nice looking and user friendly interface. It looked to me like the most thoroughly thought through cleaning machine I'd seen.

After the usual bumps and hiccups in getting to the production stage, they are finally for sale and I received mine not long ago.

Thus far it has been exactly what I hoped for. Drop a record in, press a button, come back to a shiny new-looking, dry record to play (and with better sonics). The cycles are highly adjustable and can be saved as user pre-sets for washing/drying times. And the fan even has a power setting where you can dial from "high" (loud, dries very quickly) with 20 steps down to "low" (very, very quiet, longer drying time). So you aren't stuck with a jet engine vacuum level as you are with other cleaners. Very handy if it's going to be used anywhere around other people, opening up placement options.

All that said, though it seems to work great, and I hear a more pristine sound from my records, it's my first record cleaner so I can't compare it to others, including the performance of the AudioDesk and KLaudio with which it most directly competes (it costs less!).

I hope at some point it makes sense for you to get hold of a Degritter for review. It would be great to see how you'd rate it against the competition.

Michael Fremer's picture
about that 120K frequency for records using surfactants based upon what I've learned...so I'd be careful
RH's picture

Thanks Michael.

Just so I understand: Do you mean that particular combination of the higher 120K frequency combined with surfactants could be a problem?

If so, is there more info somewhere on why that might be a problem and what we would worry about?

I'd read many enthusiast threads on US cleaning and haven't yet heard that proposed as something to worry about.

RH's picture

Oh man, Michael really left me hanging.

When one of the world's leading analog/turntable advisors says essentially: "From what I've learned, I'd be skeptical about the product you've bought..be careful"

It's like a leading detective telling a woman "From what I've learned about your fiance's claims to love you, I'd be skeptical...be careful."

Wait...what??? What are the details here??? What should I be worried about?

Since Michael include any details about what he's learned to justify the skepticism, it sent me off trawling through any web site or ultrasonic cleaner discussions I could find again. I can't find anything at all that conjoins 120K ultrasonic frequencies with surfactants as a particular danger. In fact, pretty much everything I read suggested 120K would be a gentler frequency in terms of cavitation force, than the lower frequencies often used for US record cleaners. So I'm still completely baffled as to what Michael might be referencing.

Best I could do then was email the question to Degritter to ask what problems that comment may be referencing and how they would have addressed it. No surprise, the reply pointed to the gentler higher frequency used as being safer, which is consistent with any information I've been able to encounter.

I hope Michael can return to pass on more detail in support of his skepticism. We could all benefit from knowing some detail about a legitimate concern.

degritter_taniel's picture

Hi Michael,

My name is Taniel and I am the CEO of Degritter company.

I would also be interested in as to why exactly you advise against the 120kHz ultrasonic cleaning frequency?

You are a well respected man in the HiFi community and claims made by you have a lot of weight. Because of this, we would be very grateful if you could share any website links, articles, or other references that have caused you to be cautious, as then we could publicly address these fears.

According to multiple research papers and our own research, the 120kHz ultrasonic cleaning frequency is significantly more delicate than the most commonly used 40kHz.
Here are a few of the articles backing this claim:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1350417710000854
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1350417717302018

We have written a short document explaining how ultrasonic cleaning works and why Degritter is using 120kHz ultrasonic cleaning frequency. The document has multiple references to great articles and books that we recommend to everyone interested in Ultrasonic Cleaning to read.

The document can be found here:
https://degritter.com/app/uploads/2019/04/Ultrasonic-cleaning-with-Degri...

All the best
Taniel

Michael Fremer's picture
Perhaps that was the wrong word to use. I just wonder whether that frequency is too high to be truly effective. The higher the frequency the smaller the bubbles, which is good but at what point does the cavitation become too weak to be effective? Of course you've had more experience with it than have I...
RH's picture

Thanks for the added detail, Michael.

I've encountered the occasional claim here and there that some using US cleaning have heard a rolling off of high frequencies - "shimmer and air" - and a softening of the attack of leading edges.

Harry Weisfeld of VPI made these observations using several different US machines. (Until he developed a more complicated regime, which included much rinsing and vacuuming he says finally kept those high frequencies).

Have you ever noted any roll shaving off of high frequencies with any US machines?

Thanks.

XjunkieNL's picture

The goal of Degritter was to make the best record cleaning machine in the world. In my book they succeeded, but I'm biased :)

Ortofan's picture

... include that piece of schmutz stuck on the stylus?

Michael Fremer's picture
Really?
Ortofan's picture

... Pickering, Shure and Stanton had on some of their cartridges such a bad idea? Maybe they should be making a comeback?
As an alternative, one of the exhibitors was demonstrating a 'dust bug' type device, with a brush (on a separate arm) to sweep the record ahead of the stylus.
Also, it seems as though the more you spend on a turntable, the less likely it is to be available with a dust cover.

Jenn's picture

was probably the folks from Tru-Lift.

FvkedVpRoman's picture

Superb

Rfigster's picture

...fun. I really enjoyed it.
Thanks.

Rudy's picture

Enjoyed your presentation in The Audio Company room! You were like the cool kid bringing the rekkids that nobody else in the neighborhood owned. Their room sounded fantastic also--a great way to hear some of your rarities, over all those VAC electronics and Von Schweikert speakers. Thanks!

vinyl listener's picture

who hangs around with steve guttenberg ?
they name dropped you in their latest video
:)

Michael Fremer's picture
Meet the audio chick unfortunately!
FvkedVpRoman's picture

... is to construct a grammatically-correct sentence using the same base word.
So an audio journalist may conclude his long-winded review of, e.g., the Transrotor turntable as follows:
"Superbly superb superbness superbed superbly."
I'd say that as catchy as Sam FAT-ASS Tellig's:
"There's more there there."

Michael Fremer's picture
You've used the word "superb" more on this website than I have in 30+ years writing audio reviews.
Tdiddey's picture

Mike I know you had alot to cover but you missed the Stereo Haven Room with the new Well Tempered 254 turntable and new Dynavector Dv17dx MC cartridge. Excellent sound and lots of cool records (non audiophile) played.

Michael Fremer's picture
I had hoped to hit that room day 3 and then the snowstorm hit and my flight was canceled. I managed to get on another flight (unlike most people) and had to leave the show 3 hours earlier than planned.
infohou's picture

As someone mentioned above, there was a Dust Bug style brush mentioned in the video. Does anyone know the vendor? I found a Transcriptors Sweep Arm but it looks different.

Also, Project has one called Pro-Ject Sweep-IT E Cleaning Brush, but I am not finding a US seller.

Y'all be cool,
Robert

Jenn's picture
Wimbo's picture

great video Mike.
Thank you.

volvic's picture

I always wanted one but always had issues with the mechanical integrity of the Audiodeske, the KL was great as well but the price is high. The Kirmuss and Degritter I have not seen in person but would assume are of high build quality. I do have the issue of older particles in the vat of solution, from a previously cleaned record being thrown around on the next record to be cleaned, I am not convinced the filtering processes of those particles in the solution, are removed. I used to stick my hand in them when I worked in the jewellery industry and was surprised how painful it could get if I kept my hands in there for too long, not sure if that has any effect on the sound quality of the cleaned record. In any event, I have abandoned the idea of ever getting one as having a good vacuum record cleaner and instead spending the money on the Sugarcube SC-1 is a much better investment in my opinion. Loved the video, this is the only interesting thing to me about audio shows; vinyl. An endless sea of DAC's and fly by night speakers would quickly get me off the audiophile bandwagon. Cheers NL

Michael Fremer's picture
With cavitating vinyl records has been all good....
volvic's picture

I am sure I would be very impressed as I did have one record treated and was impressed. I am simply making the point where I would put my limited resources given a choice and it would be the Sugarcube.

WaltonGoggins's picture

the nice tour, Mike. I did miss the happy voice of Heinz this time around, but the new Pro-Jects do look to be very nice.

soundbliss's picture

Hello Michael,

Impressions about the new EAR 834p?

X