Best Sound at AXPONA 2016 Produced In AMG, Audio Research, Sonus Faber, Kubala-Sosna Room

Many rooms at AXPONA 2016 featured excellent sound. The best I heard was in the ARC, Sonus Faber, AMG, Kubala-Sosna room.

Good sound at a show is almost a freak of nature given the difficulties. This year, the contenders included the $100,00 Marten Coltrane IIIs (the pair I reviewed that will appear in an upcoming Stereophile) driven by Convergent Audio Technology electronics sourced by the Air Force 3 turntable/Graham Elite tonearm:

Also the new $109,000 Wilson Alexx speakers driven by Doshi electronics with Brinkmann Balance and DCS Vivaldi II providing the source material (see the video for details).

Also in the running were the $38,000 Magico S5 MKII speakers again driven by Convergent Audio Technology electronics sourced by either a Kronos turntable or a Sony pro R2R deck playing master tapes:

The THRAX room produced fine sound as well, sourced by a Döhmann Helix 1 turntable with Frank Schroder designed tone arm, THRAX electronics and speakers, though the bottom end was lacking. That will soon be fixed as a bass module for the two-way Lyra speaker is in the works:

Another contender was the TIDAL room where the $109,000 TIDAL Agoria speakers were driven by the TIDAL Presence preamplifier ($77,990) and TIDAL Impulse Monobloc amplifiers ($64,990) sourced by the Bricasti Design M1 SP DAC ($9995) fed by a $17,600 Aurender W20 music server, which has a 12T capacity. Digital cables were by Purist Audio Design. Analog cables by Tidal:

However, the best sound IMO was produced by the new $46,000 Sonus Faber iL Cremonese loudspeakers driven by Audio Research Ref 6 preamp, Ref 3 phono preamp and GS 150 stereo power amplifier sourced by an AMG turntable and ARC CD-player DAC. Actually my evaluation was based on listening to my 96/24 vinyl rips that I brought on a USB stick.

I found the overall sound absolutely ideal, especially the lower octaves, but overall based on what I heard in the room, the new $46,000 speaker is probably my favorite all time Sonus Faber speaker designs—and I've owned and reviewed more than a few.

COMMENTS
rexp's picture

Is this not earth shattering news that you heard a digital source that matched analog!? Do tell what did this digital front end fully comprise of? TIA!

Bob Levin's picture

Where in this article did Mr. Fremer say that the sound of his high rez files "matched analog"?

rexp's picture

OK, beat Analog then?

Bob Levin's picture

EOM.

rexp's picture

'However, the best sound IMO was produced by the new $46,000 Sonus Faber iL Cremonese loudspeakers driven by Audio Research Ref 6 preamp, Ref 3 phono preamp and GS 150 stereo power amplifier sourced by an AMG turntable and ARC CD-player DAC. Actually my evaluation was based on listening to my 96/24 vinyl rips that I brought on a USB stick.'
Read more at http://www.analogplanet.com/content/best-sound-axpona-2016-produced-amg-...

gnostalgick's picture

I couldn't identify anything the Magico's did wrong, but I didn't want to stay and sit forever.
I feel the Tidal's may have shined in a larger space.

TommyTunes's picture

It's unfortunate that you were not able to audition the Sonus/ARC system with vinyl. The Ref 3 phonostage is really exceptional. Two of my buddies bought Ref 3's after I played it for them.

Rudy's picture

I had my own preferences in "best sound" (as we all do), but not only was I battling some chest/nasal bug (feeling run down and ears out of whack--they're still not right, even today), I tended to visit rooms I had an interest in, vs. doing a more general browse of the show to cover everything. Just didn't have the energy this time out.

The room on the lower level with the VTL electronics and ProAc Response D48R speakers was one of my favorites. They're not behemoth speakers, but they did so many things well that I could live with them. There were also some minor room treatments in place, which helped tame the room.

The system that really wowed me was the McIntosh/Martin Logan Renaissance rig in the Audio Video Interiors room. Obviously it was not an ideal setup given the long untreated room, but being the fan of planar speakers that I am, I heard a lot that was promising even in the partly compromised audition. The best seat was two or three rows back. I would prefer to hear these speakers through tubes, and with an analog source.

Best vinyl playback I heard was on the Kronos Pro turntable--I forget which room it was, but they had some 60s RCA jazz recording on, and you heard barely a trace of noise. Rock solid pitch and imaging. Really nice!

The other room on the 12th floor, with the Focal/Pass Labs setup at the front end, sounded quite good. Except the vinyl playback was not encouraging--they were using the Clearaudio Performance DC (not sure which arm). There was a lot of that "vinyl noise" which was disappointing; it could have been the pressing, though.

Dodson204's picture

Stated the Windows which will you need to run facetime games certainly show up in a rectangular form.

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