AXPONA 2023 First Day Show Report!

The Axpona 2023 First Day show report starts out with a preview of great things to come!

There are certain things we all look forward to every year. Some people go on fishing trips, others travel, and then are audiophiles. The die-hard of us attend a yearly gathering with millions of dollars of equipment and great people to spend the day with.

This is my second year covering the event for The Sound Advocate and the first day has seen some surprises and a couple of disappointments but overall a great start to the show. I decided this year to start at the top rooms and work my way down. Here are the highlights for the first day!!

I have noticed an initial trend so far at this year’s show. It seems that a lot of the companies are either showing their more affordable products and whole systems that are on the more economical side compared to last year’s show. Also, the theme of this year’s show seems to be integrated amplifiers as they seem to be very popular this year. It makes sense really as technology has moved forward in electric isolation within a components cabinet has advanced so that the need for separate pieces is not what it once was.

Pure Audio Project was at the show with their Trio15 with the Coax10 coaxial midrange tweeter drivers. They were having issues at first with their music streaming but they had a VPI Scout turntable to cover the bases. While they did not have the speakers in a room to show their image depth abilities, they did have a large soundstage and good open baffle bass. They were being driven by a Pass Labs INT-25 class A integrated amplifier, a Pass Labs DP-17 phono preamp.

Next level HiFi and Audio Group Denmark had their new Borresen model X3 which is a much more affordable speaker from them at around 10K a pair. Partnering with their new speakers is the new Axxess Forte integrated amplifier with built-in DAC and streamer. This system had the tight but deep bass that Borresen is known for. Audio Group Denmark shows that they can build great more affordable gear as well.

Scott Walker Audio showed their new Ultra-7 reference speaker being driven by VAC amplification and Lampizator Horizon DAC. This system had some of the best imaging, detail, and soundstage I have heard at the show so far!!

Esoteric Audio was exposing its new flagship turntable the Grandioso T1. This turntable looked gorgeous and looked like it weight a ton.

MBL brought forth a couple of systems, the larger of the two was the MBL 101 E MKII speakers and 9011 monoblocks. This system looked cool in all white but the sound seemed off to me especially for MBL as they always have impressed me in the past. The bass was bloated and unsettled and the highs had a bit of bite to them.

mbl 126

However, MBL redeemed itself with its 2nd system. The Model 126 stand mount speaker had excellent soundstage and imaging and a bass impact that was much more than I would have imagined. It seemed to be set up well and fit the room perfectly. This day I would have taken the smaller 2nd system and happily road off into the sunset with more money in my pocket!

Linkwitz Labs had their LX521 on display with their PowerBoxNcore amplifiers. The LX521 did a disappearing act that I can only say is astonishing. This bass was tight and musical and the speakers had great detail and energy. I stayed in the Linkwitz room longer than almost any other room today and that should say something.

Audio Advisor and American Audio came to the show with a mission Literally, well two. They wanted to show that they could put together two great systems; one a 10K and the other around 5K, with the Mission loudspeakers.The system they had running consisted of the newly reborn, Mission 770 speakers from the UK.

This was presented along with the Audiolab 9000 series (review forthcoming) components including their integrated amplifier with a DAC built-in and CD transport. The complete system was endowed with great dynamics and tight bass while being non-fatiguing and just emanating beautiful music. The imaging was great and soundstage wide especially for the speakers being as close together as they were. I would say a lot of audiophiles out there could buy this system and never look back it was that good.

Highly acclaimed Q Acoustics brought their A game with their just introduced (yesterday) 5040 speakers being powered by the Soul Note A-1 integrated amplifier and D-1 DAC. The 5040s are priced at $1,499.00 a pair and sounded fabulous at the show. Great bass for their size along with good imaging (a Q Acoustics forte) and amazing depth and soundstage width was exhibited.These speakers also had something in common with the Mission 770s, as they did not have any fatiguing qualities like a lot of speakers in these price classes. Very impressive! 

Technics showed their newest turntable The SL-1500C-W. I was not sure if I was going to like the white as I don’t usually choose white in my cars or audio equipment. But this table looked great in white. Nothing else in the new turntable has changed from its SL-1500 brother.

This is just the first day and I plan on seeing much more tomorrow so stay tuned for things to come here at the Sound Advocate with my day 2 experience and full-length report after the show!


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