AXPONA Chicago April 12-14, 2019

adaug

Senior Member
i appreciate the efforts and enthusiasm of those who make these review videos. but the extended music clips in these video reviews puzzle me. it strikes me as the essence of lo-fi. can others here extract useful information from music playing in a youtube video? presence? treble quaity? bass extension? soundstaging?

PS this is not rhetorical. if there are tricks to it i'd like to know some.
 

Try1256

Very Special Member
i appreciate the efforts and enthusiasm of those who make these review videos. but the extended music clips in these video reviews puzzle me. it strikes me as the essence of lo-fi. can others here extract useful information from music playing in a youtube video? presence? treble quaity? bass extension? soundstaging?

PS this is not rhetorical. if there are tricks to it i'd like to know some.
I look at them as being for entertainment purposes only. We like this stuff so we watch them. I was in the Legacy room at the Tampa show when Peter Breuninger was taping his segment there. I heard the music he was listening to in the room. I watched the video latter. As you can imagine, not even close. But thats ok. I don't think anyone intends the videos to be used for purposes of judging equipment. For me, if the music segment runs too long, I just go to the next one. JMHO.
 

Olson_jr

Active Member
Interesting that they can pick their 'Best Of Show' or 'Take It Home' systems when there were what, 200 different rooms/systems set up?

As for extended videos of the systems playing? I don't think I ever really watched one before this AM.

There certainly were quite a few folks shooting video in the rooms.
 

Olson_jr

Active Member
My favorite room is listed here. I have to agree with the reviewer when he says, "...the pleasure of listening to Dan Meinwald's eclectic and thankfully outside-the-norm music selections."

I wonder if there were any other rooms one might have heard: Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders' recording 'Journey in Satchidananda,' the Penguin Café Orchestra's "Cutting Branches for a Temporary Shelter," Dr. John's 'Walk On Guilded Splinters,' The Great Jazz Trio, The George Russell Sextet's 'Stratusphunk?'


 
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Richard Austen

Junior Member
i appreciate the efforts and enthusiasm of those who make these review videos. but the extended music clips in these video reviews puzzle me. it strikes me as the essence of lo-fi. can others here extract useful information from music playing in a youtube video? presence? treble quaity? bass extension? soundstaging?

PS this is not rhetorical. if there are tricks to it i'd like to know some.
Well it comes down to consistency - same video camera in every room and usually the same music - as he needs copyright. So while the quality of sound isn't as good - you do at least get some consistency.

Still it's more about their experience and commentary. Still it's a show condition - that's one reason our magazine is the only one that does not give out awards or product of the year - because those awards rely far too heavily (indeed, the majority) of what was heard at an audio show. Most audio show settings are abysmal and advantages and disadvantages different set ups. Speakers with real bass, corner loaded systems, often dipoles, large speakers are all generally at a disadvantage at shows. Speakers like mine that are corner loaded are HUGELY hit or miss at these events - at CES/The Show in 2010 they were best of show - largely because of the solid concrete walls of the Flamingo. At another show with walls that can shake if you hit them - they were boomy and coloured and not in the top 20. ESLs like Soundlab are often too big and not well spaced so you're really only hearing about 50% of what they're capable of.

And that's before getting into the crowds, the music, the yacking, and the lack of getting the good seat. I changed a reviewer's opinion on the AN E by simply changing the music and the volume. Went from "meh" to a top 3 finish. But I could probably do that with several other speakers. (Changing from low volume boring girl at a piano music to high volume Guns and Roses).

Which brings me to that problem that the background noise level is too high for some classical and jazz to shine at low levels.
 

Olson_jr

Active Member
Which brings me to that problem that the background noise level is too high for some classical and jazz to shine at low levels.
At Axpona I was thinking someone needs to devise a method to be able to close the room doors but not have them lock. Even with the little rope or foam pieces holding door locks open an inch the ambient noise from the hallways was distracting. I guess a piece of gaffers tape over the locking mechanism must be a no-no.
 

Richard Austen

Junior Member
At Axpona I was thinking someone needs to devise a method to be able to close the room doors but not have them lock. Even with the little rope or foam pieces holding door locks open an inch the ambient noise from the hallways was distracting. I guess a piece of gaffers tape over the locking mechanism must be a no-no.
Audio Shows have a myriad of problems so when something sounds really good in spite of all that - it will probably sound truly brilliant in your home when you can control things better. BUT - some systems are very good when played very loud - not so good at normal or low levels. MBL is often cited for this. And at a show with them played loud I chose the room as a best sound of show (along with YG Acoustics). But how would they do at low volume? I can't say because there is limited time.

Time

Speaking of time - this too is an issue - some systems can sound great for a couple of tracks - how will they do in hour 4?
Fatigue - related to time - after listening to the 12th room, can one say they are just as fresh walking into room 13 as they were in room 3? over time the ears take a beating.

Bias

If something is in the person's budget they may be predisposed to liking it better than the $300,000 room that is a total pipe dream. The $300k must be snake-oil while the $3,000 room that I can afford is great value etc. Bias in terms of price, looks, set-up etc is abound.

Keeping the door mostly closed would be a great help. Many of the folks running these rooms make arrangements on volume level - so one room will get an hour to play very loud and the next hour the next room gets to crank it.
 

adaug

Senior Member
yes! this is like the "pepsi taste test" effect and the reason "new coke" failed. the pepsi and new coke were formulated in such a way that they tasted better in the first sip or two than regular coke. sweeter perhaps. so they did great in short taste tests. but over the course of a can or a glass they became cloying and fatiguing.

this effect is probably hard to compensate for when touring a large show like axpona or hearing several speakers/amps for short tests at a shop or someone's house. but how often do we get the chance for extended home demo before making a decision?



Time
Speaking of time - this too is an issue - some systems can sound great for a couple of tracks - how will they do in hour 4?
 

Richard Austen

Junior Member
yes! this is like the "pepsi taste test" effect and the reason "new coke" failed. the pepsi and new coke were formulated in such a way that they tasted better in the first sip or two than regular coke. sweeter perhaps. so they did great in short taste tests. but over the course of a can or a glass they became cloying and fatiguing.

this effect is probably hard to compensate for when touring a large show like axpona or hearing several speakers/amps for short tests at a shop or someone's house. but how often do we get the chance for extended home demo before making a decision?
Well that's why some of the better or even the best systems at a show go under the radar while the standout rooms standout. Problem is after the initial wow factor is over - on longer auditions - they actually don't stack up.

Back in the day I would say that the boom and sizzle speakers stood out - wow check out the bass wallop on that speaker - problem is the piano probably should not have possessed the bass wallop. It stands out and impresses on a short audition - then the speakers that are actually supremely well balanced in direct contrast seems overly polite. The ear doesn't have time to make the adjustments.

I hated my speakers when I first heard them - boring as F! But it was after several visits over time that they became easily the best speakers the store sold. My then favorites fell away and now I can barely stomach those prior favorites.

And audio shows also tend to play painfully banal music that was recoreded very well - Diana Krall and Patricia Barber and Nils Lofgren's "Keith Don't Go" etc - none of it really demonstrates the system's capabilities all that well but it was recorded well in the range it offers.

With B&M going the way of the Dodo we wind up being forced to rely on reviews or audio shows. Reviews don't help since EVERY product no matter how awful gets a rave by someone. Ad shows - already stated.

And dealers are salespeople - they have a conflict of interest.

I will say that with reviews I try to look for some consistency over time as well as the general market for the product. My speakers have been selling for 40 years, they have been well reviewed for 40 years and they have been purchased by reviewers and industry professionals over that span too. This can be said for several speakers.

So in general I prefer the gear that stands the test of time than the new product that gets raves and 5 years later is replaced - if it was so great it would not need to be replaced.

So when I give advice to people it is usually (not always) the gear that has been selling for decades. The Sugden A21a Solid State Integrated amplifier has been selling since 1967. The longest running integrated amplifier in the world. So this is where I would tell people to start.

No it's not the greatest amp ever but it is a very good reference point or baseline amplifier. The fact that it is pure class A Single Ended helps.

And for a tube amp reference point in the same price range would be the Audio Note OTO SE - which has been selling continuously for 25 years. Recently won amplifier of the year in Asia. The Sugden won its blind test. The point illustrates that what was good in 1995 should still be good today - indeed, they are beating all the new stuff!

Plus the companies that have been around 20 years will probably be around for any warranty work. That is not the case with everyone.

The non audio sound quality stuff matters too. When people complain that after 4 years they can't get a tweeter for their speakers - well I say - unfortunately it's not all that wise to be buying a speaker from a proprietary maker. Yes they may make their own tweeters but in 8 years when they have gone threw 2 redesigns - good luck getting the one for you old out of warranty model. People bemoan even the big makers like Paradigm and B&W and Revel for replacement parts.

When spending a large sum - you really need to look into this stuff. Most of us like more than one speaker or amp - so if the second choice ticks all the boxes - it is sometimes better going this route than the esoteric can't replace anything first choice.
 
I listened for over a hour, heard big orchestra, girl-with-a-guitar, blues, and other stuff - LP and digital. I wished I had come earlier and had to force myself to leave.
A bit late for this comment, but I believe we might have missed out on an after-hours listening party that this room put on. I'm going to pay more attention to these details at the next show--I can see live music or travel around Chicagoland any time I want to, but I can't attend an audio show except for a handful of days out of the year.
 
...and I'm not confident there will be a 2021 AXPONA either. The Florida Audio Expo for Feb. 2021 has already been cancelled.

1599701730282.png

Given the fuss that the AXPONA organizers received over not refunding the monies paid to them by exhibitors, cancelling 2021 would probably bankrupt them or subject them to lawsuits. (They had no event insurance to cover what happened this year--basically, poor management.) I likely won't go if they have an AXPONA in 2021, and neither will exhibitors if conditions are still as unsafe as they are now.
 

Olson_jr

Active Member
...and I'm not confident there will be a 2021 AXPONA either. The Florida Audio Expo for Feb. 2021 has already been cancelled.

View attachment 27233

Given the fuss that the AXPONA organizers received over not refunding the monies paid to them by exhibitors, cancelling 2021 would probably bankrupt them or subject them to lawsuits. (They had no event insurance to cover what happened this year--basically, poor management.) I likely won't go if they have an AXPONA in 2021, and neither will exhibitors if conditions are still as unsafe as they are now.
I saw a note that they are thinking they will try to do another Axpona show towards the end of August 2021.
 
I saw a note that they are thinking they will try to do another Axpona show towards the end of August 2021.
August won't work for me since my youngest and I will be traveling that month and since it's following her senior year in college, it will probably be the last time we can take one of our long road trips before she's stuck in a full time job. (And it may be a trip scouting our relocation options, as we've done in past years.) I got my AXPONA refund in May since I don't really trust the mismanagement of the event, given all that happened this year. And even the delay to August is not going to sit well with exhibitors, especially since they were not refunded for 2020, and due to other shows in too close of a time period. Much as I want to go, and despite my commitments to report on it, I may end up skipping it next time out.
 
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