AXPONA 2018 Show Report 3; Horns Come to Chicago

There weren’t 76 trombones leading the big parade that is AXPONA to quote a line from the musical, The Music Man, but horned speakers were there and made a statement. I know they may not be for everyone, and certainly not everyone has the space to accommodate these big speakers, but they certainly were a treat to listen to at the show. Here’s a parade of the horns at AXPONA.

Audio Federation’s room featured the Acapella Audio Art’s High Cellini speakers that sell for $59,990. The amp, also from Acapella Audio Arts, was their LaMusika integrated amplifier that costs $109,600. The source was Audio Note UK’s CDT Five transport at $52,000 and their new Fifth Element DAC with Fifth Force external power supply that sells for $147,850. The cabling was a combination from each company. The equipment stand was the excellent HRS SXR with M3x Isolation Bases that sells for $18,330.

Everyone should hear Acapella speakers at least once. They use what they call a hyperspherical midrange horn and a plasma tweeter that produces one of the clearest, most transparent sounds I have heard. I especially like the very alive and organic way they sounded with the Audio Note digital source.

The Rogers High Fidelity and Burwell & Sons room had, in my opinion, the most beautiful horn speakers at the show. The Burwell’s are master craftsmen producing their beautiful wooden horns and cabinets. The combination of the Rogers electronics and Burwell speakers is a match made in heaven. It’s easy to see why they continue to show together. The sound in this room was warm, dynamic and very alive.

The Avantgarde Acoustic room featured the four-way Trio XD horn system, which sells for $150,000 with four bass horns as shown in this picture. I had not heard the Trio XD with the bass horns before, and it was quite a revelation. I have to admit I only occasionally listen to pipe organ music recorded or live nowadays, but in college, I spent many hundreds of hours listening to live pipe organs being played. These speakers, even at a show, came as close to sounding like a real pipe organ as I have ever heard.

The Avantgarde Acoustic system also did a very good job reproducing jazz and female vocals. I didn’t hear any typical colorations, though the soundstage may be little more forward than some audiophiles prefer. I thought it was just about right.The electronics in this incredible system were from Esoteric.

The horns in the Wolf Audio room were big, bold and beautiful in a vibrant red. They were the Sadurni Acoustics Miracoli, and they made a statement. The sound was very good, but I could hear all of the pluses of horn speakers and a little bit of the horn sound.

In the Classic Audio Loudspeakers room, they were playing their T-1.5 Reference Speaker. This wonderful sounding speaker uses field coil drivers, a Truxtent midrange driver and a Tractrix horn for the top end. Show after show I have loved listening to these speakers.

Again, these big horns aren’t for everyone. For many of them, you’ve got to have both the space and the pocketbook to accommodate their size and price, but they are well worth a listen.


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