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Kaplan's Korner

June 21, 2017

AXPONA 2017

Odyssey Audio Owner Klaus Bunge
Odyssey Audio Owner Klaus Bunge

KAPLAN’S KORNER

Nice people in Chicago. Really nice. The town has a good vibe. And the weather was per-fect. Pasadena Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day perfect. Honey let’s move to Chicago perfect. Apparently global warming is a conspiracy perpetrated by AXPONA and the Chicago Department of Tourism and Development because the weather was that nice. Great food. Great people. Great weather. Chicago has some great local audio retailers too. These local companies pulled out all the stops and made AXPONA sound great.

Among the usual suspects, you can depend on having a presence at every show there is one dude who never ceases to amaze me. Chad Kasem from Analog Productions. Chad has that rare combination of great ears and great taste. Browsing Analog Production’s bins at AXPONA this year I was really hit by the quality, in my opinion, of the titles Chad chooses to put out. I know he does an amazing job producing audiophile and super high quality LPs at Analog Productions. I’m listening to his direct to disc Marquise Knox right now. What a great record. Silly to try to write this column while Marquise is on the turntable. I’ll be back in a bit.

Ok I’m back. I got Marquis Knox-ed out. Ahem.

Walking into the magically lit Odyssey Audio room at AXPONA I thought I might finally be having one of those wonderful acid flashbacks they promised us back in the day.Odyssey Audio Owner Klaus Bunge was playing his MOFI Santana Abraxis Ultra Disc One-Step 45 RPM record on the Odyssey Audio speakers, preamp, and amps. The stereo imaging and the perfection of the bells and cymbals hanging in blackest space …. Remember auditory hallucinations? Me either. But that’s how good that record sounds on Klaus’ Odyssey Audio. speakers, preamp, and amps. This was his $6,900 system. That’s right. Sixty-nine hundred, not thousand, dollars. I think there might have been another six grand in VPI Turntable awesomeness connected to that Odyssey Candela preamp of his. And if you’ve never heard of Odyssey Audio, good because I’m waiting for Klaus to finish my Khartago Amp before I start blabbing to everyone about how good his equipment sounds. I’m afraid he’s gonna get busy. Google Odyssey Audio a few days after I have happily unpacked my amp.

Other great rooms of note included the MusicDirect room. Music Direct actually set up three rooms rated Good, Better and Best. I think it showed some huevos rancheros putting a $1000 system next to a six-figure system. It is amazing how happy I could be with Elac speakers, Marantz electronics, Pro-Ject turntable and Mofi’s Studio Tracker cartridge for mere thousands of dollars.

Gamut and Pear Audio continue to set up rooms that to my ear need to be heard to be believed. Pure musical joy.

VTL was represented by their Chicago area dealer, ProMusica, with the VTL TL2.5 preamp with phono stage, he VTL ST-150 power amp (Please Santa, are you reading this?) and the Duynaudio Countour 60 speakers with a Roksan Radius 7 turntable and Naiim electronics. My notes read, “put it in a bigger room and add a zero.” One of my favorite rooms.

Zesto Audio had their full complement of Monblocs, preamp, and phono stage set up with Marten’s Coletrane Tenor speakers and Merrill Williams Audio Real 101.2 Turntable with a pair of Tri-Planar U2 tonearms. Stunning as always.

Needle Doctor had an amazing room with a Clearaudio Innovation Wood Compact sporting two tonearms. Rogue Audio electronics and Dali speakers rounded things out.

ModWright, Deadalus and Wywires had a room that sounded sound spooky good.

And it was nice to see Sonist Audio speakers are back with Snake River distributing them. Great sounding reasonably priced speakers.

Interesting note: At Rocky Mountain in Denver, AXPONA in Chicago and the LA Audio Show, pretty much everyone uses the Ortofon Cadenza Mono MC cartridge when they are showing off their equipment with a mono cartridge. If there were two arms, and one had maybe a spare no cost, unbelievably expensive stereo cartridge, the mono cartridge was always the $1280 Ortofon Cadenza Mono. Nicely done Ortofon.

Equipment Review

Musical Surroundings Phonomena II + phono stage. $799 – This is an excellent phono stage designed by Michael Yee in California. Quiet as a mouse with slippers on. Lots of loading and gain options. It might not have the soft gooey nougat center that the $4999 Zesto Andros 1.2 phono stage pours into my ears. But I can and have enjoyed listening to the deep, wide and clearly defined soundstage this beauty exudes for hours on end. Listening to the MOFI Allman Brothers Eat A Peach, (Purchased from our friends at DirectAudio.net) I was really impressed with the bass when it finally comes in after the intro on Les Brers in A Minor. Deep bass, slamming, vibrating off the frets and all. I’ve been swept along that long intro countless times but never really heard the bass in my gut like that. And when things get cooking on that song, they really get cooking. A great sounding fit for the Hana EL cartridge. If I had ratings this one would be rated Triple AAA Super Sexomatic Yeah.

JIM-KAPLAN-SIGNATURE






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