Positive Feedback Logo

The Florida Audio Expo, Part 3

02-13-2020 | By Tom Gibbs | Issue 107

Here's the current installment of my ongoing show coverage for the Florida Audio Expo. You can see Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.

Jerry Stoeckigt elaborates on the Eikon Audio Image 1 System specifics.

Eikon Audio/Aurrender

The $25K Eikon Image 1 System is the brainchild of Gayle Sanders of Martin Logan fame. In no way resembling Martin Logan's electrostatics, the floorstanding Eikon loudspeakers employ a pair of dynamic woofers, a midrange driver, and an AMT high frequency driver. Amplification is built into the speaker cabinets, and a dedicated control unit is also supplied, which serves as preamp, DAC, and also includes sophisticated DSP functions for room correction. The only thing needed is a source; the room employed an Aurender unit for file management and streaming. Jerry Stoeckigt of Eikon talked at length about the system conception and functionality, and offered really great playback via Qobuz; the sound of the acoustic instruments was superb. 

Gingko Audio

The Gingko room featured a pair of their standmount loudspeakers with an active subwoofer, along with static displays of their isolation devices and headphone-associated products. At the time I visited the room, a headphone shoot-out was going on, and I was invited to listen to the two pairs located in the center of the room, and choose the one I felt offered the best sound. I picked the one on the right, and was told that, yes, I was correct—the pair on the right cost over $3500 more than the pair on the left!

The Luxman amps drove the Magico M6 Loudspeakers with power and finesse.

Magico/Luxman/AudioQuest/Critical Mass Systems

Located in the large Palmer room on the main level of the show, the $172K Magico M6 loudspeakers, powered by Luxman amplifiers and electronics were the star here. A couple of Magico's big subs were also present. Interconnect, digital, loudspeaker and power cables were by AudioQuest, and the massive stands throughout the room were from Critical Mass Systems. Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon was playing at reference levels, and the sound was...very convincing!

MBL/United Home Audio/Wireworld Cable Technology

The Tampa Terrace room on the main level was the home of the MBL room, and it featured a full complement of MBL equipment. Including the 101E Mk II loudspeakers, a pair of N15 power amps, an N11 preamplifier, and the N31 CD player/DAC. A United Home Audio tape deck was also present, but wasn't playing while I was in the room, which was absolutely packed when I was there. The sound was very good, and here's the kicker—the price for the MBL system was under $150K. Typical MBL complete systems price at close to a million bucks! All cables were from Wireworld Cable Technology.

RBH Sound

Another Utah audio company (must be something in the water!), RBH Sound had an impressive display which featured their massive SVTRS tower system ($45K MSRP), as well as a pair of their PM-8 powered studio monitors. They appear to also manufacture their own amplifiers and electronics, and the sound was surprisingly good for such monstrously large loudspeakers (the SVTRS towers) in such a relatively small room. Billie Eilish never sounded better!

Spatial Audio Labs/Linear Tube/Lampizator/AntiCables

This room featured great Made in the USA, open-baffle loudspeakers, the M3 Sapphires ($4200 MSRP) from Spatial Audio Labs. Along with superb amplification from Linear Tube, and exceptional digital from Lampizator. Which seemed to be just about everywhere at this show. A full complement of cables was provided by AntiCables. The sound was very open, with superb transparency.

Synergistic Research/Rockport/Constellation/Acoustic Signature/Soundsmith/Sonorus/MSB/Baetus

Ted Denney's group had two rooms at the show, one which featured a full display with Rockport Atria II loudspeakers ($26.5 K MSRP) and electronics from Constellation. The analog front end featured an Acoustic Signature Thunder table with Soundsmith cartridge and a Sonorus ATR Open Reel deck; digital was from MSB and Baetus. Of course, all cables were by Synergistic Research. The second room, which was across the hall, featured a static display of many of the Synergistic tweaks, fuses, cables, racks, etc., and was absolutely crammed with shoppers. Unfortunately, there was no sound in the main room at the point of my visit. 

Volti Audio/Border Patrol/Triode Wire Labs

Volti Audio is a Tennessee company that got its start building upgrade parts for Klipsch K-Horns and over time transitioned to manufacturing their own loudspeakers. The Florida show introduced their newest loudspeaker, the Rival Special Edition ($19.9K MSRP), which has a really cool laminated, curved exterior with an availability of exotic veneers. I talked with Greg Roberts of Volti Audio extensively about the construction process; they also had amp stands and equipment tables that use the same process. A prospective customer in the room wanted to hear some rock and roll, and Greg obliged with several numbers from ZZ Top's Tres Hombres. Powered by Border Patrol electronics, the sound was impressively dynamic. All interconnects, digital, loudspeaker, and power cables were supplied by Triode Wire Labs.

Mobile Fidelity/Wharfedale/Cardas Audio

Mobile Fidelity had two rooms at the show; the one I went into featured electronics and an analog front end by MoFi. Along with the Wharfedale Linton 85th Anniversary loudspeakers, which were remarkably good-sounding. Cardas Audio provided all interconnects, digital, loudspeaker, and power cables. A serious selection of recent MoFi LP releases were available for your listening pleasure; they favored me with a selection from the reissue of Monk's Dream. Which was nothing short of magical!