Jake's First AXPONA

Jake's First AXPONA

One of Upscale's youngest employees visits the venerable show

Our social media specialist, Jake Spencer, tells us about his first AXPONA.

One of the biggest surprises when you visit an audio show, is just how many brands there are. From Aavik Acoustics to Zesto Audio, with pages and pages of show directory in between, there is, as Jake puts it, "an ocean of hi-fi brands."

An ocean of brands also means, an ocean of people connected to those brands. Going to a big show such as AXPONA, says Jake, "recalibrated my viewpoint of my job. It reminded me that hi-fi is very much a people industry, and that was on full display."

Wise words, indeed. In fact, one of Jake's most magical moments at the show involved people, not products. Jake spent his first day in the Fyne Audio room, showing off the big Vintage FIfteen speakers driven by a Pathos Acoustics Legacy amp. "The best feeling in the world was seeing Dr. Paul Mills [technical designer of Fyne products] watch people admire his creation."

Products held their own as well though. Jake loved that the longer he heard the Pathos-Fyne system, the better sounding it got. He was also fascinated to hear how the Fyne SuperTrax supertweeter added to the sound. "I didn't hear more brilliance or top-end detail, but I could sense much more 3D space when it was there."

As show attendees came and went, it drove home to Jake that we sell magic in this business, but "because we do it so often, we forget. We mustn't forget that we are selling amazement and wonder and magic."

Were you at AXPONA? Here's a sum-up of what we had on display. If you weren't, that's all the magic you missed, and we hope to see you in 2025!

Also, follow us on Instagram to see Jake's work.

A Relaxed Regional Show

What happens when the people behind two great regional hi-fi shows get together? Why, they create a third show! Lou Hinkley of Pacific Audio Fest and Gary Gill of Capital Audiofest collaborated to create the SouthWest Audio Fest in Dallas, Texas.

It ran from March 15 to 17 at the Hilton Anatole, and we sent a small team to scout this very first showing. Ken Davis, our sales manager, and Chris Landfield, our sales team lead, were there and had an excellent weekend in Dallas.

Ken stressed that SouthWest is a regional show, unlike AXPONA, which is huge and features every brand that wants to be seen in the US high-end audio market.

At a show like SouthWest, says Ken, "You get a relaxed atmosphere that makes conversation about the gear a little less intimidating and more personal."

Chris agreed. "It had a lot of positive energy in the rooms and the halls. There seems to be great potential for it to be the next 'Rocky Mountain' type of event." He is referring, of course, to the late Rocky Mountain Audio Fest that was beloved for being the "just right" audio show—not too big, not too small, and with a wonderful energy.

The potential for an audio show in Dallas is huge. Texas, as Ken observes, is a big market, not only with large numbers of people with discretionary budgets but also with larger homes that have the room, or rooms, to deploy proper high-end audio systems.

We wish SouthWest Audio Fest all the best and look forward to seeing strong regional shows across the country.

HiFi Rose RA280: Dialled Back and Dialled Up

"This is a product you want to hear before you even turn it on."

Lenny Mayeux of MoFi Electronics is right. HiFi Rose has done it again. The company makes the most interesting front control panels in audio, whether intricate digital on-screen versions or carved from delightfully analog and palpable metal knobs and switches.

The RA280 dials back the steampunkishly overwrought RA 180 (don't get us wrong, we love how that amp looks and works), to create a 250 Wpc, class-AD amp with MM phonostage, subwoofer out, and tone controls.

HiFi Rose's AD technology combines the always-on nature of class-A designs with the 'on only exactly when needed'' nature of class-D, to create a hybrid that greatly shortens the "dead time" that affects switching topologies like class-D.

Lenny loves the sound, saying it's a lot more like class AB and not D. "It's warm and rich and complex with good detail. And the build... this is an amp you keep for 20 years and be happy."

HiFi Rose RA280 Integrated Amplifier

New Video: Your Forever Streamer

Meet the HiFi Rose RS130 Network Transport.

With its huge high-res touchscreen, intuitive interface, and array of features, the RS130 streamer and server lets you listen to a broader variety of music than nearly any other audiophile streamer out there.

Find out how with Upscale Audio's Grover Neville as he dissects the HiFi Rose RS130 streamer and music server.

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