Axpona 2010

March 5-7, 2010 saw the first ever Audio Expo of North America (“Axpona”), sponsored by Stereophile. The weather in Jacksonville, Florida was cool but clear, as 30 some exhibit rooms at the Wyndham Riverwalk showed audio gear from around 120 companies.

VAC joined Cardas Audio, KingSound, and XtremeFidelity in the Propeller Room (all of the convention room names had a nautical theme … nautical, but nice). The results were fabulous. The room was singled out at the Stereophile discussion panel by John Atkinson as having outstanding sound. See the official Stereophile report for more details (“superior sound … simply wonderful”).

Below you can see more about our exhibit, and a few other notable things from the show.


Here is a general shot of our exhibit room, which was roughly 24 x 28 feet. The loudspeakers are the King full range electrostatic speakers, used with the VAC Royal Power Supplies.


This photograph shows the Symposium rack, topped off by a VPI Classic turntable, followed by the audio chassis of the VAC Signature Mk IIa Preamplifier, an Accuphase DP-85 CD/SACD player, and the power supply for the VAC preamplifier. On the floor are a pair of VAC Phi 200 amplifiers running in mono. You can just see the edge of a Furman power conditioner, whose outlets proved to be blessing, as most of the rooms wall outlets couldn’t retain a power cord! All of the interconnect and speaker cables are Cardas Clear; three of the power cords were, too.


This is the VPI Classic turntable, with optional platter ring and weight. It is a real value at $2,500 for the table with the10.5 inch tonearm. This superb table left the show with me; by Monday night it will be ensconced in one of my home systems! The Cardas tonearm cable came with me, too!


This photo shows Stereophile editor John Atkinson listening to the system on the opening day, even before the Cardas Clear XLR cables replaced the more modest Cardas Light RCA cables on the run between the preamp and amps. Just beyond Mr. Atkinson you can just make out the top of the KingTower omnidirectional speaker (not in use).


This is the sensational new Ortofon MC A90 cartridge, courtesy of XtremeFidelity, mounted in the VPI 10.5 arm. Odd looking, maybe. Superb sounding, oh, yes!


Speaking of analogue, this photo shows none other than Michael Fremer at the far end of the front row, next to Arnie Chinta (making a recording of the room for Audiogon’s show coverage). In addition to vinyl listening, Michael also brought a CD with what is perhaps the most unusual piece of music heard at the show, Tom Wait’s “Step Right Up” from the album “Small Change.” I can not even begin to describe it, but it is worth checking out. You should also check out guru Michael’s columns at, as well as his DVDs on turntable setup.


Speaking of Cardas, the lass peering through her bangs is none other than the lovely and beguiling Colleen Cardas, iPhone (as usual) in operation in her hand. To be honest, I sometimes have the same problem. A friend’s daughter once asked me, “Did it hurt much when you had the iPhone surgically attached?” Humor. Har.



This is Mike Oltz from XtremeFidelity of Fairfield, New Jersey. Well worth looking up if you prize great sound.


This gentleman is Steve Brakke of Behrens Audio Video in Jacksonville, Florida. No, he doesn’t sell King, VAC, or Cardas, but he is the first high end dealer I ever dealt with, way back in 1976 when he was with Lon Cooper’s late, lamented Cooper Radio Company in Saint Petersburg, Florida. Steve is a man of great patience (necessary to deal with me as a teenager), good humor, integrity, knowledge, and ability. It means a lot to me that he came by to spend a few minutes. If you need custom work in Jacksonville, give him a call, please. He’s the best.


Also unrelated to VAC, this is the exhibit room of Madisound, sellers of speaker drivers, kits, and parts. The little backloaded horn speakers you see are their BK-16 kit ($846.00/pair). In my quick audition they surprised me with a very lively (yet not out of control) and pleasing sound. I may have to get a pair to play with in the office.


This gentleman is Bill Leebens of LM&M Communications and man-about-audio; he authors a rather nice, literate, and well informed blog on Audiogon.

There are many other people I wish I’d been able to spend time with, photograph, and let you know about, but time did not permit. I’ll make a special mention of Mike Chafee of Sarasota, mastering engineer Bob Katz from Orlando, the team from Scaena, and so forth. Maybe next time!