Florida Audio Expo 2022 - Tampa, USA
- Written by Jason Davis Jason Davis
- Parent Category: Shows-Events Shows-Events
- Created: 21 February 2022 21 February 2022
What’s Fresh at the Florida Audio Expo? Loose Ends . . .
Alex Sound Technology
The room hosted by Alex Sound Technology—a newcomer on the Florida distributor scene—was packed all weekend. From the hallway, on multiple visit attempts, I glimpsed a handsome pair of Blumenhofer Acoustics Genuin FS MK 2 loudspeakers (starting at $21,050 per pair, all prices USD) wrapped in a striking Makassar ebony veneer. I’m a sucker for big-cone two-ways, and the Genuin FS MK 2 filled the bill: high-efficiency, 12″ paper woofer, floor-ported bass-reflex design, and a horn-loaded compression driver mounted atop the cabinet.
Also on display, and making its North American debut, was the Takatsuki TA-S01 tube power amplifier ($29,000), which outputs just 8Wpc into 8 ohms. The amp uses Tamura output transformers and Takatsuki’s 300B vacuum tubes, as well as a 274B rectifier.
Alex Sound’s manager, Leonid Benfeld, also showed a wall display of leGO, ATL Power, and True Power Labs interconnects, power cords, speaker cables, and various custom connectors.
I heard sultry vocals and liquid, effortless impacts. This gear screamed for a larger listening space, but when the crowds and noise died down, a more normal listening volume showcased a seductive grace and finesse with the usual audiophile listening fare.
“It’s been a productive weekend,” Benfeld told me. “Many people who listened once came back several times to listen again. We’re new to the area, and it’s difficult to compete with the established shops, but our products have made quite an entrance. We’re happy to bring this sound here to the masses.”
My favorite showrooms are always those that are flexible enough to provide me, a listener, with a tailored listening experience. If I hear smooth jazz or “Tin Pan Alley” or Diana Krall from the hallway, I’m probably not dropping in. So when I found a lull at the Tenacious Sound room on Saturday afternoon, right before dinner, I took the opportunity to make a request.
Up front were recent products generating significant buzz in the industry—the new line of Perlisten floorstanding loudspeakers (two, actually: S7t and R7t), which were featured in Doug Schneider’s show coverage here. I wanted to know—as I do with most products in each room I visit—do they rock?
Shayne Tenace and company said they could dial up some Tool, and asked if I had a preference.
In archived news stories, writers Alan Cross and Lewis Goldberg summarized the lyrical themes in “Forty Six & 2,” from 1996’s Ænima album, as “the possibility of reaching a state of evolution at which the body would have two more than the normal 46 total chromosomes and leave a currently disharmonious state. The premise is that humans [via evolution] would deviate from the current state of human DNA, which contains 44 autosomes and two sex chromosomes.”
That’s some pretty heavy Jungian theory for an audio show, and it’s one of the most dynamic alternative/prog-rock songs I know. But the Perlisten DPC tweeter array also has two more than the normal tweeters in a speaker cabinet. OK, that’s a connective stretch, sure, but it was no less fun because of it.
Through the Perlisten R7t floorstanders ($9990 per pair) and the design’s three-domed DPC tweeter array, I heard a lyrical playfulness from singer Maynard James Keenan that has not been as distinctly evident to me in other systems’ playthroughs. Though I marveled at its ability to contrast subtle transitions through a wide stage and with the dynamic slam I crave from my favorite recorded music, I also felt the small hotel room didn’t live up to the speaker’s promise—no fault to Tenacious Sound or Perlisten. Up front, in the listening seat, my ears sat above the DPC’s array, and slouching in my chair—or moving back a row—brought it better in line with my ears.
I got the buzz.
Late Sunday, Doug Schneider and I stopped by the room hosted by the Margules Group. I was so impressed by its Orpheo speakers and U-280 30th-anniversary amplifier (world debut, so new that it hasn’t even been formally photographed—or priced), I came back for another listen, which turned into an extended talk with third-generation proprietor Julian Margules, COO Jacobo Margules, and US sales and service manager Carlos Smith. I won’t pretend to be an engineer, so I can only share that our conversations, despite meeting them for the first time, felt more like an intimate dinner with old friends than a simple product demonstration.
From a distance, the Orpheo loudspeaker looks like a traditionally modern three-way: ceramic inverted-dome tweeter high on the front baffle above two medium-small aluminum-ceramic-cone woofers. Up close, you see that the baffle is literally carved (well, by a CNC machine) from a solid block—in this case, from Tzalam wood harvested in a sustainably farmed Yucatán forest (“You get wood from one tree, and you plant ten more,” Julian told me). Even the scraps are used for inlaid facing on the brand’s electronics, remote controls, and drink coasters.
In fact, the Orpheo is a 2.5-way floorstander of medium sensitivity (89dB). The box is made from various layers of sandwiched wood materials, and is heavily braced. The Orpheo packed a punch; the 30th-anniversary amp supplied it. At a glance, the new amp closely resembles the U-280 SC Black on which it’s based. Doug Schneider went into more of its technical details in his show report here.
In the small hotel room, the Orpheo was not fussy about placement, and it needed no special toe to produce a centered image and a vivid landscape. I heard whoa-inducing spatial specificity—the ability for my brain-ears to track small details in perceived space. And the 30th-anniversary amp was authoritative with its ability to drive the Orpheo on demanding material.
I requested “Omens and Portents I: The Driver” by the band Earth, the first track off The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, a twangy, repetitive, and droning alt-country-Americana-psychedelic-post-rock instrumental. In this context, the Margules gear stripped of it the colorations I didn’t know I had gotten used to: Dylan Carlson’s guitar floated in and out of Adrienne Davies’s drum thwacks, backed by Steve Moore’s various pianos and organs. So crisp and tidy.
At one point, Jacobo selected a Persian vocal track over beats recorded in 1971, which begot a (welcomed) dissertation on the origin and trade of Latin-styled beats between certain 20th-century Cuban and African artists. I was entranced.
Which brings an interesting question: does the simpatico you share with a maker’s philosophy on life and sustainability and art and music and business practices move you closer to understanding its product vision?
Some people will always be McIntosh people. Or B&W people. Or vintage, or tubes, or vinyl, etc. Many of them are drawn in by reputation, aesthetic appeal, or simply lack of experience or even lack of desire to form other and new opinions. But I am curious and I explore. And there’s much more to a story and a product than, ”Shut up and tell me what it is and what it sounds like.”
Margules people will get so much more than finely engineered and crafted instruments to fill their listening spaces.
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