2023 AXPONA Show Report

Here's all the Exhibitors at this year's show  



You all got to hear the all new Mon Acoustic Supermon Isobaric Speakers and Sanctus Cables, they must be heard to be believed ! They will at Booth 646 at this Show !

Who's going to this Show ?


I stopped going to these shows as i dont see the point anymore. The only way to evaluate speakers is by listening in a familiar environment. Unfortunately the show organizers didnt realize that before they organized it! 

I also remember some of the more snobbish show exhibitors wouldn't let you play your own music as they feared it would make their speakers sound horrific. 

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An Aric Audio Super 300B SET amp with WE 300B tubes will be in room 705. If you like (and can use) low power amps the Super 300B SET is a really nice amp.

I went last year.  Once was enough. I have by now purchased my "forever" music system.  Going will only tempt me more.  Attending the Estolon room, the Von Schweikert room, the Tannoy room (Upsacle) and the Legacy room was very enjoyable but I cannot afford any of them or even if I could, I've already purchased expensive Focal speakers.  The arrangement for headphones is a jumble of all manufacturers in one large very noisy room. Hard to demo even with closed back phones.  The Nordost rep ticked me off as he demeaned my lack of a Nordost loom as I only had the Tyr 2 speakers cables. The Hi Fi Rose rep was a snob. Who needs this aggravation?

I went to Axpona last year and will be going again this year. I’m looking for speakers and a power amp. Can’t wait to go again.

I went just before COVID and it was enjoyable, until my flight home was canceled due to an 8" snowstorm. Ugly location with nothing to do outside of hotel. Thought about going this year but the greedy hotel wanted $2000+ for 2 nights.

@noromance Thats why you book the hotels months in advance. I'm staying at the Hyatt and booked the rooms (Refundable) several months ago (At a good price) in anticipation of the show. Schaumburg is a business district and I have been there many times over the years due to Motorola being based there and my business with my job. There is the mall next door but honestly, I'm travel from California (Flying) and am only going to the show, and it will be all day long so I'm not looking for other entertainment,

I live 30 minutes away, so yeah I’ll be going (first time). Will mostly be looking at streamers, but will wander around to take it in

Thanks rick for posting the exhibitor list.  There are several I’d like to see/hear.

I’m heading out from CA for the show again this year.  The only gear on my wish list are Tannoy Cheviot speakers.  Maybe the T&A DAC, too.  I am going to make a week of it and spend time exploring Chicago.  Cool city for sure.

I’m going for the first time (to any audio show) and will be there bright and early Friday morning. I expect I will be overwhelmed at some point so I will try to map out the big rooms I’ve always been interested first, then hit the more practical ones. Not really caring about affordability as I just want to hear the different setups and speaker designs. Are there rooms rooms loud enough to require earplugs? Not sure if that would be rude but I have some filtered ones I bring to live shows. I also want to go to a couple of the lectures that seem like they could be interesting. I have family nearby I will be visiting as well so the somewhat limited mall area doesn’t bother me much.

Earplugs? No need for those. This is the biggest show in the US so if it's your first then yeah you will be overwhelmed.


The Mon speakers may be nice but $25k for conventional stand mounts is Waay over priced ,take MBL 120 Loudspeakers  their tweeter and midrange 100% out of the box and their issues but 100% Omni directional even off axis excellent imaging 

and details lost in other Loudspeakers, and opposing long throw 6.5 inch mid- Bass drivers , the best Stand mount speaker I have heard by a sizable amount 

and it’s low 82 db rating very deceiving for you are getting equal output in 360 degrees not just the front ,more like 87 db  my friend plays these with a A 55 wpc Ayon Amp. These are on y short list .with a pr of good subs like the SVS sb 4000 youhave a full range speaker that Dan compete with any at 3x the price .

These look like they MIGHT be good speakers BUT...

for the price you are getting off the shelf components. Not that they are bad components. I use the same brands these folks use in my speakers that I design. It is just for the price I would desire something better and you are still getting your basic rectangular box, probably made with some variation particleboard or laminate. And for crossovers, I'll bet a $1 right now they are using wire wound coils and not continuous wound ribbon coils. The industry dictates that you should never use $50 to $100 components when a $10 one will suffice. That’s a joke guys.  I haven't seen the inside picts yet but I can only hope that they are not using cat5 wire inside the boxes like so many speakers do. These look very much like the speakers I was building in the early 80s. I could be totally wrong and would love for someone to impress me by showing I am totally off on these. Truthfully just looking at the spec sheet, I don't get it and won't be getting them. Also saying that by adding a sub you have a full range speaker, If you have a full range speaker you shouldn't need a sub. That is an oxymoron from the start. I guess if you want a sub for feeling the tactile pulse of mechanically manipulated movie tracks, a sub is OK, but I reuse turn on my sub when listening to MUSIC.

I went last year. My first show of any kind. Had a great time! To all the first timers going this year make sure you listen to the mighty Borresen stand mount speakers. Couldn’t believe how good those small speakers sounded. For 100k I guess they should sound incredible though. Have fun!

My Bad, they are not particle board or composite, but they are stil rectangular and that creates reflections, cancelations and inefficiency. Also I have a problem with the moniker. What makes them Isobaric? and then there is the 2.5 way drivers. I see a picture of a two way unless they have half of a drive rear firing, up firing, or down firing. But they list a totally different 3rd driver so how do you make 1/2 of a driver. I think that their advertising dept doesn't know much about speakers or engineering. That would be their best defense.

I went to the last RMAF (Rocky Mountain Audio Fest) and had an amazing time. Yeah, I couldn't afford anything there, but it was fun to listen to all the equipment. I wish it would come back as the setting is amazing (at the Gaylord). If nothing else, it gave me some great ideas.

I personally would like to hear back from those visiting the ScansSpeak room.  They are demonstrating their Ellipticor midrange domes and I'd like to know if in fact it is the best midrange you've ever heard or not.

Thank you. :)

^ I see where the new Ellipticor series drivers have an elliptical voice coil and magnet gap! Along with their proprietary magnet structure, these should be outstanding. However, it's going to take a bit to get used to the elliptical dust cover.


As for the shows, if you're on the fence, I recommend giving it a try. Do your homework, have a plan. Also, there is definitely plenty to do in Chicago when you need to step away from the audio show. Grab an Uber...

These look like they MIGHT be good speakers BUT...

for the price you are getting off the shelf components. Not that they are bad components. I use the same brands these folks use in my speakers that I design.

That has to be the most ham-handed and outrageous attempt to hawk one's own product by smack-talking a well-regarded brand I have seen in these forum.

The MBL room will be on the short list for best sound at the show. It always is. 

First off - most rooms do not know how to set-up speakers.  That is the main reason they sound OK.  So how did I determine this?  Easy, we know dealers who have manufacturers come in to try to get them to purchase their speaker line.  None of them know how to set their speakers up in the showroom to sound good.  Second, they partner with other manufacturers to help with the cost of the room so they are not the best match for equipment.  When we won best of should at CAF back in the day, not one reviewer noted the equipment used or the cables but they all review them.  We won best of show with an old Adcom copper interconnect used as our digital cable.  So go figure that one.

Happy Listening.

I went to Axpona last year.  I won't go this year.  From my perspective, it was an exercise in excess.  Most vendors were displaying gear that was way past my budget. Plenty of vendors had setups that cost as much as an automobile and fill an entire room.  All power to the people that can afford systems like that, but I don't feel the need to listen to the monster systems.

A big issue at Axpona for me was the noise.  The noise from people and from demo systems made it tough to have conversations, much less listening to a stereo systems at the volume levels that I listen to music.  I am careful not to expose my ears to excessive noise levels and if I were to go to Axpona again, I would bring ear plugs to protect my hearing.

I live in the Chicago area around 20 minutes away from where Axpona is held.   Within the Chicago area  we are lucky to have a decent number of audio/stereo stores where it is possible to listen to gear carefully.  If I am interested in buying new (or used gear), I prefer to go to one of the the local stores.

Flyfish77 I take it as a blessings I don’t need to fly and stay in the hotel ? Iam also from IL , 30 minutes from the venue. I took 4 days off to be able to appreciate it.Though we are bless to have audio stores here? Axpona is very different.Its once a year only.


@erik_squires I personally would like to hear back from those visiting the ScansSpeak room. They are demonstrating their Ellipticor midrange domes and I’d like to know if in fact it is the best midrange you’ve ever heard or not.

Thank you. :)


Yep. The entire Ellipticor family of drivers are nice. There is nothing to wonder

about. Just buy them, hahah. I use several different ScanSpeak drivers in my past few sets of custom speakers, subs. Those mids are pretty cool. Would like to see the whole setup, components used, and what other drivers they use with those mids.

The new mid woofers with the SD AirCirc magnet system are interesting. Would like to see which midwoofers they pair up with the mids.


Yes, please, take photos, whoever goes in the ScanSpeak room at ’23 Axpona!

@decooney I am a Scanspeak fan, yet I remain skeptical the new Ellipticor mids are a significant step above the Illuminator mids they have already. They are about 8x more expensive than the already pricey Illuminators and commercially will probably not appear in any speaker less than $50k.

The delta in performance between the two really needs to be extraordinary.

I will be going. Where  can you go and have a chat with Vinny Rossi, Dan Wright, Jim Salk, Klaus from Odyssey, Jeff Rowland.  The Lampizator gang are always fun. 
Be sure to circle back on rooms visited on Friday later in the weekend. May take a day to figure out their setups. 
Always a great weekend to get away with your buds and enjoy some great systems  and a few cocktails. 

I've been to a couple of audio shows... one was great but the second was a disappointment. and 500 miles away... flew down and paid for room to get bummed out. Would love to go to Axpona but I haven't lost anything in Chicago so that is a major hurdle that I just can't get over. They have a large one in Germany that I've been thinking about and may end up their sooner or later.

Interesting about the venders not allowing you to play your music on their equipment.... I've noticed from watching demos on youtube that the songs appear to be manipulated to sound better than the original. I have really good equipment so it isn't that theirs are just better sounding equipment. I can understand that they want their equipment to shine and might be reluctant to have a nobody (buyer) put on something that they may feel degrades their sound.

Never having been before so not sure what to expect, but I don’t think critical listening will be part of it…..maybe I’m wrong.

I will be visiting 432 Evo, Auralic, Aurender, Lumin, and Innuous to learn more about the tech in their streamers. Also a few speakers I want to begin looking into (Fritz, Joseph Audio, and Tannoy, ??)

I'm very surprised at the criticism of AXPONA. i have been to quite a few. It's awesome. Earplugs? I've never heard anything loud to any excessive level. I have loved these shows. I'm not sure what people want. You go to get a taste of the gear. If you've never gone I highly recommend it.

I live about 20 minutes from AXPONA. Therefore, I go every year. I always learn something new. 

bubba12, I agree totally.  I've been twice now and really looking forward to this year.  Trying to make it 2 days but we'll see about that.  You have to realize you are not going for critical listening.  Just go and have a good time and marvel at the sheer amount of gear on display. Yes, alot of it is ridiculously expensive.  But, a man can dream right?

I've never needed earplugs except the one time in a Martin Logan room where the guy turned DSoTM up so loud the amps were clipping.  I think they were Parasound.  Not sure what he was thinking!  I was out of there in a heartbeat.  

I live close so this is a no-brainer for me.  I've thought that maybe Chicagoans should wear some type of sign so we can find/meet each other.  It would be cool to meet a few fellow 'philes.  Leave your attitude at the door.  

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@bubba12  The earplugs comments are a headscratcher. I would think you would want to hear everything since you are going to a stereo show. I know there were some comments about the rooms playing the music too loud last year. People always complain about other people talking in the rooms when they are playing music. What are you going to do? Thousands of attendees who have a right to be there just like you. This isn't your private listening room.

One of the nice side benefits of going to shows is that you can come away with a lot of good new reference/demo recordings.  I went to the NYC show a few months ago, and despite the relatively few (but many good) presenters I came away with at least 10 new recordings I now have in my reference library.  Some of them you can pick off using Shazam, but it was well worth the effort to write down those that couldn’t be identified otherwise.  Just something to keep in mind if you’re on the fence or end up going. 

Mho....ear plugs Are a good idea, save your sanity and hearing for that which you Want to listen to, rather than the general hubbub, bud.... ;)

Since I wear aids, it’s become SOP. And the headphone version...not trying to be rude, just simple survival of the system...Mine.

"...a soap bubble amidst the sonics..." *G*

Audio Zen....

....that, and the gull on a shirt.... ;)

...and comfy shoes a Must...

These shows are great )for me at least), I never go expecting to be able to sit quietly and evaluate gear- its not designed for that and far too crowded and noisy. It's an oppty to see, touch, talk, listen (non critically) and learn about new product etc. People who go expecting to have a quiet, thoughtful listening experience are ill informed. Its not that at all. And I'm ok with that- for me the ability to spend a couple days with thousands of fellow music and gear lovers - both attendees and folks on the OEM side is what its all about ! 

Im in the area too and recommend it. Its true that many of the rooms' collective gear pricetag is as much as a typical single family home. Though I wish the exhibitors would bring more real-world gear (seems like they would be able to encourage more sales this way, but what do I know?), it is also kind of the point to display the greatest and shiniest they have. Who would go to a car show to see a toyota corolla? I want the Ferraris and mclarens. It is aspirational.

Its also the only place where you can go (to my knowledge) and have a huge offering of manufacturers and products across the industry in one location. Yes, the sound is rarely as good as it could be, but you can be immersed in the hobby for days on end and as far as I know, there is no other way to get that experience. 

I love and appreciate all high end audio shows!!! The primary objective of the shows is for the manufacturers to show off their wares, display their audio gear, play their audio equipment so that we can have the opportunity to hear them in person, and to support the audio industry in general. Your local audio shop can’t carry everything, and it’s impossible to bring everything into your home for auditioning. The shows are there for our entertainment and amusement. All serious and casual audiophiles should attend as many high end audio shows as possible to show support of their beloved hobby and to support the industry. High end audio shows are meant to be a fun, enjoyble, highly interesting and entertaining activity. That’s all.

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I live in Chicago and will be going to Axpona, as I did last year.  My first time I was disappointed by the horrible SQ in the little hotel rooms used by most vendors.  The big rooms on the main floor are a different matter.  Nonetheless it is worth it to see in person such a huge variety of high-end equipment, and to speak to the many company professionals (in addition to the marketing folks) who find it worthwhile to come to such a show.

A word to out-of-town visitors, though.  Many people in for a convention come downtown or to the Near North (Rush Street area).  Aside from the traffic (which can get really bad on a Friday or Saturday night - there are lane closures on the inbound Kennedy), things have gotten dangerous.  Carjacking and armed robberies are way up, especially in the areas you might likely come to.  Flash mobs show up in warmer weather and the new mayor is a police defunder.  Just saying.

@kenjit  -  so you’re saying the show organizers should demo their products in YOUR living room because that is the only environment you are ‘familiar’ with ?  I’ve got plenty of tools in my toolboxes, none quite like you.  

Schaumburg is a safe area.Very quiet. Ozzy take 294 all the way... You can avoid bad areas.weather will be nice.

I've been to MANY of these shows over the years including Axpona, Rocky Mountain and numerous shows in Southern California. I'm grateful they put on these shows! Not only does it give me an opportunity to see and hear the equipment, I can also make comparisons and talk to equipment reps and other experts in the audio field including other show attendees. I usually don't make any new purchases until after I attend the show to check things out. I'm not put off by some rooms sounding bad. It's a difficult audio environment in some of these rooms and I always take that in consideration! Also, I take advantage of show specials when possible and some vendors sell their demo units at these shows.

I’ll be attending the show as both a dealer/exhibitor and as a consumer. It’ll be my third time going, so here are some tips to make the most of it.

1. Friday morning, and late afternoons on Saturday and Sunday tend to be the quietest. Saturday morning is the most packed.

2. Don’t try to accomplish everything in one day, if possible. Allow yourself time settle into the rooms you visit. By that, it means that crowds come and go. If you stay in a room long enough, you WILL be able to sit in the prime spot AND not have a ton of people in the room making noise.

3. I tend to study the exhibitor list in advance and make two lists - must hear and nice to hear. With this I prioritize in this way and tend to hit all floors twice. If I don’t get through the full second round, at least I don’t miss anything that was in my priority list. It’s also common to find yourself returning to the rooms you like the best more than once.

4. If you disagree with how something is set up in a room, once it’s quiet, you can ask the host to try to reposition or change the configuration. They will likely be amenable.

5. Whether you start or end with the big rooms on the first two floors, when you decide to explore the upper floors, take the elevator to the top and walk your way down the steps.

6. It’s been my observation that this is not a show purely designed for consumers. Many of the rooms are hosted by manufacturers or distributors, and their primary clientele are dealers. Of course, then there are rooms run by dealers whose primary clientele are customers, or other distributors they may want to carry lines for. As such, these reasons get in the way of how some consumers feel the show is less than approachable.

7. The experience is meant for people to experience the gear they typically cannot on most days. As some mentioned, similar to a car show. It should be aspirational, and oftentimes even if one cannot afford much or any of the equipment, it still serves as a good baseline for comparison. If you approach it this way, you will have a more fruitful time.

8. The food prices in the hotel are somewhat ridiculous and the quality is questionable. Plan to pick up a portable lunch if you want to eat onsite. It’s also not difficult to get away from the venue, and Schaumburg has a lot of great restaurant options.

9. Remember, audiophiles are few and far between across the country. While I know a number, most people are coming alone and don’t know others. This is a great place to get to know one another in a past time we all love. Don’t be afraid to show courtesy to each other and introduce yourself, express yourself. or share your opinion. I’ve found by doing this, most people easily open up and your total experience can be much more memorable.

I’ll be happy to chat with anyone in attendance if you bump into me and decide to say hello.

Enjoy the show!