I was in attendance all day Friday, February 7, and our Facebook and Instagram pages captured the most up to date news and my first impressions of some of the rooms, don’t forget to follow us! If you haven’t been to the expo before, it’s free to attend and you can stop in any room you like to hear just about any system you can imagine.
The list of exhibitors this year was huge, with brands including Wilson Audio, Tributaries, Transparent Cable, Moon, Paradigm, Naim, Mcintosh and so many more top end brands. It was tricky to find the real standouts, but after reviewing each and every room, I did find some worth mentioning. Here are my top picks from the 2020 Florida Audio Expo.
Stepping inside, I was greeted by the friendly rep from Eikon Audio. After I was settled, he explained to me how the system worked using its own proprietary pre-amp, amp, speakers and DSP software to create the perfect system inside your home. To better understand it, here is a quote from Eikon Audio “Reflective surfaces, corners and irregular walls play havoc in every room generating excessive Bass, Midrange, and High Frequency Time Smear, dramatically degrading your music. Even the best systems are compromised by the listening room. Our dedicated computers crunch massive amounts of data and upload to the Eikontrol a proprietary high-resolution corrective algorithm in both frequency and time, resolving your room problems within microseconds. Looking at the graph you can see gorgeous, uniform Bass with Midrange and High Frequency smear totally resolved.”
Having heard much about processing and DSP from many other vendors, I was ready to listen and see if all this tech really made a difference or not. What I heard next nearly left me speechless. The speakers simply left the room, and the sound seemed to flow smoothly from the entire wall were the speakers once where. The soundstage was like nothing I had ever heard before. There seemed to be just crisp, clear sound that had no distortion, like I was actually sitting in front of the band I was hearing. If you ever see this brand on display, definitely get a listen, I found it to be a superb experience like no other.
Home theater sound is often a bit different from two channel sound and what most people look for in a home theater setup is great bass. RBH Sound brought out the big guns and really impressed me with great highs as well as tight and punchy lows and they weren’t afraid to show it off either. Here is the full setup they brought to the show.
- RBH 45th Anniversary SVTRS Limited Edition Modular Tower Monitor System
- RBH SVTRS Limited Edition Modular Tower Monitors
- RBH 8α 8-channel amplifier
- Marani LPP480F DSP/FIR Audio Management System
- Marani LPP480F DSP/FIR Audio Management System
- RBH PM-8 Powered Studio Monitors
- OPPO BDP-105 Blu-ray Player
- Denon DNP-800NE Network/Streaming Audio Player
- Clarus/Tributaries Audio & Power Cables & Power Conditioner
- Clarus Crimson Speaker Cables
- Clarus Crimson Balanced Interconnect Cables
- Clarus Concerto Power Conditioner
- Clarus Duet Power Conditioner
- Clarus Power Cables
- Tributaries Series 4 Optical Digital Cable
The first thing I noticed were the massive speakers, almost touching the ceiling and creating a bass boom that could be heard rooms away. I found the setup to be incredibly tight and accurate. Bass never once got muddy or sloppy. Mids and highs were clean and had me wishing I could have this setup in my home theater. It’s refreshing to see a brand come to a Hi-Fi show like this and show off some huge, bass-loving speakers and not be afraid to let the thunder roar. I very much enjoyed their setup and encourage you to give them a listen next time you have the chance.
I struggled to find a two-channel system that I thought really stood above all others. I wanted to hear a clear and well-defined soundstage, crisp highs as well as deep and clean lows. I won’t name names, but many of the other systems suffered from poor setup at the show and could have sounded better with simple adjustments, but Muraudio and Simaudio did everything right. It was the last room I visited, and I was tired, but boy did I wake up when the music started. What I heard was pure sonic bliss, clean and clear audio that I was able to just sit down and listen to without having anything weigh it down. Muraudio was using their SP1 speakers and was not afraid to show off the number of awards this loudspeaker had earned for itself. Did they deserve it? Very much so and I wish I could get my hands on a pair to enjoy, since they only start at $16,400 a pair they are not far out of reach for most audiophiles.
Something that makes these speakers unique, that I at first thought would be a downside turned out to be something incredible was its use of both electrostatic plates and regular cone drivers in one speaker. Providing detailed highs as well as solid mids and lows, it left nothing to be desired. The Muraudio and Simaudio room was in my opinion, the best sounding two channel setup at the show in 2020.
I saved the best for last, oh I really did. There were a handful of headphone vendors at the show, showing off their latest headphones, DACs, amps and more. Most rooms sounded good, but one room brought something I had never heard before. Stepping inside the humble and simple room of Tom Christiansen Audio I got to meet the man himself, Tom Christiansen, who after a brief introduction had me sit down at his one of two demo setups. I put on a classic and beloved pair of Sennheiser HD 650s, with a Macbook as a source and a Topping DAC, I got to hear his HPA-1 headphone amp for myself.
It was the hands down the best headphone listening experience I have had to date and not because he brought a $5000 DAC and $900 pair of headphones to add frills and glitter to his amp. No instead, the amp spoke for itself and provided such a clean and clear experience like no other. I sat down and listened to four songs back to back and had no listening fatigue, instead I felt like I was hearing the music glide into my ears. To make sure it wasn’t just the headphones I sat down at the other setup and picked up a pair of Focal headphones, again the audio was incredible and flawless. This was the only room I went back to for a second time to ensure my ears weren’t deceiving me, it was just that insanely good. Tom Christiansen Audio only makes one product, the HPA-1 and it’s only $899, a steal at that price and my next headphone amp purchase. It was a tough choice, but I have to give Tom Christiansen Audio my vote for best of show at the Florida Audio Expo 2020 because he showed me that great-sounding audio is not about a showy display or thousands and thousands of dollars in gear, but simply a superb and excellent listening experience that only needs to let you decide with your own ears. Truly a gem to find, I can’t wait to see what else Tom has in store.
I hope you enjoyed my coverage for this year’s Florida Audio Expo, and I hope to see you there next year. The team at Secrets would like to thank all the staff at the Florida Audio Expo for the great work they did as well as all of the vendors that participated. Stay tuned, my next article is a Q&A with some of the best vendors and owners from the show, you won’t want to miss it! And remember to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for the latest and most up to date news!
Thanks for reading!